"You're Doing What!?”: Using Twitter in the kindergarten classroom
"You're doing WHAT with your kindergarteners!?" Usually this is the reaction I get when I tell people I use Twitter with my students. (New to Twitter? Watch this video, set up an account, thank me later!) Maybe they're picturing a bunch of five-year-olds sending each other messages about their favorite T.V. show. Twitter is a tool for social connections, but it can be so much more!
Prior to this, I had been using Twitter as a professional learning network. One day I started thinking.... if I'm getting excited about connecting with the world in this way...wouldn't my STUDENTS enjoy it too?
Student account made, kid-friendly picture uploaded, parent email sent... we're in business!
We began simple—a few "tickets to exit" at the end of the day and we were rereading our own tweets. Then we graphed the number of our followers and watched it increase. Sometimes students would take turns rereading our tweets and typing their own: "What I learned today..." is one simple example.
Next, we started using Twitter to gather information. For kindergartners, that means asking things like, "What 'h-brother' words do you know?" One student got excited about writing story problems, so she and her math group started tweeting people math stories. Yeah!!
Then along came my super student. You know, the one that always understands the lesson before you teach it? This same student made a poster in March, warning others to watch out for the naughty leprechaun who makes messes in our classroom during recess. He asked, "Is there a way to put this poster on Twitter?" Umm... yeah!!! After getting his parent's consent, I got out my cellphone and point, click, click... this 5 year old was a published author. We had just stepped into the world of online publishing!
We've started to publish things that we already do in class. I just take pictures of their work and tweet it. Story problems, writing, math work, etc... just take a picture and tweet! We've also published videos of them reading, giving book previews, giving a book retell, and having a math conversation.
It's amazing, but when the iPad pops out, the oral reading is expressive, the previews have more details, the retells get longer, and the conversations more in-depth. All this as a result of spending one minute figuring out how to post videos on Twitter.
I love using Twitter in my classroom! My students are engaged in their learning. They want to learn so they can share their insightful sentence on Twitter at the end of the day. Also, they have an authentic audience.... THE WHOLE WORLD...., so they want to have quality work. Often they will ask to redo something over... and over... and over to get it just right.
One thing that I love is that my students are going home and Tweeting the class back with their parents. They are thinking about what we learned in class, watching other students read, and rereading our old posts.... AT HOME!!! Amazing!! I absolutely love using Twitter in my classroom, and I hope you try it too!!
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Marie Westman is a three-year Kindergarten teacher at Morrish Elementary School, Swartz Creek Community Schools. She received her B.A. from Northern Michigan University (Elementary Education, Language Arts) and is pursuing her Master in the Art of Teaching degree from Marygrove College. Currently, she lives in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan where she enjoys spending time outdoors and kayaking. When she’s not teaching or “tweeting” with her students, she can be found spending time with her wonderful extended family.
Class Twitter- @wkinders2013
Class Website- www.openningthecrayonbox.weebly.com