Twitter. I don’t know about you but I am more than bored with “He tweeted….,” or “she hit Twitter with…” This type of hype gets old really quickly when you see it on the news stands and hear it on the radio and television. It seems not even our nightly news anchors are immune to Twitter. But can Twitter truly be an effective tool in an elementary classroom?
Teach Hub has a lot of cool ideas. Global Digital Citizen did as well. Teachhub.com had one listed about connecting classrooms. This could be something as easy as connecting you with your grade level in your own school, connecting all the same grade levels within a district, or connecting you with a class half a world away to share and learn with one another. Another way it seemed to be useful was in summarizing what you have learned. So many students do not “know” what they learned today. Here is a way to collaborate with the class and post what you learned today in Math, Science, Social Studies, and Reading.
Global Digital Citizen said this was a good way to silence blurters. I guess so, but eventually the blurter may get really good at hashtagging and as teachers and schools we may just not want to go there. #myteachernevercallsonme, #myteacherhatesme, #billyisstupid, #jasmineisboredtoday are just some examples. So in elementary school I think it needs a bit more control by the teacher.
Global Digital Citizen also had a few I did like. One was in sharing bite-sized learning. You could also set up their upcoming lesson by: Be sure to know what the definition of energy. Science is coming. #MrsPaceslittlebobcats5 Of course the hashtag for something like this would need to be class/teacher specific that they all were following.
Global Digital Citizen also had some great uses for Twitter with ELA and writing.
These seemed like a great way to use Twitter to practice a lot of things they learn but we don’t always have a lot of time to go back to daily. It may also get some students to participate who wouldn’t normally feel comfortable calling out answers aloud in the word games and grammar reviews.
Using the University of South Alabama’s Marx Library, I was able to find a peer-reviewed journal with an article entitled, “Twittering About Learning: Using Twitter in an Elementary School Classroom” by Jeff Kurtz. It was published in Horace, Summer 2009, Volume 25 No. 1. One of the things he did was have the class to collaborate to sum up the day’s learning. They had to come up with a message. Then they had to revise it to be 140 characters or less and edit it for correctness. They had to consider the needs and backgrounds of their audience so it was appropriate. Then the message would be tweeted. This activity of the class tweeting as a whole led to the class learning to tweet as individuals. It had his students looking at how to be concise and…wow! Isn’t summarizing one of the most difficult standards to teach?
Mr. Kurtz said he had wondered in the beginning if it was going to be worthwhile and worth the investment of time (the most precious commodity of teachers). In the end he said it was worth it.
This being what it is, as teachers we need to know how to ingrate technology into our classrooms in positive manners. We can be the ones who show parents (and the public) that social media is not always the dark horse it is made out to be. Like all tools, Twitter, or any micro-blogging application, can be used with positive rewards. It is up to the teacher to find a way to make its use positive in the classroom.