#minaretscs: The Coolest New Trend

Twitter is by far my favorite social media app. It has opened up so many opportunities for me and has given me so many amazing connections with educators all over the world. I've always wanted to integrate into my classroom for student use, but, due to my former school's policies, I could not. With my employment at Minarets, I was finally given the opportunity to do it, but -- I'm embarrassed to admit -- it took me nine months to finally get my students to use Twitter.

As always, the possibility of failure made me hesitant to even try implementing Twitter into my classroom. I came up with so many excuses and reasons for why I couldn't do it: I'm still adjusting to Minarets and I don't have time to focus on Twitter on top of everything else. Well the students are blogging so that will get them connected to other people. I don't want to expose students to another way to bully or harass each other. I like my job too much to risk it for Twitter assignments. What if my digital citizenship was extensive enough to protect them? It's the middle of the semester so it wouldn't make sense to throw it in now. I was quite persuasive since I managed to avoid it for so long but my lack of student Twitter use bothered me...

In early March, I presented at the GAFE Summit in LA County and I kept telling my attendees to just do it and try edtech in the classroom; the benefits and learning for students strongly outweigh the possibility of failure. Besides, we learn from failure! And I felt like a complete hypocrite.:Don't be afraid to fail. It's part of learning. Oh, why I don't I have my students use Twitter? Because I don't want it to fail. 

I decided to follow my own advice and just do it. 

Of course I didn't want to just jump in blind so I sought advice from an expert that uses Twitter in the classroom: Chelsea Milliorn. I never had the opportunity to work with Chelsea, but the Minarets staff and students raved about her and her use of Twitter so I reached out to her. She gave me the best advice about using Twitter: 

"Social media needs to be treated as a regular, mundane, folded in practice. If it is presented as a 'treat' or 'something special' then you will, guaranteed be in hell...You gotta let go of your fear. If you treat it like no big deal...they will. I use it so much the kids now are like 'WE HAVE TO TWEET...AGAIN??'"

The Monday following Spring Break, I jumped right in and had my students create their Twitter accounts. I began the period by having students reflect on digital citizenship and analyze an image I found on Twitter: 

As I was walking my students through the presentation below....

....I tweeted out about our blog post prompt:

I started to make a mental note until I realized, why should I share it if I literally just had my students create Twitter accounts? 

The students posted links and screenshots of their blog posts and they got to share their blog posts and thoughts with an authentic audience. 
With that exciting start to the student use of Twitter, they now tweet out something at the end of every class with the #minaretscs hashtag. To ensure accurate grading, student submit screenshots of their Tweets on Schoology. I only have a small handful of students who are unable to use social media for a variety of reasons so they simply type a 140 character response on the Schoology assignment. 

Overall, the use of Twitter in my #minaretscs class has been INCREDIBLY successful. My classes now have a stronger community since we can interact on Twitter together and see new sides of each other. They are making more connections and now their learning is becoming more authentic. Hopefully if you are debating about using Twitter or social media in the classroom, my experiences will encourage you to do this sooner rather than later.

As Chelsea predicted, my students now groan when I remind them to tweet out. How terrible to have a teacher that has you use Twitter...


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