The Student News Site of Alief Kerr High School


The Student News Site of Alief Kerr High School


The Student News Site of Alief Kerr High School


French class utilizes social media site in assignments

General QuestionFor the first time, a Kerr PAK and the evergrowing social media site Twitter combine into one assignment for students. 

In order to mix modern technology with his teaching methods, French teacher Aaron Schowalter requires each French student to create a Twitter account in order to apply knowledge learned at school at home and in daily life. Depending on the class level, posting a certain number of tweets about life outside of school now represents 25 percent of every French PAK.

Essentially, students are required to post tweets in French about their life outside of school and mention Schowalter in it. Then, the teacher checks the tweets and makes changes if necessary. Finally, the students retweet with the appropriate corrections.

In addition, Schowalter encourages students to switch the language setting to French in order to get more used to the entire concept.

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Schowalter was inspired to implement this new idea during last summer. He added it to the course in an effort to encourage students to “start thinking in French outside of the classroom” and apply their skills more at home.

“I read an article about a university that was using Twitter with their French students,” he said. “It sounded like a good way to get students to practice more French not only in the classroom, but also when they get home.”

His overall goal consists of three things: making students more comfortable with the language, improving their communication in French, and integrating technology in the entire process.

Twitter assignments was a new experience for the students, but Twitter itself was completely new for Schowalter.

“Like many students, I just opened my first account when I added Twitter to this class,” Schowalter said.

A few students were familiar and had prior knowledge regarding Twitter.

“I just began using my Twitter account I made about 6 months ago,” sophomore Jesse A. said. “I didn’t do much on there, except follow a few friends and a couple of celebrities.”

Others say they knew about Twitter before taking French, but chose not to use it.

“My first ever Twitter account was made for French class,” sophomore Yash S. said. “I knew about it before, but honestly, I never really cared for it.”

Some teacher use as a place for students to submit and keep track of their assignments. But Schowalter wished to utilize a more user-friendly site that everyone could easily adapt to and use on a daily basis.

“Unlike Facebook or MySpace, it’s one of the networking sites we have access to at school,” Schowalter said. “If they do not have internet access at home, the students can go on the site here at school and post their tweets without any problems.”

Some students were immediately hooked on to the idea and understood the true purpose of the assignment.

“The assignment is pretty creative,” senior Frances O. admitted. “It’s an interactive learning process because he actually replies to the tweets posted to him.”

Not all students were immediately fond of having to tweet about their lives, even if it is for a grade.

“I don’t agree with this teaching method since I’m not a fan of Twitter at all,” junior Denitza D. said. “I just don’t see the point in tweeting about your life.”

After getting news of the assignment, Denitza’s parents were rather upset.

“My dad called Mr. Showalter because he was totally [annoyed] about this,” she said. “He didn’t think it was needed to involve school with something like Twitter.”

Schowalter addressed the problem that students who object to using Twitter are having by making tweets an option for practicing their French.

“I told the students who prefer to stay away from Twitter that they could write out their sentences on paper,” Schowalter said. “Basically, there’s an option for everyone so that one is completely forced into doing anything.”

Still, Jesse is able to see both sides of the situation and stick with a relatively neutral opinion.

“I don’t think it’s necessary,” Jesse said. “But it makes the class a little bit more interesting.”

Yash appreciates the effort and the assignment as a whole.

“It’s illogical but somewhat captivating,”  Yash said. “I like Mr. Schowalter’s attempt to fit in with the current times and be up to date.”

Despite some negative responses, Schowalter is impressed by the progress he is seeing with this new idea so far.

“I see the students pushing themselves a little bit further compared to when we did not use Twitter,” he said. “They’re actually practicing more at home since they’re thinking more in French.

“Before, a lot of students would just do their work at school and that would be it,” Schowalter said. “However, now, I’m glad to say there’s real practice being done outside of school.”

Yash sees the positives to having a social networking site integrated with a foreign language class.

“Since all of the tweets are stored, one day I can look back and see my progress,” he explained.

Frances’s outlook changed when she began using Twitter with the intent of applying her skills to complete her PAK assignment.

“Twitter was always a source of drama in my opinion,” she said. “But it has improved a lot because now learning and PAKs are involved.”

Schowalter intends to keep Twitter as part of the French curriculum for upcoming school years “as long as it goes according to plan”.

“It may even expand and there might be even more communication done through Twitter,” Schowalter informed.

“Kerr High School promotes technology and our principal asks us to involve technology as much as we can because that’s the future,” Schowalter said. “So, since the students are using new technology as part of their assignment, we are getting 100% support from all staff members.”

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