It is no secret that I teach at a rural school that has a very restricted budget when it comes to technology. Believe me when I say there have been many of us fighting for upgrades, new computers, wireless, smartboards, document cameras, etc. Last week I took a different approach to introducing my students to Twitter. Now, I have thrown a lot at both my 7th and 8th graders when it comes to Technology. My students have learned about Google Docs, Glogster, Celly, our Wiki Page, and Edmodo. I will admit, I have taken all of them completely by storm. My 7th graders think it is crazy that I like technology so much. Anyways, I didn’t want to quickly shove one more piece of technology down my students throats. So, what I did is I introduced my students to Twitter. Before we talked about Twitter I had my students do the following for their writing into the day:
Write a message to someone you know using 144 characters or less. It must make sense and you can’t use text lingo.
Needless to say when the students shared, they had some really interesting posts. One student wrote: “I am writing a 144 character message. I am doing this because my teacher is asking us to” After the students were done doing this I cleared my white board and drew the word TWITTER on the board. I then proceeded in having a class discussion about what Twitter actually is and what is its purpose. All of my classes were similar in their responses. Here are the common ones they came up with.
- A type of social network w/similar qualities like Facebook.
- A way to tell people what you are doing at any given point.
- It’s free
- You can follow people and people can follow you
- It is symbolized by a little blue bird
- You tweet
I felt my students did an awesome job with this particular part of the lesson. Next, I asked my students why companies, businesses, or colleges might use Twitter. I gave subway, and Jimmy Johns as an example. Students gave multiple answers, but bottom line, they came up with promoting a product and getting people to buy their product. I responded by saying “Yes, however, why Twitter?” This part stumped students. It took a lot of prompting but I did get a few students talk about the idea that it was free and we then discussed the cost of advertising.
After our discussion, I asked students to go back and either write another personal “paper tweet” or write a “paper tweet” from a company or business perspective. The students did great. I wish I had pictures of the work they did. The next time I do this lesson I will take pictures and have students write on a sticky note to put on a poster. Anyways, I finished the lesson by telling the students they could sign up for a Twitter account and I showed them what the home page looked like on Twitter.com. I did not want my students to feel overwhelmed by having them sign-up for one more digital tool that required a password and username they would probably just forget. I wanted them to feel less pressure and allow them to view it for themselves and play with this valuable digital tool. I encouraged my students to follow me, but I told them I would not follow them in return just because of student/teacher relationship boundaries. I want to follow-up further with my students and see if any of them have creating twitter accounts and find out who or what they are following. I think you could take this lesson and put your twists on it, but I thought it was valuable to teach to my students, especially because there are a lot of social media websites out there they need to learn about.