Miss Night's Marbles

Musings, mumbles, marvels, and sometimes mockery, live from kindergarten.

So you want to tweet with kindergarten…

on 10 December, 2011
So, based on the response I have had to my recent media exposure, it seems that another how-to post is in order. Many people have asked me how to get started tweeting with young students, and honestly, the responsibility of guiding you through this is sort of daunting. To simply tell you: “Set up an account and go!” is woefully inadequate, and possibly negligent. As I have described in previous posts, my own decision to tweet with kindergarten was slow, thoughtful, deliberate. Your decision should be, too. With that said, this is my attempt to walk you through Twittergarten (as it has been coined by a reporter I know…). This process remains equally true if you are tweeting with any grade level, by the way, so don’t be turned off by the frequent kinder-references. Also: I stand by my statement that this is not a how-to blog. I don’t think I tweet with kindergarten any BETTER than anyone else.  This is just how I do it, and this is the only way I can, in good conscience, advise you to do it.
**An opening sidebar:  If you are tweeting with just one other class, in the context of Kindergarten Around the World, I’m not sure that ALL of these steps are strictly necessary, and some of them have been done for you, by me. In fact, Kindergarten Around the World would be a great way to start tweeting with your class, and then move on to tweeting with multiple classes. That said, effective 2012-13, participation in Kindergarten Around the World has required teachers to have their own twitter account, independent of their class account, for all of the reasons listed below. End of sidebar.**
https://i1.wp.com/twitter.com/images/resources/twitter-bird-white-on-blue.png?resize=200%2C200&ssl=1
  • Step 1 – Get on Twitter yourself. I cannot emphasize this enough. If you are not active on Twitter yourself in a professional capacity, I’m not sure that it is responsible for you to start tweeting with your class. From perspectives both technical and ethical, I believe it is important in this situation for teachers to KNOW the medium. Create a personal account, start building a network. Start with me, @happycampergirl, if you don’t have anyone else to start following. Other good choices are @hechternacht (my partner in #kinderchat crime, more on that in a  second), and other #kinderchat stars: @mattbgomez, @mr_fines, @mathmurd @tori1074, @havalah. Follow us, interact with us (we’re nice, I promise), get a feeling for who is who and what is what. Follow links, read some blogs (and comment, too!), make some friends. Participate in a chat or two (the Newbie’s Guide to KinderChat is here, and holds true for other chats, too). This is important for several reasons: a) you will learn HOW to interact on Twitter; b) you will develop some instincts for who your “people” are, and when something is just not right; c)people will get to know you and trust you, which you will need once you start tweeting with your class and are requesting to follow other teachers’ classes. Let’s put it this way: I do not accept follow requests for my class if I have never interacted with their teacher, and (to be completely honest) my class interacts more with the classes of teachers I know well.

 

(And, all of this aside: even if you do not want to  or cannot tweet with your class, get yourself on Twitter. It is truly the greatest, free PD you will ever find. If #kinderchat doesn’t float your boat, find a chat that does. There are chats for most grades and subject areas. @cybraryman has a great guide, here.)

 

  • Step 2 – Think through the logistics and reality of tweeting with your class: When will you do it? Do you have the technology? I honestly can’t imagine tweeting with my class without having an Interactive White Board. If you don’t have one, how will you facilitate students’ interactions? (A good PLN can help you figure this out, by the way.) When in your day can you work it in? Twitter is only meaningful if your kids are building relationships with other kids, and that means tweeting regularly. Are you, yourself, completely sold on this medium as a meaningful tool for young children? (Obviously, I am, but you need to draw your own conclusions on this). Read some of the criticisms, here, and here, and think about them, please.

 

  • Step 3 – Figure out your curriculum connections. What are your goals for tweeting with your class? These will provide you a road map for how you will use twitter in your classroom. Are you focusing on geography and social studies? Literacy and literature? Second language development? Math and numeracy? Intercultural awareness and internationalism? It is okay if your answer is “all of the above!”, just be sure you know where you are going.  Again, there are teachers around the world who are using Twitter for all of these things, and being active on Twitter yourself will help you find them.

 

  • Step 4 – Talk to your administrators. I want to be clear that, while tweeting with kindergarten seems  to be considered cutting-edge, and, in some eyes, makes me some kind of rebel (if I figure out what exactly I am rebelling against, I will let you know), my boss (and her boss) has always been completely, 100% aware and supportive of what I am doing. Another good reason to be active on Twitter yourself is that it will help you build your case with your admins. Long before I wanted to tweet with my class, my boss knew about all the great ideas and support I was getting from teachers I knew through Twitter.

 

  • Step 5 – With your boss’s help, think through privacy and security questions. Will you tweet photos/video/audio that shows your students? Your classroom? Your school? How will you identify your students? Full names? First names? Initials? Can you/should you name your school and/or city?  Will your class account be private or protected (I highly recommend private to start, but I know of classes for whom a public account best meets their goals, and I know their teachers are handling safety and privacy very well.) Who will you follow? Who will be allowed to follow you? A good PLN can help you think through these things, and share samples of their own policies/consent forms (are you starting to notice a pattern, here?)

 

  • Step 6 – Talk to your students’ parents, preferably face to face. Even if your school already has a photo/video/online release policy that covers the use of Twitter (this is pretty unusual, by the way), talk to parents and get their written consent. My students’ parents KNOW what we are doing, they signed written consent forms, and about 1/3 of them are following our class. Before I created my class account last year, I added twitter to my agenda for our November parent-teacher conferences. I explained it to parents, encouraged them to talk/think about it, and to follow-up with me with any questions or concerns.

 

  • Step 7– When ALL of this is done, and (as my grad school advisor would say:) all of your ducks are in a row: create your class account. Share your screen-name with your admins and your students’ parents.  Use DMs (a DM is a direct, private message on Twitter) to share your class screen-name with teachers you know and trust through twitter, yourself. My class’s screen-name rarely appears in the public stream on Twitter, because I don’t want to field follow requests from spammers or people I don’t know. I share our screen-name only via DM. With your students’ help and input, write your twitter bio, choose an avatar, and send your first tweet.
With that, you are off to the races. I trust that you are all competent teachers, and capable of creating your own activities, organizational systems, and management tricks (although I’m happy to share my own, if you ask.) If all of this sounds a little confusing, and you are wondering why I kept putting a “#” in front of kinderchat, and you’re still not sure how a DM is different from a regular tweet, well…. I would suggest you are not ready to tweet with your class. There are lots of situations where I am completely in favour of learning alongside our students, but, given the attention span of 5-year-olds, and the (manageable, but still present) risks of a social media environment, my position here is that Twitter is not one of those.
For perhaps the 347th time: If you want to get your class on Twitter, you need to get yourself on Twitter, first.

14 Responses to “So you want to tweet with kindergarten…”

  1. Jo Reed says:

    I am interested in seeing the letters to parents regarding using Twitter in the classroom. I am motivated to begin with the k classes that come to my library but want to make sure parents are on board with the idea and that I have their approval. Also, what did you do about photos of the children? Thank you.

  2. […] Twitter in Kindergarten? You bet! Must read before getting started  […]

  3. […] So you want to tweet with kindergarten…. […]

  4. […] I have always had some form of form of research in my classroom but a few years ago a changed happened that made the center something special. The improvement can be blamed on our class Twitter account. Yes, tweeting is what makes the research center so powerful in my room. It was nothing I planned and really just evolved on its own. Most of our first tweets were with friends from Canada so I put some books about Canada in our bookshelf. The kids actually would fight over who would get those books each day and I was taken back by how interested they were in these non-fiction books. I quickly realized their interest had something to do with the fact that other kids were “leading” the discussion. Naturally I decided to capitalize on that interest. Curious about how to tweet with your class? Start with this great post.  […]

  5. […] Twitter in Kindergarten? You bet! Must read before getting started  […]

  6. fsjeileen says:

    perhaps what I need is a good PLN for twitter, I still haven't figured out all of the privacy settings, etc… I am eager to start next year, with a focus on math metacognition & science. So perhaps you could recomend some places to learn about twitter, and some sample consent forms? (I have 4 months to get good at this…)

    Thanks!

  7. Wow. I am new to twitter and this is the first time I have thought about tweeting with my class. Thanks so much for writing this post!

    Michelle
    Apples and ABC's

  8. Jackie H. says:

    Great post! You share some important information to make sure twitter is a positive experience.I'm sharing this article on my fb page… along with the info that if readers need to know the definition of #hashtag or DM, they might want to join the we teach: we're bloggers group on we teach! We have lots of free tutorials on the basics of social media.

  9. Thanks so much for posting this! I appreciate how much you emphasized being on Twitter yourself before you start using it with your class. It's a very unique tool, learning space, and group of communities that takes time to understand. I keep talking to more and more educators about the power and potential of Twitter both in the classroom and as a part of a PLN but it's always tough to explain how to get started. I will definitely be passing this on a resource for other educators!

  10. Angel Read says:

    I've said before, I love the idea! Social media is a great resource, and I think its great to get kids started using it in an educational way, to learn about the world and communicate with others, way before they start using it just to chat with their friends! 😉

  11. I wholeheartedly agree with you on the “Tweet yourself before you Tweet with the class” idea. Knowing the medium is key. Twitter, like any other tool, is JUST a tool. Teachers shouldn't decide to use Twitter “just to get the class online”. We must think about the learning outcomes, even if it's just as simple as “Boosting Parent-School Communication” or “Modeling Safe and Effective Use of The Internet.” Thank yo for this post.

  12. Aviva says:

    This is a great post, and I'm so glad that you shared what you do and how you do it. As you know, I tweet with my Grade 1/2 class as well, and I have some things in common with yours (in terms of informing parents and administrators and being heavily active on Twitter myself) and other things not in common (I have a public account, but check out all follows and block as needed, and my students tweet individually and in small groups from this count, but I do all of the logging in). I think that my set-up would be much more similar to yours if I was in Kindergarten still, but I've figured out something that works for me and for our class. Parents and administrators have been very supportive too, and that's great! I hope to see even more primary classes tweeting after this blog post of yours!

    Aviva (@grade1)

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