With any positive experience, it's natural to want to replicate it if at all possible. In this case, I'm talking about my little #stu2stuchat (Read this post to learn more.)
Last fall, I had the idea to start a student Twitter chat among students in my PLN members' classes. After teaching/modeling/practicing the basics of Twitter chats, my students got pretty good at tweet-chatting. I had two English classes, and they each were able to engage in the chats once per month (since our schedule was every other week, alternating morning and afternoon). By the end of the year, we had discussed many topics and graduated from being Twitter novices to Twitter veterans. We kept track of the locations of the other classes, and looked for differences between comments from younger and older students. We explored choice books, geniuses/passions, student leadership opportunities, #youmatter (visited by Angela Maiers), writing activities, speaking and listening skills, and ways to continue learning throughout the summer.
This year, I moved from elementary school to middle school. Among other changes, I now have four sections of ELA (and one advisory block). I knew I wanted to continue #stu2stuchat, and had heard from past participants that they wanted their students to chat again as well. After considering the new logistics of making this chat work for an older, larger group with varied schedules, I needed to make some changes.
- An easy change was involving a broader age group. Instead of focusing on 4-6, like last year, I would love students in grades 4-12 to join in the conversation.Hearing from different age levels will give all students multiple perspectives on the same topic.
- Another necessary and painless change is transitioning from a scheduled live chat to a slow chat. Instead of scheduling and tweeting all questions within a 20 minute time frame, questions will be posted one per day, with students tweeting/commenting when they have time.
- Finally, #stu2stuchat will likely become a once-per-month activity since the chat will stretch out over the whole week.
I'll try to Storify each chat, so that you have the opportunity to review the comments made throughout the week. I'm not sure if I'll storify each day or each week; it will depend on the number of participants and tweets.
What will stay the same?
- After the initial teaching and modeling of Twitter and Twitter chats, students will be mostly responsible for the preparation and maintenance of the monthly chats.
- Students will write the questions, and students will work together to answer the questions.
- For me, students will continue to only tweet from our classroom, using our class account @gotwinsandy (with me logging in to Tweetdeck with my password). My students aren't old enough for their own Twitter accounts.
- Students will tweet in small groups. Great for discussion and collaboration. Too many tweeters (tweeting alone) clogs up the chat feed.
I can't wait to introduce my students to the magic of Twitter chats on Monday. I'm sure they will soon see the benefits of chatting with other students outside our school/district/state. They'll likely learn valuable digital citizenship skills before, during and after each chat. Another benefit is the online communication practice they'll get (whether speaking/typing or listening/reading & responding). Many of these skills are not assessed on state tests, but they are valuable life skills.
Our first slow chat topic, starting on Monday, September 29, is book recommendations. I think of it as a mini #titletalk. Each day will focus on a different genre, and the daily question will be posted by 7:00 EST. You and your class can tweet, reteweet and favorite as much or as little as you want, with no specific timeframe. You might even tweet in the morning, and then come back later in the day to see what was shared and whether anyone commented on your tweets.
So, get your students ready to talk about their book recommendations (and support their choices) all next week. I know that I can't wait!!