Twitter Trials Pt. 2

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Last week I began my journey of teaching Twitter online on Edufire. In my last post of this series, I wrote about my initial experience using Twitter as an educational tool. The focus switched from having Twitter discussions to teaching Twitter basics when I discovered most of my students were newby Twitterers. In this post I want to focus on the intrinsic benefits my students have found by using Twitter!
Higher-Order Skills
Twitter motivates students to participate, contemplate, debate, evaluate, criticize, analzye, collaborate, and synthesize along with several other higher-order processes included in Bloom’s Taxonomy. The US News & World Report recently documented the case of a high school student who used Twitter for online book discussions on Crime and Punishment and to follow science updates.
In my class, I have been amazed by the progress of my international students in just one week of taking the class. One student reported that this experience has changed his life! He is now able to share his knowledge of classical music with other people globally and has made several connections. Another student has began blogging again as a result of the connections he has been able to make by using the skills learned in the class!  Both are using English extensively by tweeting!
Benefits for ELLs
One reason I am excited about using Twitter for educational purposes is to extend my English language learners (ELLs) use of English outside of the classroom. Often English language learners feel shy participating in mainstream classrooms. For years I have been trying to find ways of motivating students to use English outside of the classroom or to explore topics discussed in the classroom. Web 2.0 has offered several ideas and Twitter is another quick way for students to extend their learning. In many ways, Twitter is more valuable to use than other social sites. Here are some ways ELLs can use Twitter:
Connect with native English speakers!
Twitter is easier to use than other social bookmarking sites and allows students to communicate with a variety of English speakers from all over the world. With the 140 character limit, the students are able to quickly communicate and English speakers are able to quickly communicate.
ELLs can start making connections to native speaking students in the classroom. Friendships are easier to form online when the ELL only has to type in a few words. Plus, the limit makes understanding the other students much easier. The ELLs are able to digest the small chunks of language versus trying to understand an entire discussion.

Learn about culture!
Students can find out information about current events taking place in other countries.
For example, now is an incredible opportunity for your students to follow the protest in Iran. Moreover, several students are eager to learn about this information!

Evaluate sources of information!
Have your ELLs search a topic on Twitter, collect several viewpoints, and then check the profiles of the authors to discover if the information is credible.
In the same way, students can trace retweeted information back to the original source.

Debate a topic!
Provide a topic for students to debate in class. On Twitter have the students list their opinions and find links to from others to back up the opinion.

Research a topic!
In a matter of minutes, students can post a question and find the percentages of people who answered a certain way. Have your students do this at a later time of day and see if this makes a difference. In this way students learn how to evaluate statistics.
Students can also conduct interviews to gain specific viewpoints on a topic.

Edit grammar!
Have the students print out their tweets or copy and paste the tweets to a word document.
Then the students can edit the grammar errors and possibly tweet the message again the next day with the corrections.
Students can also evaluate errors in other tweets.

Evaluate idioms, slang, vocabulary, and expressions!
Students can follow the trending topics and list uncommon words and phrases.
Then have the students ask someone on Twitter what these words and phrases mean or search for the terms.
Students can have fun creating tweets with the idioms and words. To create context, have the students use proper hashtags for their tweets.

Further sources you may find helpful are:
Have fun tweeting! Next TechTuesday I will share with you more Twitter lesson plan goodies and more helpful advice!

Do you have a tip for teachers to get computers in the classroom? Please, contact me to have that idea featured on a future Tech Tuesday post!

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