Thursday, December 16, 2010

10 Tips/Ways for Using Twitter in the Classroom

Twitter has become a valuable tool for educators who are wanting to network with other educators.  Many other teachers have realized that Twitter can be a valuable education tool and communication tool to use with their students.  Some teachers have been using it for a while and have a great handle on how to use it.  Others are new to implementation and might want some further ideas for how to use it in the classroom.  Hopefully these tips can help provide some guidance.

1.) The initial trouble is getting students and parents signed up.  They are the Facebook Generation.  Several teachers I work with have offered extra credit/bonus points on a test for creating an account and then contacting their teacher.  This has been rather successful for those teachers.  Create some kind of form to send home to parents explaining the procedures and purpose and have students bring it back in with their username and parents usernames.

2.) Create a classroom hashtag.  Make it something simple like #mzush10 (Mr. Zimmer U.S. History 2010).  Have students search and follow the hashtag and that is an easy way for students to follow what you share.  You can search for hashtags using the following directory to make sure that you don't have any that conflict with other hashtags.

3.) Make your classroom Twitter account the only place that you provide extra credit.  This way when a student needs some, they know that is where you will provide it.  You can post assignments on an alternate website and have students visit it to complete the work.  When students complete it, have them reply to you so that you can expect it.

4.) Organize students into list.  If you have multiple classes, this is a great way to track students on Twitter.  You can create lists of students organized by class period, grade level, etc.  This way it is easy to track what they are doing, saying, and working on as it relates to their Twitter account.

5.) Once you have developed a PLN, I recommend using them to your advantage.  I highly suggest using them for taking polls, teaching geography, or getting opinions.  If other students from other schools are on Twitter, you could have a Twitter Chat and create a hashtag for them to all participate.  Use Tweetdeck to track the conversation.  The Teach Paperless Blog has a GREAT example of this.

6.) Posting reminders and homework assignments to the Twitter account is a great way to get students to create an account and use it beneficially.  You might even make Twitter the only time you will share the homework assignment.  This way they have to check it in order to know their homework, and it is something that you can do at the end of the class period or day.  It is such a simple task because it is only 140 characters long!

7.) Have a 140 Character reflection with your students.  Provide a link to a video, article, or news story.  Have kids provide their thoughts in 140 characters.  You might even create a separate hashtag for such an assignment.  This can provide students with an easy way to follow the assignment.  The next day in class you can then display the discussion and talk further about it, possibly even highlight specific student repsonses.

8.) Exit Slips are a a growing method of assessment.  Twitter would be a valuable asset to asses student learning by using it as a form of an exit slip.  When students leave, you can delete the previous classes responses, or ask a different question.  This way you have a log of the exit slips responses, and they can even be your bell ringers for the following morning.

9.) Connecting with professionals is a great way to utilize the power of Twitter.  Have students connect with NASA scientists, authors (100 Best Authors on Twitter and Directory of Authors on Twitter), politicians, the President, companies (Google, History Channel, etc), and Mathematicians.

10.) Backchannel is another valuable way to use Twitter.  Whether you are using it in class with students, or at home while watching the news, documentary, television show, or movie, you can create a backchannel for students to have a discussion.  Once again, you can create a hashtag for that specific discussion.  I like this as an option because it is easier to track specific students unlike other backchannel sites where students can make up any name.

There are several lists out there for ways to use Twitter.  These are some of my personal favorites.  What are some of yours?
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