It’s no secret that I’m a Twitter skeptic. So when my Masters’ class told me to write a 21st Century Lesson Plan, I thought I’d challenge myself to use Twitter in a productive and educational way. I’ve no way of knowing how this will actually work out until I can see it in the classroom, but I think it has promise.
I have written a lesson plan that uses Twitter to engage students in discussing the opposing sides of the ratification debate for the Constitution. The lesson is intended for a high school civics class, but could potentially work for 8th grade US history. The class would be split with some students covering the arguments of the Federalists, while others will cover the points of the Anti-Federalists. I am asking that students re-write the founding father’s arguments as tweets. This means students will not be able to use direct quotes from the primary sources, but must analyze and restate the important points made. I am hoping this approach will help involve them, and personalize the issues for students some 230 years after the fact. The tweets of the students will use hashtags that will enable a tracker to hold the entire discussion for review the following day. Students will read through the entire tweet stream and evaluate the merits of each side before proposing a resolution via class discussion.
pictured clipped from “Signing of the Constitution” a painting by Louis S. Glanzman details
This lesson is intended to get students involved in their own learning in a way that brings to life the issues that founded our nation, and that are often discussed again at regular intervals in modern politics. By making the argument their own, students have ownership and choice for the path of the lesson, even the ability to propose a resolution. They can then compare their solution to the historical solution. Students will be guided in seeking out the important documents involved, evaluating source material, and thinking critically, all important 21st century skills. We can also talk about how the limitations of the medium can affect the argument (from the pamphlet publications/speeches of the originals, to the 140 character limit of a Tweet) as part of the lesson, integrating another media literacy skill.
This plan would be part of a general effort to get students discussing and involved in a civics classroom, modeling the ideal of an active citizenry. I believe that a civics classroom in particular needs to be a safe environment for discussion and the expression of differing ideas.
References: Bransford, J.D., Brown , A.L., & Cocking, R.R. (Eds.). (2000). How people learn: Brain, mind, experience, and school. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press.
Hobbs, R. (2011). Digital and media literacy: Connecting culture and classroom. Thousand, Oaks, CA: Corwin/Sage.
Thomas, D., & Brown, J. S. (2011). A new culture of learning: Cultivating the imagination for a world of constant change. Lexington, Ky: CreateSpace?.