Do you use Twitter in your classroom as part of your lesson plans? If not, don’t worry—you’re not alone. Although 80% of K-12 teachers do have social media accounts, such as Twitter for personal or professional use, most of them don’t integrate them into classroom lessons. With Twitter, for example, it might be difficult to understand why you would, especially when the platform is best known for getting updates on the oft mundane activities friends, family and celebrity crushes. But with 288 million active users worldwide, educational experts, like those at the National Education Association, say that Twitter can be a welcome tool for teachers who want to increase information, communication, and collaboration, both inside and outside the classroom.
With this in mind, we scoured the Internet to identify the freshest ways tech-savvy educators use Twitter to enhance the learning process.
Using Twitter in the Classroom
Here are several innovative ways teachers and students can exchange information in private Twitter groups:
- Have designated students tweet what they learned that day. This practice gives students at any age a chance to reflect on their own education and then summarize it succinctly.
- Catch a student “doing good” and tweet it so the class can see, thus reinforcing the positive behavior.
- Students can create tweets from characters from a book being read in class (i.e. what would Charlotte the spider or Harry Potter tweet at that point in the chapter?).
- Create a joint story through tweets. Put the Twitter feed up on a screen and encourage students to add sentences as the story progresses.
- Challenge your class to create a story within 140 characters. Who can write a beginning, middle and end with brevity?
- Use Twitter for polling, asking students their opinion on an issue, and discuss the results. This method increases class participation and can lead to greater engagement.
- Let your students create characters based on your current history or English lesson and create a tweeted dialogue.
- Ask students to tweet to you about their learning process and challenges. It may be easier for students to discuss any troubles they’re having with you through tweets than in person.
- Send reminder tweets about homework, tests, or project due dates.
- Post a question and have students tweet the answer. This practice encourages full participation, instead of just from the first student to raise a hand.
- Allow a backchannel for conversation between students as they go through the lesson. This allows them to delve into the topic and lets you see their thought process and identify any areas that need clarification.
- Have students look at newspapers, online articles, or chapter summaries, synthesize the most important elements and create a tweet summary. This can create a useful study guide for the class to use at the end of the lesson or unit.
- Answer questions about homework. Students can direct message you a question that they may not feel comfortable asking in front of the class.
- Help your students create a multimedia classroom newspaper with stories composed of tweets.
- Teach probability by polling students. Ask them what they think the chances are of a certain event happening, i.e. rain, fire drill, football team winning, etc., and graph the results.
Taking Twitter Into the Community
Twitter’s greatest strength is connecting individuals with a cross-cultural section of other users. People your students connect with on Twitter can provide a watershed of powerful information to be used in the classroom. Likewise, you and your students have expert knowledge that can be exchanged with others. Here are some ideas on how to use connections with others on Twitter in the classroom.
- Document a field trip with twitter, including tweets, photos, etc. This involves parents on the activity and can provide a foundation for lessons in subsequent years.
- Have students tweet current events happening in the class, or the school, to others in the Twitter universe.
- Help students compose a list of who to follow on Twitter for news, trends, and other topics of interest.
- Map the location of Twitter followers and use that information for geography lessons.
- Tweet a question and analyze how the location of your followers can influence answers.
- Keep parents updated on upcoming events. Getting their involvement can help student participation.
- Identify another school on the other side of town or on the other side of the world, and exchange tweets with students.
- Search Twitter using the keyword of a subject and discuss the results.
- Expand on a probability lesson by posting questions on Twitter like: what are the chances that it will snow where you are? Plot the answers on a map to see correlation between answers and location.
- For older students, create a Twitter scavenger hunt that requires Twitter to work with other students, either in the class or with students at other schools, to find treasures.
- Help students locate organizations and professionals that can provide career information for high school students and follow those tweets.
Developing Yourself Personally and Professionally through Twitter
- Build community with other teachers of similar subjects in order to collaborate on lesson planning and new ideas.
- Follow educational leaders to stay up to date on news, trends, and best practices. Popular hashtags like #edtech and #edchat can get you started with a wealth of informative tweets.
- Direct message others on Twitter in the educational field to get specific advice or information.
- Establish your own brand by publishing educational tweets that help establish your expertise. Tweet out a link to your blog to get more traffic. Share your thoughts and experiences on current teaching practices.
This list, while not comprehensive, gives you an idea of how, with a little creativity, you can use Twitter to increase conversations within your classroom and with the world. For even more ideas, try searching Twitter for phrases such as “Twitter in the classroom.”