Wow – a single Tweet from Will with a link here brought something like 60 unique hits. Now I feel obligated to actually go through with this! (I kid, I kid)
I think the best way to start this off is with a clear statement of what this classroom implementation of Twitter is (or should be) in my mind, but also what it isn’t intended to be. Also, a clarification: in “The Twitteracy Project”, the project is my integration of the tool (Twitter) into the existing course. There is not an assessable Twitter project the kids will be working on. Just wanted to clear that up.
To borrow an old education axiom, I’m just trying out another tool in my toolbox. I’m not going to shoehorn all my class assignments into a Twitter-shaped hole, nor will I expect all writing assignments to be done in under 140 characters. This is just one part of the overall course entity, and one that I think my text-happy kids will enjoy. I cannot stress this strongly enough: this is an experiment. While I have objectives, methodologies, and hypotheses, I can’t say what the end result will be. The only guarantee I can give is that I am invested in this project for reasons I’ll outline below, and I will work my hardest to guide it toward success, because success for this project means benefit for my students. Here’s what I’m thinking as far as educational objectives:
SWBAT (Students Will Be Able To) create and contribute to a cohesive classroom community
SWBAT use the classroom community as an educational resource outside the classroom
SWBAT engage in a social learning environment outside of the classroom
SWBAT utilize an online communication tool to facilitate group communication when necessary
SWBAT exercise creativity in communicating information within specific restraints
SWBAT build upon existing technological proficiencies (e.g., cell phone texting) to learn new proficiencies (still struggling with the wording of this one; I hope the point is clear enough)
SWBAT explore related resources and draw parallels to core texts
Note that Twitter doesn’t play into things until the 4th objective. In my mind, this is less about tech and more about community. One of the best classes I’ve ever taught was an Honors British Lit class about a year and a half ago. At the risk of overusing the word, there was a strong sense of connectedness and community: the kids talked (and argued) with each other about the class after school, and they helped each other with the readings and the assignments (in a good way!). The kids and I connected outside of class as well as in class, and there was a sense that the relationships forged there were bigger than the class itself. In another class about four years ago, my students were faced with a project they created themselves (long story), and it’s fair to say they bit off way more than they could chew in the amount of class time we had left in the year. To their credit, most kids, including those who normally weren’t highly motivated students, came in before school, after school, and on weekends to work on this, under my or my co-teacher’s supervision. By the end, they had not only completed their project, but done such an exemplary job that the components of it have been on public display at the school ever since.
These classes came together from across social cliques and socioeconomic groups, committed to a/the cause. I’m not proposing that signing kids up for Twitter accounts will bring the magic automatically, but I’m wondering to what degree that out-of-class engagement helps kids become self-motivated and self-directed learners, and to what degree Twitter can help that along.
Becoming proficient at Twitter is not the point; developing the community is. Twitter is just one tool of many I plan to use to get us there. Other classroom activities and assessments (not all of them computer-based, believe it or not), as well as the tone I help to set as the instructional guide/co-learner (because yes, I’ll be learning along with them throughout all this; that’s the whole point) will also help get us to that goal.
This is too long already. Next time, I’ll address Bud’s and Paul’s quite valid concerns about Twitter for the sake of Twitter (which I hope I’ve done to some extent already) and some specific applications I’ve been thinking of, as well as my game plan for getting kids all Twittered up while staying safe. My plan for measuring this project’s success will also come a little later down the line.
As always, your feedback is appreciated as this all continues to gel in my mind.