In November 2011 I blogged about how I used Twitter in a mathematics lesson on chance and probability with a group of year two students. Since then, just over a year ago, Twitter has become an integral part of my classroom program. So much so that last week I was contacted by Jewel Topsfield, the education editor at The Age Newspaper who wrote an article about how Twitter is being used in the education field – T is for Teaching. After receiving so much attention from the article, I realised that using Twitter with my year five and six students had become such a normal part of the daily activities in my classroom that I had forgotten that what my students and I are doing is still something that many educational professionals perceive as ‘taboo’, that there are still so many people out there that believe social media plays no part in the education of these ‘digital native’ students we teach everyday.
Photo: Jason South
The fact is that many students in my class already use social media, they have Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Google and Twitter accounts and although I can not condone their use of those tools as they are under 13 years of age, I can expose them to positive ways of using such tools in the classroom. Through using my class Twitter account @ACPS456 and sites such as Edmodo I am exposing my students to a POSITIVE way of behaving and communicating in an online world- something that they are already beginning to do. I am teaching my students how to identify and block spam accounts, the importance of only friending people they know on Facebook, the notion of leaving a ‘digital footprint’ and how to be safe online!
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. Shouldn’t we as educators be embracing this use of technology in the classroom rather than ignoring it? Teachers, principals and parents desperately need to get over their beliefs that Twitter is a place for sharing unimportant information and updates or following celebrities. No, I do not care what you ate for lunch today or what grocery store you shop at, but I DO care and WILL take notice if I see an 11 year old tweet the Prime Minister or read about young people sharing their learning and knowledge with the world. It is time for educators and parents to understand that Twitter and other social media in the classroom can be a valuable place and a world stage for student learning. Teachers need to stop being afraid and simply have a go at using the tools, if not for their class then for themselves. Twitter is the best FREE source of professional learning I have ever come across. I hear so many excuses and complaints about being so swamped that “I don’t have the time”, excuses like these are simply just that, don’t tell me you don’t have time and then expect me to sit down with you for half an hour to explain something when you could have got the answer off other teachers on Twitter almost instantly. There are SO many educators out there, many experts in their fields, willing to share their knowledge in 140 characters or less- it’s time to get involved!
Ways to use Twitter with students:
- Sharing class updates
- Sharing blog posts
- Tweeting reflections on learning activities
- Sharing what they have learnt
- Asking questions
- Gathering information and data
- Create global connections with other classes and teachers
Some classes already Tweeting:
Some worthwhile teachers to follow (Just a few, too many to include all). Join the conversation! Check out Edudemics 60 best teachers on Twitter.
Don’t forget the hash tags:
- Victorian Professional Learning Network- #VicPLN
So many more here- The Unofficial Index to Educational Twitter Hashtags