Middle Schoolers Are All a Twitter

Tips for Getting Started

  • Get a Classroom Twitter Account (don't mix with your personal). You will need a class email address for this. I use Gmail but anytwitter-logo.png free service will do. Reserve your teacher email for your own professional account you may want later.

  • You only need one classroom account - Differentiate classes with a # (hashtags)

  • Use Today's Meet - http://todaysmeet.com Set the room for 1 hour before the end of class. This is in the houstonisd.org/apptoolbox . Pick the best Tweet and copy and paste it into Twitter. The student gets 10 points added to their cumulative score before averaging.

  • Use video, shortened urls (like https://goo.gl/), hastags (don't put too many)

  • Join a Twitter Chat - https://thejournal.com/articles/2013/09/23/13-twitter-chats-for-educators.aspx

  • Explore PD through Twitter

  • Make sure to give parents the @ so they can follow along

  • Be careful who you follow as a class

  • https://twitter.com/danielclassroom

Guidelines for students

  • Only use real name

  • No grieving

  • Only positive side talk

My Main Idea - Exit Ticket - Check for Understanding


50 Ways to Use Twitter in the Classroom!


60 Inspiring Examples of Twitter in the Classroom


A way to get kids to write about real things with a real audience in mind.

Classrooms who Tweet

Below is an excerpt from one teacher's experience... Read the entire paper here

  • This year, I decided to try using Twitter, and the more we use it, the more power I have found in it. Our class Twitter site now has more than 350 entries (called tweets), and we manage to add four or five each day. Almost every entry was composed by my first and second grade students. Along with text, there are photos taken by the students and posted on Twitpic, and audio of kids reading which we post on Chirbit. Now that the class has had almost a year of experience using Twitter, they know the routine, and composing is pretty easy for most of them.

  • We began the year with me posting a few tweets just to get started and try it out. I wasn't sure if it would work, or if if the time spent would be worthwhile, since time devoted to one thing means less time for something else. Next, I modeled posting on Twitter in front of the class throughout the day, usually right before a transition while we met to share and review whatever lesson we were working on at the time. It didn't take long for them to catch on, and we were soon composing shared pieces. Students watched the projected image from my computer as I typed, watching the Twitter character counter descend from 140 to zero, and then into negative numbers as our expressions passed the character limit.

  • Once we typed the message, it was then time to edit and revise so that the tweet would fall into the range of 140 or fewer characters. I love that character limit feature for teaching; it provides a real and powerful way, and need, to teach word choice, ideas, and punctuation. Twitter also creates an authentic requirement to consider the needs and background of our audience in a way that most of the students didn't have to confront in writer’s workshop, or math, or science, or other writing we did. I find first and second graders are still so egocentric that considering others is a fairly novel concept. Editing and revising the messages often takes longer than composing, as the class debates which items are essential, which are implied, which can be assumed that our followers (mostly family members) know, and which we can hint at, with the assumption that family members can ask for more information if they want it.

  • After about 50 messages written as a class, I had the kids start composing the tweets themselves. I have a simple chart that shows whose turn it is. That student writes the tweet into a spiral notebook. Some students do it alone; some have a classmate help. I expect the students to write/revise/edit before bringing the book to me. They do so without complaint because they are eager to get their entries posted and they have been taught that revising and editing are part of the process. I have found this to be more effective than my efforts to get them to revise and edit in Writer’s Workshop, where the length of the stories can be overwhelming, and where there is often no real reason for them to revise and edit beyond “...because I said so.” The notebook entries clearly show me what each student understands about revising and editing, and give me ideas for next steps in instruction.

  • Sometimes I just type the tweet as written; sometimes I type it in the company of the student, who can then advise me on details to add or change. Often I type the message into Twitter in front of the class, as the author reads aloud. If the tweet falls short of 140 characters, the author can take suggestions from the class on what to add. If it’s too long, the author can get help from the class on what to delete or change to get down to the limit. Whether with the student or in front of the class, I’m continually and quickly explaining what I’m changing and why, and I’m asking the students to do the same. Using Twitter this way embeds writing instruction all day long. I’m teaching as we go, in the moment, and the instruction is intrinsically meaningful and relevant. Rather than saying, “Today we’ll talk about ‘describing’ words,” at a random time in the year, we talk about about what we need, when and as we need it. This negates the question, “When are we gonna use this?” As a matter of respect to the author of that tweet, I generally get their approval before making changes, so there is always the feeling of ownership and the message that each voice is valued.