by Norah Olig (@NorahOlig)
Many educators use Twitter to engage in professional conversations, and others have also discussed ways to use Twitter for homework posts, discussion questions, and more. Contributor Norah Olig is here to talk about how to use Twitter within the classroom to improve student literacy skills.
The idea of using hashtags in order to learn note-taking skills from spoken text was something the sixth grade teachers I worked with were using to introduce the informative unit of study by Lucy Calkins. I decided to try using hashtags for other genres as well. My plan was to make reading visible with the idea of using hashtags as a means for readers to identify what matters most.
Here is what I did:
- First, I was sure my students knew what Twitter was, but I wasn’t sure how familiar they were with its terminology. So, my students and I discussed what “trending” meant in reference to social media.
- Next, I related the concept of trending to our text, Out of the Dust, and we discussed what was trending in the text so far. Students offered examples that included story elements and we compiled a list together.
- Then, we talked about what hashtags looked like, what their purpose was and gave examples of how people use them.
- After that, we reverted back to the ideas we listed as trending from our text to hashtag the trending information.
- Finally, the students all chose a hashtag to write about. This was their tweet.
The next day we started out with a short review of the previous class lesson.
Students were finally excited to write about what they were reading. However, students were still only writing about what was within the text; simple and basic. If I wanted them to take out their shovels and dig deeper, I needed to somehow prompt their thinking.
So… I tried this:
- I started to write hashtagged tweets back to my students on post-it notes.
- @MrsOlig #ImConfused @Blake What do you mean she played hot piano??? In books like these, that has to mean something important. Please explain what you are thinking.
- @MrsOlig #WhereIsTheEvidence @Sydney Why do you think Billie and her father will have problems later in the story? In books like these, there has to be more evidence to support your thinking. Please tell me more about what you are thinking.
These are some of the tweets I received after my responses:
My responses really pushed my students to stop, reread and think about what they wrote for their tweet. Most students responded positively to my feedback by explaining their thinking more in their tweet.
I could not be more proud of the thinking my students are doing by writing responses about what matters most to them as readers.
To celebrate our learning,
we created a classroom Twitter account. Our class Twitter kept the momentum of this activity alive and gave my students a real life purpose for writing about their reading. The students collaborate and select the best student responses to tweet for all to read and think about.
We would love for you to follow our class tweets @SPLitSkills.
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