Review by Melissa Powers, Common Sense Education | Updated January 2017

Twitter

Smart classroom tool if used with care; priceless for PLNs

Subjects & skills
Subjects
N/A

Skills
  • College & Career Prep
  • Communication & Collaboration
  • Critical Thinking
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
9–12
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (33 Reviews)

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Pros: Its energetic, fast-paced communication appeals to those who like to be "in the know."

Cons: Safety and privacy issues definitely come into play with kid Twitter use.

Bottom Line: Twitter offers something for everyone: information, resources, and an easy way to connect with just about anyone.

Every teacher can use Twitter to connect with educators around the world as a way to build professional learning networks (PLNs). By following other educators and participating in education-focused chats, teachers can expand their network of colleagues and find resources to further their classroom practice. Teachers can also use Twitter to connect their classroom with other classrooms around the world -- a modern take on the old "pen pal" program.

When it comes to using Twitter directly with students, teachers should consider privacy issues and consult their school's social media policy. The simplest way to use Twitter in the classroom is as an announcement system. Teachers can send out one-way communication to parents and/or students without requiring or accepting feedback (to protect student privacy). Before deciding to use Twitter to post homework or class news, you should ask your students if they're already using Twitter on a daily basis. Though Twitter is widely used by adults, it's not as popular among teens as it once was. If you are using Twitter to meet your students "where they are" but they aren't there, then you're wasting your time.

Twitter may be more useful as a research tool than a classroom communication tool. Students could research a current event through the eyes of Twitter; natural disasters and political movements are often better-documented on Twitter than on traditional news sources. With the rise of citizen journalism, many eyewitnesses use Twitter to give moment-by-moment accounts of what's happening. If you do want to use Twitter as an in-class communication platform, you might want to consider a product like GroupTweet, which let's students join the conversation without "following" you or their classmates, adding a layer of privacy and safety. When using it as a class, though, make sure you set up ground rules for language and respect, as teens may be used to using Twitter for more casual communication.

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Twitter is an online social networking and communication platform that allows users to communicate through 280-character messages, called "tweets," on an internet-connected device. You can also include photos, videos, GIFs, and links with your messages, or create a poll. Twitter is used by millions of people worldwide to keep up with news, gossip, events, weather -- you name it, it's being talked about on Twitter.

Once you sign up with an email and a password, you'll be directed to start "following" people. The people you follow will show up in your timeline, a scrolling list of real-time tweets. When you tweet, the people who follow you will see your tweets in their timeline. Those are the nuts and bolts of this platform -- it's pretty basic! It's also possible to search Twitter for certain terms or hashtags -- for example, #Congress or #EdTech. Hashtags are also used for topic-specific discussions (often held weekly) in various fields such as weekly education chats: #edchat, #ellchat, and #sschat.

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Whether or not your students are composing tweets in the classroom, Twitter is a great tool for teaching digital citizenship. A quick glance at the most popular tweets of the day will give endless examples of how  and how not to communicate online. You can help students discover the most effective means for communicating their ideas -- be it carefully crafted text or photos/videos or a combination of both. Students can connect to local or global happenings, viewing multiple sides of an issue and participating in meaningful conversations. Although there are privacy and classroom-management issues to consider before use, Twitter can be an innovative place to foster scholarly discussion in this modern age.

 

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Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

Come for the entertainment, stay for the meaningful connections and discourse. From celebrities to politicians, Twitter makes headlines every day, but it's also full of passionate educators and top-notch content.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

With teacher support, Twitter can help teens learn to communicate effectively with limited text, and hashtag chats on various topics can offer new perspectives on specific interests.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

Twitter's help page is incredibly thorough, and users should be able to figure it out pretty quickly. Text, images, and video content appeal to diverse learning styles.


Teacher Reviews

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Featured review by
Kristen Z. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Best PD for teachers since Pinterest!

I feel like Twitter for my students (elementary) is best used by me as a PD app. I find many great idea via Twitter and can apply them immediately into the classroom setting. This has 100% made me a better more innovative teacher this year after using Twitter more often and connecting with other educators in the area, as well as in the world.

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