Sunday, March 13, 2016

Using Twitter... in Elementary!

Personally, I love Twitter. I mean, have you been on #langchat?  As a teacher, my favorite part of Twitter is the 140 character limit.  This provides a wealth of authentic reading material for my elementary students to work with, and can easily be tailored to the unit themes and student interest.

I'll lay it out for you:

1) Take a look at your units and start searching twitter. My 4th graders are looking at biodiversity and conservation-so I follow @WWF España and @WWF_Mexico.

2) Choose some tweets that are relevant, and of high interest.

También celebramos la por los osos polares: su vida depende del hielo

This tweet makes interpreting authentic text doable: it's not overwhelming, and provides great visual support which novices need.  While following WWF España we discovered lots of hashtags for different causes including #loboSi, and we learned about the plight of wolves in Spain.

3) Create activities that work toward the unit goals:
  1.  I can understand some words and phrases about conservation in a tweet, email message 
  2. I can talk about ways I can help the planet .
The first step is interpreting the tweets-this is when I ask students to look for cognates, words/phrases they already understand,  and take a look at the image and then make some guesses.  If needed, they look up a couple of words in wordreference to fill in the gaps.

In preparation for Hora del Planeta on March 19, we looked at tweets under #horadelplaneta and then the students created their own on our class "Twitter feed."  It looks like the one for Earth Day below.

The final piece of this is using a tweet for a conversation topic: Talk to a friend about your opinion-do you agree with the tweet? Why? Why not? Talk to your friend about ways you are helping the planet. Children can also describe the picture or compare the cause to one they know of in the US. (This is where differentiation comes into play-not everyone will have the exact same conversation, rather some will work comparing, and others will be able to discretely describe the photo)

This was a big hit with my students and it can be transferred to a whole range of themes, depending on the unit on which you're working. 

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