Teaching Spelling with Twitter?

Submitted by: Caroline Viriot-Goeldel
Abstract: Several studies agree on the decline of spelling performances of French students in the last decades (DEPP, 1996, 2016 ; Manesse et Cogis, 2007). To foster motivation of both students and teachers, primary school teachers designed a digitally collaborative spelling program named “Twictée” which rapidly widespread through French-speaking countries. The word “Twictée” is the contraction of « Twitter » and the French word « dictée » meaning “dictation”, a traditional spelling exercise in French classrooms. The Twictée process includes 5 steps:
1) Teachers collaborate online to create a 140 characters sentence.
2) They dictate the sentence to their students, who write it down individually, collaborate to agree on the sentence’s spelling and send their productions to a partner class.
3) Observing the other class’s productions, students elaborate 140 characters justifications for the different spelling choices one have to make. They choose appropriate hashtags to categorize these choices (ex: # subject verb agreement). The two classes exchange their justifications (“twoutils”) through Twitter.
4) Students correct their own productions using justifications from other class’s students.
5) A final individual dictation of the sentence enables the teacher to assess students’ progress.
Despite the growing interest for this program (more than 600 hundreds teacher registered so far), few studies have examined it any closer. Therefore, the present study aims to investigate the influence of Twictée on students’ spelling’s performances. 40 classes from 4th to 6th grade take part to the investigation, 19 of them implementing “Twictée”. Students’ performances have been assessed at the beginning and the end of academic year 2017/18. This study tests the hypothesis that the practice of Twictée, through the practice of repeated spelling, collaborative spelling and the redaction of justification, supports the development of spelling. We’ll compare students’ progress (Twictee vs. control group), using data from pre- and post-tests. We are expecting the former to show larger progress in specific spelling tasks such as writing under dictation and setting a text to plural form. However, we wonder if these benefits transfer in a writing situation. Our statistical analysis are currently being processed.

Key words: Written langage, spelling, spelling acquisition, collaborative teaching practices
Direction de l’évaluation et de la prospective (1996). Connaissances en français et en calcul des élèves des années 20 et d’aujourd’hui, Note 96.19.
Direction de l’évaluation, de la prospective et de la performance (2016). Les performances en orthographe des élèves en fin d’école primaire (1987-2007-2015). Note d’information n°28.
Manesse, D. et Cogis, D. (2007). Orthographe: à qui la faute ? Paris : ESF.