12 Expert Twitter Tips for the Classroom
A dozen activities are presented for using an online education technology tool to engage students in classroom activities to develop a better understanding of concepts.
Using twitter in the classroom is becoming mainstream in many schools around the country and world. The challenge with any use of online education technology tool is the appropriate engagement of students in a meaningful manner. To this end, the successful use of twitter is about making connections with other teachers and students around the world to support significant learning events.
The use of twitter for improving student learning also requires movement beyond just collaborating with other teachers, pedagogical self-reflection, and professional development activities. It is essential to involve students in social network activities focused on research, data gathering, communicating with experts, examining other points of view, and dialogue within all curriculum areas using online resources.
Online Education Technology Uses of Tweets
The tips provided below are based on expert teacher experiences using the social network twitter. These activities are designed to encourage students in making connections beyond a basic understanding of concepts using this online education technology.
- Gathering Data – use a class twitter network to support student collection of scientific data, historical facts, geographical information, and poll data. Examples include collecting rainfall pH data around the world and geographic locations of specific locations around the world.
- Creative Story Theme – select any genre and begin a story opener which is tweeted around the class network of participating schools for contribution to the story line. Once all twitter network participants have contributed, have students develop a coherent story. This involves editing, story structure, creative writing, and proper use of grammar.
- Polls – students develop polls regarding controversial issues using current events, historical events, or scientific events using Twitter Poll. Once the poll data is collected students can make data tables, draw graphs, investigate mathematic probability, analyze data, and use logical reasoning skills to explain poll findings.
- Word Literacy – have students select a word of the week and tweet it around the network requesting synonyms, homonyms, and antonyms of the word. Once all responses are received, students check for accuracy and develop a Wordle of the word for strengthening literacy skills.
- Communicating with Experts – when burning questions develop during classroom discussions, have students’ develop140 character question to ask a class twitter network expert. This causes students to create clear and concise questions, along with teaching research skills.
- Online Scavenger Hunts – students are tasked with finding appropriate online resources which support a specific concept or topic being studied and post them on the network. Part of the challenge is that once a resource has been posted it cannot be used again.
- Facts 140 Characters at a Time – students in the class share facts about math, science, English, or history topics on the network for others to learn. For example groups of students are tasked with sharing 10 key facts about geometric shapes. Once a fact is used it cannot be used by other groups.
- Online Research – share, inquire, and engage students in using the network to conduct research. Examples include investigating the cause of the disappearance of honey bees around the country, global warming, and disappearing water resources.
- Informal Assessment – as students work on projects or other assignments periodic updates are required using twitter to provide tips, resources, interesting information, and difficulties. These updates allow for periodic progress checks, along with an assessment of student project activity.
- Online Debates – arrange for a real-time debate with another classroom on the class twitter network. Examples include zoos do more harm than good, impact of fast food restaurants on health issue, and the U.S. should ratify the Kyoto Protocol.
- Geo Hunt – arrange with twitter network participants to provide clues to find their location using Google Earth. Students piece together clues using different layers of Google earth to locate the exact location of the person providing clues. Students make concrete connections regarding time zones and geographic locations around the world in social studies.
- Current Events – use twitter to receive updates of current events in science, math, history, and literature. This removes the classroom walls and allows timely discussions of what is happening in the world outside the classroom. Selected current events are then used for debates and research connected to concepts being studied.
Making Connections between Learning and Concepts
As an online education technology tool, twitter’s impact on engaging students in learning concepts is unlimited. This social networking tool goes beyond the being social to being a valuable tool for teaching and learning. This tool, along with other classroom online tools, allows classrooms to move from centers of isolation to centers of learning without walls.
Students learn to create messages clearly and concisely as they communicate with other students and experts, because of the 140 character limitation. Classroom activities integrating twitter cause students to think outside the box as then extend their understanding of concepts beyond the basics.