Three years ago as I began my journey at a new tech focused school, I set up a classroom twitter account. Through that whole year I gained 12 followers about half of which were spam twitter accounts. The next year I didn’t touch my classroom twitter account once. A great deal of this was due to my discomfort and misunderstanding of the technology. I wasn’t sure how to use twitter to share anything other than reminders directed towards families. Last summer I traveled to NYC to be part of the Teachers College Writing conference. TC heavily uses twitter to tweet out quotes, information, articles, the list goes on and on. Bravely, one day I tweeted out a quote that struck a chord with me and hashtagged it #tcrwp and was thrilled when my tweet was retweeted. I began to follow teachers and presenters I met at the conference. From this small twitter interaction, I began to see the value in tweeting out my learning and began to wonder how twitter could be use to share our classroom learning authentically and not just to be used as a way to remind families about early release.
At the beginning of this year, Molly and I made the decision to create two twitter accounts for each of us-one for our class and one for ourselves, our Personal Learning Community (PLN) (we will discuss in a later blog post). Our plan was to have our classes tweet daily with our class twitter handle and hashtag a school tag as well as any other relevant hashtags. We implored others at our school to use the school hashtag so we could tweet back and forth between our classrooms as well as a larger twitter community.
My class quickly got into tweeting and checking our twitter feed for favorites, retweets and tweets back at us from families and other first grade classrooms we were connecting with through various twitter chats. Soon my students began writing the tweets themselves, misspellings and all and using the class twitter handle to share their learning. Almost weekly we participated in a great math chat (#mtgr1). Weekly, a class would tweet out either an open ended answer to a math question or a picture and students would create the math problem with words, pictures and numbers. We tweeted out our work, sharing our learning with all the other first grade classrooms across the county that participated. Each week when we looked at the new math problem, my students immediately began searching for ways to create elaborate math problems to fit the questions. The level of work grew exponentially with each responded tweet we read, first graders love to try to outdo each other and this was a great outlet to do this in. In the coming year, my goal is to find other first grade twitter chats to participate in. How did I search for these chats? With a tweet and a hashtag of course!