For class on Monday, I’d asked my students to read a selection from or review of A Patriot’s History of the US and A People’s History of the US. In class, we looked at passages describing Columbus from each of those texts and compared them. Before class, I’d checked to see if Larry Schweikart (one of the co-authors of A Patriot’s History) was on Twitter. (Howard Zinn is dead, but the Zinn Education Project is also on Twitter.) I asked students if there was anything that they wanted to ask the author and we decided to ask what he thought the best criticism of his approach to history was. (Asking authors for the best criticism of their arguments is one of my favorite questions to ask.)
Mr. Schweikart responded, and since class was still going on, his response allowed us to further our class discussion and ask a follow up question. Students also thought it was pretty cool that we were able to engage him directly. It was a quick and easy example of engaging people outside the classroom to enrich what was going on inside the classroom.
Twitter is blocked for students at school, but a number of them wrote that they use it outside of school. I’m still not sure whether I want to pursue trying to get it unblocked at school (our tech department is super helpful and would be happy to have conversation, I’m sure), but I’m definitely planning to put together a list of Twitter accounts that will tie into the material that we study. That’ll allow students who are on Twitter to follow those accounts either with their personal accounts or for them to set up a school/professional account if they choose.