As I’ve been continuing to use Twitter in the classroom, I’ve held conversations with my students about what Twitter meant to them. We’ve been discussing ways that writing is meaningful in their real life and ways that we can communicate with the world around us. In this blog post, I want to shed light on how my students perceive the use of Twitter.
I had the students work in groups to brainstorm their favorite uses of Twitter and ways that we could use Twitter that we haven’t yet explored. I had them create with their table group a list of ideas, suggestions, and comments about our Twitter usage. The slideshow below shows their responses (excuse my crude editing to ensure anonymity).
What I found most interesting from their suggestions was the many ways they thought of that we’ve never tried before! For example, one group mentioned talking to companies. I hadn’t considered integrating Twitter into our business unit. The students have also mentioned book recommendations, sharing work, interacting with others, etc. The students have shown me that they’re very aware of how flexible Twitter can be and how much we can get out of it as a group.
I also noticed that one of the groups (sarcastically or not) left the comment:
Without Twitter there’s nothing fun in the class.
This speaks to what I see with a lot of students that don’t feel academically motivated. Twitter motivates them in ways that school in general hasn’t. Twitter feels real to them. It seems authentic as we converse with real people in the world. Parents have started following our class and the students are seeing other classes share their work as well.
An example of the authentic work that comes from Twitter relates to Kathy Cassidy’s idea of serendipity. She believes that by utilizing Twitter, you come across meaningful teachable moments that can be integrated into instruction. A great moment of serendipity occurred with TRAPPIST-1, the new planetary system that was discovered. The students walked in the door that morning already asking if I’d heard about it. We opened Twitter, and NASA and Neil deGrasse Tyson had already posted multiple times about it. We opened some of the links and spent 15 minutes learning about implications of the discovery. We talked about it intermittently all day and over the last couple of weeks the students have continued to bring it up or mention it in their blogging.
They care about Twitter because it’s real. I was worried that the feedback I would receive would be negative because it’s not very interactive for the students. I stand up front and project Twitter while they tell me what to type and click on. I was worried that some of the students weren’t enjoying it or felt it was a waste of time. This feedback shows me that not only do they enjoy Twitter, but they want to continue moving forward and discovering what we can truly learn with the tool. They want to explore social media and the digital world and they see that our classroom Twitter is a window into the vast world of social media that they are just beginning to dabble in.
I can’t wait to move forward with their suggestions and to continue to put their ideas behind the wheel on this one. They are so motivated and I am very excited to see what we’ll learn next!