19 ways to use Twitter in the classroom

By Carol Tonhauser

Using Twitter in the classroom is one of the most discussed tech-related topics concerning today’s classroom. But where does one begin? There just are so many ways to integrate the social media service into a lesson plan. Well, here are a few tips to get you started!

1) Follow a #tag relevant to your lesson plan For example, you could follow #poetry in your English class.

2) Create and promote your own #tag (ex. #schoolnameFrench11)This can be a great way to encourage discussion around a specific topic.

3) Connect with experts in the field Why not connect with a great Canadian author or painter on Twitter? Just be sure to arrange the meet up ahead of time.

4) Tweet reminders about assignments #MrsSmithArtClass – Remember to bring your portfolio in on Monday!

5) Tweet learning outcomes Get your students on track early in the week. For example: #thisisSocStudies This week we talk about 1867. You will learn how our country was formed.

6) Get instant feedback on questions Get 30 answers projected onto your screen at the same time; get a good sense of where the class is at with a particular problem

7) Let parents get an insider’s view into the classroom

Using Twitter in your class may help parents motivate their children to complete their homework. If they know what was assigned during the day’s math class, they can ask their child about the assignment over the dinner table.

8) Poll students There are an almost infinite number of ways you can use polls in your lessons. The key is to think about what information you want to gain from the poll and how you will use it to shape your lesson going forward.

9) Empower shy students to participate in discussion Some students are shy. Help them to open up by tweeting their ideas instead of verbalizing them.

10) Teach about digital citizenship This is a big one. Talk to your students about their digital footprint, safety concerns, privacy and acceptable online behaviour

11) Survey/poll your PLN for support in teaching Okay, so this one isn’t really for use in the classroom per se, but it is a helpful tip. Being the only music or French teacher in a school can be lonely. Develop a PLN through Twitter. Lean on your PLN for support when times get tough.

12) Use Twitter to search for PD opportunities Simply chatting with fellow teachers on Twitter can lead to learning about great opportunities for professional growth.

13) Write progressive stories and poems Have students in your class write a short story 140 characters at a time. Write a poem together. Split students up into groups with different #tags or write as a class.

14) Promote second language conversation/real-time chats Encourage students to use language in real conversation that you just taught them in your Spanish or French class. Split them up into small groups or partners and have them create a dialogue that you can later examine as a group and learn from each other’s mistakes.

15) Make field trips 100x more fun Give your class a #tag to use for the field trip. Make sure to send it to their parents and your principal. Once you are on the trip, encourage students to tweet pics, give updates on what they are seeing/feeling and tweet answers to your questions.

16) Create a digital scavenger hunt Have students search for fractals in everyday life. Ask them to take pics and tweet them using your unit #tag over the weekend. Examine the findings on Monday morning during class.

17) Share a classroom digital newspaper Create a class project using paper.li and Twitter. Connect with other classrooms who are also studying a similar topic. Compare notes on sustainability, a novel or a CTS project.

18) Share math problems, word games or other puzzles Encourage the class to solve a complex problem by working together. Monitor collaboration as it happens in the Twitterverse

19) Ask students to tweet as specific character from novel or play Have your students really get into character. Ask them to tweet as a character from a Shakespeare play. Let them explore the wonderful world of the novel you are studying in a new way. Leverage the fun factor and you will see positive results!

Things to consider

You will need to think through your approach to using Twitter very carefully before implementing it in your classroom.

Make sure to talk to your principal about using social media in your lessons. He or she will be able to tell you if it is in-line with your district’s policies.

Parents will have to be consulted before implanting a social media plan. Some teachers recommend having a meeting with all the parents of a class to iron out all the details and address any concerns. Others use email to make the connection. Just be sure to keep parents aware of what you plan to do. Have a good plan in place to ensure your classroom is a safe learning environment for all. This will be the most important issue for most parents.

Make sure you haven’t fooled yourself into using technology just for the sake modernizing your lessons. Closely evaluate how Twitter (and any other tech) can improve the learning experience and outcomes of your students.

Accessibility to devices is another issue. You need to make sure that every student in your class will have access to a connected device. Whether it is a phone, iPod, tablet, laptop, make sure everyone can participate in your lesson

What do you think about using Twitter in the classroom?

Do you have any strategies to share?

Leave your comments below