I have considered the use of twitter in my classroom for some time now. This year I moved to teach 5th grade and the importance of teaching and modeling digital citizenship became even more evident. Students are already on social media websites. They are interacting with others and constantly sharing content - pictures, messages, videos, etc. I decided that this school year I would investigate the use of twitter again.
The year started and it seemed like just a few weeks later it was already time for winter break. I again committed myself to the exploration of twitter and collected suggestions for a twitter handle from my students. I decided that right before the holiday break was not the best time to begin to implement this new tool. I did set the account up, so we would be ready to begin in January.
Over the break, I procrastinated on all of the to-do list items which I had saved for the break. These items were on the list because I didn't want to do them earlier. I still did not want to attack the list of daunting tasks.
Instead I picked up my iPad and looked into Twitter again. As in the past, I found lots of wonderful educator resources and decided that I wanted to rebrand my own digital footprint. I created a new account which I am using to expand my professional network and engage in professional development. (@mareenakohtala)
My first tweet when live on December 29th. I had 0 followers. I searched for users in educational fields and built my list to follow. The purpose was developing myself, so what did it matter if no one followed me?
Then on December 30th, I posted a link to my blog posting on coding. This is when everything changed for me.
After the post, I checked out some tweets under the #HourOfCode. Those of you famliar Twitter will understand why hours later I found myself far from the coding feed I had started on.
and then I found the #edtechchat three hours after the live chat was over.
If you have an interest in technology incorporation, this Monday evening chat is an absolute must! The chat is 8-9 P.M. Eastern time. I created a three page word document of screen shots, web links, lists, and users to follow up on from my first chat.
I found a post about a live broadcoast of a concert from school. I had considered the ability to do this just this fall when we held an informational session for parents, when I was unable to attend the chorus concert because of my book club cookie exchange, and when I was considering options for sharing information via video to other teachers after school hours. The answer to what I had wanted to learn - here on Twitter! Not only that, but a connection to someone that I could reach out to if I had questions. (Thanks Chip Williams!)
As if these experiences didn't confirm my love of Twitter already,
the moment I realized I had just hit the nail on the head came January 5th.
I posted a link to a blog post I wrote. I quickly saw a rise in hits on my website. Someone is actually reading what I wrote?
Then came retweets and favorites by other educational users. A comment on my activity came in from Canada, copying another 5th grade teacher that had retweeted my post.
I felt like I had contributed something of value for other educators. Perhaps my writing isn't worthy (yet) of book publishing, and maybe I haven't hit thousands of followers, but someone else read what I wrote and liked it.
I was transported back to my elementary self, beaming after receiving positive feedback from my teacher. Why did I feel this way? My words meant something. What I made was valuable.
I want every one of my students to share this same feeling.
Today we posted our first tweet of our New Year's Resolutions. After some class discussions and expectation set up, we are going to go live with student contributions in the next few weeks. I also added on the ability of students blogging through my teacher website (thanks to Paul Solarz - psolarz.weebly.com). My students will be given the ability to create posts sharing their learning and projects. Periodically, we will use our twitter account to share some of the posts to give my students an audience.
I cannot wait for the reactions as my students share with their new audience. I will be sure to share those via twitter!
Based in Doha currently, I am a technology-advocating learning junkie.