“They have to use books! I don’t allow any Internet resources for this project.” This was a piece of a conversation I overheard while walking through the halls at my school. I cringed as I thought about the ramifications of that statement. We are living and teaching in a time where students have access to the world through the Internet and yet, some teachers limit them to finding information in a book that was (given the state of most school libraries) probably published ten or fifteen years ago. As Douglas Thomas and John Seely Brown (2011) suggest, students need to learn how to use technology in ways that will allow them to grow, learn, create and play. We need to re-think how we structure our lessons and what skills we are teaching our students in the process.
This week for CEP 810, my task was to create a 21st Century Lesson plan. I looked to the five core competencies put forward by Renee Hobbs in, Digital and Media Literacy: Connecting Culture and Classroom (2011) to help develop my lesson. Hobbs states that students should be able to Access, Analyze, Create, Reflect and Act. One of the things I teach as a high school English teacher is Romeo and Juliet. I decided Romeo and Juliet would be a great topic to bring to the 21st Century. The fact that it was written so long ago often hinders students’ ability to really understand that the story is still relevant today. The lesson plan I created asks students to utilize Google Docs to work collaboratively. While they are using computers to complete the assignment, that alone does not connect to Hobbs’ ideas. The assignment asks students to create social media posts that the characters from the play might have made, given the events of the story. Students are required to give evidence from the text to support the posts they write. They will also work together to create a “news feed” that displays all of their posts. It is this part of the assignment that really targets Hobbs’ ideas. Students have to demonstrate an understanding of audience and the different types of social media and how they work. They must format their posts according to which form of social media they plan to use. For example, Romeo would post a very different message on Facebook which could be seen by his parents, than he would in a direct message to Juliet on Snapchat.
By engaging students in this learning experience, not only will they be connecting with and demonstrating an understanding of the text, but they will be gaining 21st Century skills as well. This assignment asks students to work together collaboratively to create something utilizing social media tools they are very familiar with and interested in. It will help them connect to an old text and make it relevant to their lives today.
Hobbs, R. (2011). Digital and media literacy: Connecting culture and classroom. Thousand, Oaks, CA: Corwin/Sage.
Thomas, D., & Brown, J. S. (2011). A new culture of learning: Cultivating the imagination for a world of constant change. Lexington, Ky: CreateSpace?.