I teach 5th grade ELA and social studies in a Title 1 district, 100% free lunch. Our district has had a long-term focus on literacy, but an incomplete focus at the expense of writing. But a writing initiative is having a wonderful effect, and teachers are encouraged to include 21st century skills in their planning despite technology issues.

Micro-blogging could be the solution to engagement issues and writing fluency weakness in my classroom. If I set up a class Twitter account and taught students how to blog, I doubt I could keep them away from it! The limited number of characters allowed in a tweet would take some pressure off students who are usually asked to write much more and become anxious. Marich (2016) describes Katie Hammer, a second grade teacher, who decided to use Twitter in her classroom. In just 8 weeks, Hammer’s students went from taking 20-30 minutes to write a tweet to 3 or 4 minutes (Marich, 2016). Now that’s fluent!

I definitely think it’s time for me to get a classroom Twitter account. As my young learners tweet, they will learn to connect with others in safe, appropriate ways, becoming digital citizens (International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), 2016). They will learn to express their ideas in a unique platform, becoming creative communicators, shaping their writing to fit the parameters of Twitter (ISTE, 2016).

I, as I learn alongside them, will be modeling to my students a new way to collaborate (ISTE, 2016). And if it goes as well as I suspect it will, I will have an opportunity to demonstrate to other hesitant teacher-learners the many benefits of tweeting on Twitter (ISTE, 2016).

References

International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE). (2016). Standards for students. Retrieved from http://www.iste.org/standards/standards/for-students-2016

Marich, H. (2016 September). Twitter in the elementary classroom: A teacher’s journey. Language Arts. 94(1), 67-70.

 

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4 thoughts on “8 Weeks to Writing Fluency? I’m In!

  1. Pretty cool. Love the idea of a classroom Twitter. My dad’s a teacher and uses one to post thought-provoking articles that he thinks can enhance his students’ discussions. Do you think this tweeting fluency will translate to something like open-ended questions on standardized tests? My kids feel really pressured on those and don’t think they have enough time to answer (even though time really doesn’t matter).

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    1. Yes, I am hoping that Tweeting will contribute to my students’ writing on standardized tests, particularly Ohio’s State Tests. I figure if I can get them to like writing, they will become engaged with writing tasks and perform better than if they weren’t. I am relatively new to my district (just began my 3rd year), and am still shocked at the kids’ poor attitude toward writing. At my last school, writing was a huge part of the curriculum, and I took it for granted!

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  2. Yes, engagement and motivation in the writing process are so crucial. Confidence-building is half the battle it seems, because once students realize they CAN accomplish something, then they are more motivated to TRY in many cases. Last week in fifth grade science, I gave a paper version of a Twitter exit slip in which students were to “tweet” what they learned about the characteristics of the Earth and Moon. Although still a far cry from the actual technology component, it was my first attempt and trial run at seeing how students would respond to this kind of format. I like the idea of trying out new ideas in low-risk, safe spaces first, before releasing students into the public realm of Twitter. Google Classroom has forum options that I am looking into, and the less public space (only the classroom members “enter” the virtual classroom) may offer solid training ground before allowing students into “the real world” of Twitter and blogging. When using social media for educational purposes, I am learning that at my particular grade level, students need direct instruction on expectations so the quality and depth of content extends beyond entertainment (such as, “Hey, my name is Cheese Nugget.”)

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  3. Twitter is a great way to get students involved and engaged in learning. Middle school students are a great age group to introduce micro-blogging. Most likely, the majority of students are already introduced to this form of social media. Implementing this type of technology in the classroom will teach the student how to use the tool correctly and more efficiently. First, there should always be a particular task, guidelines and regulations enforced to ensure that students are connecting with others in an appropriate manner. Next student should have clear goals as to what they are trying to accomplish with their blog post. Lastly, students should gain certain skills and learn something new from participating in the blog. These components will enhance the student’s critical thinking, written communication and 21-century skills.

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