I’m sure many of you are familiar with the TwitterKids of Tanzania – students tweeting in English with followers from around the world. I’m also sure many of you are much more adept than I am at breaking down the walls of the classroom with tools like Twitter, Skype, Google for Educators, wikis, and blogs. To follow in your footsteps, in the interest of advancing authentic engagement with our classwork on narrative, writing, and questioning, today we started tweeting to Tanzania.
We began with a simple interactive whiteboard activity. This week we’ve been learning the terms and definitions of plot structure and matching them up together along the St. Louis arch, U2′s Popmart arch, and roller-coasters. We’ve been using the terms to write and our own stories and analyze those we’re reading. Today, we looked at a scrambled narrative adapted from the Epic Change blog to learn the TwitterKids’ story. We ordered the pieces according to plot structure on the SmartBoard, and then used Google Earth to get us from here (Charlottesville, Virginia, USA) to there (Arusha, Tanzania) in our minds. Finally, we brain-dumped a bunch of questions for the TwitterKids and chose a few per class to tweet in hopes of responses to read and respond to later in class.
For me as a teacher, the big idea here is to act. There are great models out there of how to bring the world into your classroom and how to broadcast your classroom to the world. Find one that seems manageable to you. Find an idea, lesson, or unit that you can emulate with success and try it. The small steps you take for your classroom’s engagement with the world will help American education make the giant leap into relevance that we teachers and our students need, desire, and deserve.