What better way to make Literature digestible for lower secondary students than to use social media? A group of 4 teachers from Nan Hua High School share how they keep their students interested in the subject.
Learning and Having Fun
“The acts of learning and having fun don’t have to be exclusive,” English Literature and Music teacher Ms Chin Ying Fen says. “It is possible.”
She shares that bringing social media into the classroom helps engage her students and blurs the line between learning and fun.
“I also think knowing how to use social media is part of lifelong learning,” she adds. “It inculcates a habit in the students to live their life engaging in educational activities via social media.”
With that mind-set, she and a group of English Language and Literature teachers from Nan Hua High School worked together to use social media in their lessons.
Bringing Characters to Life
The students posted status updates on Edmodo as those characters. “We gave them reflective questions,” Ying Fen says. “These questions were supposed to prompt their personal responses so that they can take the perspectives of the characters.”
For example, a question for the book’s young protagonist Anna Peacock was: “Your baby brother has just been born. How do you feel?” And a question for Anna’s little sister Katy Peacock was: “Your parents are spending all their time taking care of Baby Ben. How do you feel?”
Students have to put themselves in the shoes of the characters before they could come up with relevant status updates. This helps inculcate a deep sense of empathy in them. As the story progressed, their status updates had to reflect the change and growth of the characters.
Ms Tessa Khew, an English Language and Literature teacher, feels that Edmodo made her students more enthusiastic and self-directed during lessons. Her students also developed the ability to link their understanding of the fictional characters to their personal, real-world experiences.
To help them understand and remember literature terms better, the teachers also used AskNLearn, an educational social media platform where students blog (see box story).
Creating Opportunities for All
Confidence is key in the classroom. However, the teachers found that in a big class, the less extroverted students tend to shy away from voicing out their opinions.
“They needed a lot of confidence to share their own opinions and they were not ready to do so,” Ms Kali Sri, also an English Literature and Language teacher, says. Going online gives everyone the opportunity to openly share their opinions and ideas.
Kali also builds confidence in her students by allowing them to take charge of their own learning. The upper secondary classes created a closed Facebook group where they discussed their literary opinions with their classmates. They also used this group as a platform for flipped classroom lessons where students read up on additional materials on issues and themes or watched video clips posted prior to poetry lessons.
“In class, you inevitably miss out on certain students who are quiet,” Ying Fen adds. “Social media helps teachers to reach out to everyone.” However, Serene advises that “the use of social media must also be purposeful and not just for the sake of using it!”
Tessa also feels that the online platform gives students the opportunity to exhibit certain talents, which they feel could not be showcased using pen and paper. While the latter may have worked for centuries, online learning definitely has its own benefits too!