A few weeks ago, a few of the teachers in our district participated in a Twitter Chat. The topic was to S.C.A.M.P.E.R. Education. You can read more about the S.C.A.M.P.E.R. chat here.
After the chat, a few of the GT teachers suggested that it might be fun to try doing the same chat with our students. So, last week, we decided to try it.
I’m not sure how many schools ended up participating in the chat, but I believe there were around 13 classes. Some of us had the students respond to the teacher who then tweeted out the answers, and some of us allowed our students to group up and use various devices. It was not smooth-sailing. Here were some of the glitches:
- Twitter and Tweetdeck are blocked under student sign-in in our district.
- Tweetdeck kept refreshing and losing columns at the beginning of the chat in my classroom (maybe for other people, too). We surmised that this might be b/c more than one device was using the same account. However, after we refreshed the page on the 6 laptops it seemed fine.
- Some of us couldn’t see each other’s tweets because some of our accounts are private. We made sure we were all following each other beforehand, but that still didn’t seem to help everyone. Fortunately, everyone knew the questions ahead of time, so even though they couldn’t all see them, they could guess by the responses which question had been asked.
Overall, it was an eye-opening experience for the teachers and the students. Most of my students (5th graders on that day) had never used Twitter and finally understood the use of hashtags. Many of them saw ideas that were new to them and got different perspectives on the topics.
For example when we went over the questions before the chat, one of my students was adamant that we should eliminate art from the curriculum. I told him that he would probably find that many people would disagree and that he would have to be able to support his viewpoint. Sure enough, others strongly argued that art is vital. This exchange turned out to be an excellent lesson on multiple perspectives as well as social media etiquette.
A student from another school suggested getting rid of free time – which caused a public outcry in my classroom. However, a few minutes later the writer explained that he or she disliked all of the time wasted when students finish work early and are just “told to read a book.” Again, another lesson on how important it is to ask people to explain themselves instead of just immediately condemning their opinions – also a lesson that the brevity used in social media can sometimes distort the message you are trying to communicate.
After all was said and done, I asked my 18 students to complete a reflection about the experience. (Yes, we did old-school handwriting b/c some of their typing can be painfully slow!) When I surveyed them, most of them gave the chat a 2 or 3 (3 was the highest). However, there were a couple of 1’s. Understandably, those students found the whole procedure to be too chaotic and fast.
Would we do it again? Yes, I think seeing different points-of-view is really helpful for my students. I’m still debating the importance of keeping our account private. I also am considering giving students the option of participating or not. Those who opt out can consider the topic in an alternative way.
If you are interested in doing the S.C.A.M.P.E.R. chat in your district, here is a link to the document Kimberly Ball (gttechguru) made for us to use to prepare the students for the chat. And, if you’re not ready to do Twitter, check out this great Google Tweeter Template from Tammy Tang that will help you to simulate the process!