Many of you who follow me on Twitter know that my classroom also has their own Twitter account. I first got the idea to even use Twitter within the classroom when I realized that the ‘new learning’ my students shared with me wasn’t being heard. In order to remedy that, I started a classroom account. My district’s firewall allowed me to access Twitter and there were no rules that stated we couldn’t use it, so I did. I did implement some additional safety precautions to ensure that the students would be safe in doing this, such as:
– I maintain personal control of the classroom account username and password. The 2nd grade students do not have access to this information, nor do they have their own personal accounts. We only have a classroom account.
– The classroom account uses privacy settings on all tweets, so only those who follow our account can read.
– All people interested in following our class must be approved before having access to our tweets.
– Twitter is used in a whole group setting on the Smartboard where students share their information with me while I type, which also allows for additional filtering for what is posted.
– I view all things posted on our newsfeed before displaying on the Smartboard to students.
– All parents are aware of the classroom account and have approved of their child participating in the classroom activities with Twitter.
My kids have genuinely become obsessed with using this social media tool to share new things that they have been learning on a daily basis with the world. At the same time, this has also provided a means for me to hold my students accountable for their own learning. Their job is to be able to tell me something new that they have learned in the past 24 hours. It could be something that they learned while in school or at home, or by watching the news, reading a book, or using any other type of information medium.
In order to be able to tell me something that they learned, students obviously had to seek this information. They had to consume the information, synthesize it to reach their own understanding as to what it meant, ask questions about it, be able to tell the class what they learned in their own words, and then contribute that information to the world in a tweet. Look at the higher-level thinking that is required to do these things. Now, some of the things that have been learned are not that great, or even of great importance. But they’re still excited about sharing and passing on their learned information with others. I’ve created passionate learners just by using Twitter.
Now that you have some insight into how I’ve been using Twitter, you’ll understand why I was heartbroken to receive an email from my district this week in regards to my classroom account. As noted above, I have taken extra safety precautions, I have parent permission, and I have my administration’s support to use Twitter. But that was not enough to help my case and keep its use alive and well in my classroom. Instead, I have to face that fact that our days conversing with our followers are coming to an end. I have to give up this amazing tool that has helped inspire my students and connect them with people and places around our country and world. I have to sacrifice their passionate learning because of bureaucracy.
So, I am faced with the challenge of telling my students on Monday. Do I let it go because this Goliath can’t be defeated by 15 2nd grade students and a strong-willed teacher? Or do I turn this into a “teachable moment” and discuss democracy and the citizen’s rights within such a system when they’re unhappy (i.e. calling and writing congressmen, senators, governors, etc)? Should my students make their voice heard, or at least try, by writing persuasive letters to the superintendent? I haven’t decided completely, but I’m thinking I’ll pursue the latter.
Thoughts, ideas, suggestions, words of advice??