This year’s Newseum Teacher Open House on Oct. 3 puts an extra emphasis on technology in the classroom. Alumni from our 2015 Summer Teacher Institutes (ANEW15) “Primarily Digital: Teaching Media Literacy to Plugged-in Students” will be leading sessions on how they have blended digital tools and social media into their curriculum. They’ll share stories of success and challenges, as well as their favorite digital tools.
Annette Spahr, who will be co-hosting a Twitter in the Classroom session, gives a peek preview of how “never the twain shall meet” doesn’t apply to an assignment she gave her students on Mark Twain and Twitter. Check out her creative lesson plan below.
In addition to the ANEW15 sessions, NewseumED will debut its revamped website and preview part of its newest module, Freedom in the Balance, based on Sept. 11.
Teacher Open House runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 3, and is free to educators with a valid teacher’s ID. It’s a day full of classes, programs, tours, giveaways and more. Download a full schedule of events and a flier here.
The tech-related sessions are:
To assign summer reading, or not to assign summer reading. This is the dilemma faced by teachers who would welcome the opportunity to have their students begin the year with one book already checked off their reading list. But here’s the stumbling block: If you’re going to ask your students to read, you’re going to have to spend time on …review … ZZZZZ. Few activities prompt more sleepy stares than a blow by blow of what happened in each chapter.
Summer reading where I teach is non-negotiable, yet I have great freedom to select a novel of my choice. Having spent considerable time prepping to teach The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, I wanted to avoid zapping the room of all enthusiasm. Working with higher level, 12th grade literature students, eager to share their opinions and enamored with social media, blending classic literature and Twitter came together far more smoothly than I anticipated. When I learned this summer that Mark Twain was captivated by any latest technology, this prompted the Essential Question: “If Twitter existed in 1884, when Mark Twain published “Huck Finn” how might he have used it to promote and publicize his novel?” And with this question, the project #HuckFinn Through H@ndles emerged.
We established a class-use only account with the username @HbgAcadLit, and privacy settings to give access to only those we selected – such as teachers and classmates – our own Twittosphere! Students created a school Twitter account, with their school email, and usernames with a similar format: @FirstnameLit – for example: @JennyLit. For our first trial run, each student randomly drew a name of a character in the novel, along with a specific, critical event. They tweeted as their character, noting some key detail about this plot point, while including #HuckFinn in the tweet. Having a long weekend to Tweet, some students had their creative juices flowing. Aunt Polly must have Tweeted three or four times! When we returned, I lit up the smart board with their tweets. Each student read theirs to the class, and described what key moment in the novel they were writing about. I also planned follow up questions for each – to launch the discussion further. The laughter flowed, but so did the serious conversations. A few days later, when discussing Twain’s satirical tone and his frequent targets, Round #2 of #HuckFinn Through Handles emerged: We’re calling our latest Twitter conversation #TwainTarget. Students are busy tweeting some of Twain’s greatest zingers as we pose the question: What makes satire effective? Stay tuned for Round #3!