Many Ways To Use Twitter In The Classroom
I would like to share how I use Twitter with my students, especially as a tool to communicate. I find it a lot easier to use for quick exchanges than our learning management platform. When searching online to see how other teachers use Twitter, I found this article; 60 Ways To Use Twitter In The Classroom. I have listed the ones I thought were useful at the end of this post.
Unmistakably, there are many ways Twitter can be useful for educators and students. I use Twitter as a way to log minor tasks students are supposed to do during our English class on Wednesdays. Since we have block scheduling at our school, the work is organized differently than in a regular 45-minute lesson. My students work at their own pace and together we can differentiate what they do, and how much they do. Today I organized a traditional written test, usually a 5-hour task. In a class of 30, five are likely to spend the 5 hours while three of four only need two hours. I’m very strict about how the students spend their time at school and discourage students leaving after 2 hours. I also know they persuade their friends to leave early even when they would like to devote more time to do the test. “Peer pressure.” Today I had five additional tasks for them, and when they completed the list, they could leave. After each task, they had to send me a Tweet explaining what they had done in no more than 140 characters! Other ways to use Twitter apart from letting me know they have completed a task, is asking questions about the lesson plan, and sharing their blog posts with me. Sometimes they want me to grade their blog-post, and I ask them to remind me with a Tweet.
I used to be very liberal with the use of computers and phones in class. This year I have had to reconsider. It is evident to me that many of my students are pretty hooked on social media and not always in a good way. Just as students stress each other by finishing tests early, they pressure each other to be online, to answer instantly, to always respond in other words to be socially active online all the time. Here are some issues I have met lately that need to be addressed when teaching 16/17-year-olds in a technologically rich environment:
- Is it okay to use someone’s computer to change their profile online?
- Is it okay to use someone’s picture online pretending it is you?
- Is it okay to use your phone in class when you clearly are off task?
- Is it okay to keep on nudging your friends when they are supposed to be working?
- How much work do you get done when you are constantly checking your phone?
- Are all nicknames fun when using online activities in class like Kahoot?
Every time you think you whole class gets it, you are reminded that this is an ongoing activity!
Here are some useful resources for using Twitter in class
- Ambient office hours: With Twitter, Howard Rheingold at Berkeley uses Twitter for group contact, which he calls “student-to-teacher-to-student ambient office hours.”
- Keep students in the loop: Using hashtags on Twitter, students who were not able to make it to class can follow along and stay on top of the conversation.
- Student engagement in large lectures: In large lecture classes where student participation can be intimidating and logistically problematic, Twitter can make it easy for students to engage and discuss during class time.
- Instant feedback: Twitter makes it easy to get instant approval and disapproval of discussions, issues, and more right in the classroom.
- Digital faculty lounge: At Kent State University, college of education teacher William Kist uses Twitter as a “digital faculty lounge” for networking with other professors.
- Stay on top of the learning process: Ask students to tweet and reply about what they’re learning, difficulties they’ve faced, tips, resources, and more as an online logbook.
- Classroom notepad: Using a Twitter hashtag, it’s easy to organize inspiration, reading, ideas, and more for the classroom to share.
- Completed assignments: Students can let teachers know when they’ve finished their work by alerting them on Twitter.
- Twitter pop quiz: Send out quick quizzes on Twitter, and have them count for bonus points in the classroom.
- Classroom connections: Classrooms around the world can collaborate using Twitter as a communication tool.
- Collating classroom views: Students can share their opinions on issues or any open questions, and they can be organized using Twitter.
- Corraling comments in class: Monica Rankin at the University of Texas at Dallas uses weekly hashtags to organize comments, questions and feedback that students have used in class, while also projecting live tweets in class for discussion.
- Finding great resources: Teachers can ask for recommended books, teaching tools, and ideas for lessons, crowdsourcing resources for the classroom.
- Following historical figures: There are many Twitter accounts set up that share the lives and personalities of historical figures, and students can follow them for fun and learning.
- Source evaluation: Students can share resources and discuss whether it’s a good or bad source of information, encouraging comments.
- Foreign language news stream: Students in a foreign language class can build their reading skills and stay on top of the news with a foreign language news stream.
- Gather real-world data: The classroom can ask Twitter for data from their network, like temperatures, opinions, locations, and interesting facts.
- Following the government: Often, local and national political figures have Twitter feeds, and students in the classroom can track their progress.
- Ask for help or advice: Using Twitter, teachers can find out if anyone has advice about teaching issues, like when certificates expire or how to handle classroom management.
- Communicating with experts: Find authors, scientists, or historians on Twitter and get connected; a great resource for the classroom.