I’m late to the party. This I know. But my enthusiasm for this soirée is genuine, and it fueled some of my first day success.
In an effort to build community as quickly as possible this school year, and to get to know our students a bit over the summer, my colleague Sarah Sterbin and I decided to add some technological play to our AP Language summer homework. Using the hashtag #fhslanglife, students were asked to share their reading life throughout the summer.
They could snap photos of their trips to the bookstore, their feet in the sand and a book in their hands, and their smiling faces reading the summer away.
They could quip about quotes from required and choice reading, make suggestions to peers on what to read next, comment on the insights of others, follow my reading adventures, and the list goes on.
As often happens with open ended assignments, we got a wide variety of participation. Tweets ebbed and flowed throughout the summer, but each time a student posted, I made it a priority to comment, retweet, like, and/or tag an author to promote connections across the world of reading. When Ishmael Beah, Allen Eskens, and Matthew Desmond interact with your students over the summer, I call that a solid win for starting to build readers and a community with enthusiasm around reading.
On the very first day of school, and in the few days that followed, as we quickly collected summer work, set down to work with a quick writes, set up writers’ notebooks, organized editorial speeches for our first speaking opportunity, and took in the surroundings of our room, I asked students to use our hashtag to share their excitement about the work ahead. I love what they chose to share.
Tweeting is a quick and easy way to build community. I sometimes display current tweets our daily PowerPoint/Syllabus to keep the movement afoot, and I love to hear students’ reactions as they come in the room to see their humor, insights, and recommendations on the big screen.
How do you use social media to promote reading and writing lives? Please leave your brilliant ideas in the comments below!
Lisa Dennis teaches English and leads a department of incredible English educators at Franklin High School near Milwaukee. Her latest tweet suggests that she thinks about reading 24/7. Follow Lisa on Twitter @LDennibaum