Today was a super fun lesson! I've talked before about using Padlet as a discussion forum in my classroom, but today I used it a little bit differently than I've used it in the past. We're currently reading The Diary of Anne Frank, and we're to the point in our independent reading when students tend to really get bogged down in the monotony of Anne's life in the Secret Annex. It's totally understandable. Anne's life is rough for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that she has to be quiet and still most of the day and has to maintain a very rigid schedule. No matter how many times we discuss this and work to build empathy, students still struggle with this part of the book.
So today I decided to wake my kids back up and try to rekindle their interest in the text. We're a little more than halfway through the book, which is when Anne starts to develop a crush on Peter Van Pels. This is normally a winning point for female students, who perk up at the hint of a love story, but it's an even bigger turn off for boys, who are already sick of listening to Anne's feelings and could care less about this love story.
Today, we used Padlet like Twitter for a role play activity. Instead of having students tweet their own thoughts, I asked them to tweet as either Anne or Peter. First, we had to choose Twitter handles for each person. Classes voted to make these decisions. You'll see in the pictures below that one class chose @DiaryLover13 for Anne and @BigPete for Peter while the other class chose @flirtygirl2735 for Anne and @PeteyTweety for Peter. It was fun to see how the students viewed these two characters and how their perspectives were reflected in the Twitter handles they chose. Then students started tweeting. The first round of tweets dealt with Anne and Peter's feelings toward each other. The second round of tweets dealt with Anne's feelings toward her family members at this point in the diary. I haven't seen my students this engaged in Anne's story in several days. It was so fun to see how they reacted to each other's tweets and really put themselves in the characters' shoes. Not only did it help them build empathy for the people in the story, it rebuilt their interest in the story as we move forward. I'll let their "tweets" speak for themselves. If you click on the pictures, they'll get bigger, so you can read their tweets. Some show higher level thinking than others, but to be perfectly honest, I was just thrilled to have every student totally engaged in class discussion, and I really believe that students walked away from this lesson with a better understanding of the relationships in this book. Sometimes, it only takes 140 characters to say what needs to be said. It's a great exercise in brevity.
This is definitely a lesson I hope to bring back with future texts. We read several older texts throughout the year, and this activity was the perfect way to bring book characters into the 21st century and make them more relatable to students. Hope you enjoy our "tweets from the Secret Annex"!