How Twitter is being used in West Des Moines Schools

Overall, most of our staff  and classrooms in West Des Moines Schools are relatively new to Twitter.  After reading a recent article by Bill Ferriter, @plugusin, titled Twitter usage in High Schools:, I thought it might be helpful to share some examples with our staff that outline how Twitter is being used in classrooms.  Of course, there are individuals who are using twitter for personal reasons, but for this article we’ll be focusing on the following educational uses….

Photo credit: Brad Flickinger

The following groups were created using generic accounts tied to a school or group – and using twitter to send out short updates to their audience. Note: If you’d like your twitter account added to this list – just send it to Brian Abeling.

@ClivePTO,  used by the parent group at Clive to distribute information to parents

@wdmjcreekelem  Jordan Creek Elementary, sending updates to parents.

@WDMCS    Provides district updates and notice, run by School Community Relations; Elaine Watkin-Miller and Lauri Pyatt.

@wdmTECH All things tech about WDM schools, run by Brian Abeling

@valleybowling   VHS Bowling team communicating with parents and student, run by Coach Chris Amundson

Personal Learning Network

Of course, twitter usage can be a mixture of both personal and professional.  However, many of the teachers I’ve talked with are amazed at how professional the discussions and resources are via twitter.  If you’d like your name added (or removed), let me know.

@carrie_jacobs,  Carrie Jacobs, WCC

@vhsphysics,   Marc Pedersen, Valley High School

@sarahlynbird,  Sarah Bird, Valley High School

Classroom Usage

Some users are creating a twitter account specifically for their classroom and are focusing on one or more of the following uses…

1) communication with parents to let them know what’s happening in class
2) micro-blogging for students
3) communication with students on classroom topics

Examples of communication with parents….

@MrsSeiberling,  Katie Seiberling,  Stilwell   Tweeting about what’s happening in Room 213.

@MrsAStilwell,  Becky Anderson, Stilwell,  Tweeting about events in her classroom.

@MrBissinger,  Peter Bissinger, Stilwell,  All about 7th grade social studies on the R team.

Examples of student micro-blogging….
The following classrooms at Crestview Elementary are using Twitter for student micro-blogging, or leaving short, focused responses about what they are learning or actively involved in. I must admit, I’m very intrigued with what 4th and 5th graders come up with – and its always very positive.  The entries are usually written by students and include examples of …

“Today we in class we learned how to measure angles with triangles and other shapes it was really fun! AW”  (AW is the student initials, as they don’t want students to type their names, but it does help keep track of who’s had a turn to write on the class account)

“We learned a new reading strategy called VISUALIZING. We read our book with our partner & visualized what we read on our white boards.-JM ZC”

It’s great to see student summarize and re-state what they have learned – and to put it in writing to an audience that is not their teacher.  One day, while visiting Crestview Elementary, a student was working at a computer, typing a response to another students blog writing.  I commented “That’s neat… your responding to someone else’s work from the class”  and the student corrected me… “No…  the student who wrote this lives in Pennsylvania, I’ve never met them, but they contacted our class via Twitter and asked if we would review their writing.”  How cool is that?

I’ve also heard from elementary classrooms that now have videoconferencing sessions thru Skype with other classrooms around the country – and this was arranged through a simple request on Twitter.  Oddly enough, the other classrooms weren’t officially following each other on Twitter.  The first classroom simply posted a tweet “We are looking for another classroom to Skype with for our readers theatre.”   Another classroom was searching for these same keywords in Twitter – and then responded to the request.

@Stevens4a , Sarah Stevens, Crestview.

@Kelly5A ,  Keysto Kelly, Crestview

@LeightonsClass , Jessica Leighton, Crestview

@MrNidey ,  Adam Nidey, Crestview

Examples of using Twitter with your students……
Some classrooms are setting up generic Twitter accounts for their classroom and are using it for student interaction on their classroom topics.
Examples include…

@MrsSBird, Sarah Bird, Valley High School, using twitter for her DigiTools Class with VHS students.   Sarah was recently highlighted in an on-line article about Twitter usage in High Schools:  Sarah has both a professional account for herself and a separate twitter account for her class.  After a discussion with her class, she asked students to use their cell phones to tweet their MVP (Most Valuable Point) –  in other words, what was most significant point that they learned.   She asks students to use their classroom hashtag, which enables her and the class to easily see the responses to gain an understanding of what each person took from the discussion.  Mrs Bird was also featured in  “20 Innovative Ways High Schools are using Twitter”

@VHSmarketing, Mindy Wilcox and Vicky Rossander, Valley High School, using twitter with their students as a part of their marketing class.

10 thoughts on “How Twitter is being used in West Des Moines Schools

  1. Scott McLeod (@mcleod)

    This is a great start! Next step: not just using Twitter to broadcast out but to create a learning network where others feed ideas back in. In other words, not sending out to an audience but connecting (and maybe collaborating) with others.

    1. wdmtech Post author

      Agreed. I probably should have switched the order of the examples around – as the most powerful examples we have are from the high school classrooms using it with students – as well as the elementary classrooms using Twitter to make connections outside their classroom. Putting these example first would ensure that our staff sees the most influential examples right away…

      -Brian Abeling

      1. Jen Sigrist

        This may sound like a ridiculous question given the article, but is Twitter blocked in any of your schools? It’s amazing to me how many schools talk about collaborating, but have sites like Twitter blocked. Phones are certainly being used to get around this, but it sends a message if it’s blocked.

        Do you have a district wide hashtag to have ongoing conversations? You can pose questions and generate really great ideas and resources from the tweeters just by having a conversation thread.

        Consider joining scheduled twitter chats. There is a weekly #edchat. I’ve been part of #iaedfuture chats and #iowacore chats. Follow the conversations and you’ll be able to tell when the next one is. If nothing else, you can learn tons just by reading through the tweets after the fact. It’s a great way to get connected with others.

        Just some initial ideas from @jensigrist from #vanmeter

      2. wdmtech Post author

        Is Twitter blocked at any WDM Schools? No. It is open at all locations. At this time, Facebook is the only remaining social tool that is still currently blocked. It is available apon request through your supervisor. We have had conversations about opening access to Facebook, but so far, the conversations have no results in it being fully opened. Twitter has always been open.

        Does WDM have a hashtag that’s being used? Yes, we have one.. #WDMCS – however, we haven’t done a great job of promoting and using it….

        Thanks for the tips @jensigrist.. We’re certainly newbies to the Twitter world – but appreciate the tips and feedback.

  2. Bill Ferriter

    Hey Brian,

    I really like this bit! Well done.

    And as for the broadcasting/collaborating conversation, I agree completely with Scott that we need to start to show kids how to use social spaces to build networks of potential peers to collaborate with — but I’m not sure that Twitter alone can make that shift possible.

    While I can’t put my hands on it right now, a new bit of research came out this week saying that the majority of people are using Twitter as a news feed — much in the same way that the classes you’ve cited are using it here.

    That’s probably because of the short nature of updates that are possible in the service.

    What I try to teach people is that when you’re consuming news in Twitter, you’re not just interacting with ideas. Instead, you’re interacting with individuals — and it is completely possible to build relationships with those individuals in the space beyond the Tweet.

    Consider our interaction here: I saw your Tweet this morning and stopped by to read your piece simply because it was an interesting bit in my information stream on a topic that I care about.

    But now that I’m here, I’m thinking with you in the comment section of your blog — and I fully plan to follow you on Twitter when I’m done posting.

    That’s the broadcasting to collaborating shift in action — Twitter essentially served as a digital Fiddler on the Roof, matching up two people with similar interests and giving them the chance to interact beyond the service.

    Essentially what I’m saying is that broadcasting is probably going to remain the primary use of Twitter simply because of the limitations of the service — but students don’t have to stop at broadcasting if they begin to see the posts in their network as people who they can reach out to and think together beyond Twitter.

    Any of this make sense?


  3. cfanch

    There are some nice examples here of twitter being used by teachers. I know (from 4 years on twitter) that getting teachers to use twitter professionally is a chore. Getting them to use it in their classroom is another hurdle all together.
    Twitter being blocked is usually the biggest road block. Once that is removed then it is the mental block by teachers of “why should I use it” and “how do I use it.” More and more we need to share ideas of how we are using social media – all social media- in the classroom.
    This is a great start and I applaud the teachers you site in these examples. Thanks for putting this together! @cfanch on twitter.

  4. Pingback: 20 Innovative Ways High Schools Are Using Twitter - Best Colleges Online

  5. Pingback: TeachThought20 Ways High Schools Are Using Twitter In The Classroom

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