Friday, March 23, 2012

Our School is all a"Twitter"

Yes, I had to go there! I couldn't help it. My son is rolling his eyes at my pun. But for some reason, teachers at my school have been excited to use Twitter in the classroom right now. As my last post shows, one of our teachers used Wiffiti in his English classroom a while back and now another English teacher has experimented with backchanneling.

We tried a different approach this time. Our last group of students was a little younger and we didn't want to require them to sign up for Twitter. This group of students are seniors and many were already on Twitter. The remaining students didn't have a problem creating an account. First, we designed our own hashtag (#Wileyfun) and decided that students would post directly to Twitter.  (It's fun to come up with your own hashtag.)

Next, I researched the different hashtag monitoring services for one that would consistently work and was easy. I didn't want anyone to have to sign in to Twitter to display the wall. I also didn't want multiple columns or other streams.  I found several where you simply pull up the website and type in the hashtag. We ended up using TweetChat and it worked fabulously. I also had Tweetwally and Monitter in my back pocket, in case TweetChat failed us midstream.

Our teacher's goal was to show an introduction video on William Faulkner, since they would begin a unit on him the following week. During the video, the teacher added additional comments and asked questions. Students sent tweets about the video, but they also added to the discussion by bringing in additional information. For example, they tweeted links to other websites, photos and quotations. They asked each other questions, as well.

Students were allowed to use their phones to tweet or their laptops.
Here is a photo of the setup:

Here is a snippet of some of the tweets:

Of course there were some silly, funny tweets. But there were some really great ones too. We also got students from earlier classes adding to our stream later in the afternoon. Surely they weren't tweeting from math. We assume they tweeted from study hall or lunch!

Overall this was a vibrant, unique way to have a discussion. The teacher asked the students to look over all of the tweets for homework and make observations. I think students will enjoy seeing what the other classes tweeted throughout the day.

We'll continue to brainstorm other ways to use Twitter in the classroom. Send me any ideas or examples that you've used successfully.

Here are a few articles on using Twitter and boosting student engagement:
50 Ways to Use Twitter in the Classroom
How Twitter is Boosting Student Engagement