Thursday, June 30, 2016

What I Learned About Using Twitter In Class This Year

How I Used Twitter In Class This Year

I have been on Twitter professionally since 2009.  In 2014-15 school year I used it once or twice to send tweets out on behalf of my students. Then I participated in The Global Read Aloud  (GRA) in October 2015. One of the GRA activities my class did was to send tweets to author Amy Krouse Rosenthal and illustrator Tom Lichtenheld. By the end of the GRA my students understood what Twitter was and how it worked.

In general, I chose and encouraged my students to use the Instagram account we had for our class mascot. So, I would not say that we used Twitter regularly but it did get used in class more frequently this year. For example,  in science I often ask my students how they could share the results of their experiments. This year Instagram was a regular choice but Twitter often came up as an option, too. 

Related blog posts:  So You Want To Participate In The Global Read AloudShare What Is Happening In Your Class Instantly... Use Instagram!

What I Learned

As I had not planned to use Twitter much in my class, I decided not to create a class Twitter account. I used my own account on behalf of my class. 

When the tweets were simply output, this was fine. However, when we began to have conversations on Twitter, I began to see a problem.

My students' tweets and the replies to their tweets were mixed in with my other tweets and notifications.  This posed two concerns for me:
  1. It did not allow for the class to own their learning. I could not turn it over to my students to type or to look for replies. I was able to this with the Instagram account. In fact, I regularly handed over an old phone to students to type the Instagram posts. I certainly was not going to do this with my own Twitter account.
  2. As well, I had to worry about what I was tweeting when not using it with the class. It is my professional account and I like to think that anything I tweet is appropriate in that regard. However, my audience is other adult educators (primarily) and I participate in Twitter chats such as PubPd; my tweets are appropriate for me using Twitter as a teacher. However, sometimes not all of my feed is appropriate to display on my Smartboard to use with seven year olds. Fortunately, my feed and notifications that were visible when I displayed Twitter on the Smartboard never posed a problem but I could see the potential for issues.

What I Will Do Differently

Each school year one of my first activities with my class is to come up with a class name. I plan to build into that routine creating a Twitter account. Currently I am debating whether I should just create an class account that gets used year after year versus a new one per class/school year (I do this with my class blogs). For those of you who use Twitter in class, what is your opinion (and why)?

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

An Interview With Nick Reilly

New Feature: Div1 Edtech in EPSB Interviews

This month we are starting a new monthly feature: educational technology interviews with classroom teachers. Our first interview is with EPSB teacher and occasional Div1 Edtech blogger, Nick Reilly. Nick currently teaches grade four and “junior high stuff, too”. You can find Nick as @NotebookNick on Twitter and on Google+.

The Interview

What technology skills should students have before coming into the grade(s) you teach?

Students should be able to log into their accounts, create Google Docs and have familiarity with the internet. (Nick blogged about this previously, check out Preparing For Division 2 for a more detailed answer).

Where do you get your educational technology ideas?

I definitely get ideas from more than one spot: Twitter, Google+, Professional Development Days, professional reading, colleagues and blogs.

What type of technology do you use in your school?

We have laptops, desktop computers, Chromebooks, 3D Printers, and Smartboards.

Imagine you only could keep one technology at your school. From the ones you listed about what would be the one you would keep? 


How has technology changed the way you teach?

It defines the way I teach. It opens so many doors.

How do you decide what is worthwhile for students to learn through technology, given the literacy and skill challenges in your class?

With assistive technology playing a significant role for some of my kids, sometimes technology helps to overcome basic skill deficiencies and allows them to complete a task they normally would not be able to unassisted. Students choose to work with technology when given the choice, and often it is to help them in some capacity. Whether it is listening to something instead of reading it, or finding a different medium for information when researching, the end goal is still the same for most of my tasks. Completion of the task to the best of their abilities is the main goal. How students get there is up to them.

What apps or technology tools do you use? Are there any that you use for specific projects?

I use a number of apps from the Google suite (Classroom, Docs, etc.) and some that tie in nicely. We've recently been writing with Storybird, and using Prodigy and Mathletics for math.

What are your hopes for educational technology in the future in your classroom? Alberta? Canada? Globally?

I think Expeditions is a huge step in the right direction. Being able to give kids experiences they normally wouldn't be able to have is the right way to go about things. Technology as a bridge to bigger and better things for learners is where it should be going.

If you could add a question to this interview, what would it be?

What is one piece of technology would you like to try in your classroom that you haven't had an opportunity to yet?

A huge thank you to Nick Reilly for being the first interviewee. His question has been added to the list of interview questions! If you would like to suggest someone we should interview, leave a comment! Check back in July for the next interview.