Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Launching 8th graders into the Twitterverse

Twitter has been invaluable for me for my own professional learning. It's enabled me to follow my interests and interact with like-minded teachers around the world. Much of what happens in my classroom in some way connects back to my own activity in the Twitterverse, for example through shared resources or discussions with other educators, but it wasn't until this year that I finally decided to make the leap and invite my students, just old enough to legally use social media, to join me.

What I envisioned was that we would use Twitter as a space to both connect with each other as learners and speak into existing conversations in the world, tweeting beyond the walls of the classroom. I wanted this experience to be one where students learned how to use social media responsibly by actually using social media, not just being lectured about it.  I wanted this experience to be a significant step for my students' digital footprint, creating an impression that reflects positively on them, showing them a engaged and saavy 21st century activists.

It's a lofty goal, and one that is worthwhile for schools. And while this isn't a new realization, it's taken me quite some time to get to the point of implementation because I knew that inviting students to use social media would invite scrutiny. Parents and administrators would have questions and concerns. How would I monitor what students did? How would I ensure that students are kept safe? How will academic content fit in with social media? Do I even know what I am doing on twitter?

Here is a letter that I wrote to parents where I both answered the above questions and guided parents in how to be connected and involved.  I sent this home one month ago, and in just that time twitter has had a transformative effect on the learning that my students are doing in class.  I in my next post, I'll share more about what's happened. But, in the meantime, you can keep up with my classes conversation on twitter at #kmseagles--like, reply, and/or retweet to join us!