8 Apr 2015

Using Twitter in the classroom – a Library special

Guest post by Craig Kemp, an Educator from New Zealand. This post, in an earlier version, was published on his site 

As an educator who is addicted to Twitter I have always read about students getting introduced to Twitter and wondered how it would work. After reading and reading I finally decided to give it a go with my students, just over a year ago. This is my personal story of utilizing it with my students. I would encourage educators around the world to do the same. I especially would encourage librarians to do the same with a specific focus on books and authors. It is a great way to connect with parents to encourage them to LOVE books and promote a LOVE of reading in their homes.

Here is my introduction to Twitter in my classroom.

It was a Tuesday afternoon, the day started like any other. Roll call, discussion, introduction to an activity and a bit of a laugh with my Year 7 and 8 Technology class. We had been discussing the importance of being an active online user and being a positive digital citizen (the students were preparing some presentations for Year 2-3 children later in the term). The conversation moved into learning environments and we discussed the small and “un-student friendly” (their words) environment that they were currently sitting in.

“Take the teachable moment and run with it” my inner, energetic teacher yelled from my shoulder. So there we were talking about the “Ultimate Learning Environment“, when one of my students asked me “Why is social media so big?”. Good question I thought, why is it ‘so big’. So we unpacked that question and broke it down. We talked about Social Media and what it was and how it worked, they gave me excellent examples and we tied it back into our discussion about digital citizenship.

From this point, as a class, we decided we would use social media to help us with our learning. The students had no idea how it could work. I suggested twitter and how I use it. We pulled up my profile and saw how it worked (discussion only). The decision was then made –> Let’s ask the twitterverse to help us!!

We decided that tomorrow would be the day, we would ask twitter for their advice on “What makes a GREAT learning environment?”. The students already had some fantastic ideas and a plan of where they wanted to see their environment heading but they needed some depth to their plan and some other opinions outside of their little bubble.

The day of our debut - The students run in with excitement written all over their faces. Up on the interactive whiteboard is my twitter profile with the hashtag #AGSLE up on the stream. Last night I had asked some of my amazing PLN to share their thoughts, ready to inspire the students in live time. The session began and the students led the hour. They decided they would post questions and respond to answers in their own words, using their initials. The discussion continued for an exciting hour and the students were engaged and focused. They saw a new post appear and the next student hopped up to respond. While this was going on the rest of the class were using their 1:1 device to continue researching learning environments. They are now putting together a plan of what it might look like (first draft to present to Head of School) and using links and ideas to engage their imaginations as they were shared by my amazing PLN. They were sent links, images of classroom spaces and ideas that made my mind spin – what an opportunity!

All in all, one of the most engaging and exciting lessons of the year so far. New ideas, new learning and new ways of engaging an audience and gathering information. The students are now (4 hours after our first twitter experience) putting together a proposal to have a class twitter account – so watch this space! Exciting stuff and true learning at it’s VERY best.

You can check out our twitter feed from this session and see what ideas were discussed:

As an educator, Twitter has opened up my world and broken down the 4 walls of my classroom. I can’t recommend this enough – give it a go.

For more information visit my blog or contact me on twitter @mrkempnz.


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