Educators should exemplify how an individual uses digital tools and resources to become a skilled communicator, collaborator, and devoted lifelong learner. Modeling the use of a range of transliteracy tools is something teachers need to engage in on a daily basis. Most educators are familiar with Twitter, however many wonder how to actually put it into classroom practice. Twitter brainstorming is one way to begin, even in the early grades, because it does not require students to have individual Twitter accounts.
To get started, teaches will need to create their own free Twitter account. When setting the account up, identify your Twitter account as an education-related account and make sure your profiles includes the grade you teach and where you are located, as this helps other educators with similar teaching positions connect and share with you. From there, you’ll want to create a classroom hashtag. Hashtags are critical, as they allow Twitter users to sort and filter out irrelevant and potential inappropriate Twitter content (tweets). A hashtag is a word or phrase that begins with the # symbol that is used to denote keywords or topics. In this case, you’ll want to create a hashtag that identifies your classroom, school or specific course. If I was a third grade teacher, my hashtag might be something like #MrBrueckG3 or #3brueck3. You can be creative here, but ideally, the shorter the better.
Now that you’ve got your Twitter account and hashtag set up, you are ready to tweet! In this scenario, we’ll be using Twitter to model for students how to leverage the social media platform to help generate ideas for writing narrative and expository texts. Let’s say as a class, students have generated and stated an opinion that it is important to conserve the world’s water supply and you are working to brainstorm ideas that support this opinion in their writing (CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.3.1.B). On your classroom Twitter account, you could post a tweet such as,
Grade 3 class discussing water conservation. Help us brainstorm! Why is conserving water so important? Include #3brueck3 in your reply!
Once your tweet goes out to all the Twitter followers (parents, community members, other classrooms and teachers), you can track replies to your question with hashtag using a free service like Tweetwall (https://tweetwall.com/). Display the results for students in real time on your computer screen or project on your whiteboard so they can record and discuss the responses. Vetted responses that can back up the students’ opinion can then be transferred to a graphic organizer or online mindmap like Popplet (http://popplet.com/) to help students organize their thoughts before writing. Using Twitter as a mechanism for asking questions, gathering data and sharing ideas is a great way to bring many transliteracy skills into your classroom and help students generate ideas for writing!