Chris Casal | July 28, 2014

PS 10 in Brooklyn, N.Y., is a public school, part of the New York City Department of Education. We serve a kindergarten through 5th-grade population that includes everything from Gifted and Talented to ICT at every grade level, self-contained special education classes, English learners, and, as one of our district's “no boundaries” sites, students with physical disabilities as well. It's this diverse population that made us look at all the possible ways of communicating with the community at large, beyond the flyer in the backpack. We wanted a way to foster transparency, especially for those students and parents who didn’t necessarily live right around the corner. Tweeting @PS10Brooklyn has become a core component of many classrooms. It's been great to see teachers, students, and parents alike embrace the power of Twitter as a communication, collaboration, and connection tool.

What do we tweet?
@PS10Brooklyn tweets news and information related to the school, but it also retweets a lot of the great work teachers are tweeting from their classrooms. Three people have access to the @PS10Brooklyn account: the principal, one of the assistant principals, and me, the technology coordinator and default social-media director for the building. In addition, our Facebook page, which has seven admins, including teachers, paraprofessionals, related service providers, and PTA members, is synched to our Twitter account to allow cross-posting of content.

@MsKertesz is a 4th-grade teacher who has used Twitter to connect with a class in Liverpool, England. They also hold weekly Skype sessions, and our 4th-graders have developed a great working partnership with their English counterparts. Without Twitter, these two classes, separated by an ocean, would never have connected.

@MsGlembocki is a 2nd-grade teacher who uses Twitter and her class iPads as part of the writing and publishing process. One of her classroom jobs is “student tweeter,” and that student is responsible for sending a few tweets during the day to update followers -- mostly parents -- about how the day is going and what the class has been up to. One of her greatest units is about the 100th day of school. On the 100th day, her students send 100 tweets from her account. All the tweets touch on a particular aspect of the school year that they've enjoyed, are particularly fond of, or maybe didn’t like. In those tweets, they also look forward to the second part of the year. Ms. Glembocki uses a rough-draft Twitter worksheet created by Suzy Brooks to allow students to utilize the full writing process, including drafting, revision, and approval, before officially publishing their tweets. It is a full-day writing project and her students love it.

@MariaCamastro is a kindergarten teacher. Most of her students' parents follow her. Aunts and uncles in other states, and even in other countries, follow her. Grandparents are on Twitter just to see her classroom tweets. She's invited the world into her classroom and they're happy to join her. One of the best anecdotes of her success happened recently, on Grandparents Day. The grandfather of one of her students couldn't make it -- no big deal. That grandfather was on Twitter, and he followed Mrs. Camastro. Throughout Grandparents Day, Mrs. Camastro made sure she took photos of this particular student participating in the event, and she mentioned the grandfather in the tweets. He was out of state, but got to be an active, real-time participant in the event. How cool is that? Grandparents on Twitter. Grandparents actively using Twitter to be part of their grandchildren's school events. How powerful is that?

Creating transparency and engagement
These are just a few examples of how we use Twitter at @PS10Brooklyn. There are others, including stories of uncles halfway around the world excited that they get to be part of a nephew's life, and of family members "seeing" relatives more than once a year, getting to share in those great moments even if they aren't there. And the students love it. They know family is watching even if they're not in the room, and they're excited about that.

Teachers don’t tweet all the time and they generally have no set schedule. But a few simple tweets a day -- a few minutes of time in total -- lets the families of students be active participants in their children's day, even if they never make it into the classroom.

At its core, Twitter @PS10Brooklyn allows the community as a whole a real-time glimpse into the classroom learning environments. It also allows us to share the great work and successes of our students in a global, meaningful, and authentic way.

Social media is here to stay. Twitter is a growing platform. Here @PS10Brooklyn, we want to be at the forefront of technology and teach our students proper digital etiquette. The best way to do that is to model appropriate and positive use of digital tools. Tweeting with PS 10 is the best way to model the powerful good that social media -- particularly Twitter -- can bring to the instructional environment.