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There are a whole host of benefits to having a class Twitter account. Allow me to present you with my top 5:
1. Access to Experts
By following the Tweets of experts, such as NASA or Dr Jane Goodall, a class can access up-to-date information in byte-sized packages. Most often, links are included to videos, articles, blog posts and images to explore in more detail.
2. Connect with Authors
Remember writing letters to authors, mailing them off and never hearing anything back? Today, a significant number of authors are on Twitter, interacting with their readers.
Last year, a G5 class was lucky to Skype with Gary Whitta (an author of Rogue One, the latest Star Wars film), who spoke to us about the writing process, diversity in film and answered student questions. Talk about relevance! This got the whole class hooked on writing!
Some lucky students in a G4 class tweeted Tony Wilson, author of a book they were reading, and were thrilled when they got a reply. What a motivator for developing literacy skills!
3. Share Our Learning
We can make a difference to other people’s learning simply by sharing our own. Tweets of student sketching a character’s development, might give another child an idea about how they can represent their own learning. Parents love seeing examples of their child in action during the school day too.
Adding hashtags can allow us to reach a common audience, where we find ideas related to topics we are learning about too, such as #writingworkshop
4. Develop International Mindedness
Part of the PYP is developing International Mindedness, where we seek out and value perspectives from different cultures and communities, and consider the impact of events around the world on different groups of people.
By way of example, @littlemissflint became a powerful role model for taking action after she began tweeting about the water crisis in her hometown of Flint. Now she continues to take action on issues important to her and her community
From a class Twitter account, you can follow the United Nations to learn about what school is like in different parts of the world, for example this school in Gaza.
5. Model Digital Citizenship
We know that modelling positive and appropriate use of social media helps students learn how to be effective digital citizens. Through a class Twitter account, students can see how to interact positively with others online, they can learn to compose Tweets, and develop digital literacy skills such as appropriate writing conventions in digital medium (e.g. use of the @ symbol to reply, and use of hashtags). Having a class account lets students learn these skills with their teacher as a guide and role model - almost like having a safety net there for them as they learn.
A class Twitter account shows that teachers value writing in digital as well as print form, adding weight to the writing students are doing in their lives outside the classroom.
The bottom line is that teachers are there for kids.
We want learning to be relevant, contextual and engaging. A class Twitter account is just one of the ways we teachers support today’s learners.