Differentiating with Social Media

Here is an excerpt from a great post on differentiation from http://www.edsocialmedia.com.  Click here to read the entire post. Below you will find several practical ways to leverage Twitter, Facebook and GoodReads, to differentiate your instruction.

Differentiating with TWITTER

  1. Posit a question relating to the material from that day—English: What did you think about Dante’s journey into the second circle? What might his meeting with Francesca symbolize? History:  If you were fighting in the Battle of Hastings and could text message, what would you report back home to your family and friends?  Science: In the experiment today, how did the results of your lab differ from a classmate’s?  Math: How can the equation we learned today be used in a real-world setting?
  2. Have students tweet as a favorite author, scientist, historical figure, mathematician, or character from a book. (See “To Tweet or Not to Tweet” article for author’s personal experience with this assignment.)
  3. Ask students to tweet a current event that applies to your field of study.  For example: This week, find one event in the world where advances in technology are being questioned or scientists are being called irresponsible.
  4. In Math: Have students tweet (or Facebook status update) and then follow the exponential growth of that tweet as it is passed from friend to friend.  They can chart the growth over an allotted time period.

In giving Twitter a try, I learned that tweeting removed inhibitions while providing additional time for my students—specifically, my shyer students—to design their responses to our discussions.  Both my cheeky little rabbits and my quieter tortoises took more time planning what to write, the end result being better posts and better grades. I would also like to mention that as with any social media site, especially those that are public, caution and etiquette are keys to a successful experience

Differentiating with FACEBOOK

  1. English or History:  Ask students to create pages for characters from a book you are reading in class and to have conversations, post pictures or videos, and follow the events of the book (via the timeline).  I use this with my Hunger Games unit, and my students adore writing as Katniss, Peeta, and Gale! Social studies or history teachers could also assign novels as a complement to their textbooks and require the same.
  2. History or Science:  Ask students to create pages for scientists or famous historical figures and have conversations, post pictures or videos, or even debate via the timeline.  Try having science students create a page for a late scientist and have that figure respond to what is happening in his or her field today. (English teachers could have students select different authors and imagine conversations between them—this would be great to teach tone, diction, and style.)
  3. Drama: Have students create a page for the character that they are playing in a production.  The characters can interact, and students will have a better understanding of the role that they are playing.  Again, tone, diction, and style can be part of the assignment guidelines.

Differentiating with GOODREADS

Many may not be as familiar with this website as with other social media sites.  A quick description: Goodreads.com provides a place where users can catalogue the books that they have read, are reading, or would like to read.  Users can write reviews for books, create bookshelves for different genres (or classes or groups), and share their favorite works with the online community. This is a great resource for modeling and promoting independent reading!

  1. Ask students to read a certain number of books per quarter or semester, and require them to write a review for each book and post it to the website. This is an excellent way to teach voice and audience (we know that they get tired of writing just to us)! The teacher can receive weekly or daily emails regarding what their students are reading or reviewing.
  2. Have students create a bookshelf of books that are relevant to their study in your class and to read reviews to help decide reliability and usefulness to the topic.
  3. Create a group and ask students to review each book you’ve listed on the group’s bookshelf; you can also start online discussions on the group’s page!
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