All a-Twitter II: the kids

My reservations notwithstanding, it appears irrefutable that Twitter offers powerful opportunities for learning, as well as applications in the classroom.

In his blog, The principle of change, George Couros recommends some ideas of how to use Twitter hashtags in the classroom, as well as some steps to doing it right. He also suggests some advantages of using the strategy with students.

Because I teach high school, my students comply with the minimum age restriction by Twitter (13 years). I love the idea of opening up to my students, via the Twitter universe. To me, this strategy of using Twitter in the classroom would combine the Web 2.0 social media aspect of Twitter with the basic need for access to information about high school courses. This provides a valuable framework for the tool.

I share my email address and cell phone number with my students, and have had many email or text me with questions about assignments or course content. With Twitter, students would have access to my tweets around the clock, and I would be alerted of their questions or concerns on a regular basis. Furthermore, this would reach beyond the student with the initial question. All students who signed up or used the hashtag would be privy to, and able to participate in, the discussions that ensued.

Couros makes some pertinent observations about the use of Twitter hashtags as a communication tool with students. He believes that the use of hashtags, “…helps to create community learning” (2011), and “…tap[s] into the wisdom of your entire class. Students will publish their questions and comments, and participate actively in the Twitter discussions.

Moreover, learning is shared beyond the classroom. Because Twitter is public forum, parents may see what their children are learning, and others may also chime in.

Couros also explains that by using Twitter, teachers are”…helping kids create a positive digital footprint”. In this digital age, it is encouraging for students to value the educational value of new technologies.

I am thinking of incorporating a hashtag in my creative writing class next semester. This should be a manageable way to try out this new learning, while still exploiting its power in a meaningful way that is conducive to learning.

Kate Messner is a teacher who brought Twitter into her classroom, and utilized it in many ways. In School Library Journal (2009), Messner speaks of her own use of Twitter in her professional life. This experience led her to ask, ” What if my students could draw on the expertise of authors and others as they’re learning the craft of writing? What if they could pose questions to a [Professional Learning Network]?” She set about bringing Twitter into her classroom. Messner describes one valuable Twitter experience, during which her students were following an author as she explained her writing routine. Messner writes, “‘Hey wait!’ says Kiah, one of my students. ‘Can we talk to them, too?’ I nod. ‘We’re logged in under our classroom Twitter account… What do you want to know?’ And just like that, my classroom has grown. No longer just 15 kids and a teacher. It’s all of us, plus a children’s author in Virginia, a book editor at her desk in SoHo, and another half dozen children’s writers from around the country…”

What a powerful way to use Web 2.0 to bring authentic learning to students. I am nervous. I am unsure. But I am inspired to try harder.

In case I needed more proof, the video below explains how Dr. Monica Rankin has used Twitter to enhance student learning at the University of Texas at Dallas. although this depicts Twitter’s success at the post-secondary level, much of the rationale has a place in a high school setting as well.

References

Couros, G. (2011). Twitter hashtags in the classroom. In The Principal of Change: Stories of learning and leading. Retrieved from http://georgecouros.ca/blog/archives/260

Ferenstein, G. (2010). The Twitter experiment: Twitter in the classroom. In How Twitter in the classroom is boosting student engagement. Retrieved from http://mashable.com/2010/03/01/twitter-classroom/

Messner, K. Pleased to tweet you: Making a case for Twitter in the classroom. School Library Journal. Retrieved from http://www.schoollibraryjournal.com/article/CA6708199.html

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. George Couros
    Dec 04, 2011 @ 19:29:17

    Thanks for the discussion regarding my post. I am hoping that you if decide to try this that you share it back somehow so we can show those examples to other classes! It will definitely help to further the examples of collaborative learning.

    Take care,
    George

    Reply

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