Social Media + Literature = Laughs and Lesson Plans

The Odyssey, Shakespeare and Huck Finn…yea, we’ve rapped about them. We wedded literature with rap, and never looked back. But recently, various authors have decided to intertwine the classics with an even newer form: social media. We’ve put together a list of our favorite re-imaginings of the classics on Facebook and Twitter, and included lesson plans to adapt each idea for the classroom.

Literature, meet the Internet. Internet, literature.

1. Facebook Newsfeed Literature.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that those who already love Hamlet and Pride and Prejudice will laugh at the Facebook news feed interpretations of these classic tales. Read them here and here. And for those who are having difficulty understanding the stories, the Facebook recaps can serve as useful plot summaries. For the well read, this quiz tests your knowledge of literature through status updates of characters.

Lesson Plan Ideas: 1. Have your students summarize the plot of a story in the form of Facebook status updates.  2. Hold a discussion about how the availability of social media, or other modern technology, might have changed the plots of older stories. 3. Have students create a “Fakebook,” or facebook profile for a famous historical person or character.

2. Perform a Play Online.

We made our Much Ado about Nothing video for READ Magazine’s online production of the Shakespearean comedy.

Lesson Plan Ideas: 1. Cast students in a play. Following the example from READ magazine, have students create Facebook updates or tweets to act it out. 2. For more advanced students, discuss and analyze how the performance of a play online compares with a live performance.

3. Write a Novel on Twitter.

This is a serialized novel to the extreme. One student decided to write a novel, line by line, in twitter updates.

Lesson Plan Ideas: 1. On Twitter (or on paper), have students write one sentence of an original novel (or short story) per day. 2. Study Hemingway’s famous six word story (For sale: Baby shoes, never worn.) Read more six word stories online. Then have students write their own six word tales!

4. @Bloomsday.

Today is Bloomsday. For those of you unacquainted with this special day, Bloomsday comes from a book called Ulysses by James Joyce. Arguably the pinnacle of modernist experimental fiction, the novel follows one day in the life of Leopold Bloom. And that day is June 16. So to celebrate, devoted readers will tweet sections of the 600+ page book. Follow @lyyses on twitter today to check out this modern modernist experiment. Read more about the project here.

Lesson Plan Ideas: 1. Following the idea of Bloomsday, ask your students write a story about one very typical day in their life. 2. Divide up a novel that you’ve read as a class, and have students summarize sections or chapters of it, and possibly even tweet them!

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. My 5th grade students “tweeted” chapter summaries of Hatchet. One of the biggest struggles with teaching summarizing at that age is learning to be concise and not include every detail. They got really good at limiting their summaries to 140 characters….. And loved it!

  2. This is a great set of ideas. I think that social media is an essential medium for tranforming knolwedge production. The activities suggested in this blog post provide ways of transforming students from knowledge consumers into knowledge producers. A substiantial amount of academic discussion now takes place on academic blogs and internet forums. Students can now participate in this dicussion. The ideas presented in this blog also overcome huge barriers presented by traditional classrooms: fear of public presentations, reluctance to express one’s opinion, and time constraints.

    Another key pedagogical compnenet of these activities is identity transformation. When students post summaries on twitter and facebook they are presenting their ideas to broader audiences than their classroom public. They are also presenting their ideas to their friends and familiy. A common problem of traditional education is that students form oppositional cultures. All too often a student who answers questions is labeled as a nerd. These activities, however, cultivate a “scholarly” identity. Rather than removing education from a student’s “at home,” “on the bus,” or “with friends” identities, these activities integrate pedagogy into all of these identities.

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