After re-posting the UT Dallas “back channel” video earlier today, I started to think about other ways I might want to use Twitter in my Spanish courses this quarter. A more comprehensive list than in the previous post is given below. I will probably add more ideas as they occur to me or as I find them online.
I hope this list is useful for other foreign language teachers looking to bring Twitter into their classes, too! Feel free to tweet me other suggestions or, if you’re a tumblr user, add a note below.
- “Back channel” for student questions: Especially likely to be helpful for shy students
- An authentic way to practice and engage with the language and with native speakers worldwide (EDIT 08/15/11: @alenord has started curating a great new resource on Twitter called #spantweets that I feel is an excellent, specific example of how to accomplish this end. She collects phrases and clever, insightful, or amusing things Spanish speakers have tweeted and re-tweets them with this #hashtag. Now I’m thinking I may have my students save the search for #spantweets as a column on their TweetDeck. Thanks, @alenord!)
- Small group discussion activities: Tweet the group’s consensus on a debate question, or summarize the group’s thoughts on a poem or song, for example.
- Spanish word of the day (and example of usage): This idea is a shameless rip-off of the pre-existing Twitter accounts @myspanishword and @LL_Spanish and of #16 on Tina Barseghian’s list of "28 Creative Ideas for Teaching with Twitter." These would not necessarily be textbook vocabulary words (though they might be), and I don’t know that I would actually require the students to remember them. It would just be another form of practice, a way for motivated students to learn more of the language. (EDIT 08/18/11: I just discovered another great example: #swotd, or ”Spanish Word of the Day,” a resource maintained by Zambombazo’s Zachary Jones.)
- "How do you say…": Similar to the above word of the day idea, I might note down words that students ask how to say that aren’t covered in the text (or at least in the section we are presently studying) during class and tweet the translations after class. I suppose I could also have students Tweet during class whenever they want to know "¿Cómo se dice _____?" using a #hashtag that I could then check later to leave the process more in the hands of the students. Then, other students could even chime in on Twitter if they knew the answer!
- Grammar mini-quizzes: As with the word of the day, I doubt I would require students to complete these for a grade, but simple single-sentence cloze (fill-in-the-blank), verb conjugations, or vocab. usage questions would be possible via Twtpoll. I will probably use Socrative for this purpose for in-class comprehension checks and use Twtpoll as supplementary practice.
- “In today’s class…” overviews: This would be particularly helpful for sick or absent students or students away at athletic events, in combination with the course’s website (syllabus, lesson schedule, worksheets, and hopefully a few #flipclass vodcast lessons)
- Digital office hours
- Study aide allowing students to see all previously recorded questions and answers via #hashtags (vocab., grammar, culture, etc.)
- Share news from Spanish-speaking countries or cultural items (video, songs, art)
- Require students to follow important Spanish-speaking people
- Have students craft silly, creative telenovela in Tweets (á la Historical Tweets or TwHistory): This probably would require the creation of 2 or 3 different subgroups in the class, with each student in each group assuming a different character.
(Note: I do not claim that any of the uses listed above is 100% original on my part. I don’t know that I saw #5 listed anywhere else, but it’s possible. Most of the list is a mix of others’ thoughts and my commentary, and I have given credit wherever I have known to give it. This post was merely intended as an exercise for me to explicitly collect my thoughts on how I wanted Twitter to have a presence in my classroom and not as an original piece of journalism or any such thing. This post was particularly inspired by Tina Barseghian’s "28 Creative Ideas for Teaching With Twitter" on MindShift and Lisa Nielsen’s "Eight Reasons an Innovative Educator Uses Twitter" on The Innovative Educator, but I may have unintentionally ripped off other sources, too— I have read a ridiculous number of Twitter in the classroom posts over the past few days. These just happened to have been the first couple I came across. My apologies to all others!)
EDIT 08/15/11: Catherine Wright has shared some specific Spanish Twitter lesson plan suggestions in response to this list; see this great post to learn more!
EDIT 08/18/11: Another Catherine, Catherine Ritz, has also written an excellent, step-by-step guide to Tweeting with your students. In my case teaching college students, I wouldn’t bother with asking my class to make their accounts private or to not follow celebrities and the like, but I otherwise think it’s a great outline! Thanks to both Catherines!