Teaching students how and where to research can be painful. They struggle to evaluate credibility and they chafe at the amount of time real research demands. In reality, students should be engaged in some form of research all year. The thought of this makes most teachers shudder, myself included. Constant research, large or small, is a classroom necessity and not just because the Common Core Standards demand it.
Research makes students better thinkers and better writers. So the question arises: How can students be engaged in constant research without struggle or burden for all involved?
The answer? Twitter.
Now I know how this potentially sounds. Lindsay Lohan updates and trending hashtags about #basketballslang don’t really inspire teachable moments. But what can easily get lost in celebrity updates is Twitter as a significant resource for current events. Every major publication tweets—multiple times a day. What results is a brief overview of a topic and a link to a story. It is in essence a ready made “feed” for student research.
1, Determine how students will access tweets that allow for research/reading on current issues and topics.
- You may decide to use your own Twitter account for the classroom and retweet a series of “stories” from which students can choose. This offers you more control over what they read.
- Or you may ask that they follow a series of reputable publications. From the tweets of those “teacher sanctioned” publications they may do their own current events research.
Some publications for classroom use:
- Have students explore tweets and articles. You may choose to do this inside or outside of class. Consider asking students to read and evaluate several articles if time allows.
- Evaluating an article can consist of completing a SOAPSTone Questions & Chart or asking for a Twitter Source Evaluation of the article itself.
- Have students favorite and retweet topics of interest. For each favorite/retweet, ask students to post a follow up tweet. The “follow up” should be an argument for the value of the professional article.
4. Consider this as a constant exercise much like journaling. You can use it to produce a 60-second speech or a research driven project/paper.
Tomorrow: Twitter as Essential Questioning Tool