Years ago, when Twitter was first emerging as a social network, I encouraged my seniors in Digital Composition to use it in class as a way to comment on literature. I think it was in 2009 or 2010 and it was mostly successful. Students hadn’t heard of Twitter at that point though and they didn’t really “get” the point of sharing and discussing on a public forum.
Over time, I started using Twitter more for a Professional Learning Network (PLN). I had trouble attending Twitter chats but I followed hashtags and conversations the next morning to find out what was current and compelling for other educators around the country.
This year, one of my teaching collaborators for AP Language & Composition realized we needed to meet students where they are, on Twitter, as we strive to make sure they have exposure to and working knowledge of current events. On the AP Lang exam students need to have a wide variety of CHELPS (Current events, History, Experience, Literature, Pop culture, Sports/Science) to help them with evidence on the argument.
So, we came up with a hashtag for our classes – #southaplang – and very short ones for each teacher so we can keep them straight. Every Monday we send out a tweet with a question or request for comments and a link to an article on a trending topic or a popular idea in the media.
So far… it’s awesome! Kids without Twitter accounts can turn in their tweets on paper or any other method if they prefer. A few students created new Twitter accounts just for this assignment to keep the tweets separate from their personal accounts. And we don’t need to follow them because we can find their tweets with the hashtags.