The Twitter feed project is going well. We spend some fruitful time at the beginning of each class going over some Tweets and the students, this quarter, are compiling their tweets into a portfolio for submission at the end of the quarter.
I was explaining the project to my colleague and he found this article that investigated and ultimately determined how to say Twitter in Latin. (Hint: Catullus 3 is involved.) I particularly liked seeing the Latin version in the Twitter font.
Our assistant principal talked to us about the evaluation process and how his focus this year would be on the beginning of class and how class opened. I have always been conflicted about do-nows; I like the idea but I’m bad at doing little things regularly (like setting up and distributing a do-now) and I like that first few minutes of class to check in with students and build relationships.
I’d been using the Pope’s Latin twitter feed for a while now as a quick check in (when they’re not too proselytizing) and had been noticing neo-Latin / Latin tweets. It occurred to me that I could embed Latin tweets in our LMS and use that as a do-now that the kids might enjoy, that I wouldn’t have to set up, and that I still could use as time to check in with students.
(And, just in case, though I assume that, if you’re here, you have at least a passing knowledge of Twitter, Twitter is a useful language tool because of the 140 character limit, i.e. that limit naturally minimizes the complexity of sentences and language.)
First the technical. I’d embedded twitter feeds before, but they had always been my own tweets (back when I used Twitter instead of the much preferred Remind (101)); I quickly realized that I couldn’t (at least as far as I could tell) embed a twitter timeline. With a little research, however, I learned that I can embed a Twitter list, likely a better alternative to embedding the timeline because there is more customization available.
A Twitter list, in case you don’t know, is simply a curated timeline; it allows you to customize which accounts are included. (In the interest of full disclosure, before I knew what a list was, I revised a dormant account that I had used for class with the intention of customizing that timeline, not realizing that I could create a list and embed it via my existing account). So I gathered about 20 or so accounts that tweeted largely in Latin, and created a list. (And my Latin teacher Twitter account is @dehlatinteach rather than the account associated with that list, if you’re interested in following.)
So I embedded that list on the home page of my Latin course’s LMS:
Students choose a tweet or two from the timeline / list and submit it to a discussion board (so that everyone can see them and so that I can gather them under one heading, i.e. instead of having a separate submission for each day for each student, I have all of a given students’ tweets in one place).
Here is the list embedded [for some reason it’s linking rather than embedding; working on that]:
And so far it’s gone well. My concern about do-nows, that essentially they are a hoop I’m forcing students to jump through, seems to have been addressed: not only are students completing the assignment, but they also seem excited to do so.
The bigger picture goal here of course is to focus on proficiency (buzzword, I realize), so we minimize talk of translation and focus more on meaning, which we all appreciate as well.
So so far so good with the embedded Twitter list do-now. If you can get over / figure out the technical aspect on your end, it’s a great way to start a class.
I could probably post tens, if not hundreds, of tweets from Legonium / @tutubuslatinus, but I happened upon these tonight and their use of visual plus Latin made them worthwhile (again, pure happenstance that I, well, happened upon this particular one).
So a bit more technology perhaps than Latin, but I’ll return to some Latin below. I’m a Swivl Pioneer and so was alerted to the launch of Recap, a website that allows students to interact via video with questions the teacher poses. (I’ve heard this is similar to VoiceThread, which I know of but with which I am not directly familiar.)
In my Medieval Lit class, we’re focusing on manuscripts for the next few weeks, and so I thought I’d turn my class loose with Recap and some introductory videos on MSS to see how Recap works.
Once you’re logged in to Recap, you make classes:
There’s my Medieval class.
At the upper right of that screen is the ‘Add Recap’ button, which allows you to write questions for your students to answer and you can set the length of max response (2 mins max).
When I first started writing the questions, I was sticking to largely objective questions (because they were the ones that came to mind) but I realized that it seemed somewhat wasteful for students to record answers to objective questions (though I was happier with the video responses to those questions than I expected; more on that below). As I went on, however, I made more open-ended questions, including questions that required physical props; this, it would seem, is the real advantage to Recap, is the ability to hold before the camera in a dynamic way objects to enhance a response.
Once the students answer and submit, the teacher has a summary screen:
(At the risk of sounding defensive, the students were working in groups, which is why the percentage is so low.)
You can see too that students are able to rate their understanding with a simple visual key and student videos are available for watching at the bottom.
Here’s a screen-scroll of all of the responses / summary screens:
Recap also produces (and I mean that to some extent in the technical sense as well) a ‘Daily Review Reel’ (at upper right) that puts together the videos with some music, borders, and the question at the beginning. (I’m not quite sure why all of the videos didn’t make the review reel but I did find that you could add or subtract videos from the reel; perhaps they try to keep the review reel on the shorter side?)
Here’s a link to the video (Recap provides this; no embed code as far as I could find). And here’s the screen-grabbed video:
In the end, I’m always trying to assess whether a new tool like this has staying power. Is it an effective tool for me and my students to make more efficient and more successful my teaching and their learning? The easy answer is I don’t know. They were initially skeptical (at best) of videoing their answers but, once they got used to the idea, they produced good responses in a more natural and comfortable way. I enjoyed listening to the answers because their personalities came through. And even for the objective questions, which, as I said above, I felt like was a bit of a waste for this kind of format, it seemed like they had a better handle on that objective information than they would have if they were writing it down, filling in a blank, etc. I will try to do circle back to this information later to test that sense, but that was an initial impression.
So a good first foray. I think finding the right kind of assignments for this is important, but I’ll continue to experiment with it. I’m excited to try it with Latin because I feel like it could be a good way to get more students involved in a more natural way for open-ended material, i.e. students can interpret text, offer different readings, speculate on grammatical usage, etc., in what feels like a much less pressured environment (the video response) than in front of the whole class.