Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Using twitter to learn more about stereotypes

Our Year 9 students are currently participating in a project with international students from 6 countries called It's a small world. We are asking the students to explore the notion of stereotypes. By making connections with students from 5 schools from 3 other countries, Pakistan, USA, Malaysia and Australia we are hoping that students will be able to break down typical stereotypes by getting to know other students through a ning. We are using two of the Intel Thinking with Technology tools and a wiki to share our thinking.
One of the first tasks for students to do was to rank characteristics according to how they think others view them. Our students were finding this really difficult to do. By pure luck I happened to read a blog post by Tom Barrett about how he had used twitter to ask fellow twitters to share with his students the probability of it snowing in their location.
It gave me an idea.
so on Tuesday morning I sent out a tweet asking for responses to this..

Good morning all. For Yr 9s studying identity . When do you think of Aussies, what characteristics do you think of?

Within 10 minutes we had some fantastic answers from around the world

janenicholls @annieb3525 Being an Aussie I think we are resourceful, blatantly honest and loyal! but I'm uncomfortable describing a ppl group!

middleclassgirl @annieb3525 you could look at comedy where some good st are or go to pictureaustralia.Org and look at one of the pic trails

hopeinhell @annieb3525 hmm.. ok.. easygoing, beer-slurping, binge drinking, bbq-ing, slow-drawling, adventure hunting.. to name a few.. :D

paulrwood I try to learn so much from what I read about Aussies doing. Great folks from a different part of the world. I am in Texas

suzievesper @annieb3525 - I have some negative (but not necessarily the way I think!) Brash, uncouth, racist. Some positive - resourceful, sporty.

paulrwood I am sorry to say that I assoicated so much with the "shrimp on the barbie" commercials. Now my boss of 14 yrs is from Brisbane

lenva @annieb3525 - Aussies = casual and laidback. enjoy outdoors. confident in expressing themselves. not afraid to disagree.

SarahStewart @annieb3525 Brash but fun. Give it a go attitude. Not as sophisticated as some nationalities. Very effective at what you do eg sports...

SarahStewart @annieb3525 ...but a little redneck at times :)

onlineteacher @annieb3525 Tough. Fearless. Individualistic n opinionated. Straightforward. Kinda like way USA was 100 yrs ago *:-) Luv u guys *:-)

Some of the responses certainly got our brains and our mouths moving. Some students took offence at being considered redneck or brash and opinionated. But on the other hand it really made them think about how they also put people into stereotypes and how offensive that might be to them.
So thanks to all who contributed. It really opened the eyes of our students and had added a whole new depth to our understanding.


Tom said...

Hi Anne - great to see my idea for using Twitter has been useful to you and your students. You certainly got some provocative responses - the benefit of using a social network in this way is that the data, opinions and preferences are from real people. Not just a text book.

Get Accepted said...

One interesting thing about stereotypes is that they are cultural.

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Mark said...

Great project! What a way to help students learn how to use technology while learning more about each other as well! How did you organize five schools from all over the world? I’m not a member of “It’s a small world” but I’m guessing that helped? Where the postings monitored or were students allowed to post whatever they wanted? Students learning about each other from each other, its fabulous!