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Ways to Make Classic Literature Work in the Social Media Age

February 16, 2017

/ by

Jeff Hersh


Students have plenty of places to give their attention that doesn’t include their reading assignments for English class. The English teacher has been struggling to compete with other forms of media for generations: be it radio, television, internet, and now all the social media apps available in the hands of students on their smart phones.  

This is where embracing the mediums and finding ways to connect social media to classic literature might just be today’s English teachers' best way to motivate and help their students analyze those characters and texts. Here are some examples of ways to enhance the books you teach with social media. 


Romeo and Juliet Text Messages: Romeo and Juliet have a lot to say to each other; challenge your students to recreate their conversations in text form. And of course this includes emojis. There are emojis for kissing, daggers and poison, right?


Mango Street Instagram Feed: Challenge your readers of The House on Mango Street to create Esperanza’s own instagram feed of images that connect to the visuals she discusses in the many vignettes of the novel. This is a chance to have students thinking about the literary devices while out of school and out in their own town. 


Holden Caufield’s Twitter Account: Holden from The Catcher in The Rye seems to have an opinion about everything. Have students collect his thoughts and opinions and reshape them into tweets.  They’ll have a running list of key quotes and be able to analyze his character in a new way. 


The Crucible Hashtag War: The Crucible has characters full of conflicting opinions about the witch hunt in Salem. Here’s a chance to take those quotes from differing characters and add a hashtag that connects to one of the many themes that’s driving them to choose sides in the trials.  


All of these social media devices can be used for any novel or play you are teaching. What are some novels and characters that you would like to see come alive to your students via social media?    


ELA practice assignment


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