Social Studies,  In the Classroom

“Live Tweeting” Pearl Harbor Activity

**This activity is not currently available on my Teachers Pay Teachers store as the timeline from National Geographic is not active at this time**

One of the most difficult aspects of teaching history is making it relevant. If a student doesn’t have a natural interest in a subject, it can get really dry, really quickly.

This is why it’s important in a history class to make every lesson relevant and engaging.

As an American, understanding the events that propelled our country into the fight of World War II is important to our national history. Doing it in a way that is both engaging for our students and tasteful in remembrance can be a bit tricky.

Combining all of this together brings about this great Pearl Harbor activity for kids: Live Tweeting Pearl Harbor

the pearl harbor memorial on the island of Oahu, Hawaii.

In my first year teaching United States History II, I was a newlywed, fresh off my honeymoon to Hawaii. My husband and I were fortunate enough to visit Pearl Harbor on our first day in Oahu. I knew I wanted to use this information when I was teaching the subject, but I also knew if I hadn’t hooked them ahead of time, the pictures would mean nothing.

Using “Live Tweeting Pearl Harbor” in the Classroom

When I first began researching how I wanted to go about teaching the attack on Pearl Harbor, I found a fantastic interactive timeline on the National Geographic Website.

There is dark, ominous music playing and it goes through, moment by moment, the events of December 7, 1941, in terms that the students can not only understand but are completely captivated by.

This was a computer and headphones type of assignment. You could hear a pin drop in the room with just the sounds of mouse clicks and writing answers to the assignment prompts.

The looks on their faces were priceless as well. A little wide-eyed, but definitely completely oblivious to anything else going on around them.

Once the assignment prompts are complete, each student is assigned a specific timestamp from that day. Then, in 280 characters or less, they create a tweet to send out about that particular event.

They are given free rein to be as creative as possible while still being respectful of the situation.

Frankly, every class I have ever done this in has gotten really competitive on who can come up with the best Tweet.

I would then use a website such as Socrative.com or a shared Google Doc and the students would, one at a time, put their Tweet in so as to go in chronological order. They would watch each other’s Tweet pop up on the board as if it were happening in real-time and they were following the feed of someone who was present at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

The great thing about this is that you can amend the feed based on how many students you have in your classroom. If you have a smaller class, you can pick out the most important events. If it’s a larger class, there are plenty of moments to choose from.

The students absolutely love this. It’s one of those “accidental learning experiences” as I like to call them. They are instantly engaged and then put in a lot of effort to try to “top” their classmates, but it is all educationally sound. It’s my favorite and one of theirs as well.

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After moving from a teacher-dominated classroom to a truly student-centered one, Jenn found herself helping colleagues who wanted to follow her lead.  In 2018 she decided to expand outside of her school walls and help those out there who were also trying to figure out this fantastic method of instruction to ignite intrinsic motivation in their students.  Read more about her journey with Student-Centered World at studentcenteredworld.com/about

2 Comments

  • Melissa Wencker

    I used to teach World History and had students live tweet about D-Day. I would like to incorporate this into my lesson for American History. I wish National Geographic still had their link to the Pearl Harbor interactive running. That was a tremendous resource for me in the past.

    I’d like to try to have students Live Tweet Pearl Harbor using the Netflix documentary “Attack on Pearl Harbor: Minute by Minute.” Would you be willing to share with me the lesson plan and/or your original assignment prompts? I’m hoping it will help me better understand the ksteps you took to prepare for the lesson, the steps within the lesson and the pre-work you asked of the students before they began tweeting their moments from the attack.

    Thank you for your consideration.
    Melissa

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