Twitter Chats

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.

Twitter the River of Information

I began my twitter experience in an effort to see what Twitter was like as I had read in a couple of blog posts that suggested it was good for classroom use. When I first jumped into twitter I hated it.  I couldn’t wrap my head around how to manage it.  Even with only following a handful of people, I found it too much.  Then I attended a Google Apps for Education training run by Ian Addison.  When I mentioned this to him he said “A friend told me once to think of Twitter like a river.  You can stand on the shore and watch it go by, you can dip your toes in, you can wade in the shallows, you can jump straight into the middle, or you can leave the river to flow and not visit it for a while.  The river will always be there flowing no matter how you choose to interact with it.”  This made me relax and realize that I could just dip my toes in for a while, until I got use to it.

Twitter soon became my main source of professional development (PD).  I am on Twitter an average of once a day to check to see if anyone I follow had posted any useful information.  I mainly follow educators as my focus with using Twitter is for PD, but I do have a few people that I follow because of my hobbies.  I have found the majority of websites and apps that I share with teachers through my twitter feed. 
Because of my time on Twitter I can now see why many educators see it as a tool that can be used in the classroom.  In a day and age were parents are begging for information about their kids school life, this is a great way to communicate that information. I am excited to try Twitter in our grade two classrooms.  The teachers have agreed to give it a go and so I want to see how we can use it as and effective reflection, information transmission, communication, and information gathering tool. At first we are going to experiment with “protected” tweets.  That will give us a chance to get our toes wet and get used to the temperature before we jump in!

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