Using Twitter in the Classroom is the Smart Way To Go!
Do you remember sitting in your 10th grade English class as the teacher is rambling on about the themes and how the roses can symbolize the birth of a new generation — something along those lines? You see your teacher is throwing out all these random connection in the book and students are agreeing, nodding or answering the teachers’ random statements that makes no sense to the book and you felt completely lost? Have you ever felt that raising your hand in class to answer a question is harder than running the mile, your heart starts to race, you feel your face heat up and you sink lower in your seat? This feeling of unsureness, shyness, disconnection and just not feeling sure overall is a common feeling to have while in a classroom. This is where the social media app Twitter can come in use and save you embarrassment. I wish they had this for me when I was in High school.
What is Twitter?
Twitter is a social media outlet, which is a spin-off of Facebook. Facebook used to be the “hit” of social media where a person can upload a photo, status, poke, message and see what other people are doing. Twitter is just status updates but can be used both in educational and social life. Twitter only allows a user to send or read short 140 — character messages, which are called “tweets”. If this person is registered to the social network then they can read and send new “tweets/status”. If they are not registered then they can only read what other people are posting.
Twitter is used as a back-channel to the lesson to further promote student interactions.
Parents, students and teachers can communicate through Twitter and be active in their children’s schooling. Since Twitter is open to the public there should be no miscommunication between the teacher student relationship, and teacher parent relationship.
To keep the “tweets” from getting lost in the news feed the students will hashtag their status at the end. A hashtag is the phone number symbol (#) before a relevant keyword or phrase, that does not include spaces, at the end of their Tweet to categorize them and help search a topic more easily in the Twitter search bar. By clicking on a hashtag word in any message shows you all other Tweets that is related to the topic and other people’s opinions on this specific topic. For schools students should hashtag their class name or period (#msbull2).
How does Twitter benefit the students?
Twitter helps give students the confidence to voice their opinion without getting talked over. Not only does Twitter build confidence in a student but it builds the students resource community and social community. Now a days with the technology we have the Internet at the end of our thumb, being able to catch up on pop culture, news, TV shows, our favorite authors, recipes, and a new book coming out can be search through a hashtag. This way students are always one second away from receiving the information they made need to complete a project.
How can you, the teacher or the student, use Twitter?
Going back to how one feels when they have to answer a question in class or maybe even ask one that may seem out of context to the other students can be intimidating. Twitter can be used as a source for these questions to be answered, you never know if someone else in the classroom is wondering the same question. The students can tweet their question and hashtag it with the classroom period, the teacher will get a notification on their phone seeing the question and s/he can answer the question either out loud during the classroom time. If the question is not relevant to the topic being discussed at the time the teacher can either “tweet” back to the student after class, this way other students who have similar concerns can see the teachers response, or the teacher can talk to the student after class in private.
What happens when you miss a class? You feel overwhelm, confused, freaking out that the teacher is going to fail you now because you miss an “important” lecture. There is no need to worry about this teachers can attach a link on their twitter post, they can inform the students what lessons need to be done and even hold a dialogue trigger with the overall class. For example a teacher can write: “With the discussion we held in class today do you think it is right to say deaf and dumb together? #msbull2” This way the students are still engaged in the conversation and the topic.
Teachers can also remind students that the quiz is tomorrow by sending out a Tweet, this way students won’t come in stating they forgot, or didn't know!
This may seem a bit too much work for the teachers. Why should teachers include Twitter into their classroom? This could be used as a formative assessment and see how the students are progressing with the overall unit. By the students tweeting, re-tweeting, sharing and asking questions this can boost their participation grade and also help the teachers not repeat a lesson all over again because some students were absent.
Should schools incorporate social media in their classroom?
In my opinion schools should invest on allowing Twitter to be used during class time. This may cause some alarm to the teachers but they just need to monitor that the students are only using their phone for Twitter. (While holding a class discussion or reading a short story the teacher can walk in between the aisle or walk around the classroom perimeter.) If there is a conflict with students not having smart phones or the school installed a Wifi blocker then the teacher can sign up for a day at the computer lab and hold a virtual classroom discussion. Just make sure the students are only on that website and is not taking advantage of their time in the computer lab.
Happy Tweeting everyone and remember even though your word count is limited doesn't mean your voice can not be heard! #GoTwitter