Monday, July 4, 2011

Twitter (Please Help)

I'm seriously considering using Twitter next school year. Here are my thoughts...

Twitter could be used for the following:
1. Keep students up to date on assignments
2. Reminders for tests
3. Quick hints and tips for tests and assignments
4. Reminders for science fair deadlines
5. Students can ask questions to the whole class and others can respond
6. Parents can keep up on class events as well.

I'm sure there are more things. Does anyone have any suggestions for other ways I could use Twitter? How do you like my ideas so far? Will they work? Is Twitter the best thing to use for the objectives above or would something else be better?

I plan on requiring my students sign up for Twitter and follow a class Twitter account that I will run. Any problems with this?

Feedback would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for reading.


  1. You have obviously sucked out part of my brain and claimed it as your own as I was having the same ideas. It was actually my students' suggestion this year because they use Twitter and Facebook so much, whereas their parents use email. Other things I can think of would be to retweet articles to the class group from sources like Discover, Scientific American, the BBC, etc. You never know when a student might find something interesting enough to actually read. It is just another way to try and increase their scientific literacy.

    I don't know if I will require students to sign up for Twitter, but I will think about it. I just worry about the students who don't have smartphones or regular computer access. I also don't have access to Twitter at school which makes the functionality a little bit less for me (I'm a troglodyte who doesn't have a smartphone either).

    Let me know what ends up working out!


  2. Taylor,
    I think you have some great ideas for using Twitter in the classroom. Here are a few of my additional ideas:
    • Set up chats similar to Eric’s scichat for online test review sessions
    • Have students set up their own hashtags to organize posts for group projects
    • Connect with other science classrooms across the nation that also use Twitter
    • Link classroom blog to Twitter

    Some concerns I have about using Twitter in the classroom are as follows:
    • Will all students have access? I agree with Michele that access is an issue since some students do not get the Internet at home and some schools block sites such as Twitter.
    • Does it enhance learning? I would want to make sure that the use of Twitter is more beneficial to their learning than a distraction that causes information overload.
    • Is all content appropriate? Students need to be held accountable somehow for following guidelines concerning the tweeting of appropriate content.

    I applaud you for your willingness to take this step and am curious to hear about how it ends up working for you.

  3. Thanks to both of you for your thoughtful responses. I love the feedback I've been getting on my blogs. It's really nice to bounce ideas off teachers across the nation.

    After reading your thoughts, I'm going to add to my list of things I can do with Twitter. I like the idea of tweeting links to articles. As you said, it’s a great way to increase scientific literacy. I like the idea of setting up the chat review session and linking Twitter to my blog.

    I need to check to see if I can get onto Twitter at school. Also, I agree with the information overload. I want to try to keep the use of Twitter to a minimum. Only to be used for the things listed above. If I find other possibilities of Twitter, I can then expand. I want to start small though.

    Thanks so much for your comments. I greatly appreciate it.

  4. @Linda, I think the hashtag chat is a great idea, especially for students to use for review. They could also set up their own user lists, including one for that particular class.

    In my experience, kids at our school haven't really been using Twitter at all, except when required for class (the Mandarin teacher has used it occasionally). They prefer Facebook. A small handful of kids started following Justin Bieber this spring, but they were the exception. They WERE curious to hear that I was on Twitter, but were not as excited to see that I was just posting interesting scientific articles, current events, and links on teaching!

    We can use Twitter in school, and it's also interesting to do a hashtag search in real time (did last spring for #oilspill to see the sheer quantity of articles/photos/news streaming by). So you can show them that Twitter can be used for things other than stalking celebrities.

    I haven't used it during class except for that, but the best resource I've found on the subject is TeachPaperless:

    Fascinating what Shelly is doing with it.


  5. @oncetherewerelions, I like to hear that there are some schools that are allowing Twitter use in school! Do you plan to use it more extensively next year?

    If my school allowed Twitter, I could see myself using Linda's idea of connecting with other science classrooms also using Twitter. I had gone to a summer workshop at MSU (called TEAMS) that I was able to collaborate with another teacher from Colorado, and we were going to use Twitter and Skype... but my school was not okay with it so... here I am again this summer learning about great ways to use Twitter...

    I will continue to keep encouraging our district, this year I have more resources that point out great examples... thanks Taylor for sharing your list of ideas!

  6. @Lori,

    Yes, I'd love to keep finding new ways to use it. Let's try it out. Our tech dept is open to most of these things as long as they're used for academic purposes. I'll admit that I didn't have to twist any arms, so I know that I have it pretty easy.

    This article "What is Twitter and Why Scientists Need to Use It" might give you some good talking points. Happy to help you make your case!

    - Scott

  7. Does your district use Moodle? Your principal might me more comfortable if yu strat with Moodle. It is safer in that you get to monitor EVERYTHING. Students can chat, blog, etc. and you have a log of it all. You control content and a lot of the more scary aspects of twitter. Just a thought.