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Friday, April 13, 2012

Suddenly, I'm all a twitter!

I was talking to a class of 7th graders about sharing information in our world.  We are working on the NASA MMS challenge to determine why the mission is relevant to them and find a way to spread the word.  They had some great ideas about writing articles, editorials, youtube, facebook, blogs, etc.  But no one mentioned twitter.

Twitter for the Not So Famous
It turns out that most of these students thought that it was only for famous people.  They were shocked to hear that even people like me had followers (I am a little shocked myself sometimes).  The truth is that I’m a little slow to the bandwagon, some tools have come and gone before I even get to use them.    I have been a registered user for some time, but not an active one.  I too, did not immediately see how it could be useful. 

Hashtags meant something totally different in the 70’s
I started noticing hash tags at conferences.  At first, I was a little chagrined that people were “texting” during my presentations, then  I realized they were “tweeting” out some of my nuggets of wisdom and some of their “aha” moments.  What a great way to hear everyone’s nuggets.     Of course I had to first learn to decipher the language and determine what #@ RT’s and mentions were (just ask your kids).  I then began to see a lot of potential for using twitter as professional development tool.   Carrie Jackson summed up the key reasons why it can be a valuable tool for us in her blog “Twitter 101 for School Leaders: Four Reasons to Join the Conversation."

But what about the kids?
It was not until I saw how some students from Dublin ISD in TX were using it, that I saw the value of using twitter in the classroom.     They had used twitter as a research tool, to determine attitudes in their community, to lift school morale and improve school and community communications.    It got me to thinking.

I imagine that the benefits for leaders in education, may be the same benefits that our students can get. Imagine all of the latest science and technology information they can get by following NASA?  How great would it be for each student to post an “aha” moment to your class hash tag after reading an assigned passage?  Why not take it outside the room and share their key understandings and insights with the world?  Imagine being able to post new ideas and get feedback from their peers all over the world.  What a great way to connect kids with experts in the field!

What are the risks?
Of course, anything “out there” has some risks, but there are plenty of tools that can be kept private to teach students proper “netiquette.”  The world of twitter is a world of breaking news, it is Facebook feeds on steroids.  It is chock full of great articles and resources.  Seems like it could be a great way to engage kids in their own learning.

We are connecting our students in Texas and New Jersey, through the MMS Challenge.  Sounds like the perfect opportunity to get this whole twitter thing going with my students.   I am sure there may be some risks and challenges, but I’m diving in and taking the kids with me!  Any nuggets for me?

You can follow me @sanwoz, you can see what the kids are doing at #mmschallenge.

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