Saturday, April 28, 2012

Twitter in the Classroom?

So, I signed up for Twitter a few months ago, and I've become a big fan.  To my surprise, I was also given a school account by my district.  I was at a loss for how to use it at first, but then I thought about the hashtag concept.

If you aren't familiar, the "hashtag" is a way of making your "tweets" - the things you post on Twitter - instantly searchable.  If you tweet something with a hashtag that others are using, people can watch the feed for a specific hashtag, and they will see your contribution pop up as part of a conversation.  For example, a recent hashtag was #5words.  People tweeted a five-word phrase that they considered important or enlightening, and then tagged it.  Then everyone else could search for that hashtag, and follow the tweets as they came out.

So, it occurred to me, why not create a hashtag and use that to have an ongoing, synchronous conversation with another classroom?  I posted something about this on the English Companion Ning, and I had two or three responses almost instantly.  That was cool, but I had no idea what to do about that.  Now that I have the Twitter account, I don't know that I have the time to insert a text or unit that we can collaborate on with another classroom.  (As is usually the case, at this point in the year, I'm dumping cool ideas that I've been putting off, and trying to jam as many cool ideas and new ideas for next year into the classroom as I can before school is over.  Between the required stuff and the stuff I want, I don't have much room left.)

So, since that didn't work, I just started actually using it.  I felt like I had waited too long, and tried too many different propositions, and ended up wasting time.  So, I just started tweeting "cool sentences" on my school Twitter account.  Students volunteered these sentences, and I tweeted them.  I recently tried the #5words hashtag (though I didn't use the actual tag because I didn't want too much unwanted attention drawn to the school account), and that worked really well.

So, with five weeks left of school, I'm thinking about other ways to use this.

I think the goal for the next several weeks is going to be just tweeting as much student work as I can.  It should be - or it seems like it would best serve as - a student publication tool, of very short student texts.  So, I'm going to publish anything and everything that I can, without breaking district rules.

I would love to hear other ideas, if anyone has suggestions.
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