Twitter Captures Students Thoughts and Ideas by Lisa Nielsen

Twitter provides a terrific way for teachers to get an unlimited stream of feedback from students over a period of time on any subject.
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Twitter provides a terrific way for teachers to get an unlimited stream of feedback from students over a period of time on any subject. Students and teachers are using Twitter in a variety of ways.

Ideas for using Twitter with students

1) At Marta Valle High School they held an innovation fair celebrating the successes of the innovative work teachers are doing with their students. Some students were selected as fair reporters. These students interviewed attendees with the question, "Please tell me in 140 characters or less what has impressed you most about what you've seen at our innovation fair." Students tweeted the responses using their school tag. The Twitter feed could be seen on monitors throughout the school using http://twitterfall.com, and on their school website using an rss feed. This provided a unique way to capture their school celebration publicly and provided recognition of the work students were doing in an exciting way which they could share with their parents.

2) Text to capture reflections during field trips. If you're in a school where cells are banned, you may be able to have students bring them on field trips. If that is not allowed, the chaperon's devices can be used. Rather than have students walk around taking notes. Have them Tweet their reflections. You can set up a tag for your tweets if the place you are visiting doesn't already have one. Give parents the feed and they'll instantly know what their child did at school today and can have robust conversations about it. When students are back at home and/or school a review of the tweets could lead to powerful conversation or could serve as a launch for further study i.e. pick the most interesting tweet or set of tweets and create something to share with others about the topic you are tweeting about. This could be a podcast, video, blog post, etc. These digital creations can all be posted in one place as a reflection collection and even shared on the website of the school and place visited.

3) Have students do a daily or weekly tweet about something that day. In his post “What Did You Create Today?” (http://weblogg-ed.com 08/22/09), Will Richardson shares some great possibilities that could be used in a daily tweet: What did you teach others? What unanswered questions are you struggling with? How did you change the world in some small (or big) way? What’s something your teachers learned today? What did you share with the world? Not only is this a great way for teachers to have a sense of what is going on with their students, it also provides students with a way to connect with each other and their parents.

4) Use Twitter as a tool to capture student voice by having them respond to class lectures using Twitter. Texas educator Dr. Rankin had a tremendous amount of success with this noting how much more engaged students were during lessons, how they were able to make meaning in new ways, and her students note how this has really helped more students develop and share ideas. Hear from the teachers and students directly at http://tinyurl.com/TwitterinEdVideo.

 Here's how to get started

  • First each student needs to register for a Twitter account with an email and password.
  • Remind students that this is their academic account and everything on there should be appropriate. Discuss consequences for inappropriate use.
  • Encourage students to follow a standard protocol for their account names that reveals identity to only those partaking. One way to do this is having students use the first three letters of their last name, first three letters of their first name, and middle initial. For instance my name, Lisa Michelle Nielsen would be Niemlis. This should be set up as a whole class activity so all students can be walked through the account set up together to provide clarity on account set up.
  • Next the teacher should explain to students how they will be using tags. Tags allow the teacher and students to follow tweets. Look at the "Trending Topics" in the right hand navigation for popular tags. Let students click on them and share what they notice about tagging.
  • Then the teacher can share with students the tags they will be using. There may be a school tag (i.e. Susan B. Anthony High School would be SBAHS), a class tag, and tags for particular activities or areas of study.
  • Next the students need to set their twitter accounts up to receive text updates. They do this by entering their phone number at http://twitter.com/devices.
  • They will then enter Twitter into their phone with this number: 40404.
  • After this one time set up is complete, you and your students can start engaging in some engaging microblogging assignments.

Safety note: Teachers should note that some schools may have policies against following your students on Twitter. That's okay. With tags, you don't need to follow your students and searches will only turn up tweets related to the topic you are exploring with your students.

Cross posted at The Innovative Educator, International Edublogger, International EduTwitter, and Google Certified Teacher, Lisa Nielsen is best known as creator of The Innovative Educator blog and Transforming Education for the 21st Century learning network. An outspoken and passionate advocate of innovative education Ms. Nielsen is covered by local and national media for her views on "Thinking Outside the Ban" and determining ways to harness the power of technology for instruction and providing a voice to educators and students. Based in New York City, Ms. Nielsen has worked for more than a decade in various capacities helping schools and districts to educate in innovative ways that will prepare students for 21st century success.

Disclaimer: The information shared here is strictly that of the author and does not reflect the opinions or endorsement of her employer.

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