With a new school year fast approaching, I have found myself going back and forth about whether to tackle tweeting with my students.
On one hand, I have learned more connecting with dynamic educators online via Twitter than at all of my school’s staff development days over the last 9 years! I’ve built a powerful PLN that inspires me, challenges me, and teaches me. If I have a question, I throw it out on Twitter and I never fail to have multiple responses within minutes. Twitter has shown me how powerful an online community can be.
On the other hand, I know parents may have negative connotations about tweeting or the value of tweeting in an academic context. Most may have only heard of Twitter as a result of celebrities tweeting and that is not helping my cause any. Using Twitter with students also opens the virtual doors of the classroom creating concerns about privacy and safety.
So, here in lies my dilemma. I’d love to use Twitter to have students:
- Build their own PLNs. I want my students to become lifelong learners who feel confident seeking out knowledge. Twitter is a wonderful tool for meeting people who share your interests and passions.
- Reach out to experts and individuals beyond the four walls of our classroom to deepen their learning and show them the relevance of the work we are doing.
- Develop a positive digital footprint and web presence.
- Increase communication with my students. There are kids that will text or tweet but would never sit down and write me an email.
- Create class community and foster relationship building among students by connecting them informally outside of class.
- Host “Class Chats” about literature, current events, projects (in progress) and topics related to our class.
- Discuss assignments as they work creating a support network of peers to lean on and learn from.
- Cut down on the number of kids who come to class with the “I wasn’t sure what to do” excuse.
- Cultivate stronger communication skills. Be kind and concise.
- Get creative with storytelling in 140 characters.
Despite this compelling list of positives, I have a feeling I will encounter push back. I believe I could counter parental concern and administrative pressure by articulating clear objectives as well as clear expectations for engagement.
TodaysMeet, which I love, is an ingeniously simple backchannel tool that could serve as a possible alternative or gateway technology. Now that I can add a hash tag when I create a room using TodaysMeet, it will automatically pull in Tweets tagged with this hash tag. I could teach twittiquette to students using TodaysMeet then transition them into Twitter once they’ve had some practice engaging with their peers using a backchannel.
So much to consider. I’d love to hear how other educators tackled Twitter in the classroom.
- How did you introduce it to your students, parents, and/or administration?
- What support did your students need to be successful?
- What obstacles and/or successes did you experience?
- What is one piece of advice you would give a teacher thinking of using Twitter in the classroom?
- What is the coolest thing you did with Twitter in your classroom?
Thank you in advance for sharing your thoughts on this. I’m hoping other educators can help me decide how to proceed!