Twitter users may be limited to 140 characters when they tweet, but that does not limit teachers’ use of the social networking platform or the impact of their tweets. Today, teachers are tweeting more than ever. While some are simply tweeting about their daily lives and re-tweeting inspirational quotes, others are making Twitter an integral part of their classrooms and are doing it in the following eight key ways.
8. Communicating with Students
Inside and outside of the classroom, teachers are communicating with students using Twitter. Some teachers are allowing students to log on to Twitter in class and ask questions using specific hashtags or direct messages. They are posting discussion questions and encouraging students to respond. They are reminding students of homework assignments and due dates. And above all, many teachers are providing homework help after school hours. Through Twitter, teachers can be available to their students virtually any time of day and thanks to the 140-character limit, teachers can respond to students’ tweets within seconds.
7. Teaching Students to be Concise
The 140-character limit has another benefit – it teaches students to be concise. When asking students to summarize a passage or share their opinions, teachers are turning to Twitter. By limiting how much students can type, they are in turn teaching students to focus on the main message when reading excerpts and building knowledge in finding the thesis of an essay. Teachers can mold Twitter’s character limit into a teaching tool that reminds students to be clear and succinct when writing or when getting a point across. The key is to still maintain accurate spelling in short these tweets. This helps boost reading comprehension and critical thinking skills.
6. Expressing Creativity
Teachers are showing their creativity and encouraging their students to do the same through Twitter. Language arts teachers are writing class poems and stories, encouraging students to tweet new lines. Social studies teachers are tweeting as famous historical figures, imagining what individuals like Martin Luther King Jr. would say if they were on Twitter and having students do the same. Teachers are also tweeting photos of the creativity being expressed in their classrooms and sharing exceptional student work.
5. Keeping Parents in the Loop
As teachers share photos and tweet about what is going on in their classrooms, they also keep parents in the loop. It only takes a few seconds to tweet about what students did in class that day, share important dates or remind parents to sign and return that important permission slip. Parents can also communicate directly with teachers instead of trying to catch them on the phone or disrupt the teacher’s class schedule to get answers to minor questions. Parents can thus be in the loop on what’s going on in their children’s classroom.
4. Following the News
Teachers are always busy and finding time to sit down with the newspaper, watch the evening news or browse online news sites can be difficult. However, in order to keep their teaching relevant, teachers should stay up-to-date on the news. By following major news organizations on Twitter, teachers are receiving the latest news as it happens and sharing relevant stories with students. They are making connections between the news and what students are learning in class. Teachers can also use Twitter to follow the latest news in education, watching out for new studies and best practices to help inform their teaching and build their skills.
3. Building a Professional Network
As teachers tweet, re-tweet and follow others on Twitter, they begin to connect with other educators. These could be educators within their own schools, their own districts or halfway across the world. As teachers meet other teachers and educational professionals at conferences and workshops, they can also connect with them on Twitter. This will help teachers develop a list of people to reach out to when it comes to finding grant opportunities, solving classroom problems and building their professional skills.
2. Sharing Resources
Teachers all over the world are sharing resources on Twitter. They are tweeting about best practices, money and contests for teachers, cool apps and websites and projects they are completing with their students. Not only can teachers find new tricks, tips and tools to try in their own classrooms, they can help other teachers improve their classrooms as well. Such groups meet up during #EdChat on Twitter on a weekly basis to discuss the latest topics in education and #Edtech. Don’t forget to use those hashtags!
1. Conducting Research
Keeping up teacher certification requires taking ongoing college courses and going through regular training sessions. As teachers complete courses and progress through training sessions, they are using Twitter to conduct research. Utilizing Twitter, they can connect with experts in nearly every field and can often find links to academic articles and studies to support their research. Teachers are also teaching students to conduct research through Twitter, for example using hashtags to find key information.
While Twitter can sometimes seem overwhelming, with new tweets coming in by the second, teachers are learning to navigate the social networking platform. As they learn to control the tweets and to tweet themselves, many teachers are finding that Twitter is becoming a tool that they use regularly in their classrooms.