Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Twitter For Little Folks

Yep, another Twitter post.

This time, I want to focus on another popular question I get.

"If Twitter says you have to be 13 to use Twitter, how do I use it in my elementary classroom?" (See the Update below.)

Great question!

Twitter's Privacy Policy says each user has to be at least 13 in order to have a Twitter account. This is to comply with privacy laws and non-collection of data of children. So the age restriction eliminates the ability for just about every elementary student to have a Twitter account.

But there are ways you can bring the idea of Twitter into your classroom.

Recently I was traveling around to a few schools in my district looking at our 1:1 pilot. I walked into an elementary classroom and saw the image at the top of this post. Around the room I saw various sizes of pieces of paper with kids writing on them with @ symbols, what appear to be hashtags and other parts of the Twitter vernacular.

Paper Tweets.

The students posted what they were learning (in roughly 140 characters) as a way to summarize their learning after class each day. But they were also using good grammar, and learning about all the ways that Twitter works.

Each one was hashtaged so they could be organized in to different places around the room. After they were posted, kids could examine the "timeline" for other ideas on how to solve problems or to answer questions that were posted from say, the language arts lesson.

Students also have profiles around the room so they are learning about digital footprints, in that they are posting only what they are comfortable letting others know about them. And they learn about location technologies and other parts of being a good digital citizen.

Another way to use Twitter in the elementary classroom is the method I use with teachers all the time.

Twitter Search

Events are unfolding in real-time and being covered in real-time by the folks on the ground. So while students can't use Twitter accounts themselves to communicate they can follow along using Twitter search for event hashtags or key terms. Or they can display the classroom Twitter account to see what is happening in the world. History doesn't happen in books any more. So why learn about the world from something static?

What other ideas do you have to use Twitter in the Elementary classroom? Leave some comments below.

*Update-I had a few folks contact me about the Privacy Policy. Twitter does not ask for age. So it is possible to use Twitter under the age of 13 but with the consent of a parent. The ideas here could work great if you didn't want to go down that road or if it was blocked or for another reason.
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