There is nothing more rewarding than hearing the collective groan from my students as the end-of-class bell interrupts an engaging, authentic conversation about a text. What is even more thrilling is when students have become so involved in a discussion that they (with little interruption from me), begin to construct a powerful understanding of a text.
While face-to-face conversations are important, social media has allowed those conversations to expand and grow beyond the people who share the same physical space as us. Twitter has become one such virtual space–a powerful space to share ideas. The confinement of sharing ideas in 140 characters or less forces writers to carefully compose their thoughts. More importantly, for those thoughts to be meaningful, they must be situated within the context of an on-going conversation.
This is made most evident in a Twitter chat. These fast-paced conversations around a topic of interest not only connect people who might not otherwise ever meet, but it also provides a platform for those individuals to wrestle with complex ideas as they learn from each other. For educators, it can become a tool that transforms our teaching practice.
For nearly two years now, I have been part of #aplitchat which meets every Sunday night at 9PM (est). Yes, my students tease me at times for my excitement for my Twitter chats, but I have grown close to many of the people within that chat and have become a better teacher because of them.
I am not the only one. The power of Twitter chats motivated #aplitchat teachers to set up #Frankenchat this past fall. Students from around the country spent the day discussing Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. These students found their ideas about the book validated and sometimes even challenged. They were pushed to see the book through different lenses and perspectives. In other words, their understanding of the book grew deeper.
Because of the success of #Frankenchat, we have decided to do another Twitter chat with our students. We invite you and your students to join other teachers and AP Lit students from around the country as we discuss a common text–a poem–for Digital Learning Day on Wednesday, February 17. This conversation will harness the power of Twitter as students engage in a slow Twitter chat using the hashtag #aplitdld.
If you have never participated in a Twitter chat, don’t let that stop you! It’s not as hard as it might sound. Here’s a little how-to that might be helpful. We look forward to seeing you and your students in the Twittersphere!