From Old-School Teaching to Digital: Twitter in the Elementary Classroom
Twitter offers amazing opportunities for global learning in the elementary classroom. It gives students a voice, supports them as they become digital citizens, allows for communication around the world, and connects students in real time to other students. So, why aren’t more teachers using it to teach?
Grabbing the interest and attention of students is always a challenge. We have to cut through the noise and engage our young people with content that entertains, excites, and educates. Twitter can do that.
Granted, introducing Twitter to a classroom can be daunting, especially for the non-digital-native who doesn’t understand the technology to begin with. But those teachers who do seize the lead by becoming proficient at Twitter and integrating it into their day-to-day curriculum will gain a distinct advantage and set their students up for lifelong digital learning.
A few suggestions:
Close the Skill Gap
Teachers must not show up impulsively one day and declare “Let’s Tweet.” Twitter requires a whole new set of skills along with careful planning and preparation. Teachers must first understand Twitter, use it in a professional capacity, and start building a network. When teachers lead by example, students will follow.
Getting administrators on board is often half the battle. Many don’t use Twitter or understand it. Yet they are making decisions about its use in their classrooms, schools, and districts. How to overcome this roadblock? Set up a fake Twitter account. Show higher ups who you follow and what you’ve learned. Join a Twitter chat on a relevant topic and share the insights with them. By engaging school leaders in Twitter and showing real-world examples of its value, enlisting their support will be much easier.
The Time Factor
Twitter shouldn’t be “one more thing” added to a teacher’s plate. It should be an integral part of the day. Set a reasonable goal for how many times to Tweet—say 2–3 three times a day. Start the morning spending a few minutes checking the class Twitter account. Read tweets from other classes and respond as soon as possible to encourage dialogue. Limit your connections to 3–4 classrooms from around the world. Any more can become too difficult to manage and keep up with.
Put Students in Charge of Content
When given the opportunity and the green light, they’ll find endless things to Tweet about. They can share just about anything they are doing and that they are interested in—what they’re reading, a fact they learned, funny things that happen during class, unusual weather, who lost a tooth, who is absent, the butterflies that are emerging from their cocoons, links to fun games and video. They can share pics, too. Give students 24/7 access to a camera and put them in charge of taking pics and sharing them.
For a more detailed look at Twitter and the pitfalls and success of using it in the classroom, check out SDE’s webinar Twitter for Teachers 201: Tips for Using Twitter as a Learning Tool in the Elementary Classroom, (Grades PreK–5) by kindergarten teacher and technology expert Matt Gomez.