Sunday, April 29, 2012

Twitter Across the Curriculum

On April 14th, the anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, @TwitterRealTime (The History Press) tweeted Titanic's journey with minute-by-minute tweets as if the person tweeting were on board the ship. I followed this Twitter feed (thanks to a tweet from @web20classroom) and got to thinking about how under-utilized Twitter is as a teaching and learning tool. There's so much more to Twitter than most people think. Many educators have discovered the tremendous potential of Twitter for building and maintaining a Personal Learning Network, and some have tapped into its potential for use in the classroom. I'd like to explore some possibilities for using Twitter across the curriculum.

English Language Arts
Similar to the minute-by-minute "real time" tweets on the anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, students can use Twitter to retell important events in a piece of realistic or historic fiction. Not only could the tweets capture the important events, but they could also reveal changes in characters' attitudes and perceptions as well as relationships among characters. To set up this learning experience, the teacher would need to create a Twitter account for each character. Students could work in collaborative groups to write a Twitter script and could even support their tweets with evidence or quotes from the text. A Twitter retell would work beautifully as the final product of a literature circle or novel study. 

Stepping a little further outside the box, students can use Twitter to bring inanimate objects to life or give a voice to animals. Twitter provides an easy tool for writing brief thoughts from the perspective of a classroom object, an important object from a text, an object in nature, or an animal. 

Teachers can use Twitter to develop students' vocabulary. Students can tweet definitions, synonyms, antonyms, examples, and non-examples for key vocabulary terms. A class or a small group could build a Twitter glossary for a specific content area or unit of study. Teachers can provide vocabulary instruction by tweeting a mystery word of the day. This daily tweet could be a sentence with a blank where the term would belong, a rhyme that would provide hints to help students figure out the word, or a list of synonyms or antonyms.

Twitter can bring science notebooks into the 21st century. There are countless scientific concepts and processes that can be explored through a Twitter project. Students could construct a Twitter feed that represents the water cycle from the perspective of different components of the cycle, describes properties of each element in the periodic table, write a script for a severe weather report, or demonstrates the steps involved in a chemical reaction. Prior to constructing the Twitter feed that will be documentation of students' learning, students can conduct research and connect with scientific experts and organizations on Twitter.

Social Studies
Twitter provides a handy tool for reconstructing a timeline or sequence of important events, like The History Press did with the Titanic Twitter feed. Students studying an important historical event or series of events could construct a Twitter feed to document causes and effects as well as individuals' contributions to or perspectives on events. An autobiography could be written as a series of tweets from an important historical figure. Students can also post tweet from others who were close to the person or involved in key events in the person's life. 

Teachers and students can use Twitter to post mathematical problems and represent multiple strategies and solutions to problems. Vocabulary Twitter feeds can help students develop an understanding of key math terms and create a database of vocabulary lists students can refer to later. Students can attach pictures to tweets to provide visual representations of math concepts. 

If you have your own ideas for integrating Twitter across the curriculum, please share!

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