Sunday, February 21, 2016

AP Lit Digital Learning Day

I have cross-posted this from my English blog as it crosses the boundary between English and Educational Technology.

AP LIT Digital Learning Day

On Wednesday, my Advanced Placement students did something unthinkable until tAhat day!

What do you ask?  My students were able to use their cell phones in class to participate in a Twitter chat. Now before you get too excited, please realize that this was a carefully aligned and planned event for just for AP Lit students.  Students and teachers interacted pleasantly, analyzed poetry carefully and learned important lessons about social media.  Students across the nation participated in #aplitdld throughout the day.

Matt Brown @ibMrB and Susan Barber @susanclaireb developed and facilitated the #aplitdld Twitter chat.  They chose the AP level poem "An Echo Sonnet" and developed the timeline of analysis questions to engage AP English students in the text during the Twitter chat. You can view both the poem and the questions in the Google doc below.

You can view the process of the chat through this @Storify.

The event was daunting to my students in the beginning. As they walked in the door, I suggested that they should go get their phones out of their lockers. They wondered aloud if I was trying to trick them I assured them that I was not and would not.  Many did not have a Twitter account and a few felt too self-conscious to tweet. Those that did were truly attempting to answer the predetermined questions related to the text. Sadly, a few of the students later deleted their tweets to preserve their anonymity and to hide their "AP nerdiness" from their friends.

My principal, Mr. Fatih Bogrek,  kindly provided permission the morning of the event. Thanks to Susan Barber,  I was able to provide the outline and rationale for the chat.  Unfortunately, due to the tight timeline, I was unable to prepare my students for the expectations of a Twitter chat. As expected, my students rose to the challenge.  I was able to use the chat as an opportunity for a simultaneous discussion of respect and accountability on social media. I placed the Twitter feed on the whiteboard so that students not actively participating could still read the chat feed and follow along. All the students had a paper copy of the poem with the questions. Susan Barber emailed me later to say that they plan on more of these chats later on this spring.

My final thoughts on our #aplitdld Twitter chat include the appreciation of my AP colleagues who dared to bring adolescents together on social media to discuss poetry. I know that future chats will be beneficial and may deepen the analysis my students are willing to do if they know they have a global audience reading their analysis. The idea that authentic audiences are important in developing strong writers continues to resonate.

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