The other day I began conducting formal observations of my teachers. My second observation of the day took me to an English class. During the opening moments of the 9th grade English class I was pleasantly surprised when the teacher quickly reviewed the summer choice reading assignment that was due in a few days. She used social media, specifically Twitter, to increase student engagement as well as relevancy and meaning. Below is a description of the assignment that was handed out to the students:
Choose 4 characters from your book – the protagonist, the antagonist, and two others. Then write a set of three tweets that the character might send if he, she, or it had access to technology (Total of 12 tweets, 140 characters or less). This assignment must be attached to your final product.
Requirements for each set of tweets:
- The first tweet should be a message the character would send at the beginning of the novel and should illustrate the character’s concerns, conflicts, and character traits.
- The second tweet should be a message the character would send at the climax of the novel (or the point of greatest conflict) and should illustrate the character’s role in that conflict.
- The third tweet should be a message the character would send at the end of the novel and should illustrate the character’s feelings about the book’s resolution.
The teacher also included an example of an actual tweet from a current student as well as a detailed rubric providing students with the performance requirements on how they would be assessed. The rubric stressed creativity, original thought, and in-depth knowledge of characters all in 140 characters or less. There was even a note encouraging creativity, but reminding students about digital responsibility.
I was really pleased to see a new teacher at my school developing a creative assessment centered on Twitter, a social media tool that is growing in popularity amongst youth across the globe. She could have chosen to assess the summer choice reading assignment in a typical fashion, but instead decided to try something a bit more creative. Based on the questions that I observed the students asking it seemed to me that they were eager to participate in this project. One of my suggestions going forward with an assignment like this would be to create a specific hash tag so that both the students and teacher could see the assignment come full circle with the effective integration of technology.