Lesson Plan

Fostering Online Discussion Boards Through Edmodo

Increase your students' argumentative & persuasive writing skills through online discussion board forums
Jennifer G.
Classroom teacher
Vista High School
Vista, CA
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My Grades 11, 12
My Subjects English Language Arts
  • Students will be able to read and annotate an article from Actively Learn or Curriculet that is controversial in nature and form their own claim.
  • Students respond to a written prompt that allows them to discuss their own position and support it using evidence from the article.
  • Students will post their initial response in an online forum.
  • Students will reply to other board member's initial posts by providing feedback, offering a supporting opinion, sharing an insight or respectfully challenge an idea by providing refutation from credible sources. 
English Language Arts
Grades 11 - 12
All Notes
Teacher Notes
Student Notes

1 Getting Ready!

First, you will want to set up your Edmodo account. When setting up your teacher account, you have the option to set up "groups." My "groups" are my class periods.  Each group has a "join code." When students create their own student accounts, have them use the "join code" for them to automatically be a part of your group.  Once your students have joined the group, you have the option to create "small groups." The small groups function as your discussion board groups. Add your students to each small group; I have approximately 7 students in each group.

2 App It Up

Free, Free to Try, Paid
Actively Learn
Free, Paid

One of the best features about Edmodo is the fact that you can add additional apps to your account that will "push" to your students.  Add the "Curriculet" and "Actively Learn" apps to your account.  Once you have installed these particular apps, search for a current article that is controversial.  Push this article to your students by assigning it to your groups.  Your students will be able to not only read, but also annotate digitally. Add your own guiding questions or search for layered questions already pre-made by another teacher.  Both Curriculet and Actively Learn allow teachers to track the student's interaction with the text as well as monitor the reading in a variety of different ways.  

3 The Perfect Prompt

After students read, annotate, discuss, and form an opinion regarding the issue at hand, you will want to make certain to provide a clear prompt that allows them to dive deeply into the subject.  Here are the essentials that I include in every prompt for my students:

  • Introduce the article and discuss the issues that are presented in it. At the end of your introduction, take a clear position about the issue by writing your main claim.
  • Support your main claim with a variety of logical reasons.
  • Acknowledge the opposing side, the counter argument.
  • Refute the counter-argument and support your reasons with evidence from the text. Research the issue and locate at least one other article from Google Scholar or another credible news source like CNN to use in addition to the original source.
  • Be certain to include MLA in-text citations and provide a Works Cited at the end of your entry.

Post your prompt in each one of the small groups you have created for your students.

4 Time to Respond

Activity: Creating

With the prompt in hand, students write their initial post with a 300 word minimum response.  While students have the opportunity to respond directly below the prompt directions, I tell my students to respond in a post above the prompt to allow for other students to respond to each individual discussion post.  

After the initial post has been created, students must then provide replies to a minimum of two other students with approximately 125 words.

The following is the typical timeline I provide for my students:

  • Monday: In class,read, annotate, discuss the article assigned and begin to research to formulate an initial post.
  • Wednesday: Initial posts (300 words) are due by midnight.
  • Sunday: Two responses (125 words each) to discussion board members are due by midnight.

5 Evaluate

Generate your own standards and expectations by creating your a custom rubric that emphasizes the skills you want your students to have. Rubistar allows you to do just this sort of thing by providing already made rubrics or use the simple drop down menu options to include your specific preferences.  This is a great tool to use to help sutdents to undertand the expectations and great way to provide quick and meaningful feedback.