One of the basic skills students acquire from an education just received an update with 140 characters and hashtags.
Scottsburg High School, students are using Twitter to express what they
are reading in the classroom while engaging fellow classmates, a
worldwide audience, and the authors of the books they are reading.
were looking for a place for kids to share the books that they were
reading because students are constantly asking for ideas on what to
read,” said Michelle Mihalik (@mammihalik), English teacher at SHS. “We
decided to have students share on social media because that is a place
that they use to connect and it allows them to connect all across the
district as well as with the outside world.”
In Mihalik’s freshmen
English and Interpersonal Relationships class, which she team-teaches
with Beth Walton (@BethWalton81), the students were asked to tweet about
their book they are reading at least every two weeks. They have to
include the hashtag — a way to organize tweets — #Scott2Reads and a
quote from the book or a thought about the book, Mihalik said. The
students could also ask a question or write their microblog-sized review
about their book. Students were encouraged to tag the author of the
book and find the author online in order to start a conversation with
“I like it. I like the chance to have your author tweet you
back,” said Mark Hays, a freshman student in Mihalik and Walton’s class.
“I read ‘Swagger’ by Carl Deuker. About a day after I tweeted, he
tweeted me back. I thought that was pretty cool he tweeted me back.”
use their personal Twitter accounts on their phones or on their
school-issued MacBooks during class time. Some students who do not wish
to use social media are allowed to post about their books in a
discussion board set up in the class Canvas page. The students favorite
or “heart” each other’s tweets and reply back-and-forth to one another.
helps create interest and connection between classes and with the
larger world,” Walton said. “Tweeting about reading helps students to
share books they like with anyone searching the hashtag, #Scott2Reads.
Students like the interaction of their friends and classmates ‘liking’
their posts. This encourages other students to read too.”
are Mihalik and Walton using Twitter in the classroom, but social
studies and science are using the social media platform too.
American Studies teachers (@AmericanStudies, @mrfoto, @AngelaBray8, and
@CompProbzSHS) have been using Twitter for three years to interact with
their students. Teacher Jason Bagwell said about 70 percent of their
students use Twitter.
“It’s a community builder,” Bagwell said. “They can connect with students and the larger world.”
American Studies, students can take photos and tweet for enrichment or
extra credit. During Christmas, Bagwell said the students can
participate in the #12daysofselfies, where students take pictures of
themselves participating in Christmas activities. Another activity the
American Studies teachers offer to the students are to take a photo a
historical marker that tells the story of a horse in the
Spanish-American War. This helps bring awareness of the rich history of
the Indiana, the United States, and Scott County, while teaching the
students about the historical events and people.
“We were looking
for a way to communicate that the kids pay attention to. They like to
see themselves, share themselves in social media,” Bagwell said.
the science classroom, teachers Robert Deirth (@RobertDeirth) and Rorie
Lizenby (@rdlizenby) are using Twitter to show what the science
department is doing in their classes with the hashtag, #Scott2Science.
wanted to start using Twitter to help publicize what was going on in
the science classes. We have students who might be unaware of the
opportunities we offer, and this was a way to get the word out both on
classes that are offered and some of the activities that we do in those
classes,” said Deirth, who is also the Science Department Chair. “The
idea was that we might showcase some of what is going on, and if
students follow the hashtag or see a retweet from another student, then
exposure to science is increased. And exposure to science is never bad.”
and Lizenby showcase what experiments and projects are ongoing in their
classrooms, including using chemistry and pumpkins, building in
engineering, and creating a functioning prosthetic hand using a 3-D
“For students, Twitter is so commonplace that, in one
sense, they have not responded; for them, it is natural to share the
tweets, follow my Twitter feed, and so on. In another way, now students
will look for me to take a video or picture during a lab that will be
posted. They know I’m not going to take staged shots, so to get in the
Twitter feed they have to be working hard and on task,” Deirth said.
“Some have asked to be tagged in pictures because they enjoy seeing
themselves. Others have come back to class to keep talking about labs
from the previous days due to the postings; for science, it is great to
have the continued discussion over the labs.”
Using social media
in the classroom to engage and communicate with students and a worldwide
audience — while enriching learning through technology — is how
teachers are preparing students for the future. At Scott County School
District 2, Scottsburg High School’s story is our story. Your story
matters. You matter.