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High School Government Class Learning with Twitter

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Today’s technology allows us to communicate as never before in history. Communication is global, communication is real time, communication is accessible to everyone!

In today’s media, we have seen politics discussed using social media by large groups of people all over the world covering issues in Iran, Eygypt, the US.

Social Media brings people together to learn, collaborate and discuss. It has a place in learning that is being explored more every day. This is what Jim Meredith’s AP Government class at Archbishop Ryan in Philadelphia is finding out as they learn and discuss government and politics in the classroom. I had the pleasure of speaking with the class about their project using Twitter in class. They participate in a weekly ‘Twitter Tuesday’ activity incorporating the tag #arapgov12. I am posting a summary of their responses. I also have posted the audio above.

Interview with Class

Here is the summary of my interview with teacher and Assistant Administrator, Jim Meredith and his students. You can also listen to the two part audio file posted above. (The quality of the audio is not optimal. I plan to improve upon that by using other audio tools in the future. )

1. In selecting learning activities for your AP Government class, what made you choose twitter. What did twitter have to offer that other tools/activities did not?

We chose this to build up the student knowledge of current events, politics and government. We hoped to connect with politicians as they discuss events online.  I hoped to also help them to build up their own digital footprint.
2. Were your students already familiar with Twitter?

Students were familiar with Twitter. Some used it already and if not they had heard about it.
3. How did students react to the assignment?

Students were excited and had a very positive approach to the assignment and to using twitter. One student, Jason, takes
extra responsibility and posts questions before the designated Twitter Tuesday times and also during the week.  One student said, It changes the way we learn. We like to go online and tweet about what we are learning.
Another student said, ‘It give us more hands on experience with politics. You can hear politicians on the news but through twitter you can have direct contact with current news, with politicians or their represntatives.
Students welcomed the use of online tools. It is a welcome addition to classroom activities.

4. Having completed several weeks of Twitter Tuesdays what has been the outcome?  What does the teacher think about what they are learning and how they are learning it?
Students feel more engaged with the content they are learning. They like that they can tweet out questions during class to the teacher during class and it gets addressed at a later point.
Says Jim Meredith, administrator and teacher, ‘We are learning and growing together. There is not a manual for this. I am researching and borrowing best practices from what I find online.
5. What similar assignments have you done with your classes which incorporated new technologies?
Twitter was tried before. This recent use has been the best outcome with Twitter. We have used private Facebook groups, blogging and social bookmarking. We hope to incorporate additional web tools such as Wordle in the near future.
6. How did you as an administrator and teacher become interested in using these types of technologies for learning?
Jim participated in PLP (Powerful Learning Practice), a 21st Century  learning oriented professional development initiative, beginning in 2008 and became familiar with new strategies and tools. ‘It’s more about the learning – It is not about Twitter as the tool but rather about what the students are getting from it and what I as a teacher am learning from it.  My use of Twitter and social networking helps my own professional development and helps me with my craft, my teaching.’
7. What does social media have to offer today’s educators?
As long as it is used to enhanced learning, it has a lot to offer. To the students, it can really help to enhance their learning and also build a community in our classroom.

8. How long will Twitter Tuesdays run? What is next for your class?
They will be tweeting out questions during the elections next week. Overall results have been very good. The plan is to use it for the full school year. They are flexible in this. The class will continue to evaluate its effectiveness going forward and continue as long as it meets their needs.

Its more than just that Twitter is a good technology. We are changing the way the students learn and interact. Students love the hands on experience as they interact with current events and politicians or their representatives online. Administrator, Teacher – Jim Meredith

Using real time communications tools is teaching our students more than just content. It teaches them how to communicate and collaborate in new ways.

Related Resources

Twitter Hashtags – Tech and Learning

Finding Teachers on Twitter – Free Technology 4 Teachers

Social Media and Professional Learning – Nancy Caramanico on Acer Education Blog

 

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