The notion of using social media in the classroom can intimidate teachers, but Twitter can encourage a collaborative school environment when employed strategically. As a Twitter obsessive (I’m totally hooked…), and the longtime manager of Pobble’s Twitter account, I want to share a few ways that you can integrate Twitter into your school to reap its benefits.
Share student work
Here at Pobble, we’ve seen what a powerful motivator it can be for a student to be published, and Twitter allows a bite-sized taste of that excitement. One of the main ways Pobble uses Twitter is by sharing student writing, providing a wider audience for the students and engaging readers from outside the school community, but this works for any piece of student work. Grow your community outside the classroom walls by using a #hashtag for the region, for instance, to engage a much wider group of people interested in the area.
Imagine, mums, dads, grans, granddads, aunts, uncles as well as the wider school community all getting the chance to see that brilliant piece of work that made you beam with pride. (And remember, if you’re a Pobble user, all comments are moderated before they go live, so you can share your student’s writing safely.)
Find a community beyond your walls… for the teachers, too
If teacher burnout or isolation is something your school is looking to combat, Twitter can provide valuable insights into other schools and what they are producing. Educators love to share ideas, and on Twitter you can put your class, no matter where it’s located, right into the middle of a hub of activity. Fun and free CPD, people… fun and free!
Engage authors, artists, and celebrities
Start conversations about your school’s work with a wealth of fellow tweeters, including celebrities, famous authors and fellow educators.
Imagine the children’s reaction when they receive a comment from a teacher on the other side of the world or a famous author—an actual, real life celebrity author telling them they like their work. Talk about giving them reason to want to create more!
Organise peer commenting to link with other schools
Twitter can provide great opportunities to link with other schools to arrange peer critique sessions and really create a healthy, practiced feedback culture in your class. You can also arrange collaborative writing experiences with a school across the globe.
A brilliant example of school collaboration is this story written by Tollgate Community School, UK and Halsey Drive School in New Zealand. They connected on Twitter and joined forces to created an exciting fantasy tale before sharing it with the rest of the world on Pobble.
You can find lots of schools already using Twitter and Pobble here.
Meet parents where they are
Parents often feel more involved in the school if they are given the option of accessing regular updates of information in small chunks, especially though their mobile phone. Let’s be honest, how many parents actually read the schools newsletters regularly, take note and then actually remember to follow up on reminders (guilty…)? But if a parent can quickly scroll through the school feed and find short tweets with a reminder to bring in something, or a link to a brand new piece of writing from their child’s class, it’s far more likely to get the message across. Creating a communicative culture is about meeting people where they are.
Get the class involved and make it fun
Share Twitter results with your class – display top tweets on your class display or choose a pupil to read them out to the class. Keep a tally of how many retweets, favourites or followers you get. More importantly, analyse with your students why certain tweets get certain reactions; helping them understand the behaviour (does time of day matter? Using emotion words or action words? Including images?) will keep it from being a popularity contest, and teach them about digital citizenship along the way.
Draw up a class user agreement, then give the kids the responsibility of tweeting once in a while. This gives you the opportunity to educate the class about online safety as well as empower them to be responsible social media users.
Twitter is a brilliant way to introduce some fun, literacy based games too. Challenge your class to write a super sentence within the 140 characters limit, then tweet the top ones. Or each write one sentence of a story using the character limit, then combine them together to make collaborative class piece. If you nee dmore ideas, we’ve got plenty of suggestions on our Pinterest page.
What to be aware of…
Policy: Put a social media plan/policy in place and stick to it! Decide what you want to use Twitter for, draw up a brief set of guidelines based on your schools vision/mission and ensure everyone fully understands. Hold a brief training session on the advantages of Twitter if you see fit. (Find out more about drawing up a school social media policy for your school here)
Security: Twitter gives you the option to ‘vet’ users by locking your account. This prevents people from following you automatically, therefore the tweets you share are only viewable by the accounts you approve to follow you. Think carefully about whether this will work for the way you want to use the network, as this also means your tweets are not public or searchable – so if it’s a large audience or school publicity you’re after, you may want to give this a miss. Tweet wisely and you won’t need to anyway.
Photos: Sharing photos of daily life around school is a wonderful way to engage families and the community, but ensure before you do so that you have full parental permission to share photos on social media. Never include a child’s name with a photo.
Are you sharing great school work on Twitter? We want to see it – tweet links to your Pobble account, mentioning @HeyPobble, and you might find your work being shared with our followers as well!