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Turn Twitter into a learning tool

By Team ISTE
March 25, 2015
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Michele Haiken's eighth grade English language arts students are required to read an outside book every quarter. She who are eager to earn an " "A" " can read two outside books per quarter. For the students, that might mean a lot of extra reading and homework time, but for Haiken, a teacher at Rye Middle School in New York, it means developing — and grading — projects for 95 students, a number nearly doubled since most of her students want that " "A" "and take the two-book option.

To save time and engage her students, Haiken created a book discussion group on Twitter. It works similar to any other book group, except that Haiken chooses a book, selects a hashtag and then she meets students on Twitter for the chat, like this one for the book The Family Romanov.

This is just one way educators can use Twitter in the classroom, says Haiken, who will be leading the Professional Learning Series webinar " "Twitter in the K-12 Classroom" " on Thursday. She has also uses Twitter to help her students prepare for tests and stay connected with students on snow days.

More involved students

Students love social media, so it may not be too surprising that Haiken's students have taken the lead in Twitter chats about the books they are reading and for other classroom work, as well. It's gotten the students more excited about sharing their own thoughts about the books, rather than answering the teacher's questions. Students are also more willing to work collaboratively on projects when using Twitter.

One of the benefits of Twitter is how open it is. Unlike Facebook and other social media platforms, you don't need to be someone's " "friend" " to follow a hashtag discussion. This means that parents are also able to follow along if they choose. It also allows Haiken to open up the discussion to others, like book authors.

In her webinar, Haiken will discuss how teachers can take Twitter into the classroom at all grade levels. At the elementary level, teachers can use their own Twitter accounts to engage special guests, like a book author, in questions posed by the children. It's also a good tool for building the overall school community that allows older students, teachers and parents to have conversations about important issues like bullying or Common Core.

Teachers can also use Twitter for back-channel discussions. For example, if students are working in small groups on a project outside of class time, they can use Twitter and a defined hashtag for discussions that the teacher is able to easily monitor and join when necessary.

Haiken hopes webinar participants will acquire these takeaways.

  • Why Twitter is an amazing professional tool in the classroom setting.
  • How to use the platform to better engage students in dialogues that show their understanding of a subject.
  • How to create authentic learning opportunities.

Join tomorrow's webinar and learn how to leverage Twitter in your classroom.