Edit: I have transitioned this to using todaysmeet.com rather than Twitter. The activity works the same, but we are in a walled garden that is much easier to set up than Twitter is.
In groups, students were assigned a country that became industrialized during the 18th and 19th centuries. The group’s job was to be the mouthpiece of that country with the task of letting the world know of their progress in industrializing using a common hashtag #MrMHWH. This was not the first time my class has used Twitter in class, so there was no need to explain how to use it. While the majority my students have personal Twitter accounts they elected to create new ones with the name of their country and used an image of their flag for the profile picture.
Getting started in this activity was a bit slow at first. With the exception of Britain, countries started tweeting about what was holding them back from industrializing. Then America tweeted about having gotten the plans to build a mill from Samuel Slater (who was from England). At this point, I reminded my class they should feel free to interact with the other countries (and even respond). When Britain angrily responded to the theft of their plans and told them that they pledged to support the South should there ever be a civil war, I knew that this activity was heading in the right direction.
For the next thirty minutes, in groups my students worked together to tweet out announcements of their progress and to respond to their classmates’ posts. My role transitioned from instigator to an observer (who every now and then would ask students to define terms that they used). Students’ roles varied from researcher, editor, and rapid responder.
When we debriefed the activity, students declared that they enjoyed the interaction that this activity encouraged. The activity and the light to moderate “trash talk” between countries organically led to a great discussion on nationalism.
When the bell rang, students asked if we could do this again. Ideally tomorrow. A few of them walked to lunch talking about the funniest historical tweets.
* Twitterized is not a word.