Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Twitter Introduced in a Fourth Grade Classroom

Thanks to my fun, ever challenging job, today I got to introduce Twitter in a fourth grade classroom at my site. At first thought, those new to twitter, those who have never used it might think - really? Fourth graders? How will they use it? Why would they use it? As a parent, I am sure I would have been nervous had I not known better. 

Having experienced the benefits of twitter for my professional learning and development, I have been eager to share it with colleagues and students. Those who see the benefits and jump on it have been quick to see beyond and get newer ideas. One such teacher has been a fifth grade teacher at my site who let me introduce the tool to her class on day one of the school year. I feel fortunate to have the trust of the teachers to let me go ahead even if they are unsure of the benefits or use of the tool. Fifth graders have 1:1 iPads so it is great to have the class Twitter account as they can tweet way more regularly. Also, the digital etiquette learning that takes place is unbelievable. Not only is that class using twitter regularly and continually getting better at it, the teacher created her personal twitter account too that she now uses. 

I approached the fourth grade teachers a short while back. Two of them were really keen on implementing the idea soon, one of whom asked me to go ahead with her class today even though she was away. I decided to ask two of the fifth graders to come introduce it since I really believe in the power of student-student knowledge transfer. The two students who were assigned belonged to that particular fourth grade class last year and were really excited to come. They not only came with their iPads that they reflected and showed the tweets, they came up with a host of ideas for the fourth graders in terms of what they could do. 

They talked about appropriate tweets, explained hashtags, explained responding to tweets, how they need to tweet as a class, what kind of people they could follow, showed all their tweets, their followers and how it has helped them. They explained the 140 character limit, how it needs editing, how the important aspects need to be included, the language that would be used and patiently addressed all of the fourth grader questions. When the fourth graders came up with their profile description and wondering what profile picture to put up, one of the fifth graders actually suggested putting up a picture of a centerpiece of the room, which is very special to that room. After that, they went back to their classroom and tweeted to the fourth graders asking about their learning experience. Wow! That was so very thorough and great modeling of student-to-student collaboration, teaching and learning.

In the meantime, each one of the fourth graders was so engaged in the activity, so full of ideas about what they would like to share, so excited to learn about what is taking place in a fifth grade classroom so they would know what's coming next year and so respectful of the fifth grade students, it was extremely rewarding.

And so another set of students has been charmed by the magical world of social media with cyber citizenship smoothly rolled in trying to get them ready to take on the world!

I needed to put in an addendum to the above. One of the other fourth grade teachers read this blog entry, got inspired and now has a bunch of fifth graders coming in tomorrow to introduce twitter to her class. 

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