How Twitter in the Classroom Connects Your Students

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Students only need a model and a push to do amazing things. Then a smart teacher gets out of the way and let’s the magic happen.

When I first became engulfed in the amazing world of Twitter, I couldn’t imagine not sharing the experience with my students.

What started as a little spark and a hot mess three years ago has turned into a full-on immersion of social media in my classes.

Twitter has amplified the voices of my students well beyond the walls of our classroom and it’s echoing through the global learning landscape. Now, social media is an integral part of the learning that transpires and I can’t imagine why others aren’t using it.

Recently, I guest moderated an #edtechchat that highlighted the versatility of Twitter in the classroom. With the help of my students who participated at 8pm on a Monday night and amazing educators across the world, we discussed the vibrancy Twitter can add to student learning.

Here are some of ways teachers can use Twitter in the classroom:

  • Twitter in class
    Twitter in class

    Class chats around a text – like the chats teachers carry on for professional learning, why not do a class-wide chat than flattens the classroom with other learning spaces. We use three classes and select texts weekly to support projects we are working on. Kids tweet at #PFWJPS on Friday afternoons at 1pm ET.

  • Class hashtags for curation and back-channeling – develop a space for students to collaborate and share ideas. We have a hashtag for each class. Students post questions and resources to the hashtag. Pictures are also added for transparency if parents want to see what we do in class. Students have taken to using this space for documenting learning in class. 2 examples are #wjpsaplit and #wjpsnews – check them out to see what the kids are doing.
  • Social promotion of student media/blogs – We’ve been using Twitter in the classroom to share student blog posts and breaking news on the school hashtag #wjpsnews as a way to include more students in the publication.
  • Live tweeting school events – Want to teach students how to break news like the experts? Observe, be concise and attribute appropriately and students can document school events or classes as they happen.
  • Developing global conversations with experts – One of the awesome parts of Twitter is how it levels the playing field. We are all equals. Students can contact their favorite authors or other experts in the field to get research or start conversations.
  • Research– teach students how to use the discover function or search function to find resources for projects and learning. This is a great way to crowd source too.
  • Continuing class discussion outside of class – kids can ask questions and develop a rich, documented conversation well beyond the school day
  • Communication – My students ask me questions about assignments and I put the answers on the hashtag – great way for us to communicate shortly and quickly.
  • Creative project ideas – students love to develop profiles for literary characters. Use Twitter as a creative way to ensure they understand the people you are teaching them about. Great synthesis ideas for learning.
  • Following the days breaking news – depending on whom students follow this is a great way to learn what is happening in the world all the time.

Twitter is a valuable resource for learners and it can be used to support independence in our students.

How do you use Twitter in the classroom? If you don’t, what’s stopping you? Please share your stories.

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Starr Sackstein is a Nationally Board Certified high school English and journalism teacher who has the heart of a writer. Starr is the author of Teaching Mythology Exposed: Helping teachers create visionary classroom perspective and Blogging for Educators: Writing for professional learning. Starr is the Co-founder of #jerdchat – a Twitter chat for Journalism teachers and advisers that runs Thursday nights at 8PM ET every other week and co-moderator of #sunchat – an edcamp style chat that discusses creativity in all aspects of education, Sunday mornings at 9AM ET.

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