This week I have started to use Twitter in my Year 1 class. Twitter is a great way to engage children with, and give them a reason for writing. This term was chosen as we currently have 10 eggs in the year group as we wait for them to hatch.
As with any new practises, and especially when introducing technology it is important to know before you start why you are doing it and what the desired outcomes are. I purposely choose my year group and a relatively simple goal. This being the first venture onto Twitter for the school I wanted to almost guarantee success.
Our goal was to increase desire to write. We wanted to use Twitter to provide a purpose for their writing and ensuring that the have an engaging stimulus, which having eggs in the classroom to hatch certainly was. I’ll write a post about that when we have finished the topic.
Setting up Twitter.
Once the account is setup it’s pretty much all done. After seeking advice from my follwers on Twitter I opted to make our class tweets protected. This isn’t ideal as it is a barrier to followers (especially non-tweeting parents) but it does mean a layer if security and control over what could appear on the screen in the classroom. It was mainly our followers advatars that caused me concern in the begining we had a couple of followers with pictures that I wanted to block. During class use I use a view that just shows our tweets by zooming into the page (200% on my screen), this helps eliminate these problems.
How we use it.
To integrate it into my classroom practice was the key to success. At convient points in the lesson, especially plenaries, and mid-lesson mini plenaries I have been asking children to think of a full sentence to explain what we have learnt in the lesson. I’ve also been getting children to write a sentence about their observations of the eggs. Children have also been encouraged to write a sentence or two when they notice something about the eggs/chicks, for example when another had hatched.
How did it go?
Well, both of these strategies have worked. A week in and my children are wanting to write on Twitter. They come up to me and say “I know what we can write on Twitter” then speak in full, interesting sentences. Interestingly I’ve noticed boys are very keen to suggest a sentence, far more than they normally are, say in shared writing. The short nature of the writing has helped, in a class with high EAL I’m constantly looking for ways to engage and remove the fear from writing – twitter seems to be helping with this.
The obvious next step is to start using it more in other lessons, this would help develop home-school links which would be a great gain and one that would certainly speed up the adoption of it across the school.ShawnCampbell