I finally got my classroom Twitter account up and going this week! And it is a huge success. Before I talk about the success, I want to explain my rationale for having grade four students, many of whom do not even have double digit ages, involved with Twitter. These students are digital natives. I love this term because it is true. These students know of no time in their life when they have not been surrounded by electronics. Their parents have always had phones, the students themselves have iPods, tablets, computers, play centres and smart TVs. I conducted an informal survey of my 30 grade four students this week. The results were astonishing. My thirty students have the opportunity to access the internet on 106 different devices. These students are mostly under the age of 10 and on average have access to a minimum of three devices that can access the internet. My question was for devices at home only, so their access at school was not factored into the data. Keep in mind I teach in a rural community and one of my students just got the internet at their house.
As a mother of one teen and one tween and an educator of 30 nine/ten year olds, internet safety and digital citizenship are high on my priority list. Because these students are digital natives, social media is a fact of life. Due to the reality that it is only a matter of when they will join, we must teach them digital safety and citizenship in the same way we teach our children to look both ways before they cross the street. We tell our little ones to use their words, we now need to teach our tweens to “use your words properly.” A recent scandal in the entertainment industry has brought to light the importance of being aware of what you allow happen with images and text. Several young women had photos published without their consent. It is important for our children to understand that as soon as you hit the enter button, the post button, the share button, as soon as you allow someone to view an image or your words, they become public and anyone can view them at any time.
My goal with our class Twitter account is to connect with other classrooms around the world and across Alberta. The Grade Four curriculum teaches students about the geographic regions of Alberta, I hope we can find classes to tweet with in regions different than ours. Today we viewed the profile of a new classroom we are following that is located in Manitoba. The background picture was clearly a picture of The Canadian Shield (a region we are just covering in class) and my students quickly recognized the region and named it correctly.
Our second tweet as a class happened the second week of September an commented on a freak snowstorm. We asked what it looked like where you are, and within minutes had responses from Singapore, New Zeland and Australia. We were able to have a great discussion about the different hemispheres because in Australia it was a great “spring” day.
In the last few days I have used Twitter as formative assessment, tweeting out what students have learnt. This not only helps me understand my student’ understanding, but family and community have a great look into our classroom.
Twitter will help me break down our classroom walls, and open up our classroom to the world in a fun, safe, educational manner.
That’s my view from the 86th pew.