I just read an article on Zite about school wide Twitter chats in New Zealand. The “kidsedchatnz” is run by teachers. The teachers give a prompt and ask questions to get the discussions started, but the students do the talking. I think that this is a great way to use Twitter. As our school doesn’t have Twitter accounts for students we will have to look at other options for students to use, but I love the idea.
This idea could be used to have all of the students in a grade level participate in a discussion, but not have to be in the same room or have to “speak” in front of everyone. It would allow for example, EAL students to be with their EAL teachers while the discussion was taking place. This would help them be in a location where they could get the help the needed without being “seen” as getting help, such as an EAL classroom or with a special needs teacher.
The New Zealand chat gives out a “tweet of the week” acknowledgement to the student who creates the best tweet, encouraging students to think before they post and to compose quality tweets.
This could be a great way to start a unit of inquiry or to end one. You could have another class/grade ask the students questions about the unit they have completed. Then the class running the chat would be in charge of answering their questions to show what they had learned and how they had found their information. It would also be a great way to include parents, especially those who can not physically be on campus. The parents could be a part of the discussion and be able to ask questions from anywhere in the world!
This type of activity could even become a summative assessment with the right rubric if the rules and expectations were set in advance.