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Keywords:

  • topic;
  • digital;
  • ICT;
  • literature;
  • ya;
  • response;
  • methodology;
  • evidence;
  • mixed;
  • strategies;
  • discussion;
  • instructional;
  • technology;
  • learner;
  • early adolescence;
  • type;
  • article

Technology reshapes our thinking about learning in multiple ways. This article proposes that middle school students can use asynchronous online discussions to improve their responses to literature, increase their engagement with the classroom community, and recenter the classroom around student voices. Working in small groups, students read the same novel. They are prompted to post their responses to the young adult literature in a closed, egalitarian online network.

The authors examined online transcripts, interviewed students, and observed lesson sequences in eighth-grade humanities classrooms over three years. They found that threaded discussions helped these middle school students to

  • Engage with and learn new literacies
  • Examine literature through a more critical lens
  • Socially construct knowledge to create a more authentic community of learners

The authors also found that the role of the teacher is transformed by technology to scaffold instruction through participation in online conversations.