I love to twitter. I love others who love to twitter. Those who twitter well, that is. Contrary to naysayers (and those twitterers that do so annoyingly), Twitter is not all about informing stalkers that you’re hittin’ the streets for a good time or fixing yourself a peanut butter and honey sandwich. Twitter is about exchanging ideas and emotions. It’s social commentary, breaking news, flash fiction, and micro-blogging. When Michael Jackson passed away at 2:26pm, I knew, via Twitter, by 2:45. The news didn’t break on CNN until 4:00. By then it was stale news to me and my fellow twitterers. This application, concocted by Jack Dorsey in 2006, is a way to create peripheral awareness and consume fresh news on the fly–that is why it’s perfect for the classroom.
Here are some ways that Twitter can be used in the classroom:
1. Have students condense theses and ideas into tweets, which have a 140 character limit. This exercise will help them consider their words carefully, remove redundancies and boil things down to what they really want to say.
2. Create a classroom Twitter Twibe. You will be able to communicate directly to students outside of school hours in a public, yet secure manner. If a homework assignment or test date changes, all their phones will ding with the news immediately.
3. Twitter is such an easy way of sharing information. You could require students create a weekly link to a news article they found interesting.
4. Though some twitterati (the tweet elite) aren’t worth the 140 they puke out, some Twitter users, such as @BarackObama and @SenJohnMcCain, are a lesson in politics and propaganda. Students could follow @BP_America and @BPGlobalPR (mock account) and discuss satire.
5. Each student can create an account for an author, character, etc. What would George Orwell think about today’s society? How would Hamlet react to Fall Out Boy breaking up?
6. Micro-write. Someone, maybe you, create the first 140 character line of a story. Then each student takes a turn adding 140 characters.
7. If you’re learning about another culture in the classroom, encourage students to make Twitter Pals with someone from that culture.
8. After they read an article, poem, or short story, have them summarize on twitter. They will them be able to reply and respond to others’ posts.
9. Just because students leave the classroom doesn’t mean they stop using their minds (okay, so maybe some of them do…). They see an item at mall that makes them think of something discussed in class. Twitter allows them to post to a collective class discussion immediately from their cellular phones.
10. Twitter is a great research tool. When discussing current and social events in the class, as students to search twitter. Twitter, of course, won’t supply them with much scholarly information, but it lets them into the minds of the general public.
These are just a few of the many, many uses of Twitter. As people warm up to it more, I wager that the idea of Twitter in the classroom will not be as foreign as it seems to us today. Ideas for uses of Twitter are very easily Googleable (I Googled “googleable” to see if it was spelled correctly). The video above demonstrates the enthusiasm students have for classes intergrating technology into the curriculum. I don’t know about you, but I want students to be that excited about my class.