|Image courtesy of Flickr.com.|
So....what to do? Well, one South Hamilton teacher remembered the old adage: "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em." Ms. Emily Long, SHHS's Spanish teacher, decided to bring social media into the classroom and use it to develop her students' skills. In Spanish IV, students' knowledge of Spanish is so advanced, they now are expected to read a novel written in Spanish and then write and discuss--in Spanish--on the novel. Here is where Ms. Long thought Twitter could be a great tool....but not the real Twitter...a fake one that she created where students could safely post and comment and not face the potential hazards of the Internet. Instead, students use the tool Google Draw so it can be safely shared with each other but not to the "outside" world
The assignment was to create a Twitter home page for a character in the novel, which included a picture of the character, a background image, and a user description. The images and info had to match the character's description and interests. Then students had to Tweet summaries of what was happening in the novel from their chosen' character's point of view. Once students beganTweeting, they could comment as their character on others' Tweets. They can also add hashtags (#) to make connections to subjects on the various pages. And don't forget the added challenge: it is all done in Spanish! Here are some student sample:
Many may be asking, how does this activity push student learning? It does so in several ways. To begin, students need to show their reading comprehension skills by composing Tweets that accurately reflect the action of the novel. The Tweets also demonstrate the students' critical thinking skills about characters and the plot as Tweets include a deeper reflection on the novel. Hashtags demand they make connections between ideas, yet they must be concise for Tweets can only be 140 characters long. All of these are excellent reading skills, but add to this the Spanish knowledge it demands and it is a very valuable learning tool indeed. Another bonus is that it connects to student interest and familiarity with social media; hopefully this motivates and challenges their learning a bit more than a traditional activity might. Thus, Ms. Long has indeed created a 21st century classroom activity---transforming the classroom by creating a technology project that simply wasn't possible just a few years ago. Super job!
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