“Teachers are using social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter to authentically engage students with tools that they know best,” Miller said.
Fifth-graders in Corry Thompson’s science classes either start or end class with a “tweet check.” Similar to an online tweet, students will write 140 characters or less on a piece of paper to review what they are learning in class. Tweet checks are displayed on a board at the front of the classroom, and provide Thompson with instrumental feedback regarding student learning from the previous school day or class period.
“One or two sentences is all I need to assess where students are, which allows me to move forward at a flexible pace,” Thompson said.
To entice students to tweet, top tweets of the day are posted for all of Thompson’s science classes to see on a “Twitter Feed” poster.
“From this, I want students to gain a sense of community and self-worth,” Thompson said. “Students need to see they have meaningful ideas that can be shared. My hope is for them to become reflective learners and build relationships through modeling good social media etiquette.”
Thompson says she was inspired to introduce the concept by fellow teacher Angela Hamm.
In Hamm’s third-grade class, students use a class “tweet board” as a way to communicate with their peers.
“Twitter is my main avenue of communication with my students’ parents,” Hamm said. “Students are familiar with Twitter so I thought it would be fun to make a Twitter board.”
Hamm’s students post anything they want during the school day to communicate with each other. Posts may be as simple as: “I’m hungry.”, “I like math.”, or “I hope we have indoor recess.” But some days, she posts questions for students to answer.
Fellow third-grade teacher Rishia Phillips notes she saw co-workers using Twitter concepts as an engagement piece for students. Phillips liked their ideas, but chose to channel another prominent social media platform—Facebook.
“I think Facebook status updates are cool because we can answer questions and it’s a great way to show the teacher what we know,” student Ariel Blount said. “It’s awesome because the teacher posts fun questions and we get to read our friend’s posts. I like to share my thoughts with my friends.”
To provide insight and knowledge of a subject, students are able to respond to posts on laminated pieces of paper that have their profile picture and username. The activity is similar to commenting on a status update on Facebook, but instead of commenting online, student responses are on a board at the front of the classroom. When students walk into Phillip’s classroom in the morning, the first thing they do is update their status by responding to a daily post/question by Phillips.
“The goal of this is to get a quick check on how students are understanding certain concepts,” Phillips said. “The activity creates great conversation between the students as well. They discuss their answers with each other and their roles change from learner to teacher in their discussions.”
Since implementing social media concepts into her classroom, Thompson has found a way to create a mock Twitter feed using a free polling website that has a Twitter feel, but does not require students to be registered.
“Since we added this, students are even more engaged and have commented to me about how great it is to see everyone’s responses,” Thompson said.
Her students enjoyed real-time response that Thompson created, and a science blog for all to communicate about various topics related to activities happening inside and outside the classroom.
“We all think this is way cool and better than paper, because we can see everyone’s responses,” students Ellie Osborne and Natalie West said.
Posts and tweets are not always about assessing student knowledge.
“I also like to use this to get to know my students,” Thompson said. “It’s a fun and different way to have share time throughout the week.”
This is a great example of how teachers in Lewisville ISD (LISD) are creating varied assessments that inform and inspire students to continue learning, and meets goal 2 and 3 of the Lewisville ISD’s Strategic Design.