Saturday, March 23, 2013

mLearning Activity - Trending Topics and Classroom Bonding

Trending topics, those hot topics of the day or sometimes the hour, are everywhere on social media. They represent what is ruling the world for different tribes.

So here's a very simple activity I've done with my students that has long-lasting, impacting effects in our classroom because of the emotional connections it enhances.

Trending Topics Activity
Students can use their cellphones or tablets note taking app.
Before you start, ask if they know what trending topics are, where you can find them. They will probably mention Twitter.
Then, tell the that they should write about the trending topics in their lives. They can even use the hashtag (#) and key words for their hot topics.
When they are finished, they partner up with another student and find things in common in their trending topics and ask each other more questions to expand on them.

Some Follow-up Suggestions
You can ask your students what they found out about their partners or their trending topics that they didn't know about.
You can write on the board students' trending topics making two columns: one with the ones you know; other with things you've never heard of. Students can, then, teach you about ythe key word you have no idea of.

In my case, I asked the students to email me their trending topics. In the following class, I made a list of common trending topics of the class and we talked about them as a group. I also posted some hashtags that were mentioned only by one student to give me a chance to personalize the activity and learn more about my students' interests.

My Teen Students' #trendingtopics

The fact that I've kept those trending topics mean that I can use them to give meaningful examples to students, look for resources that are suitable to their interests (music, movie clips, sitcoms segments) and, most importantly, connect to them in very personal and meaningful ways. I am closer to their world, they are teaching me things from their world. By doing that, I am making my teen classroom a much more emotionally-friendly environment where we ware not simply learning a language. We are using English to talk about our lives and what rules our world.

Variations of the Trending Topics Activity
Ask students to guess what the trending topics are in Twitter at that moment in different places of the world. Then they check if they got any similar to Twitter and discuss why those hashtags are trending topics.

Another possibility: use the topic that you are studying to build a trending topics wall and transform the into a word cloud, using Wordle, for example.

So, do you know the trending topics in your students' lives? What are your trending topics?


  1. I loved your idea, Carla!!! Thanks for sharing it! I am going to share it too. :-)

  2. Thanks, Cintia. It has worked really well in my class, and I think it has wonderful possibilities in terms of connection with your students and interaction in English.


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