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Common Core State Standard
SL.CCS.1/2/3/4 Grades 6-12: An essay of a current news event is provided for discussion to encourage participation, but also inspire the use of evidence to support logical claims using the main ideas of the article. Students must analyze background information provided about a current event within the news, draw out the main ideas and key details, and review different opinions on the issue. Then, students should present their own claims using facts and analysis for support.


The world's a-Twitter. But for teens? Not so much

Hashtags such as #oilspill are used to search for tweets on certain subjects. Find a national or world story in the news and suggest a hashtag that might lead to a good Twitter search of the subject.
Social networking is something news organizations use a lot these days. Most have Facebook pages and Twitter accounts. Find the accounts used by the local newspaper you use for this class. Are there any others?
One of the main uses for Twitter is to follow subjects and people. Find 10 things in the newspaper that you find interesting, and would like to know more about. If you have access to Twitter, do searches for the people or subjects. For example, twitter.com/barackobama or twitter.com/oprah.

By Nancy Hanus
Michigan State University

Twitter has caught fire as a hot social media trend. It's also increasingly being used as an information source, sort of like Google. The first reports of recent catastrophic events such as the Haiti and Chile earthquakes came via Twitter. Yet one group that often leads the pack in social networking - teens - seem to have little use for tweeting. While nearly three-quarters of online teens use social network sites, only 8 percent said they use Twitter. A recent report showed text messaging is the hottest form of communication amid teens: Half of teens send 50 or more text messages a day. But the 140 characters in a tweet doesn't appeal quite so much.

While teens may be staying away from Twitter, college students are embracing it in higher numbers, according to the popularity of sites such as CampusTweet.com, where students compete to be the top tweeter at their school. And Twitter is being used as a tool for research and in the classroom, exposing students to uses of Twitter they might not have thought about. One Maryland teacher advocates total access to Internet and social technologies for his students, and incorporates Twitter and other social media in his foreign language lessons by having students collaborate via tweets and Google Wave.

Despite the surveys that say teens don't tweet, there are millions who obviously do. Some of the top tweeting celebs boast millions of followers - and many are obviously teens. Justin Bieber has 2.3 million followers, and is always the top or near the top of trending twitter topics.

Other top tweeters:

  • John Mayer: 3.3 million followers
  • Ashley Tisdale: 3 million followers
  • Coldplay: 2.7 million followers
  • Taylor Swift: 3.1 million followers

Maryland teacher (via Twitter feed @teachpaperless): You can't 'monitor' every single thing students do online, but you can educate & support them to make better decisions.

Student says: It's just an adult thing, according to Yalda Chalabi, 17. Our music teacher kept saying that she would put stuff up for us to follow on Twitter until one day she said, 'OK, who's following me on Twitter?' And no one raised their hand. You keep hearing people talk about it, but I don't know anyone my age that uses it."

Tech columnist says: Twitter is precisely what you want it to be, says David Pogue, personal technology columnist for The New York Times. It can be a business tool, a teenage time-killer, a research assistant, a news source - whatever. There are no rules, or at least none that apply equally well to everyone.

Nancy Hanus, former director of New Media for The Detroit News, is currently the online multiplatform producer/editor-in-residence at The Michigan State University College of Communication Arts and Sciences.

Front Page Talking Points is written by Felix Grabowski and Alan Stamm for NIEonline.com, Copyright 2015
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