Last year, I had a goal to improve how I used twitter in my instruction (read about it here, here, and here). My biggest struggle with using twitter has always been how to score it. How many points do I assign someone? How do I know if someone participated enough in terms of quantity and quality? How would I even begin to keep up with it all?
Well, maybe I don’t try to keep up with it all. Maybe I just let the whole idea of quantification go, and instead have the students demonstrate what they did and experienced.
In the fall, one of my masters classes will be participating in an extended twitter chat seven times. Last year, I had this class participate in a synchronous twitter chat that met when we would normally meet face to face. I’m getting rid of that because I think we can have better discussions if we make the discussion ongoing throughout the week. However, I’m not going to try to keep up with how many times a person tweeted. I will participate, but I’m done with counting.
What will I do? Well, first, let’s take a look at the directions:
Directions for the Extended Twitter Chat
1. I will release three questions during the week [when the chats occur]. They will be released on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays at 5:00 PM.
2. I will tag questions with the course hashtag.
3. Questions will be numbered Q1, Q2, and Q3.
4. You can respond to (or ignore) any question at any point during the week. Questions are used to help facilitate the discussion. However, they are also suggestions for what to discuss.
5. When you respond, start the tweet with A1 (if responding to Q1), A2 (if responding to Q2) and so on.
6. All responses/interactions must be posted under the course hashtag. You can use any other # that you wish, but YOU MUST use the course hashtag to get credit.
A few notes here:
- I’m inserting questions into the conversation just to help keep moving things along. I am not requiring students to answer them.
- Remember that tweets can be automated using Twuffer.
- I do not tell students how often they should tweet, but you’ll see in a minute that I do give them some basic suggestions for how to think about it.
I will award XP four times during the semester for the twitter chats. Here is how it will go down:
Earning XP is about participating in the chats, but it is also about how your participation in the chats shapes you as a teacher [remember that I teach teachers] and a learner. To earn XP, you will need to demonstrate the following:
- Articulate how well you participated in the twitter chats. This is done at two time points. The first time point happens from 10/11-10/18. The second time point happens from 11/28-12/6. At each time point, you should examine and reflect on both the quantity and the quality of your participation. You are free to articulate your insights in any manner you wish and submit them however you wish. Consider the following:
- During a chat week, do you participate with three or more tweets for at least four days?
- Are you engaged in sustained and interaction participation for four or more days? Sustained and interactive participation means you do more than posts links or make statements. While you can, and should do these things, it also means that you talk to others who are participating and actively engage them and engage with them in some fashion.
- XP for first time point = 8000; XP for second time point = 20,000
- Due Dates: I will only accept submissions for the first time point between 10/11 (starting at 5:00 PM) – 10/18 (ending at 5:00 PM); No late submissions; The second time point can be submitted anytime from 11/28 (starting at 5:00 PM) and ending on 12/6 at 5:00 PM. No late submissions.
- Curate a top 10 list (from the twitter chat) of resources that people other than you provided. These resources should inform your teaching about how to enhance students’ disciplinary literacy abilities. They may or may not have to do with the use of graphic novels specifically. Lists can be shared however you wish to curate them. XP = 30,000. Can be submitted anytime starting 11/28 – 12/6
- Demonstrate how your thinking has shifted as a result of your experience with the twitter chats. You can do this however you wish. XP = 70,000. Can be submitted anytime starting 11/28 – 12/6.
Some notes here:
- You will notice that the way students demonstrate what they are doing/learning is pretty loose. I did this intentionally. I am interested in seeing what I get.
- I am thinking about starting a Pinterest board to help with the top 10 list; that way students can collectively pin resources there. However, students could also just pin to their own boards whatever they find useful and then shift that into a top 10 list later.
- Having a top 10 list where students curate resources others shared requires them to post resources themselves. Otherwise, how will anyone complete the assignment?
Shifting off Quantification
You can see that I’ve shifted off of trying to keep up with how many tweets any one person does. Instead, I’m asking my students to think about their participation, reflect on it, and then demonstrate what they have learned. I do try to give them some guidelines for how to think about participation without being overly prescriptive.
I’m excited to try this out. In my experience, students tend to get anxious when things aren’t nailed down for them. I understand that. However, I also think that by being looser in my directions I am able to allow for students to be far more creative than if I tried to quantify every little detail. We’ll see how it goes!