Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Tweet Dreams

I was given a great opportunity last week when the multi-talented Bec Spink offered to help me introduce Twitter to my grade 3 class. I had initially spoken to her and other teachers about ways to introduce it and how best to link it to their learning but felt a little unsure of myself. 
It is no longer ok for teachers to
ignore the fact that their students are using these tools and that social media is becoming a fundamental source for them to research, gather information, learn, play and communicate. - Bec Spink (2012)

To begin our session, students' brainstormed what they understood or thought Twitter was. The responses were quite varied; some students had used Twitter in a class before yet others had not heard of it. The main ideas we got from the students was that they believed Twitter was that it is a communication tool, social media, a way to have fun and, a way to share our work

As a class, we then initiated a discussion about what social media is and how it can be a useful way of connecting or communicating with like-minded people. Students all agreed that it would be a fun way of connecting specifically with people that take an interest in their education. We want to be able to show off our work and our thinking and reach people that will appreciate it and in turn help us to learn more. 

We took this discussion one step further by asking them to think about particular ways it would be beneficial to use Twitter. The first thing that all agreed upon was that it is perfect for helping us with our Challenge Based Learning (CBL) where we could ask the 'Twitter-sphere' for help answering questions we might have about our main topics.

It was then time to talk about the technicalities involved. We discussed ways to attention our Tweets to certain people by using the @ symbol. We then talked about hash-tags (#) and how we can use them to categorise our tweets so others can search for them. Finally, we talked about the 140 character limit involved in tweeting. The class particularly had fun watching Miss Spink try and fit a tweet in the paper-based table she used (pictured right). 

Of course, no discussion on the use of social media would be complete without the obligatory talk on online safety. This has fit well with our CBL topic this term of Identity. We were able to discuss what a digital footprint is and what we would and wouldn't share online. We all agreed that due to their age, I would be in control of the class Twitter account, we wouldn't use face pictures and we wouldn't use names (only initials).

It has been extremely rewarding to see my students so engaged in the process and it is really important that they are the driving force behind it. As I need to maintain control of the account for security and safety reasons, I decided to set up a Twitter wall in my room. This wall gives students a chance to record their thoughts or questions that they may want to pose so that the whole class can see it and discuss it before I post it online. 

Since the initial session I have been able to think of more ways I can use Twitter in my classroom activities. When I am planning future lessons, I am asking myself, "how can I use it to help the students learn more?". Already, I am thinking of possible math lessons, reading sessions, writing activities and CBL tasks that can all involve it in some way or another. I am feeling so much more confident in my abilities as a teacher to create fun, engaging and relevant activities for my students that incorporate as many of the 21st century learning skills as I can. 

*You can check out our classroom Twitter account @MrSummerells3A.

Spink, B. (2012). Twitter in my Classroom. Miss Spink on Tech. Retrieved from http://missspinkontech.global2.vic.edu.au/2012/12/01/twitter-in-my-classroom/


  1. This looks great Dan. A really good way to start the discussion about Twitter. Sounds as though the kids had a good grip on it too, when it can be such an abstract idea for them at the beginning. Looking forward to starting mine with my grade soon. Will follow your grade :)

  2. Thanks Em. I will admit I am lucky I have a lot of your ex students as they already have experience with the technology and the vocabulary. In other words - YOU ROCK!! LOL.
    Can't wait to see your class Twitter up.