Academic Proposals, Citation, Social Media

The abstract is off and the wait begins

I just finished writing, and have now emailed off, my poster presentation abstract for UT-Arlington’s upcoming conference on “Engaging Students: The Process and Product of Effective Active Learning.” For those of you who read my earlier post on my thought process and options for presentation topic, you’ll see that I went with the “let me tell you about how I’ve gone about conceptualizing and implementing all this stuff” approach. I guess we’ll see how the conference organizers take to it.

On an unrelated note, I was disappointed to discover that the 7th Edition of Turabian has very little to say about how to properly write or format an abstract. It told me how to cite an abstract, but that isn’t doing me a whole lot of good right now as it sits in the inbox of the person (or people) who will determine its fate. The guidelines on UTA’s webpage were more helpful (e.g. “Abstracts should be between 300 and 500 words and describe the nature of the project, the primary findings, and suggestions for how the work might be generalized to other contexts.”), so I just hope that I met the criteria of intelligibility and that I don’t offend them too much through my use of bullet points. However, I did meet the word count requirement — Huzzah!

Finally, I wanted to thank those of you out there in my PLN who, either wittingly or unwittingly, helped influence and inspire my thinking about this topic. I’m sure that some of you might recognize the intellectual heft you exerted on my proposal, and for that, I am grateful. Do know that if accepted and given the august honor of being able to make a poster, (which, I might add, Turabian helpfully defines for us as “a hybrid form of presentation…which combines elements of writing and speech” (122). Alternatively, if that explanation was too opaque, she also offers the description of “a poster” as “a large board on which you lay out a summary of your research along with your most relevant evidence” (126). My sophomores found these definitions [and perhaps the need to define a poster at all] highly amusing) I’ll certainly include appropriate references and/or poster-ready shout-outs.

So, without further ado, my abstract:

Conceptualizing and Integrating Social Media into the Secondary School Humanities Classroom


My work deals with the process–both intellectually and pragmatically–of designing a humanities course, which, through the integration of social media into the classroom helps to foster and enhance an ethic of collaborative and student-centric learning. While my classes (9th and 10th grade history courses at Fort Worth Country Day) have been participatory and discussion-based, I’ve sought various methods to minimize the centrality of my approval and feedback, thereby establishing amongst the students a sense of being a vital part of a collaborative learning community. To achieve this goal, in the past few years I’ve begun experimenting with various technological and social media resources and would like to present on the philosophy behind my decision to shift toward social media, the particular tools I’ve incorporated, the pragmatics of establishing them in the classroom, and the various ways in which they can be used as a venue for student writing, research, and collaboration.

My presentation will center on the following social media tools and resources and their applicability to a secondary school humanities class:

  • Twitter — as a means of student-student and student-teacher communication; as a means for test review; as a means for collaborative research; as a means to extend the conversation beyond the classroom
  • Blogs (e.g. blogspot.com; wordpress.com) — as the primary venue for student writing; as a form of electronic portfolio; as a repository for feedback from the teacher, peers, and other outside commentators
  • RSS Aggregators (e.g. Google Reader; BlogLines) — as a way for students and teachers to track and collect all student writing in a centralized location; as a quick means for evaluating assignment “completion”; as a means to share student work with teachers’ Professional Learning Networks.
  • Diigo — as a means to cull sources; as a way to “actively read” and annotate sources online; as a means for students to share research resources; as a means for teachers to meaningfully establish student progress on research projects
  • Wikis — as a centralized class “homepage” featuring calendar, assignments, downloads, etc.; as a repository for student projects; as a means for collaborative synthesis and writing


Ultimately, framing a humanities class through social media tools helps make the students’ critical thinking and writing processes become more transparent to the teacher as they take place. Ideally, incorporating these tools will enhance collaboration and communication, establish a dynamic where students are one another’s most valuable source of feedback, and most importantly, shift the emphasis of students’ learning toward the formative process rather than the summative result(s).

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