Monday, June 2, 2014

Personal Success Stories from Twitter

I've now used a classroom Twitter both as a secondary teacher and as an elementary teacher. I've been satisfied with how this social media has reached students and their families in both instances. Below are 5 of my favorite stories from using Twitter in the classroom.

1. My first year of teaching was at a Title I school in Oklahoma. I taught 8th grade ELAR. Most of my students did not have Internet access or smart phones, but the majority of them did have unlimited text messaging plans. At the beginning of the year, we went down to the computer lab, and I showed students how to access our class Twitter and connect their cell phone so that they received a text every time I tweeted. 

One young lady in my class was involved in pretty much every club, sport, and organization the school had to offer. Every Thursday night, I tweeted a reminder to study for the Friday vocabulary quiz. Every Friday, this young lady would come in and ace the quiz. 

At the end of the year, I found out that she always forgot about the vocabulary quiz until Thursday nights, when she received my reminder tweet. She would inevitably be on the bus, coming home from some after school, extra-curricular event, and her phone would buzz with my tweet. She would study all the way home, which gave her enough information to pass the quizzes with flying colors the next day. 
2. Also when I was teaching 8th grade, I had a young man who had a rough home life. As a result, did didn't get much sleep at night and would frequently go to the back corner of my classroom to nap. Because I knew about his situation, I would pick and choose which times I would tap him awake; I tried to let the poor kid at least get a power nap in. :( 

At the time of this story, my class was reading a novel. Although the novel was on his desk, the book was closed, and I was sure he wasn't listening at all. That night I sent a tweet to the effect of, "If you're bored with the novel, hang on! Tomorrow's chapter gets exciting!" Class the next day came and went, and he never said a word. But that night, I tweeted to my students to ask them what they thought of that "exciting" chapter. He actually tweeted a reply: replied, "I don't like reading, but you were right. That chapter was good!" I wore a grin like the Cheshire cat all night long after reading that:) I would have never even have known he was paying attention that day had he not sent that tweet. I used Twitter to draw him into classroom novel discussions for the rest of the year. 

3. Also while teaching 8th grade, I had a parent who was very concerned about the well-being and success of her son. Her son rarely opened up to her, but she was desperate for a glimpse into his personal and school life. I helped her connect to our class Twitter, and she was able to see all of my updates. Doing this helped ease the tension between her and her son because she no longer had to pry information out of him {about my class, anyway}.

4. When I taught freshman English, I was having trouble with my classes saying rude things to each other. I genuinely believed my students meant no harm in saying what they did; they simply didn't think about how their words sounded before saying them. Because of this, I was on a kick about tweeting "life lessons" and "character motivations." One Tuesday night, I randomly tweeted that a "Wednesday Challenge" would begin the next day. Their challenge was to say something nice to every person they talked to that day. No students replied on Twitter or mentioned it in class that morning. I spoke to a fellow teacher at the end of school, and she said one of her students (we'll call him "R") said something strange in class. He's normally a very quiet kid, but today, he was complimenting all his classmates. The coworker asked, "What's gotten into you today, R?" He smiled and said, "It's part of Mrs. K's Wednesday Challenge!" ...This helped me remember that just because you don't get a reply doesn't mean people aren't reading

Photo Credit: Caro Wallis via photopin cc
5. One evening, I tweeted something about challenging my students to do something nice for a stranger over the weekend and included a #PayItForward hashtag. One of my kids replied, asking what "pay it forward" means. I got the opportunity to explain the concept. That term would probably have never come up in my day-to-day teaching, but social skills are an important issue that need to be taught! Because of Twitter, I was able to squeeze in that little "mini lesson" to all who "followed" me. And even though I replied to that one student about the meaning of "pay it forward," all the other students could read the reply, so I felt like I was explaining it to them, too.  

Photo Credit: Ed Yourdon via photopin cc
If those are the cool things I saw as a result of Twitter, can you imagine what I missed?? 

Here are my other blog posts about Twitter, in case you want to check them out:

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