Twitter to Scaffold Second Language Writing


In the past, my Year 13 French students have wanted to include in their assessment portfolios a piece on something in the media that interested them.  We were stymied by the requirement that there be a task sheet for each piece of writing with suggestions of what to include, assessment criteria etc.  So last year at the start of the year, I wrote a general task that allowed students to write about anything of significance that took their interest, namely, current events.

However, no student has opted to use that supplementary task despite animated discussions in French on current issues.  I suspect more scaffolding is required.

Since taking the plunge and creating a Twitter account, I have been wondering about how I could use these 140 character bites to scaffold writing in a foreign/second language.  So it was interesting to come across a slide presentation by another teacher, Alice Louise Kassens, who uses Twitter to teach and assess Economics.

I like her idea of taking a current event and asking students to write a succinct opinion of that event.  Instead of using those tweets for assessment purposes, my students’ contributions could form the basis of a language and content lesson in preparation for a longer piece of writing on a similar topic, that is, as scaffolding for assessment.

Queries: Can you set up a private group space on Twitter?  How old do Twitter users need to be, and would parent permissions be required?  Can Twitter support foreign accents etc?

I will find out.


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