Archive for the ‘Twitter’ Category

Tweet Your Book Report

Sunday, March 29th, 2015

Meaningful, engaging alternatives to the traditional book report are good projects for co-planning and co-teaching in the school library. With the natural overlap of language arts, reading, and information literacy skills, a carefully designed “book report 2.0” can integrate critical thinking, reading comprehension, self-assessment and peer feedback, digital literacy, collaboration, and other learning.

Melissa Purcell’s April School Library Monthly learning plan, entitled “Twitter as a Learning Tool: Book Summary,” offers a great example: students tweet about a book they read individually as an exercise in demonstrating comprehension through concise synthesis of a story. Students can tweet “for real” on Twitter (and read and respond to peers’ tweets) or submit offline tweets, if social media policies or other circumstances might necessitate an offline version.

The lesson plan includes a clever graphic organizer, with slots in a grid (like this):

_____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____

_____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____

(and on to 140 characters . . .)

to help students count up to the maximum 140 characters in their tweets. Skills to be assessed in the lesson include crafting accurate portrayals of characters, writing from the first-person perspective, quality of grammar, and correct use of the mechanics and language of Twitter. Check out the April issue for the full lesson plan (pages 55-56).

This lesson plan caught my eye because would fit right in with a recent assignment in the graduate-level school library curriculum class that I’m teaching. (The course focuses on designing library instruction that integrates content area curriculum and Standards for the 21st Century Learner, with an emphasis on coordinating with classroom teachers, as well as co-planning and co-teaching.)

In the assignment, the graduate students developed a “stand-alone,” English Language Arts (ELA)-integrated library lesson, which is a trickier concept to fulfill than it might seem.  To clarify, “stand-alone” for our purposes doesn’t mean the lesson can come out of thin air, unconnected to the curriculum. Rather, the lesson should be aligned with the ELA curriculum, guiding students to attain a learning objective through an experience that introduces, models, and allows for practice and assessment of a skill or concept within a single class meeting.

As I tell my students, the idea of this stand-alone lesson, like the tweet-able book report, provides focused instruction on phases of complex inquiry and research processes. A specialty of the school librarian is breaking down big understandings – like reading comprehension, responding in writing, evaluating information – into more manageable steps and tasks. By practicing a more “bounded” skill or skill set, like note-taking, comparing texts for point-of-view, close reading, or skimming and scanning for a particular purpose, students gain skills that they can draw upon in “bigger” research tasks in the same content area or others. Sending students off to do research without practicing the components of that process is like attempting to make a cake without being able to read a recipe, turn on the oven, and measure and prepare ingredients.  The steps of the process matter, and librarians can help students develop the skills (and the confidence!) to become adept researchers.

Image: American Robin on Branch by Mr. TinDC on Flickr. Used with a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivs 2. License.


Purcell, Melissa. “English/Language Arts: Twitter as a Learning Tool: Book Summary.” School Library Monthly. 31, no. 6 (April 2015): 55-56.

–Rebecca Morris


NYTimes: Social Media in the Classroom

Friday, May 13th, 2011

The New York Times is ran a fascinating article yesterday about the role of social media in the classroom. And part of what makes the article so interesting isn’t in the article at all: it’s in the comments that appear after the article. They alternatively endorse and push back on the teaching strategies in the article. Many reference the image above and talk about what they first thought upon seeing it: gosh, there are a whole bunch of kids in a room, and nobody’s talking to anybody.

Then I looked closer at the image, as I couldn’t shake my own question: why are they all clustered so closely together if they’re “not talking face-to-face”? And then I saw it. The trio of girls in the center do NOT have laptops. They’re clearly engaged in a face-to-face discussion. Might this be a variation on the Socratic Seminar method in which an inner circle of students engages in conversation while the outer circle observes? This “inner/outer circle” really got under the skin of my SI 643 students this term when we debated the merits of book clubs versus Socratic Seminars, in part because half the group was muted and reduced to passive observation status while the inner circle got the cognitive workout. Neither role felt really fair to them.

With that possibility in mind, it seems that there’s no doubt that a Twitter-based (or other-based) backchannel could definitely enhance the observational experience for those currently resigned to passivity. There is definitely value to observing peers at work and talking about what you see. We have reams of professional literature that supports the value of peer observation as a means of growth, especially so when it is supported by discussion about what you see. As an example, the entire philosophy of Lesson Study, in which peers observe peers in instructional settings, supports this technique.

Watching others gives us new strategies for how to engage in face-to-face dialogue when it’s our turn. What the backchannel does is allow them to engage in conversation not only about the content but about the manner in which the discussion is unfolding. It takes an instructional method that has seen success (it’s not called Socratic for nothing … it’s been in effect for thousands of years) and deepened it.

Now I might be wrong, but it seems to me that the Grey Lady missed part of the story. So much depends on context, doesn’t it?

How Twitter is transforming a rural Iowa district … featuring SLM Advisory Board Member!

Friday, May 13th, 2011

We’re delighted that Shannon Miller is joining the School Library Monthly Library Advisory Board and congratulate her on this Converge article about how Twitter has connected her rural district of Van Meter with far-flung colleagues and collaborators. Read on!