The following image was captured from our classroom Twitter Account (https://twitter.com/caisct_pbl) and resides in our shared Google Document, which is one of the many documents in our Shared Google Drive #PBL folder. Students are working in pairs on writing original history about three Connecticut women who served in the #SignalCorps Unit during World War I. Elizabeth Cobbs recently published an amazing book telling the national story of this untold chapter in American history. It’s titled, The Hello Girls. I suggest that you order it for your school library so that students can enjoy this topic when they encounter the usual WWI topics in the typical US History Survey approach. The current World War I commemorative process rightly celebrates this forgotten episode, and our class is trying to dig a little deeper into the aspects of Connecticut history that illuminates this important story. We call these moments in our #PBL approach: #CTUntold
Many colleagues ask me how I use Google Docs in class, and I think some are afraid to ask me how I use Twitter. Here’s a great moment to explain both.
There are four small groups writing history about this topic, and everyone is approaching the stage of a good rough draft. We then thought it would be good for students to see what kind of feedback they could receive from experts outside our classroom before I grade a draft. Some teachers call this a #flatclassroom (paste #flatclassroom into the search bar of any Twitter account) moment because we are using social media to reach beyond the traditional walls of a classroom for this educational and authentic connection. Here are drafts of Tweets that we are peer-editing together in class before each student Tweets it from the one classroom account. With a standard of lyric poetry and a zeal to write unwritten history, I set a high bar for a tweet in that the composer should reflect on audience and have clarity of expression as well as a specific question (inquiry drives history!) that will hopefully illicit more useful information. I have included screen shots of some of this process.
As an educator and English teacher, I find revising Tweets to be akin to collaborating on poetry. We really want to refine our communication and be sure our question is clear. The first screen shot is early in the process and students are still in the composing stage. That’s good because writing is a process. The second shot is a more revised version from our collaborative work in class. Of course, the most final draft is on the Twitter Account itself. You will see that we take a little time in the Twitter Account window that opens when one begins composing a tweet and revise there one last time! Then rubber hits the road and the real test of authentic writing occurs. Will anyone respond? Follow our work here: https://twitter.com/caisct_pbl
PS: I drafted this post after class, and before I hit the blue publish tab, The Connecticut Historical Society answered the students 26 minutes after they Tweeted! Wow! Get thee to Twitter, fellow educators. And model appropriate use, good manners, and excellent prose.