Using Twitter in the Classroom

Twitter is a micro-blogging app that lets you share information (links, pictures, and videos). Twitter is one of the best ways to quickly communicate a message to a group of people. In your case, it will most likely be your students or parents. You can also ‘follow’ others on Twitter to find out all the latest and greatest.

Twitter is one of those things where you don’t really appreciate what it does until you try it and get past the stigma it carries. No, it’s not just another useless social media site. But, yes - there are hoards of people using it as just another useless social media site.

The full potential of Twitter is hard to understand until one starts experimenting with it in the classroom. Simply put, Twitter hosts information and sends it out to all those who follow you either on computer or their smart phone. It is a bit like Facebook (in a sense where you can follow what others post). Nevertheless, the application can be personalized to only reading the information you want.

Not being much of a Twitter user in the past, I didn’t understand its full potential and how I could use it in the classroom. So how do I use Twitter when it comes to flipping the classroom you ask? Simply put, Twitter hosts information (links and the like) and sends it out to all those who follow me. If you don’t understand how Twitter works, or for a quick refresher, check out the video below:

At the beginning of the school year, you will send out a letter to all the parents in your classroom. The letter should contain your Twitter feed (@yourTwitterName) or URL and described step-by-step, how you plan to use it in the classroom. The letter needs to describe how parents could follow your ‘Tweets’ (messages sent via Twitter). It should also explain how your tweets would go straight to the parent’s smart phones, or if they didn’t have access, they could check the website daily in order to find out what you wanted to communicate for the day.

Overall, I've had a positive response from parents when it comes to using Twitter in the classroom. Once we started communicating with it, it’d be hard to imagine something that would be more effective. Talk with some teachers who have used it at your school, and we think they’ll tell you the same thing.

Teaching Ideas
We’ve seen teachers use Twitter in a wide variety of ways. To give you a few ideas, I'll mention just a few ways we have used it in the elementary classroom. First, use it to send out pictures of what’s going on in the classroom. Parents love to see what their kids are learning or even the daily activities that take place. This can generate good communication between students and parents to help them discuss what the child has been learning in the classroom.

Secondly, use Twitter to send out the learning objectives for the day. This also helps with the whole “What did you learn today in school?” It makes for good student/parent dialogue. We both know, the better a student articulates what they’ve learned, the more concrete the learning becomes.

Lastly, one can use Twitter everyday in a flipped classroom. Each night a teacher can send out the new video for the next day’s pre-teaching. This is yet another way to get parents involved in their child’s education. The videos sent out can either go straight to their phone, or can be viewed on the computer. No more complaints from parents who didn’t understand the math homework. Now, they can watch the pre-teaching video right along with their child.

All in all, Twitter is perfect for teachers. It’s simple, it’s useful, and it’s free. Nevertheless, there are a few limitations – the main being you’re limited to 140 characters. Therefore, brevity is required when posting, and it’s important to make sure all your information is included in your tweet.

So, if all that is done correctly, kids and parents will be able to view what you have to say via your Twitter feed. Alas! You have found an easy, accessible home on the Internet to share what you need to say. No more worries about having to start a blog, find hosting, or any sort of that techie mumbo jumbo.

Most importantly, it’s one more way to start facilitating student learning.
And you thought all those cat videos were all the internet had to offer…

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Worried about a super long URL in your tweet? Twitter automatically treats ridiculously long URLs as only 19 characters. So don’t fret about that long, ugly link. However, if you’re one of those people who find long URLs unsightly, check out Bitly.com to clean things up. It’s easy to use, and you can log in right with your Twitter account. Bitly (and other sights like it) will save your links and enable you to retweet links from the past.