Friday, April 3, 2009

Using Twitter in Language Arts Part 1

A quick post today about the Twitter experiment I performed in my Language Arts 9 class. Following what many are doing at conferences, I introduced a tag in Twitter for my students to use while tweeting about the movie Into the Wild. 

Introducing Twitter to Students

None of my students had Twitter account, nor did any of their parents. So, I started with introducing them to Twitter in general with a Commoncraft video, and explained how we can use tweets in many different ways. Showing them my own Twitter account I had them see the difference between a personal/social and a professional/educational tweet. 

We then look at a quick rubric I developed. The rubric included the following 4 criteria:

1.  Responding to 'teacher tweets', questions and topics I give them and they need to respond to.

2. Student initiated topics that encourage discussions.

3. Student responses to topics/discussions started by their peers.

4. Respect for their peers and the online community.

Note About the Rubric
After a short meeting with our Technology Integrator Terry Kaminksi, he came up with the idea for the "Respect for classmates and online community" portion of the rubric. I am still working on connecting the wording in the rubric to the students in a meaningful manner, and this is what we came up with. I explained to the class that they need to be thinking of their Tweets in terms of a conversation with various groups  that they might encounter during the day, and how much 'off topic' talk there might be in each situation. 

4/4- a conversation with adults that would make your parents proud.

3/4- a discussion in class with teachers and peers with the occasional off topic comments.

2/4- a discussion during a student led project that goes off topic quite easily.

1/4- a discussion among friends in the hallway that is often off topic and is sometimes not appropriate.

Introducing Twitter Took Time
This pre-movie introduction of the concept of Twitter, showing the difference between a personal/social and professional Tweet, and the explanation of the rubric took about 40 minutes of our 84 min period. It proved to be very helpful and the vast majority of Tweets were on topic while watching the movie.

But then Twitter threw us a curveball...

Twitter was extremely slow while the internet raced right past it. I suggest you don't try this on a Friday afternoon when everyone and their dog is trying to waste time Tweeting what their plans are for the night instead of working. We kept getting the Twitter whale message that the service was overloaded. Tweets were taking several minutes to show up in our search. Check out our tag search here and see what we did with the first few minutes of the movie. 

Will We Tweet Again?
The short answer is YES! We will try again on Monday afternoon with the rest of Into the Wild. I will definitely use Twitter again in the class for discussions, watching films and if was lecturing (which rarely happens, but I can see it's application). The slow afternoon of Tweeting will not deter me from seeing Twitter as a great educational tool with many applications. How could you use Twitter in your class? Will you give it a try? 

Participate in the Discussion
Remember to follow our tag starting at about 12:30pm mountain time on Monday, April 6th. Feel free to tweet in about the movie or book and answer or ask questions of my students! I'll drop a few lines to summarize the experience after tomorrow's class!



  1. Hey Jared! Just started twittering myself recently and am loving it. Thanks for posting your progress on Twitter as it is an exciting tool.Right now, I couldn't use it my assignment, but I'd like to learn how.

  2. It's called Tweeting, not Tittering. I want to use Twitter to create a Multi-User Narrative in my 9th grade Language Arts class. Any suggestions? Also, what grade was the class who watched In To The Wild, 9th? Just wondering about the content of the film and the age group.