What is Twitter? Twitter is quite the hype these days. You hear more and more talk about it! However, it was quite the unknown phenomenon to me. Considering that more and more applications are being adapted and used in the classroom, I thought why not go figure out how to use it and if it had any potential for the classroom Using sites such as this one and my friend’s twitter account, I went off on a mission to demystify what all this hype was about. After investigation, I discovered that Twitter is an online social networking AND microblogging service. It allows it’s users to read or make posts of 140 characters. Therefore, this allows for short, clear cut messages. This messages are called “tweets”. (However, to be able to post messages you have to be registered. If not, you can still read all the different posts….you just cannot post any yourself!) You can also “follow” someone. This means that their “tweets” (posts on twitter) will appear on your feed; this way you will not miss any of their posts. Twitter also allows you to “retweet”. This basically means that you can share what someone else posted. However, both tweets and retweets are tracked to see which ones are the most popular.
Another important aspect of Twitter is the hashtag: a “#” sign. Using the hashtag, users can group posts together by topic or type. For example, in the context of a classroom, using #ESLMissNancy could group together everything that the fictive Miss Nancy posted on Twitter for her students. Her students could then have access to all this information in one place due to this hashtag. Just for this element, I can see the invaluable tool Twitter could become in the context of a creative writing or and ESL classroom.
“K-12 teachers have taken advantage of Twitter’s format to keep their classes engaged and up-to-date on the latest technologies. The following projects provide you and your students with 50 ways to Twitter in the classroom to create important and lasting lessons.” – Samantha Miller
How to use Twitter in the Classroom?
First of all, the use Twitter in the Classroom, you should set up a new Twitter account for your class! You should “protect” your updates to keep is private and safe. Then, you can invite parents to “follow” you. This way parents can know and see what their child is doing in class. They can also access all this information from their home, which makes it all easier.
- Tweet about upcoming due dates or assignments. Tweets are the perfect way to remind students of what they have to do. It is short, quick and very accessible!
- Have a running news feed for the class. This way all the classroom information is located in one place that has easy access. It is a good way to help structure those students who are always lost and loosing their worksheets, papers, guidelines, etc… This can also be very useful for the students who were absent on a certain day!
- Have your own classroom hashtag. Once again, all the information will be regrouped in one spot. Nonetheless, now students will also be able to share information, documents, or findings of the internet with the rest of the classroom. This will help build the feeling of a community within the classroom!
- Facilitate research. Typing keywords into the Twitter’s search engine can be a good way to find all kind of different sources (from microblog entries to links and videos that were posted under this topic).
Twitter in the Classroom?
This nice image comes from TeachBytes (2013). It makes a link with the Bloom’s Taxonomy Chart we learned about in Introduction to Linguistics (at Laval University) and Twitter. Go take a look! It clearly explains how Twitter can be used in the classroom to maximise your students’ learning
How I would use Twitter Personally, through my excursion in the world of Twitter, I see its invaluable asset to teaching literature or creative writing in class. It is an excellent way to encourage and enstore collaborative writing within a classroom. Here are a few ideas of how to creatively integrate Twitter in the classroom!
- Write summaries. The short limit of characters allows students work on their abilities to clearly summarize in a few words. It helps them become more concise in their writing.
- Produce a Tweet dialogue between two conflicting/opposing characters (e.g. Hitler and Anne Frank). I also found this neat site that is definitely worth checking out for inspiration! It make Tweets in the way of some past Historical figures. It is a good way to learn about History, and about style and identity in writing.
- Use Twitter to write a Short Story.
- Write a collaborative story. Have one student start the story with a tweet. Then, each student can add on the story by writing a tweet of their own. You can link up all these different posts with a hashtag!
Here is a Bonus tool for teachers! It is a hashtag feed focused for teachers and tips for the classroom! You should definitely check it out.
Have fun discovering Twitter!