Twitter in schools: ‘A trend that’s catching on’
By Gary Lloyd
Social media application and website Twitter is “a trend that’s catching on” with teachers and administrators, Clay-Chalkville High School Principal Michael Lee said last week.
Lee said there are fewer than 10 Twitter accounts associated with the high school right now, though he projects more teachers will make an account as they see the benefits, like staying in touch with students and parents.
“I think that they’re doing a great job with it,” Lee said. “It’s helped parents know what their kids are doing every day.”
Lee said Twitter is also used for several more reasons, including professional development. Lee, using his @CCHS_Principal account, participates in chats about school-related topics using the hash tag #ALedchat. Administrators from Trussville City Schools and Pinson Valley High School Principal Terrence Brown do the same on Twitter.
Pam Whitley, a ninth-year Clay-Chalkville High School Advanced Placement Geometry and Algebra I teacher, made a Twitter account last year. She had been using Remind101, a one-way text messaging service for teachers to send announcements to students. Students, however, were frustrated with not being able to reply back with questions. Twitter allows Whitley to converse with students, send direct links to helpful tips and problems, post videos that show how to work out problems and ask potential bonus questions.
“Twitter is an efficient way to do it,” Whitley said. “There’s more feedback, more interaction outside of the classroom.”
Caroline Clark, who is in her first year teaching 10th-grade English at Clay-Chalkville High School, said she is a “huge proponent” of social media in the classroom.
“(Students) constantly want to use their phones, they constantly want to use their iPads,” Clark said. “Almost every student that I’ve found has some kind of electronic device. I just figured why not jump on board and get involved as well.”
Clark uses Twitter as a way to get students together to talk about her class with the #clarksconvo hash tag, and as a place to post assignments and interesting articles. Clark’s students develop hash tags in the classroom to see how their language usage changes and evolves throughout the school year.
“I think students are able to learn more,” Clark said.
Technology in the classroom is assuredly a trend on the rise. The Trussville City Board of Education last month approved a Chromebook and comparative study pilot program, which disperses 375 Chromebooks — small, fast computers that hold thousands of apps — to various classrooms at the system’s four schools. A one-to-one model allows students to take Chromebooks home, while the classroom set model allows students to use the Chromebooks in the classroom. Results of the pilot will be made available during the spring of 2014. The results will show comparative academic performance, potential technical issues and maintenance, and student excitement.
“I think we’re going to see a lot of great benefits,” Trussville City Schools Technology Director John Keir said last month. “It’s where the state is going, and we better get on the train if we want to be with the times.”
Lee said technology in the classroom, especially on Twitter, is great for teachers to use for professional development and for parents to access information.
“I think that we’re going to have to start doing things like this because that’s the world we live in,” Lee said. “I think it’s a very positive thing when used the right way.”
Contact Gary Lloyd at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @GaryALloyd.