Last week our district celebrated online safety and cyberbullying prevention week. Of course, we want to do this all year long, but last week provided us with the opportunity to really talk with students about being cautious with what they do online. Many grades spent time talking about digital presences and keeping things offline that you would not want your grandma to see. One high school class, in particular, did a nice job integrated their regular content (geography) into this.
The teacher found an interactive map (http://geocommons.com/maps/210024) that used geocoding to map out where all the racist Tweets came from on Election Night, 2012. If you did not hear about this, the larger story came from high schoolers losing academic and athletic scholarships after they posted racist Tweets and then their prospective schools saw said Tweets. So this teacher used the map to begin looking at where these Tweets were focused at and to lead students to begin creating generalizations about certain geographical areas and whether or not their states voted one way or another.
He also made sure to share that this is quite imperfect, as many things, such as racist Tweets for the other side (Republican), multiple Tweets from one person, and other factors lead to the inability to draw too many conclusions, but in a world where data rules, I thought this a fine activity. Using a social networking tool to interest students. Using something real, like a current event. Tying in the curriculum. What a great way to motivate students!