Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Tweeting with Students

Recently, I decided to create a Twitter account for my classroom (the computer lab @PS10Tech).

I was inspired to do this by Ms. Glembocki, a 2nd grade teacher here at PS 10. Ms. Glembocki tweets fairly regularly, sharing news and information about her class with her followers, many of whom are parents. Recently, Ms. Glembocki decided to assign a student tweeter for every day. It's a new classroom role for the students. One student a day is in charge of her twitter account, and the student uses an iPad designed specifically for classroom use to tweet the happenings of the day. Students introduce themselves and sign each tweet. In addition, she uses the hashtag #2310st to designate the tweet is coming from a "student tweeter of class 2-310." Her 2nd graders "live blog" the day. It's a fantastic idea and I wanted to do it for my lab.

The subtle difference between Ms. Glembocki and me is roughly 570 students. She has her self-contained class of 30, so managing a single tweeter a day is not a daunting task. I, on the other hand, see five classes a day, or roughly 150 students (for those of you keeping track of the math, I see a couple of classes more than one period a week and not every class is 30, so the unique student count is just shy of 600 total per week). It would be a bit much to manage five or more tweeters a day on my @Mr_Casal twitter account...

... And so was born @PS10Tech. This is the account solely dedicated to documenting the happenings in my computer lab, tweeted 99% by students.

Why I use Twitter with students:

  • It's writing
    • It's writing in a new medium
    • It's writing digitally
    • It's writing for a broad audience
  • It's publishing
    • It's publishing, instantly
    • It's publishing beyond the classroom walls
    • It's publishing for a global audience
  • It's limiting
    • I love the 140 character limit as it forces you to write efficiently, concisely, and with purpose
And we have protocols:

  • All tweets will be written exclusively on a single @PS10Tech dedicated iPad, displayed on the board (via AppleTV)
  • All tweets must be written using proper sentence structure, spelling, grammar, capitalization, etc. Twitter is writing, and writing in school, and these tweets represent not only the lab, but the entire school community as a whole.
  • The first tweet a student composes must be an introduction:
    • "Hi, I'm firstname from class.  - FL #ps10st"
    • The "-FL" represents the signature, in this case "-FirstinitialLastinitial"
    • The hashtag #ps10st is added, representing a "ps10 student tweeter"
  • Folow up tweets by that student may include pictures of students working and/or pictures of student work products
    • Any tweet documenting studnet work or students working mush have the hashtag #ps10sw to denote "ps 10 student work" in addition to the hashtag #ps10st
  • Before the "Tweet" button is pressed, I, Mr. Casal, must approve the content. If the "Tweet" button is pressed without my consent, the tweet will be deleted and the student will no longer tweet
    • Pressing the "Tweet" button is publishing to the world on behalf of the PS 10 community, so it must be approved
We spend a full period discussing the basics of composing a tweet and the technological aspects of it.
We also spend much of that period discussing appropriate writing and the reach Twitter has. @PS10Tech only has 18 followers (as of this writing) and we discuss what that means. We also discuss my 800+ followers and how I can "retweet" or re-publish the writing to my 800+ followers.

The biggest demonstration of the power & reach of Twitter is a conversation I had with a college classmate of mine, Dave Kerpen:

The @PS10Brooklyn hashtags (#ps10st#ps10sw#ps10bk) have gone well beyond the PS 10 followers and well beyond my followers... Those hashtags have gone out to 50,000+ of Dave's followers... Twitter has powerful, instant, broad, and global reach. I demonstrate, illustrate, and stress this point to all my students. We are no longer writing for ourselves, we are writing for the world to see.
(big thanks to Dave for helping illustrate this point!)

What about student accounts?
The big question I always get from students: "Can we sign up for our own Twitter account?"
With the follow-up being, "If I sign up at home, can I log in at school?"
I don't say this to be mean or controlling or negative. I do it because online social media platforms with elementary school students is a bit of a tricky situation. Twitter does not have an over-13 age restriction (like Facebook does). Anyone, of any age, can sign up for a Twitter account. But, you need an email to do it and most email providers require users be over 13... See, a bit of a tricky situation...

... I tell students they are more than welcome to discuss tweeting with their parents and make a decision at home whether or not to have a Twitter account, but since we can't permit every student to have a personal account, we will only use the single @PS10Tech account for all students.

I do hope this inspires students to have the conversation with their parents about writing online, but a personal Twitter account for an elementary age student is 100% between the parent and students.

My final thoughts...
I think Twitter is a great way to introduce another form of writing and publishing to the classroom. Since I only see most classes once a week, having a class tweeting allows me to integrate another writing and technology platform into the 45 minute period. With Twitter I can now have students working on a PowerPoint, commenting on a blog post, and tweeting all in a single period. As classes have gotten accustomed to the tweeting protocols, I am able to have 3-4 student tweeters per period. Tweeting has opened up a whole new avenue of technology, pubishing, communicating, and docuementing.

The best feedback I've gotten on this to date, aside from the smiles and excitement from students, is from a parent. She came up to me and said "I love the Twitter account. I have it open at work and follow along with what you guys are doing. It's so cool. I even showed my co-workers how my daughter's school was tweeting."

Writing, publishing, documenting, engaging... Twitter is an amazingly powerful platform and @PS10Tech is a way to introduce my students to this amazing tool...

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Twitter @PS10Brooklyn - Our hashtags!

In the previous post, Twitter @10, I wrote about Twitter as a platform and offered a solution for following Twitter users without actually have a Twitter account, or even a smartphone.

The previous post also listed all the teaches with Twitter accounts at PS 10.

This post is more geared toward people with a Twitter account looking to get a more streamlined PS 10 experience out of the Twitter platform...

... PS 10 has a school-wide Twitter account, @PS10Brooklyn, which we use to publicize general news and events related to the school. We also use @PS10Brooklyn to share & promote the great things teachers are doing in their classrooms.

With so many teachers using Twitter, and so many great things being published, it can be a bit daunting to follow all the teachers or hope @PS10Brooklyn will promote all teacher posts (it wont, it can't, just not enough time in the day).

To make the filtering of PS10-related tweets we have created hashtags for the school. Hashtags are basically searchable/filterable terms to simplify finding things.

The PS 10 hashtags are:

  • #ps10bk - this references general happenings within the building
  • #ps10st - this references a student doing the tweeting. Tweets with this hashtags are written, with supervision, by students from the teacher account. 2 examples of this are:
    • @MsGlemboki - she also uses #2310st to further filter class 2-310 specific student tweeters
    • @PS10Tech - the Twitter account for the Lab, 99% of tweets are student writen
  • #ps10sw - this references student work, or students working. This hashtag will showcase student work products and student efforts throughout the building

You can also follow these hashtags in a very visual format from a browser, without a Twitter account, by visiting our TagBoards:

Hopefully these options will help make the PS 10 Twitter experience more enjoyable for all members of the PS 10 community, not just the twitter-ers among us...

Monday, May 6, 2013

Twitter @PS10Brooklyn

Twitter is a great resource. It is no longer just Ashton Kutcher talking about what he ate for breakfast (although, I'm sure there is probably still a lot of that going on).

These days teachers are using Twitter as another method of communicating with parents. There is a PS 10 Twitter account that posts school announcements, shares classroom work, and in general acts as another way to connect the school with the community. A lot of parents have signed up for Twitter (its free) just to follow their child's classroom feed or the PS 10 feed. There are many teachers who speak highly of the home-school connecting Twitter fosters and the instructional engagement it supports.

So, Twitter has value as a communication tool. But what if you don't want to sign up? What if you have no way to check Twitter? If you don't want a Twitter account, or don't have a phone capable of downloading an app, you can follow Twitter via text. Here is how it works:

Just text Twitter at 40404 and then type any of the following commands:Follow [username] - allows you to receive updates from that user.OFF or STOP or LEAVE - turns off receiving updates from the users you are following.ON - will turn on device updates and you will start receiving tweets again.WHOIS [username] - retrieves the profile information of the user.STATS - returns the number of people that you are following.GET [username] - retrieves the latest update that user has posted.
taken from: http://theinnovativeeducator.blogspot.com/2013/05/3-ways-to-use-twitter-fast-follow-to.html 

Feel free to follow any or all of these PS 10-based Twitter accounts!
A full list on Twitter available here: https://twitter.com/PS10Brooklyn/staff/members

Official school account:

Ms. Scott, Principal

Ms. Watson Adin, Assistant Principal

Madeline Seide, Parent Coordinator

Mr. Casal, Technology 

Ms. Buie, Kindergarten

Ms. Camastro

Ms. Fajgier, Kindergarten

Mrs. Reyes, Kindergarten

Mr. Bowen, 1st grade

Ms. Buntley, 1st grade

Ms. DeGennaro, 1st grade

Ms. Glembocki, 2nd grade

Ms. Graham, 2nd grade

Ms. Karamitros, 2nd grade

Ms. Baron, 3rd grade

Ms. Bookman, 3rd grade

Ms. Chan, 3rd grade

Ms. Hackett & Ms. McMahon, 3rd grade ICT 

Ms. Mazzola, 3rd grade

Ms. Bruckler, 4th grade

Ms. Kertesz, 4th grade

Ms. McCormack, 4th grade

Ms. Morrison, 4th grade

Ms. Venier, 4th grade

Ms. Cypher, 5th grade

Ms. Henderson, 5th grade ICT

Mr. Magliano, 5th grade

Mrs. Reitzfeld, 5th grade ICT

Ms. van Doren, 5th grade


Ms. Thill, Lower Science

Mr. Ellis, Music

Computer Lab - tweets from students during computer class

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Welcome to Tech@10!


This blog is centered around technology here at PS 10.

In a sense it is an extension of Mr. Casal's blog, but it is very much it's own being and will encompass far more than what Mr. Casal's blog does.

Tech@10 will:

  • post updates about technology at PS 10
  • be authored by both Mr. Casal & Mr. Waisome with updates relevant to their respective classes
  • have student authors creating original blog posts 
  • cover topics both in and out of the computer lab
  • be open to all areas of technology, for staff, students, and parents alike

Welcome to this new endeavor, we hope you enjoy the updates!