Welcome the DE Summer School special edition of SOS. Our S.O.S series provides help, tips, and tricks for integrating DE media into your curriculum. During August, we’ll be featuring our STAR Community’s favorite strategies and how they have made them their own.
Special thanks to DEN STAR Karen Wells (@karenwells) from Midland High School in Arkansas for sharing how she brought this SOS to her students.
My AP English students love when I incorporate the instructional strategy “Tweet, Tweet” into their class discussions. I recently used the strategy in a lesson on the Sherpa culture of Nepal that followed their reading of Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer. My goals for this lesson were to engage students in philosophical discussions about the Sherpa characteristics of altruism, self-reliance, and sacrifice and to implement instructional strategies that would provide an environment in which students benefit from teacher and classmate feedback that assists them in making both a personal and global connection while expressing that connection in a concise format. These goals fit into the broader context of our state’s library frameworks that stresses selecting literary nonfiction which helps to develop independent thinkers who consider personal and global perspectives when making decisions, solving problems, and applying the knowledge they gain from the text. This is particularly important for these AP students who will soon have careers with global, economic, and social challenges that call for creative and adaptive thinkers.
The “Tweet, Tweet” strategy incorporates a Twitter format with students developing hashtags based on what they inferred about the Sherpa culture from the text they had read and their own personal connections. Students wrote 140 character posts and replies, which reinforced the lesson’s goals of writing concisely and deliberately, and then selected favorites to “retweet.” So the lesson would have more of an impact on the kinesthetic learners, I included a gallery walk for students to reply to the student posts. “Tweet, Tweet” greatly enhanced the discussion about Sherpa culture and provided an environment in which students benefited from each other’s feedback.
At the end of the study, students posted observations about the instructional strategies I had used to an online survey site. Paisley said, “I liked using the Twitter format because we could favorite, retweet, and reply to things that we felt strongly about, using a discussion format we are all familiar with.” Karrissa said, “I liked the gallery walk part of “Tweet, Tweet” because it gave me time to think and reflect before I posted.”
My lesson design included multiple interaction methods which enabled students to express themselves in ways that best fit their individual learning styles, thus allowing equity of access to the material. To facilitate each student’s independent thinking, I made a conscious effort to remain silent during the exercise thus allowing the students to lead their own discussions and make decisions that are theirs, not mine. This deliberate release of responsibility encourages students to take control of their own learning. Using a variety of instructional strategies such as “Tweet, Tweet” to incorporate literary nonfiction into the curriculum helps students build personal and global connections to the text and strengthens geo-literacy skills.
This year for International Literacy Day 2014, the International Reading Association (IRA) and NASA have partnered in a program called “Lift Off to Literacy” in which teachers pledge to add an extra 60 seconds of literacy for 60 days! My class is participating in the program using the Tweet, Tweet format to read short pieces of scientific research conducted in space or scientific improvements as a result of space exploration. As a class, we will craft a tweet about what we have learned. Twitter’s 140 character limit will push students to really narrow their synopsis and will strengthen students’ skill in scientific reading.