Teaching Opinion

Explore Shakespearean Text Via Twitter for Greater Student Engagement

By Starr Sackstein — June 01, 2017 2 min read
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Each scene from each act has been shared in comic form by different members of our classroom community. Students have had the opportunity to ask their questions of student experts, now is the time we take what we have learned in pieces and put it all together.

Class discussions can be tricky in the best of situations, especially when working with a large number of students in a room that is fixed in the way it looks. (I teach in a computer lab and the terminals can’t be moved. So the kids are sitting in rows with large computers right in front of them).

In order to combat the usual classroom discussion faux pas of allowing too few students to engage with the text, we will be discussing Macbeth on Twitter. This way, each student has a chance to engage before we do our written assessment in class and the discussion doesn’t have to end at the bell.

Using the hashtag #LIC10E, students will use the above questions as a jumping off point in their engagement and discussion of the text to help sort through their ideas.

During scene presentations, students had an opportunity to explore deeply what the experts on the scenes learned. During this time, they gathered notes and resources were provided to deepen and enrich their understanding of the text.

The chat that ensued showed some interesting trends about student understanding of the text. Most of the students held Lady Macbeth responsible for the actions of the play with a secondary act of blame toward Macbeth and the Witches equally which I thought was interesting.

Playing devil’s advocate, I tried to push them to question a few other options from the text to understand perspective.

Another major topic that was discussed was theme and which one played the most significant role. Depending on who’s story the student was most aligned with, the theme seemed to be match up.

Those students most interested in Lady Macbeth and gender roles spoke to guilt and/or regret while those interested in Macbeth spoke to ambition and absolute power.

Although I didn’t have complete class contribution, I will email students now and invite them to revisit the hashtag, read their classmates’ tweets and continue to think about the text before their written assessment on it.

We often think that our students are digital natives who enjoy using social media for everything, but the fact of the matter is, Twitter isn’t completely natural for them until we explicitly show them how to use it FOR learning. We’ve done a bunch of chats this year and if I were to teach the class again in the future, I’d work harder to involve our hashtag more diligently than I did this year.

One unexpected bonus was when a teacher, whose class had just finished Macbeth as well, asked if her students can weigh in on their thoughts. I love that! It will be great for my students to talk to students from different places about the text.

How do you engage your students in meaningful class discussion and make use of the tools you have? Please share

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