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)?