“Democratic Twittering: Microblogging for a More Participatory Social Studies” Daniel G. Krutka, Social Education 78(2), pp 86-89. Retrieved from National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS)
I found this article while searching through the NCSS database. Initially I was looking to find an article on using textbooks in the classroom, but I stumbled upon this article and was intrigued by its focus on Twitter, a social media app that I personally enjoy using.
Krutka outlines the great potential Twitter has for creating engaging lessons and projects that require students to dive deep into content knowledge. He gives two specific examples of content areas (the Enlightenment and the Cuban Missile Crisis) where teachers used Twitter to encourage students to take on personas of important historical figures and to be able to concisely articulate their opinions, summaries of events, and so on. Along with using Twitter for class activities, other benefits of Twitter, according to Krutka, include allowing educators to communicate with fellow colleagues and also with students and families and serving as an outlet for educators’ professional development (connecting with other educators and sharing resources). I agree with Krutka in his claim that social media, including but not limited to Twitter, can be integral to student achievement and engagement: “If everyday citizens can utilize social media to promote change in the face of oppressive regimes then these services can certainly foster more participatory and democratic experiences for students and teachers” (86). I myself being a “millenial” enjoy using social media for not only personal purposes, but also for educational pursuits. With today’s modern world that relies so heavily on technology, students should learn from a young age how to use that technology in order to create positive changes within their worlds.
- 1. Examples of teachers who used Twitter in exploring the topics of the Enlightenment and the Cuban Missile Crisis (having students tweet as if they were Voltaire, Rousseau, JFK, Castro, etc.)
- 2. Twitter can be used as a quick pre-class or post-class formative assessment to “check in” with students.
- 3. “A study I completed with my 20 pre-service social studies teachers indicated that the use of social media, and Twitter in particular, in our weekly class enhanced students’ relationships with each other and me, and also helped to blur many of the traditional lines often present in formal learning settings” (87) — TECHNOLOGY CAN BE GOOD!
- 1. “Twitter can be used with students in a variety of classes and age levels.” I agree with this to an extent. I don’t think that students under the age of eleven or twelve would necessarily benefit from an activity as described in the article, or even for practicing concise writing or sharing links with parents (87). I think that students of such a young age can use technology to enhance their learning, but the fundamental skills behind thinking through different perspectives and learning to how concisely write need to be grounded before technology can take them to the next level.
- 2. Using Twitter as a participation tool – some more “old-school” teachers would disagree in saying that a student tweet counts as participating in class – “All students should have to speak” is what many may think, but I – and Krutka – disagree. As long as the content in the tweet is high-quality and thoughtful, then I think it definitely counts. In today’s personalized learning age, some students may be able to more easily and articulately express themselves through such mediums as opposed to traditional instructional patterns. If student learning is evident through Twitter, then I think it is a valuable tool.
- 1. When using Twitter, it is easy to be very simplistic as tweets only allow so many characters – students could easily say, “There wasn’t enough room to put more.” How does a teacher balance that excuse with getting qualitative reflections/insights/responses from students?