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Social Media Best Practices: Twitter in the Classroom

11 Jun 2015 by Scott Sterling

Whether you are still confused about why the anchors on the evening news have a "@" in front of their names now or you routinely tweet out homework assignments for your students, Twitter offers you some next-level classroom uses for the social network built on 140 characters. Read the social media best practices here:

Backchanneling

I talked in this series' Facebook post about backchanneling, but it might be even more effective using Twitter. All you need to do is establish your own unique hashtag, like "#MRSSMITHCLASS", before starting an activity in which you want the students to be able to comment without interrupting. Again, this is a great way to get shy students to contribute. Interpersonal communication skills, especially online, are a big focus in the Common Core and other next generation standards.

Reach out to subject experts

Learning about astrophysics is cool. Learning about astrophysics from Neil deGrasse Tyson is even cooler. Now, the odds are slim that such a busy expert would respond to your class's tweets, but it doesn't cost anything to try. If you can establish a relationship with someone less famous in the field, perhaps they would like to videoconference with your students. You won't know until you try.

Tweet something complex

The Common Core calls for students to be able to scale their writing, meaning write in formats ranging from huge reports to 140-character tweets. A skill they will definitely need in the working world is to take something complex and summarize it in a very small space. Twitter is the ultimate challenge in that regard. Give them "The Civil War in 140 characters" and watch their brains work.

After school and during break

You might try to avoid being known as "that teacher," the one that gives too much homework or work over the weekend/break, even if you think your students need it. One of the beauties of Twitter is that it doesn't seem like work. Give your students the directive of having to participate in a classroom chat using a hashtag, then simply note who participates. This works particularly well for big events, like the State of the Union, that don't take place during school hours.

Communal writing

One student starts a story or report with a single tweet, and then another has to pick up where that student left off, and so on. This gives the students a creative outlet, a way to socialize with their peers, and lessens the pressure of having to contribute to a discussion without any guidance.