Teacher: So, I have been reading tweets and of course tweeting some stuff myself. I wanted to know if you are looking for quantity or quality in terms of our tweets. Meaning—is it beneficial for us to tweet something if it is not explained well or if the picture is unclear.
ME: This is a great question. The goal is certainly not one of quantity, but rather quality. And, I would certainly not suggest unclear photo tweeting and/or meaningless tweets. That being said, it is important to realize we are only in the first phase of our twitter initiative, and we are currently using twitter as a means of documenting and communicating cute or powerful lessons from the classroom. This certainly does not mean that every tweet needs a picture, as there have been some great tweets without links, photos or attachments. The next step, and I think the bigger payoff, is when our tweets start to encompass connections. Connecting a tweet about our students working on a Georgia landform project with another 3rd grade class elsewhere in order to see photos or info about their studies of their own regions and/or connecting our student’s book reports and research papers with authors, organizations, community experts…etc. is the ultimate goal, as this will still serve the first purpose as well as unlock the true learning potential. Unfortunately I think it requires familiarity with the first before being comfortable enough to move to the second type. Therefore I do think quantity is relevant even if not most important.
An example of dipping our toe in to phase two, below is the tweet that I just send of a picture that Julie’s kids made using the Wordfoto app. When I tweeted it, I included @wordfoto (this is the designers handle) and the #kinderchat (this is the kindergarten teacher hashtag). Though there is certainly no guarantee of making a connection, but the possibility that the designer or another kindergarten teacher will see this and reach out to us to connect with Julie’s class now exists. I am well aware that this may look like a foreign language or feel overwhelming. I promise that I will assist in making the transition from phase one to phase two.
Earlier this week I received this email regarding our current twitter initiative. In drafting my response I realized that there was great value in the interaction. First, I was pleased to even be engaging in such a discussion where we could be discussing evidence of implementation to reflect on future directions. With our initiative being 3 weeks young, the more than 400 tweets display as much about the amazing culture of learning and innovation amongst our faculty team as the actual tweets and photos show about our wonderful culture of community and love. That the producers of Davis content on twitter has gone from 5 or 6 to over 60 in 3 weeks is another reinforcement of this.
The process of growing and learning is inherently incremental. Before we can walk, we crawl (most of us). Before we can program computers, we engage in computers. Unlocking the learning potential that twitter provides for students and teachers will take a similar incremental approach. Our daily tweets from all members of our community sharing the great success of our students and teachers is a solid start to this end. Making the change to include more opportunities for global and “expert” connections for our students is the 2nd phase. While we are fully engaged in phase 1, I can already see some nice beginnings of the transition to this second phase with references to authors, publishers, and community organizations coming across our hashtags in the past 3 days.
I look forward to building on the momentum of a great first three weeks with this initiative, transitioning more solidly in to a phase of connection, and looking ahead to helping students and teachers find, build, and share with a powerful and meaningful PLN in the 3rd phase.