Twitter is a unique medium. In a single feed, it can serve up expert and professional blogs, personal opinion, and news from international outlets and from widely varying viewpoints. In this MediaLit Moment, your social studies students will have fun examining different flavors of tweets (and linked content) about the first Thanksgiving, and will learn how to ask questions to evaluate their source and point of view.
Ask students to evaluate a spectrum of tweets on the same topic for their sources and points of view
AHA!: I’m getting some of the same information, but the way it’s put together is so different from tweet to tweet!
Grade Level: 7-9
Key Question #1: Who created this message?
Core Concept #1: All media messages are constructed.
Key Question #4: What values, lifestyles and points of view are represented in, or omitted from, this message?
Core Concept #4: All media messages have embedded values and points of view
Materials: computer with high speed internet access; LCD projector and screen
Activity: Twitter feeds are designed to change rapidly, so you will need to strike a balance between pre-screening for useful content and discovering it along with your students. On the night before the lesson, search Twitter with the following terms: “Wampanoag first Thanksgiving,” and “first Thanksgiving Native Americans.” The first search should yield several tweets linking to an article written by a Native American woman for the website “Indian Country Today.” Other notable tweets from this search may include a short blog post on the contemporary Wampanoag by Maia Weinstock (@20tauri) and the story of Squanto from @executedtoday (linked to a web address of same name). The second search should yield a variety of tweets. Search for specific tweets if you wish. Useful tweets for this activity might include: tweets linking to a Buzzfeed article on “15 Things You Didn’t Know About the First Thanksgiving,” a tweet linking to a short article posted by the U.S. Embassy in Kuwait, and a tweet linking to Ron Charles’ Washington Post review for Nathaniel Philbrick’s e-book “The First Thanksgiving.”
We suggest that you limit your searches to top tweets. Doing so doesn’t guarantee top quality tweets, but it can increase the odds of finding useful content. Do make sure to pre-screen any tweet which is marked “sensitive.”
Display your searches for students, and have students practice with asking questions that help determine a text/author’s credibility, and that help to reveal the author’s point of view: Who is the publisher? Who is the author? What authority does he/she have on the topic? What kinds of sources, if any, does the text reference? Sample questions about values and points of view: What seems to be the author’s main point? Is there a larger point of view about the world that he/she would like you to accept? Questions about purpose may also be useful. For example, why would a U.S. Embassy in the Middle East bother with posting an article about the First Thanksgiving?
The Five Core Concepts and Five Key Questions of media literacy were developed as part of the Center for Media Literacy’s MediaLit Kit™ and Questions/TIPS (Q/TIPS)™ framework. Used with permission, © 2002-2013, Center for Media Literacy, http://www.medialit.com