I have been using Twitter for over a year. Since New Years 2009, Twitter has taken off to new heights. Everybody wants you to follow him or her on twitter, from United States Senators to Shaq, twitter has become a ubiquitous forum for those who want to know everything.
So, why is Twitter so cool? I still haven't figured that out yet but it has become a forum for all of us to communicate and collaborate. So how can we utilize the concept of twitter in our classroom? Here are some ideas I am pondering...
...but first, let's learn about Twitter in Plain English...
Objective: Have students twitter between characters in a story from the previous nights reading.
Process: Students will read chapter 1 of Lord of the Flies. After they read they will construct a twitter list between Jack and Piggy
This twitter list must include the following elements:
A twitter screen name for Jack and Piggy that reflects their character.
NOTE: Entry can only be 140 characters long! Be specific and concise.
LeaderJack: Looks like we are stranded! Fat kid is freaking out. I call him Piggy.
TimidPiggy: There are no adults here! My Auntie says I should not go swimming because of my Asthma.
TimidPiggy: Where are the other boys. Found a coch shell – Raplh blew it and we found the other children
LeaderJack: Piggy wants order. I blew the conch shell and we gathered everyone.
LeaderJack: They elected me chief!
Have students read their twitter posts out loud in class and explain why they selected their material. Segue this into a class discussion. Compare and contrast postings from other students.
Students can make a twitter list for historical figures. Like the language arts example, students can glean the main points of a specific historical figure and use that to understand whom this historical figure is.
For homework, assign students a historical figure based on the current unit of study.
NOTE: you can also use this to personify Amendments, Bills, etc. i.e. what would the First Amendment twitter about?
Students construct a twitter list for the aforementioned assignments. Students must provide the following elements for their twitter list:
A screen name that represents the personality of the figure, Amendment or bill. NOTE: it will be the roles of your classmates to guess whom you are referring to based on your twitter information.
Organize your “tweets” chronologically.
Provide context and information pertinent to your subject.
Students bring in their Twitter list and present it to the class. Students will try and figure out who is Twittering based on the information provided.
This is a great idea for a unit review and students can use their “tweets” as a focused study guide.
This activity would target secondary and middle school students.
Objective: Have students create their own twitter account and follow a US or State Senator or Representative.
Students find a US, State or local dignitary to follow on twitter.
Students will follow what the dignitary is “tweeting” about and file a twitter report each week on whom they are following
This could be a form of current events in the classroom.
Recommendations: Make sure you alert administration, parents and your tech director before allowing students to participate on twitter.
For math, teachers can use this tool very simply.
Every night one student will tweet a selected math problem to the class.
EXAMPLE: 32 + 43 = ?
Students will have to answer the problem by the student posted for that night as an extension of the homework.
NOTE: Based on grade level, you can make your tweets more challenging. I see this working well with more involved math such as Algebra, Trigonometry and Calculus.
I have always felt twitter would be an effective tool for teacher collaboration. Imagine a world where your entire school building is on twitter. Your principal opens up his twitter account every morning and can see what you will be covering in your classroom today. Maybe something peeks his interest and he sends you a direct message to ask if he could drop in to see this lesson. Cool right? Unless you don’t care for your principal and feel that he or she serves a better purpose at his or her desk then in your classroom.
Or imagine collaborating with other teachers on your own twitter account. Say you are covering Hamlet and a neighboring teacher is covering the same unit. You collaborate through twitter about what you are covering each day. Maybe even set up a web cast between your students where you can discuss Hamlet Act 1 Scene 1.
The above examples are simple blueprints of what you can do within the parameters of a twitter post. And you thought only celebs and Senators could twitter! Pshawh! Also, check out TWEETDECK. It is a great forum to organize all of your tweets on your desktop!
I hope these ideas peeked your interest and that you take leap and make twitter part of your classroom! I look forward to hearing your feedback and how you have used twitter in your classroom and school district!
My theory on twitter is that it is information overload. Most of my students don't use twitter on their own because facebook - which has recently been recently updated to reflect twitter - as their constant stream of information. That said, I have run into your question in many of my department meetings and PDs. My objective is never to get students posting redundant information about what they are doing, but taking the framework of twitter and applying it to various content areas in a practical manner.
The above lessons you can simply accomplish without a computer in the classroom. The concept of twitter is that you tell others what you are doing in a short concise message. Users may only use 140 characters to express their message. I see this as a teaching moment!
What I want my students to understand is not how to use twitter, but moreover, to imagine that a character from a novel or history is using twitter. What would be on Abraham Lincoln's twitter during the civil war? What would JFK twitter about during the Bay of Pigs? What would Holden Caulfield twitter about in each chapter? I feel twitter has merit in weeding through a tough reading. If anything, students can glean the main points of someone's day from twitter. Furthermore, students can apply this same principle to what they are learning. Consider it a new method for obtaining the main point of a novel or reading.
I'm considering using Twitter as a tool in my classes - Biginning Business Concepts and Digital Desing (page layout and web design). I don't want to become that teacher who is a dinosour because i don't want to use the "new" technology in my technology classes.
Since you have been working with Twitter for a year, how do you suggest i could adapt this for my teaching area. Any guidence would be a help. Plus, what site do you use? Many portals are blocked through my school district.