Do I hear a Twitter bird in the classroom?

After reading Chris Edwards (‏@ChrisEdwards83) blog post about using Twitter in the classroom, here. I got to thinking about using Twitter in my classroom. Personally I have had an incredibly Twitter journey up to now, having starting using it properly in just February I now have just over 300 people following me and I have learnt so much from them – could my students benefit from the same experiences?

A realisation I have had is that the main impact of Twitter and blogs is no in the reading; reading these things is merely the beginning. After reading something potentially inspirational you must then reflect on it: how does it apply to me? What can I do with this information? How will I modify or adapt the idea or concept to suit my needs? From here it is then your chance to have a go and see what happens.

If the biggest part of utilising the things you’ve learnt is reflection then why do we not spend time teaching the children how to do this? Giving them time to think about what have they learnt recently? A blog allows children to do this in some ways, however, my class blog especially is more orientated to showcasing work and the outcomes of learning as opposed to the learning itself and this is where I can see Twitter fitting into my classroom. Twitter will be just about the children telling us – what have I learnt? What do I now know that I did not know before? I am going to invite parents to view it as we often get comments about how much fun the children are having but questions about if they’re learning.

In order to cover myself in terms of child protection the Twitter account will only be accessed by myself and it will be made clear to both children and parents that the account is not made to be accessed by under 18s. This is as I cannot regulate the content which other people post on Twitter and it may not be appropriate for children.

The children will have an ‘iTweet’ slip of paper and will be reminded that there is 140 character limit. They will have to include their initials so that parents are able to see which Tweets are from their children and the rest is for them to explain what they’re learning. I ask that the children choose something they have learnt in the last 24 hours, to prevent endless repetition of lessons they remember from years ago and to focus their thinking. I was aware that at first I would have to put in some work helping the children develop their reflective skills.

The first time I did this I received tweets such as ‘I learnt how to add’ and ‘I learnt habitats’. As a class we looked at these and discussed these suggestions; did the person not know how to add at the beginning of the day? Well they could, so what did they learnt today, what was the focus? When we enquired with the child who wrote the Tweet it turned out that they’d learnt how to use place value to a million to add numbers together, we then discussed how much clearer this made their reflection. With the other example we thought about whether habitats was one thing, or lots of things, and whether it was possible to know everything about that thing. When we reviewed this one it became ‘I learnt about the similarities and differences between a savanna and a lake in science.‘ We did go on to say to improve this even more we could suggest one of the similarities or differences between the savannah and the lake.

To ensure that the children are getting a range of opportunities I have use a combination of tweeting as a whole class activity and tweeting as an optional extension in free time. Sometimes when I have wanted to focus on the reflective skills required I have asked everyone to do it, other times I offer the children ‘Above and Beyond’ house points for doing it without my asking. I also offer the children 2 points for every family member that they get to follow us on Twitter. So far a range of children have been enthusiastic in doing the Tweets without being asked to, we will see if this is maintained.

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© Sway Grantham 2013 - Version: 1.13