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Twitter in the Classroom with KQED - DoNow

Twitter in the Classroom with KQED - DoNow

Written by Lou Buran
July 03, 2014

This school year, I had the opportunity to work on a very interesting project that explored how to use Twitter to connect the learning of my students with others around the country.

The National Public Radio and PBS affiliate in the San Francisco Bay Area KQED offered a tremendous opportunity for teachers who want to encourage students use social media purposefully and academically. Their “Do Now” activities offer weekly topics on which students can respond via Twitter. It is a tremendous resource. Each activity has well developed and multimedia rich resources that accompany the topics. The site then aggregates student tweets and helps students from around the world connect to each other and their responses to these topics.

Each topic falls under a hashtag which starts with #DoNow. By simply adding the hashtag to their tweets, students join a conversation. My students participated in several of the topics. I shared the DoNow webpage with them, we read together the attached articles and webpages, and watched several of the accompanying videos. Students would then tweet their short responses including the #DoNow hashtag.

We often got responses to our tweets from other DoNow participants. Sometimes these were simple affirmations and sometimes requests for more insights and development. What was important to me was that students were using social media to communicate with the world regarding topics that were bigger than themselves and their micro-communities.

I discovered the real value of the project while working with Matthew Williams, Paul Oh, Meenoo Rami, Chris Sloan, and Patricia Arabia in a DoNow study group. I was asked to have students help create the resources for the project. Chris and I worked together on the topic of “income inequality”.

After researching the topic of income inequality and exploring the several resources provided by KQED Education DoNow, I asked my students to blog their responses. They then added links to their blog posts in their DoNow tweets. I found that the work was much more developed and insightful using this approach.

A typical student tweet about the topic of equality of women read,

Make the sports more equal. @KQEDedspace @BuranCUHS #donowwomen

This post demonstrates a certain level of critical thinking but is limited in its development by the constraints of Twitter.

Things got more interesting when students sent links to their more developed posts.

I recommend KQED Education DoNow to any educator who is interested in having students use social media academically. It is a tremendous resource of topics for students to discuss and media to explore. I will certainly have my students participate this upcoming school year and will continue to have them develop more developed pieces that support their claims to share with the community.

If I have sparked your interest, there is an upcoming web-based course that will explore how to use KQED Education DoNow and how to improve it.

After all, according to one of my student participants:

Tweeting in class while my teachers tweeting #WhatEnglishClassIsLikeTheseDays @BuranCUHS

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