Go to any search engine and type in “Twitter and education” and you’ll get hundreds of web sites, which show how great Twitter is for educational purposes. I’ve scoured through many of these web sites looking at ways that I could introduce Twitter to the children in my school. While all the suggestions for using Twitter were well meaning and excellent for older learners, I teach children between the ages of 4 and 12. I couldn’t find anything on the web that enabled children in primary schools to use Twitter to support Primary Curriculum aims. I decided to do it myself.
Last week, the Irish Primary Twitter Experiment began (#twexp1). I emailed and tweeted everyone I knew in the primary sector and asked them to join in. I wanted to start off very basically so as to be as inclusive to as many different people as possible. I uploaded the instructions below on to a web site.
Thanks for taking part in this Irish Primary School Twitter experiment. We’re going to try an experiment where children in schools can use Twitter to learn from each other. The idea is that children log on to a Twitter account (under supervision) and send messages to each other through the week. We’ll keep it simple to start off with. Our theme is “My Local Area” and each school posts up tweets describing their area and asking and answering questions of each other. I have some suggested questions below. Every tweet should have the hash tag #twexp1 so that when schools join in, they can be added to the conversation easily. Below are some instructions to get started
1. Sign up for a Twitter account if you haven’t already
2. Log into the account and answer question 1 below to introduce your school. Don’t forget to use the hash tag #twexp1.
3. Write tweets about your area (couple of suggestions below)
4. To see other schools’ tweets, use the search tool in Twitter and search for the hash tag.
5. Ask other schools questions about their area or ask general questions to schools son we can get a conversation going
6. At the end of the week, all tweets will be collated and we’ll see what comes of them.
If it’s successful, we can try something else again.
I’d imagine this would work well by using something like Tweetdeck and projecting it on a screen so that updates could be done live.
Project 1: My local area
Answer these questions in less than 140 characters including the hashtag:
1. What is the name of your school?
2. Tell us one interesting fact about your area
3. Tell us about one natural that is a feature in your area
4. Tell us about a famous person from your area
5. What does your village/town/city mean in English?
Feel free to ask an individual question by typing the hashtag followed by the @ symbol and the username of the school you want to contact. For example #twexp1 @carlowetns What kind of things can people do in your town for fun?
I was hoping that, perhaps, three or four schools would join in. By the end of the week, 21 schools had sent at least one tweet. In the next article, I’ll delve into the 120 messages that were sent on the Twitter experiment and see how many of them would help in the Geography curriculum. I’ll also look at some of the things I have learned in the week and how Twitter can be used more successfully with primary school children.
For a simple guide to Twitter, here is a resource created by Anseo.net: [Download]