So we’ve talked about memes, first impressions, and hooks but we should probably start getting intro the nitty gritty of day-to-day class work. What do you do on those days when the students are slowly working towards finishing the book? In-class discussion is great. And so are summary sessions. But how do we work the digital tools into the day to day readings?
Students today are known for putting more time into their Twitter feed, Facebook posts, and Instagram filters than they do school work. So what if we gave them the opportunity of a “best of both worlds” situation?! At the introduction of a new book, inform students of the “Social Media Timeline”. In this timeline, students will have to select a character and create a social media account for them. They could use Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram. If they want to use something else like Tumbler or Pinterest (though I have another great Pinterest teaching idea that is a work-in-progress right now) that could work too, the details and specifics are up to you.
My inspiration for this assignment comes from a Teaching Jane Austen PDF that PBS created. You can find the link to that publication here. I actually love some of the ideas that this PDF has provided, including the non-digital resources that the guide discusses. During the Winter Break I plan on actually reading through the entire PDF and then sharing a type of summary or review with you my readers. So another thing added to that long list of “things to do”. So getting back on track…
For the rest of the time while reading, students will have to continually add and update their character’s social media account with pictures, videos, quotes, and info about the actual character. The key is that the students remained involved in the reading, and if they are required to continually pay attention to a certain character as they read, this will help them remain interested and involved. To make this a more involved project, you could also have the students share their other projects and mini-assignments on the social media account, such as the Hook Memes, Digital Story Character Retellings, and the Meme Chapter Summary Retelling.
Even if their character that they choose for the social media account is different from the minor character they picked for a retelling assignment, they can still share the work, acting as if they are sharing it for their friend or family member. For example, if my social media account was Anne from Persuasion, I could still share the Charles Musgrove retelling video on her account by saying something like: “Here is my brother-in-law sharing his story of our adventures last year. Check it out, he’s pretty popular on YouTube!”.
I would recommend creating a social media account of your own for one of the characters. You could even have your example be the main character, then in the instructions for the assignment let the students know that they can use any of the characters EXCEPT the one you are using. That way no one just copies what you are doing.
Points could be divided along requirements like creativity, modernization of the character, working with other characters/students (commenting, retesting, relationship statuses, etc.), and versatility with posts. This way students don’t fall back on simply posting a quote every other day, or just finding pictures on Google.
All of the social media accounts could be shared on a website, Google drive, or blog that students could continually go back to so they could see their fellow students’ work. Once the class has finished reading the book you could conduct a presentation day where students could present their characters and social media accounts to the class. Compare and contrast those who chose the same characters and also have the students discuss how their progress was with the account. Did the account grow as they continued to read or was it a steady creation? Have the students discuss what they did and did not enjoy with the assignment.
Below are examples of social media accounts for characters from Jane Austen’s novel Emma.
**Examples are still a work in progress, come back later for the actual examples.**
Until I get my examples up…here are some examples from Twitter of a group who created Twitter Accounts of modernized versions of the characters for Pride and Prejudice for a YouTube blog that was titled The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. You can also find the actual YouTube series here. They have since then also done a spin-off of the books Emma and Frankenstein, as well as a separate series for Lizzie’s sister Lydia Bennet!