This past semester in my grade 9 Online Presence class, my students were willing to try an activity that taught them how to use the microblogging tool, Twitter. As my school board does not allow students to use Twitter, I used an activity I read about earlier this year, and turned Twitter into a paper assignment. To make this work, I made some adjustments from the initial activity. The steps I used are highlighted below:
- Students were to chose a piece of colored paper that would represent them in the classroom – each student had to have their own unique color.
- Students created a “Twitter profile”, including a handle, photo, biography, and number of followers. Students could complete this on the computer or by hand, but it had to be in landscape (hotdog) format. The picture could be of anything of their choosing. From here, students chose a section of wall in the classroom to tape up their “profile page”. This activity took most of the students one 45-minuter class to complete. To assist them, I projected my Twitter page on the projector. If the students were familiar with twitter, they were encouraged to add a hashtag.
- On the next day of class, students were to compose an introductory “tweet”, consisting of no more than 140 characters including spaces and punctuation. For students who struggled with an idea, I suggested to them that they tweet about an upcoming school event. These were taped below their profile page on the walls.
- In the third class, the students were instructed to write a second tweet and post on the wall. From here, they were to reply to someone else’s posted tweet. This reply was written on their colored paper, but posted under the tweet they were replying to, under their twitter feed. This is where the colored paper came in handy.
- The final activity involved “retweeting”. To complete this, students rewrote out a classmate’s tweet on their color of paper. To identify it was a retweet, they had to attach the original person’s color of paper behind their own, showing ownership. The retweet was taped under the ‘”retweeter’s” twitter stream.
Overall, the activity was a success. Students were engaged, mostly because they were learning how to use a social media tool they were curious about. At first, they were hesitant about the twitter feeds being left on the walls for other classes to see. However, I explained to them, that this is what happens on Twitter – once it is posted, it is there for everyone. This helped them understand the importance of establishing a positive online presence, which was the overarching goal of the course.