freetotweetby Julie Dodd
JEA Mentoring Committee co-chair

From now until Dec. 15, 140 characters could mean $5,000.

The First Amendment Center is sponsoring the second “Free to Tweet” event, which encourages high school, community college and university students (14 and older) to tweet their support of the First Amendment.

By tweeting support for the First Amendment that includes the hashtag #FreeToTweet, the student is entered into the competition. Five $5,000 scholarships will be awarded.

According to the news release, more than 17,000 tweets were received on one day of last year’s event, including a tweet of support from the White House. Judging criteria and complete rules can be found at Updates on the event can be followed on Twitter at @FreeToTweet2012.

freetotweet_guideThe contest can be a great learning experience for students, as they practice how to share information, express views, and include photos and URLs in under 140 characters, including the #FreeToTweet hashtag.

To help teachers learn more about using social media, the First Amendment Center has created a 56-page teacher’s guide that discusses the use of “The Big Four” — Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and blogs. This guide would be helpful to any classroom teacher (or mentor) who is trying to determine how to effectively incorporate social media into teaching and learning.

Knowing how to use social media is particularly relevant to those teaching journalism and advising student media.

Mentors, please let your mentees know about the #FreeToTweet contest and curriculum guide.