Twitter allows us to fine-tune our research skills and create an academic network that will help our class this year as well as other American Studies students who will inherit new inquiries yet utilize and build this network of historians, museums, librarians, journalists, writers, researchers, historical societies, and enthusiast who love history. And as someone who grew up learning how to appreciate cross-referencing skills and harvest great sources, key players, and important narratives at a card catalogue (of course, I’m “referencing” a 20th century library here) or in the notes and index of an amazing book, I now love to teach students how to apply the same techniques to books, internet searches, and Twitter accounts. Now let’s move forward with more research and curating. Onward #PBLResearch & #CrossReferencing!
As an educator who internalized the idea that keeping up with professional development is best practice, I constantly share with other educators that Twitter is a great place to network with other learners. What better place then to find historians who are in the process of researching and writing history as well as other educators who are scaffolding authentic projects for deeper learning! So within that big picture appreciation for Twitter in the classroom, I also think there is so much to learn from having students compose intentional and deliberate Tweets that illicit information and expand our academic network at the same time. What a challenge! Perhaps what is the most important thing about these challenges in class is that we are pushing the academic boundaries so much that we do not need to bring grades into the conversation. If your Tweet is not strong enough for this high standard, let’s all help you improve it. If it does well, meet the standard, and illicit much needed information for our authentic project as well as adds a new asset to our academic network: Huzzah!
Therefore, pause with me a little while and see how I use Twitter to slow down the learning process in a #PBL classroom. Let me summon some Whitman’s genius in section II of Song of Myself: Stop this day and night with me and you shall possess the origin of all poems, and suggest that Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano (http://langwitches.org/blog/) and others in the #PBLChat know #PBL educators are sharing their micro steps on Twitter, and if you want to try your own version of #PBL and want suggestions or ideas from other practitioners, then get thee to Twitter, fellow educators. And model appropriate use, good manners, and excellent prose.
We will use Twitter to launch and share our “annotated bibliography” with other “connected” experts. Each student will do two specific steps: (1) create a tweet about an Internet resource and (2) find a professor or scholar to follow. Also remember how one can earn an extra credit point if the tweet is Re-tweeted or marked as a favorite. Interestingly, the first three tweets have earned this distinction.
Instructions for step 1. The first phase of constructing a “tweet” will be to follow the MLA standards for creating a formal annotated bibliography entry. Instead of annotated (evaluating) a book, you will be evaluating an Internet link. Again, a link can be an internet address of an article, online source, piece of media, primary source from a library, etc, that you found as a meaningful source on learning something new about the Underground Railroad in your area or Connecticut. See here for a model of an annotated bibliography. Reflect on how you can assess the value of your source by following this model: https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/614/03/
We will then turn your formal annotated link into a compelling Tweet that incorporates other key players as well as (#)hash tags. Do you see how we will employ higher order thinking skills to convey your assessment in an entertaining way for Twitter?
Before composing your Tweet, read this blog post to learn how to create a compelling tweet. Composing a good tweet is a writing skill that I want us to develop. This is a 21st century English classroom. So, though some of the content on this blog post is silly, follow the good advice about writing and try to develop your own voice. Needless to say, if you find a better post that explains how to compose an excellent tweet, please add the link in the comment thread below. https://business.twitter.com/write-good-tweets
Step 2: research the schools on your college list, and try to find a museum, historian or historical society that has a twitter account. College professors are using Twitter more these days. Or simply search and find another scholar who is tweeting about the Underground Railroad.
Below are some links to articles about professors using Twitter. I will go to https://twitter.com/The_Wit_of_Will and tweet some more articles about this trend.
Source: The above image was copied from this article: http://thejournal.com/articles/2013/09/23/13-twitter-chats-for-educators.aspx