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Hashtags for writing practice (other skills too, likely)

On the Friday evening of IATEFL not long ago, I led a Pecha Kucha session on this stage with the enormous screen. Initially when the crowd was arriving, it was nerve-wracking, but once I got on stage, it was pretty invigorating, I must admit.

After all the media attention and fan letters died down, a thought occurred to me: these type of hashtags could be pretty useful (even fun?) with a little thought. I’d argue that it might be more inspiration than practical to actually use Twitter; perhaps pen/paper tweets or perhaps Google Docs might work more flexibly during class. Still, the nature of tweets being short is still key.

Take #RenameaFilmBadly for example. The example tweets actually summarise a key film point or paraphrase the title–both valuable skills for EAP students.

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A couple ways this can be manipulated after either summarised plot point/paraphrases have been made:

  • Redistribute them to other groups to decipher which film it represents.
  • Put groups together to critique the quality of the paraphrased title.
  • Put groups together to critique how representative the summarised plot point is to the overall film.

Take #awkIATEFLtimes for more general use. Change it to #awkclasstimes. Perhaps it could be used in one of these ways:

  • Students can write ways in which they’ve experienced awkward situations related to class situations (yours or any previous). Aim for humorous?
  • Collect all, photocopy them, and distribute to groups. Students categorise them into groups of similarity e.g. level of awkwardness / cause of awkwardness (because of classmates? because of teacher? because of bodily noises?).

Try out an original hashtag for your teaching point. For example, #concisebits.

  • Say you’re working on concision for writing. Pick out wordy student sentences from their own writing.
  • Distribute them to different students. Ask them to rewrite them into a tweet.
  • As an extension, redistribute #concisebits tweets. Students aim to match up tweet with original wordy sentence. Then rewrite new #concisebits tweet differently.

Take the idea of hashtags themselves.

  1. Give students a list of fun hashtags a la Jimmy Fallon (or maybe something suiting the atmosphere and context of your class).
  2. Students write a paper tweet suitable for that hashtag, but don’t include the actual hashtag on it.
  3. Collect all and redistribute to pairs.
  4. Pairs read, discuss meaning, and add the appropriate hashtag to the tweet.

Screen Shot 2016-04-25 at 10.14.12 PMI’m sure there are many other useful hashtag-inspired activities that we could come up with. It’s worth taking a look at what’s trending on Twitter for inspiration. There are often some interesting game-like tweets happening. This one’s trending for Canada as I type this.

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