Wow! I can’t believe how fast the time has went by! I’ve learned so much in the last few months and have definitely utilized social media in the classroom more than ever before.
A Project of Transformation and Expansion
My original project was implementing a classroom Twitter account and involve students in sharing their learning. However my project quickly began to evolve after I realized how little my class knew about digital citizenship and responsible online use – and yet nearly every student was using social media platforms, whether it be Snap-chat or Facebook, in some way or another. I was shocked and knew that before I just hop into using Twitter, we needed to have some important discussions and lesson around responsible internet use. What seemed to work well was using Twitter in authentic moments, while having regular lessons each week that evolved around …
- Twitter etiquette – The language, the hashtags and all that jazz
- The use of private and personal information
- The power of words online
- Keywords to give you the best search results
- Plagiarism, it’s consequences, and when it’ acceptable to use people’s work – including citations
This wasn’t the initial direction of my project, but I quickly learned teaching about digital citizenship was going to be essential and almost more important than simply using social media in the classroom. Having conversations around appropriate internet use is going to be where most of the learning takes place this semester for my students. How could I expect them to jump in and know how to use social media without preparing them with background on responsible internet use.
As I look at our use of Twitter in the classroom I was happy about the growth I made and the lessons learned. I do believe this will become a staple within my classroom as it is a quick, easy way to share what we are doing in the classroom and connect with others in our community and around the world. There was a learning curve associated with transitioning the Twitter account from me onto the students and some difficulties associated with not having a classroom iPad. Instead students used my phone for the photo and then we drafted the tweets together from my computer projected onto the whiteboard.
Students learned Twitter etiquette though modelling and practice on our “Twitter Board” which involved students writing their Tweets, editing mistakes, and creating hashtags before they actually tweet it out online. This also helped us to THINK before we TWEET – something we discussed many times this year.
Here is how I see our progression of learning based on our Twitter history. At the start of this project, I set up our Twitter account, it was very little used and I was doing most of the Tweets. I was using Twitter to share our learning to parents and the community but not really giving students any ownership until my project really got started.
Slowly but surely students began taking ownership of the Tweets, at other times it was a combined class Tweet. We talked and decided as a class to use “Quotation Marks” to capture what the student said about their picture and “signed” the Tweet using first names only. I think this process of taking baby steps and working together to compile tweets, in unison of the digital citizenship curriculum made an impression on students and hopefully how they will use social media independently moving forward.
Students were most drawn to creating tweets about their accomplishments and work they are proud of. This has been a great opportunity for students to share their growth to a wider audience.
For example, students who have difficulty with math were tweeting about moving up in their math fact levels, which in turn increased motivation to to keep working hard o they can update their latest progress on our class Twitter Board.
One of the biggest challenges was not having our own classroom iPad. The school board started a k-3 initiative where iPads were dispersed to these younger grades, however now we no longer have our own iPad in our Grade 4/5 classroom. This made taking pictures a bit challenging as I had to let students use my personal phone (or take the photo of them and their work – depending on what they wanted to tweet) with close supervision. If we had our own iPad I would feel more comfortable with assigning a “photographer of the day” and letting the kids have full control over the photo portion of the project. The Tweets themselves could be written either together on our Twitter board, or on the computer hooked up to the projector which seemed to work fine.
My second largest challenge was the fact I was running a classroom project during the time my fantastic intern, Miss Weber, was to be teaching full time. I still managed to sneak and teach some of my digital citizenship lessons but not teaching my class while she was in her block made it slightly more challenging to tweet everyday as a class. I was still able to involve the class but it wasn’t as easy to get it done or remain consistent with tweeting during this time.
My third challenge – although it’s more positive – was I had already committed to trying Class Dojo for the first time at the beginning of the year, so I had to balance running two online communication tools. This has been working fine, however, I wish I had also shown my progress in learning how to use Class Dojo within my weekly posts. I didn’t really consider doing this until it was too late but I could have compared the two platforms throughout my journey. I guess I felt like Twitter would be most challenging for me so I wanted to focus on one tool, although I was technically trying to balance using two tools this semester. I wanted to start Twitter in addition to Dojo because of the student involvement aspect. Although using Class Dojo took up some of my time I could have spent communicating Twitter, it wasn’t wasted time because it seemed to have a little more of a personal connection to parents. I often sent videos straight to parents of their child reading or presenting a project to the class which is something I didn’t feel comfortable posting on the wider Twitter platform. Class Dojo also made direct messaging parents more simple – a connection I didn’t have using Twitter. The main difference between using the two platforms this year was that Class Dojo was solely ran by me as I had complete control as the teacher and Twitter lended itself to a wide range of conversations about internet safety and responsibility while shifting ownership over to the students.
I’ve really enjoyed the flexibility within this course to learn about something I’ve always wanted to do, but have never had time to explore and try. I’m confident that this project has helped me lay the foundation for making Twitter a staple in my classroom for future years.
Check out my summary of learning here! In this video I summarize my key points of learning and give a closer look at my Twitter Learning Project!