There is a lot of talk in the education world of using Twitter and other types of social media in the classroom. In fact, I’ve had several educators ask me over the previous few weeks of the summer, “Can Twitter really be used to teach literacy in the classroom?” and “What does it look like in use?”
The answer to the first question is easy – it’s always, “Yes, of course!” But the answer to the second is a little harder to explain. For that reason, I decided to create a series of blog posts on the topic of using Twitter in the classroom to teach literacy. So after a few minutes of figuring out my WordPress password (it’s been awhile since I’ve made a post), looks like we’re ready to go.
To begin, what exactly is Twitteracy, and who came up with the term? Twitteracy is a term that is used in multiple ways, but in this case, I’m using the term to mean the use of Twitter to teach literacy. Although I once thought that I created the term when trying to come up with a class hashtag (I’ll explain this later) almost a year ago, that self-satisfaction only lasted about two minutes before I realized that I was at least two years too late. Well, better late than never. Regardless, the term is now used by a handful of educators, and I’m proud to be an educator who applies Twitteracy in my classroom.
Now, let’s get to something constructive. If you are new to using Twitter in the classroom, I don’t suggest that you begin planning a lesson right away – I will talk in a subsequent post about initial steps. However, I thought it might be good to start with an example lesson for a few reasons:
1) I want to answer that question of “What does it look like in use?” right away for those who have asked.
2) It may be helpful to see an example of a final product before deciding whether or not to invest the time and energy into Twitteracy.
3) This example should provide a good foundation for future analysis of each part of the lesson.
So, with no further adieu, here is an example Twitteracy lesson that happens to use a one-page excerpt from Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essay “Self-Reliance”. Truly, this lesson may act as a template to be applied to any text in any subject.
Please note: before starting this lesson, kids have been taught and have practiced Twitter procedures. Additionally, students have been introduced to Emerson and Transcendentalism.
1) Five-minute warm-up: Students use Twitter to find something relevant on self-reliance. This may be about the essay or the general concept. Students create a Tweet on their findings.
2) After the five minutes are up, students pair-share their findings and their post. Students should do this face-to-face and without using their devices at all. After, share findings and Tweets as a class. Finally, students go back to their devices, and in about two minutes, students independently review class Tweets and respond to at least one Tweet in a way that adds to the topic/conversation (no comments of “cool,” ” I agree,” “true,” or the like). While students are completing the final step, the teacher is reviewing student Tweets.
3) The teacher reviews the learning target(s) for the day.
4) Students complete a first-read of the text independently. Students apply a reading lens to gain a general understanding of the meaning of the text and an initial understanding of the use of the learning target(s) in the text. Upon completion, students Tweet a response to what they’ve discovered after applying their reading lens in the first read.
5) Students pair-share their Tweets. Students then review classmate Tweets and share interesting Tweets as a class.
6) Students are told “screens down,” which means their devices won’t be used during the next part of class, and devices (mostly cell phones) should be placed with their screens down on top of their desks.
7) Traditional part of lesson: For the second read, the text is chunked into four sections. The class reads each chunk aloud (teacher, volunteers, and/or teacher-selected students read each chunk). Discussion occurs along with the reading, and after each chunk, students independently answer an analysis question. Also after each chunk, students pair-share their answers and then share as a class.
8) During the last 5-8 minutes of class, students are asked to reapply their reading lens to a final Tweet. Students are to Tweet to show their general understanding of the text AND at least one way the learning target(s) was used in the text. Before the end of class, the teacher should share some student example Tweets that display understanding of the text and the learning targets.
I hope this has been helpful. I will provide further details, analysis, and explanations in subsequent posts, but this is an example of a Twitteracy lesson that is fairly easy to implement.