Dr. Sandra Hogue (fellow National Writing Project and Kentucky Writing Project peer) introduced me to the concept of the booksnap at the Kentucky Writing Project’s 2018 Fall Literacy Conference and I was immediately struck by the many applications for this concept in my classroom. I have been snapping away in my Eng 200 classes this semester and today when I read a blog post by Jill Yamasawa Fletcher, The Magic of One-Pagers, I knew the time had come to blog about the wonder (and yes, the magic) of snapping in the classroom.
I believe it was Tara M. Martin who first introduced educators to the concept of the “snap” or “booksnap” as an useful take on the popularity of Snapchat. You can read more about this in her blog post Snapping For Learning. This has been a phenomenon for a while and booksnaps had flashed across my consciousness via social media before Sandra explained how she was using it with young readers, but it was Sandra’s thinking that inspired the various ways I am using snaps this semester. And now I want to share the three reasons you should snap in your class!
I love the idea of booksnaps, but I teach writing classes. However, as Sandra had me create a booksnap during her session, I quickly saw how I could build on the six word stories that I already love and incorporate the idea of the six word story posters that I regularly use. Six word stories are a marvelous tool for students to distill the essence of a text, but snaps offer that and more so I decided that I would use snaps to help my students share a variety of ideas. So far this semester students have created PlayerSnaps to introduce themselves to the community (because that fit in well with our games theme – see my example and template); GameSnaps to create a bank of options for our rhetorical analysis of a game; and TextSnaps to build a collection of text summaries from our humanities reader. This week they are working on creating PopSnaps to connect the ideas portrayed by those philosophical texts with more modern texts and popular culture. Fletcher’s one-pagers showcase the flexibility of snaps and illustrate that you can go old school with just paper and pencil, crayon, etc. I really believe this is a tool with limitless potential. Just think of how you could use this with any content area or grade level presenting elements from the periodic table to mathematical or grammatical terms. How cool would it be to create a series of TextSnaps in place of an annotated bibliography, for example? Or a selection of events to illustrate a particular period in history?
Just like six word stories, once you introduce students to the essential framework and concept then students can run with the idea and create endless variations. It offers the simplicity of the quiz but employs a more creative platform. These are not text heavy but instead put the emphasis on critical thinking and careful selection of words and images (something that we all could benefit from more practice). They are also easy to consume and share. Too often summaries (or quizzes) are disposable assignments that move quickly from student desk to teacher desk to trash. Snaps create a resource that can be used both within the class or beyond to build toward a larger project (an aspect that I love). Last, but not least, snaps are easy to use as either formative or summative assessment tools and much better learning tools than a quiz or multiple choice test.
While snaps require students to think about the concept or text that they are snapping about it is less intimidating then writing a standalone summary or description. One of the reasons I like to use six word stories as a summary tool is that too often students want to throw in everything but the kitchen sink (and they would do that too if they could within the word count). A six word story forces the writer to focus only on the essence of the main claim. Snaps offer that same level of critical thinking activity but give students just a bit more room to maneuver which I find beneficial. Both Sandra and Tara incorporate actual elements from the text in their booksnaps which is a fantastic idea. I like my students to engage deeply with texts and snaps support that work.
Are you using snaps in your classroom? Do you agree that snaps are great learning tools with many benefits? I also love that snap is a slang exclamation — shouldn’t we encourage everyone to find what excites them in a text?