Live Tweeting a History Class


 I’m starting this with the fact that I stole the following lesson from Ilja van Wering and Russel Tarr. They are the ones who came up with the great idea of a Historian’s Dinner Party for DP History students. The idea of having students investigate and play the role of historians studying WWI was all their idea and I unashamedly stole their idea. And my students seems to really geek out on role playing a debate and arguing a point of view even if they don’t believe in the position of their historian. And it can make historiography, something that can be a little dry, come alive. With that said, I wanted to talk a little about the process of live tweeting the conversation. I have had a historians dinner party twice…once discussing the origins of WWI and one more time today talking about the origins of WWII. And both time, my only job was to live tweet the conversation. I was the recorder and as such I was silent. And some of my kids joined in the conversation. We use the hashtag #16HISYIS so that we can follow the conversation without following each other. And in the process of live tweeting the conversation, I’ve noticed some real advantages of flipping the script and having me be the notetakers. 1) The conversation can just go. They don’t have to take notes and they don’t have to worry about remembering everything. I’ve shared my tweets with them and they know they can use that to go back and remember the conversation. 2) They don’t need me to talk. Today they talked for 40 minutes without me saying a word. They were in charge of the conversation. And if there was an awkward silence, they had to deal with it. 3) They really listen to each other.

It’s great to see heads nodding in agreement. And to see them shake their heads when they don’t agree. And to see them build on each other’s arguments. And to see them reach out to the quiet students to ensure that they are heard.

4) Through my tweets, my kids can see what I consider important. I can’t tweet everything, so I try to tweet what matters. Like anytime you live tweet, I try to capture the conversation as best I can and to showcase the most salient/interesting points. Screen Shot 2015-03-20 at 3.44.28 PM

5) By having a backchannel some of more talkative students can “talk” without dominating the discussion. And I can “talk” with those students using the hashtag too.

6) There is something about having a global audience that tells my kids this is important. I’m not going to lie, my kids are impressed I have more than 125 followers. So when I say I’m tweeting their conversation, they feel that what they say matters. So they take it a little more seriously.

So next steps

1) I would love to have more kids in the back channel. I haven’t mandated that the kids get twitter accounts, but I would like to nudge them to do it more. Because I love what the add to that conversation.

2) It think there is a way to globalize this. I have a feeling Ilja and I will try to do this via Skype.

Screen Shot 2015-03-20 at 3.51.45 PM
But with a larger group, there may be value to some kids in the backchannel while others play the historians. We’ll see where this goes. But I’m excited to be the silent one and record my kids learn.


About Rebekah Madrid

MYP Humanities Instructor. International School Teacher in Japan. Google Certified Teacher. Apple Distinguished Educator. National Board Certified Teacher. Traveler & TV Watcher. This is where I write my thoughts about all of the above.
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3 Responses to Live Tweeting a History Class

  1. Pingback: Making the Connection | always learning

  2. Pingback: Week Four: Enter Catchy Title Here | COETAIL Online Cohort 5

  3. Pingback: What my students taught me on their last day of school | Rebekah Madrid

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