Twitter as a Tool For Academic Discourse

Twitter as a Tool For Academic Discourse

New Milford High School teachers Jessica Groff and Joanna Westbrook created a Common Core aligned English Language Arts (ELA) task that incorporated Twitter into their unit on Julius Caesar and built on content authentic to the Shakespeare's history play – i.e. social media re-purposed with and for academic discourse. To accomplish their goal, these teachers began with an informational text on the history of the Roman Forum to ground their use of social media in historical discourse and academic content. This step gave students a context and purpose for using Twitter with this particular play and in this particular way. In addition, the teachers worked with students to reverse engineer the rhetoric of Twitter and generate a list of the type of tweets students see currently in their daily lives. As a result, students had more than one reference point and more than one access point to literacy content, something of primary importance to the in-class support (ICS) teacher collaborating with this team, Lorraine Montecuollo.

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Next, the team worked with the Digital Media Specialist, Laura Fleming, to find a way to help students use memes to improve the content of their tweets. They used Mozilla Webmaker tool called Mozilla Thimble to create memes that allowed both the tech-savvy and non-tech savvy to present their visuals in a more professional manner, while bringing visual clarity, some humor, and some creativity to their responses. Finally, the results of this project illustrate that the social aspect of this project is important. Students not only interacted with one another in class, but also with students in other classes, as Twitter opened up their ideas to a wider audience.

cross-posted at A Principal's Reflections

Eric Sheninger is a NASSP Digital Principal Award winner (2012), PDK Emerging Leader Award recipient (2012), winner of Learning Forward's Excellence in Professional Practice Award (2012) and co-author of Communicating and Connecting With Social Media: Essentials for Principals and What Principals Need to Know About Teaching and Learning Science. He presents and speaks nationally to assist other school leaders in effectively using technology. His blog, A Principal's Reflections, was selected as Best School Administrator Blog in 2011 by Edublogs.