Is there value in tweeting?

Last night, I saw this tweet from Cristina Milos: a fantastic primary teacher from Rome, Italy.

2014-01-15_07-47-50Cristina is one of my favourite educators, tweeters, and bloggers. She does incredible things with her primary students, and while she uses technology to help students learn, she is all about pedagogy. I love that! And this is why her tweet really got my attention, as it’s going beyond “how do you use Twitter in your classroom?,” to “why do you use Twitter in your classroom, and how does it benefit students?

Here are the links to two blog posts (post 1 and post 2) that share a little bit more about why I tweet with my students. It’s not always about the students doing the tweeting. Sometimes the value in tweeting with students (be it younger ones or older ones) is to capture learning and share it with others. This allows parents to see the learning throughout the day. I have lots of parents that follow our tweets, and then use the information in them to talk to their children about what they’re learning and why they’re learning it. This extends the learning at home. I try to call all of the parents in my class every week, and before I used Twitter, many parents had questions about classroom activities. We spent lots of time discussing what we were learning in each of the subject areas. These questions are far more infrequent now, as the parents already know. We can then discuss more specific student needs and how parents can support these needs at home. Twitter has changed our discussions for the better.

Then there’s the value in having students do the tweeting. I’ve tweeted with my class before for many reasons:

  • sometimes it’s to share thinking in Math.
  • sometimes it’s to work on word choice.
  • sometimes it’s to work on voice and point of view.
  • sometimes it’s to allow students meaningful ways to practice spelling skills.
  • sometimes it’s to share knowledge in content areas (e.g., Science, Social Studies, and/or Health).
  • sometimes it’s to work on decoding and reading comprehension skills (in replying to what others write through a Twitter chat).
  • sometimes it’s to reflect on learning and set future goals.

I think that when you start with the curriculum expectations and/or the Learning Skills addressed — as I’ve done with these examples above — you get to the “why.” When my students tweet, it’s for a very specific reason, always tied to the curriculum. I use Storify to capture these tweets and then add them to my class blog (as I’ve done in the blog post example here). These Storify posts act as portfolios of students learning. I then go back, look at what the students wrote, analyze needs, and target my next activity to meet these needs. I also compare writing activities throughout the year to see growth that is then captured in student progress reports. And I do see this growth, as the students are writing for a real audience. They know that if they don’t make their message clear, others will have difficulty understanding it, and may not reply to it. Students edit their work more than even before, and look at improving their writing and communication skills because of the audience.

So in my case, there’s definitely value in using Twitter in the classroom. How do others use it? What benefits and/or drawbacks do you see for students? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Aviva

 

9 thoughts on “Is there value in tweeting?

  1. I think I have gone through a lot of transformations with the use of twitter in the classroom.

    Personally: I use it for my own professional learning, reflecting and connecting.

    Classroom: it is a way for me to connect to my parents. This is not a pedegogy related but my parents love this. As a parent I would love to see what my kid is learning about. My daughter is entering kindergarten next year and I love the posts from other kindergarten teachers. I know that I have parents comment that it is nice to see what they are doing. It also allows them to feel apart of the learning as their kids get more and more independant.

    Teaching: I use it as a way for my students to reflect on there day. It often will set the tone for the next or it allows them to go back and relearn what they have done. This is very grounded in student learning. Can I say this is the reason for improvement, no. But I don’t think we can pin point one thing that will improve it’s a combination of things.

    This is why I feel using twitter has been one of the best things we could be doing in our classroom.

    • Thanks for your comment, Jonathan! You make so many great points here, and it’s true: there are definitely lots of different great uses for Twitter. I really appreciate you sharing what you do and why you do it. Personally, I love learning from you professionally as well as from your class of students!

      Aviva

  2. When you tweeted with our son in Grade 1, I felt that it was all about getting students to write. It gave them a forum to practice and develop communication skills. It was also motivating for the students because Aviva would always leave comments/feedback. Other teachers, parents and others would also leave comments for the students to look forward to reading. So any motivation to get students to write at that age and stage is a good one!

    • Thank you so much for the comment, Michelle! I love that a parent weighed in on this post. I completely agree with you too. There’s lots of value in getting students to want to write (especially at a young age), and this definitely happened thanks to Twitter. Even at an older age, I see this to be true. I told the students today that I was going to share their sample Social Studies report card comments on Twitter, and this really motivated them to create some great ones that other teachers could use too. It was so nice to see!

      Aviva

  3. Dear Aviva,

    Thank you for taking the time to write such an informative post.
    I am trying to figure out more the use of Twitter as a pedagogical tool rather than administrative (i.e. parent information). I am going to think more about it – thanks again!

    • Thanks Cristina! Pedagogical in terms of what? Do the examples of how to use it for writing or sharing information in content areas work? How were you looking at using it? This is an interesting question for sure, and I’m glad you got me thinking about it.

      Aviva

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