Wednesday, December 7, 2011 the classroom?

Twitter.  Twitter?  Twitter!

The name sounds kind of funny, but the potential is amazing!  If you thought Facebook was all the rage, tapping into the potential that exist with Twitter makes Facebook seem archaic.  So let's take a look at how Twitter might actually be used in the classroom.

For this blog, I actually googled 'Twitter in the classroom'.  In 0.23 seconds, 18,700,000 hits appeared.  Funny how that works.  One article that I found interesting was written by Mark Sample on December 1, 2011.  Mark writes a blog for the Chronicle of Higher Education titled 'Prof Hacker - Tips about teaching, technology, and productivity'.  This particular blog outlined some of his uses for Twitter in his Science Fiction class at the college level.  For example giving a structured Twitter assignment to students while they are watching a video, or reading a particular passage or book.  This got me to thinking how Twitter might actually be used in the high school, maybe even middle school, and dare I say, the elementary classroom?!

Twitter in the classroom.  Granted, there have probably been volumes and volumes of articles, books, and even doctoral dissertations about the topic, but here is one lonely AIC throwing out his take on the application, perhaps even from a sixth grade teacher perspective.  Structured Twitter assignments.  I love it.  Imagine a classroom of middle schoolers engaged in a live Twitter discussion about a book they need to read for an English class.  The discussion is actually taking place over the Holiday break at 7 pm on Christmas night!  Talk about engaged!  I have actually seen the same type of phenomenon happen with my Moodle site.  Kids chatting in a forum about upcoming events they were excited about. 
Picture students in a fifth grade classroom responding in a literature circle about how they can relate to the struggles that a certain character in a book is dealing with.   A Twitter assignment in an AP government class that is a debate on the implementation of a particular policy about to be started.   A ninth grade science class following a scientist working on a certain experiment and then using those Tweets as a source for their research paper.  The possibilities are endless.  As any good educator knows, student engagement is what it's all about.  Get kids involved and the learning is increased dramatically.

I must admit, I have only just started to Tweet, but have found it to be an amazing source of information, collaboration, and at times amusement (Alec Baldwin).  The concept is easy - getting liked minded individuals to chat and share about what they have a passion for.  Simple.  Getting it to actually happen...another story.

Twitter in the classroom.  A novel concept, but not one that I am not sure will actually take off based on a few roadblocks.  One, would be the level playing field that all students may not have the latest IPhone or Droid with an app for Twitter.  However at some point a school device might be made available.  Second, is the filter,  I cannot even access my Twitter account at school for whatever reason, but that's enough fodder for another whole blog! Third, is perhaps the perception that somehow students will be constantly using it for inappropriate reasons during the school day.  In fact, a recent article (December 6, 2011) from eSchool News reports that 1 in 100 students age 10-17 have actually engaged in so called sexting.  A statistic that perhaps disputes the notion that kids are using social media devices for the wrong reasons.

Can these obstacles (and others I have not foreseen) be overcome?  Absolutely.  Will they be solved in a timely manner so students can participate and benefit from Twitter.  Probably not,  Seems like we run scared around here and fret about the idea of something horrific happening, instead of taking the opportunity to teach kids how to use the technology appropriately.  Was that a Blog in a blog?

Finally,. let me just give a shout out to Joe Mazza, principal at Knapp elementary. Joe is a twitter fiend! He Tweets and average - 5-8 times per day about all of the great things that are happening at his school. In addition, he Tweets feverishly about engaging parents using various forms of technology...everything from Twitter to live Home & School meetings. Joe got me into Twitter and I am not sure whether to thank him or not?!

Twitter.  Check it out.  I look forward to following you soon!

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