Incorporating Twitter Into Your History Classroom – Women on the Home Front Lesson Plan

We are often challenged to incorporate ICT into our lesson plans in creative and inclusive ways. It is important to constantly challenge students and therefore improve their ICT skills while also ensuring that all students are effectively able to participate in the activity.

Twitter is a widely used and popular form of social media which is well known by many students. It can be accessed either on a mobile device, computer or iPad and a good proportion of students will have used it to follow celebrities, friends or other persons of interest. It is essential to ensure that our pedagogy remains innovative and relevant to student’s lives and I think  most students will be extra excited to utilise a (usually banned) device as a tool for historical analysis.

Twitter is a good classroom tool when used to encourage online discussion (either in the classroom or as homework) when used in the right way. By utilising a hashtag (#), students can follow a discussion and contribute by posting comments limited to 140 characters. Here is an example of incorporating Twitter into a history lesson:

LESSON PLAN: Changing role of women on the Australian home front during World War II

The impact of World War II, with a particular emphasis on the Australian home front, including the changing roles of women and use of wartime government controls (conscription, manpower controls, rationing and censorship)

Topic: World War II (1939-45)

Historical Skills: 

Use historical terms and concepts

Select and use a range of communication forms (oral, graphic, written) and digital technologies

Identify and analyse different historical interpretations (including their own)

Prior Knowledge and Understanding

Students will have already studied the causes, course and events of World War II.

You may ask students to create Twitter accounts prior to the lesson so that you can jump right in.

Resources:

Web links provided at the end of this post may be of use to both students and teacher.

Students have an understanding of the historical terms and concepts used to study this period (a Historical Terms and Concepts list or glossary to refer to during the activity).

Students have access to their phones, laptops, iPad or other electronic device used to access Twitter in the classroom. If students do not wish to use Twitter, they should have access to paper or cardboard for writing their own “tweets” which will be posted by the teacher on their behalf with their initials.

Smart board or similar for displaying Twitter feed.

A handout/slide with some guidelines and rules for the use of Twitter for the classroom. You may also like to give students a handout which explains how to use Twitter. A guide can be found here.

Lesson Instructions:

Explain classroom rules for the use of Twitter and social networking.

Post the first question (see below) with a hashtag (e.g. #MrsPHistory):

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Ask your students to search for the hashtag in Twitter (you should demonstrate this on your Smart Board)

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Advise your students that they should use this hashtag at the end of each “tweet” so that they may be included in the conversation. Ask the class to post their first response (each tweet should be 140 characters or less). Post any tweets manually written down by students with their initials at the end.

* Note that you will need to watch the feed to monitor participation from all students.

You may either choose to use a student’s tweet to form your next question or pose one of your own for the class to answer next.

Some questions and activities to post:

List some of the ways women contributed to the war effort on the home front.

Assess how important you think women’s roles were in the war effort.

How might women have responded to the return of men after the war ended?

Assess the effect of the war on women’s roles in society. Do you think women would have wanted to return to traditional roles?

Research “The Experiences of Women in Australia during World War 2”. Find an e.g. of a woman’s experience during the war and briefly describe.

Can you identify various viewpoints on the role of women on the home front?

* Don’t forget to explain your tweets and give your students enough time to conduct the research and post a tweet for each question. Although it should be a pretty fast flowing online discussion, some students will need more time than others and encourage collaboration amongst the students. This shouldn’t be a silent classroom!

Collaboration and assessment:

Ask your students to find three “tweets” posted by other students. They should reply to the tweet with their own observations.

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Remind your students to always use the # hashtag when commenting so that the comments may be seen by the class. You can display the comments on the Smart Board for those not using Twitter and print a discussion log for the student’s notes.

Finally, ask your students to assess the use of Twitter and the lesson plan for further development. If your students find this task to be useful, interesting and engaging, it can be adapted for further use as required. They can post their comments on the feed!

Online resources: Many of the sites below will guide students to other resources. Women in Wartime is particularly good for giving an overview of the topic.

Year 10 History Australian Curriculum

Women in Wartime

Australian War Memorial – Stories about women’s involvement in the war effort

Experience of South Australian women on the home front

Have you ever used Twitter in the classroom? How did your students respond? Please let me know if you have any questions or comments about this lesson plan. 

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2 comments

  1. I am genuinely curious as a non-teaching professional exactly how Twitter engenders a greater understanding of the homefront (or any topic really )than say a moderated discussion in the classroom and the traditional writing of the essay. Are you incorporating information literacy by encouraging students to critically analyzing proffered links? Discouraging over reliance on Wikipedia? Examining how Google skewers results culturally (and based on previous search histories).

    Skimming this article it seems Twitter is being used for the sake of using Twitter.

    1. Thank you for your response. The proper use of computers and tablets in the classroom is definitely a concern for many parents. Yes, moderated discussions, writing essays and extended responses, research and analysing information are all important in creating an engaging and informed program for students and will make up much of the lessons. I also could have just asked students to Google the information and written a response on a worksheet (in fact the critical assessment of websites is taught throughout a child’s school career). My goal is to introduce new ways of finding and discussing information and teaching students the skills they require for the course and real life including: literacy (the ability to write a short succinct response using the historical terms and concepts), ICT literacy (including the ability to use social media for information research and discussion), social media etiquette, assessing the use of social media. We are not just teaching researching and Googling, rather there are many higher order thinking tasks incorporated into this lesson. Additional, we hope to encourage engagement with the issue in a new way for students and not to use a program just for something to do. I hope this answers your question.

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