Friday, 23 October 2015

Why I Use Twitter in the Classroom

If you ask my husband, Twitter is stupid.  He has the misconception that it is full of people taking pictures of their lunches and sharing insightful thoughts such as, "OMG it's PSL season @Starbucks! #fall #basic #bestseasonever."  Sure, that exists.  However, that isn't my scene.  I see Twitter as a classroom and PD tool.

As a PD tool, I use Twitter to keep current on educational trends.  I can follow key hashtags (#abed, #edchat, #elachat, etc.) or people who regularly post great content to read great articles on issues that matter to me.  Not only can I read these articles, but Twitter allows me to interact with the authors and other readers.  This adds layers of meaning to any educational experience.  I also create professional relationships with other teachers.  I can throw out a question, like, "What are your favourite ways to teach To Kill a Mockingbird? #tkam #elachat" and get feedback from English teachers all over the world.  

More importantly, Twitter is a great way to bring an authentic communication tool into my classroom.  I have already posted about using Twitter as a tool to teach editing.  I came across this version of Bloom's Taxonomy, which associates tasks that can be done using Twitter with categories from Bloom's taxonomy.  For example, inventing a Twitter app is an example of "Creating."

As Twitter only allows its users to post 140 characters at a time, it requires you to be very concise in your thoughts.  This can be applied to many situations.  Some teachers have created Twitter pages for a text that they are studying and assigned characters to students.  Students are required to tweet as their assigned character to retell the most significant events from the novel or play.  This requires students to really focus in on what is important and get a point across briefly.  For example, if you ask your students to write a tweet that summarizes Banquo's message in Macbeth.  If they are able to accurately get their thoughts across in 140 characters or less, you know that they truly understand the text.

If I wanted to get my feet wet and get started with a professional Twitter account, I might start by using it simply as a communication.  Create a hashtag for your class and post messages about what you did in class, homework assignments, and upcoming due dates.  Since students can add the Twitter app to their phones, they can follow you and get alerts when you update your page.  If you send out a quick reminder about tomorrow's test or the essay that is due on Monday, it might be just the reminder that students need.

Food for thought... do you have a professional Twitter account?  How do you use it with your students?      

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