Twitter continues to amaze me.
I have had a Twitter account since 2012, but I only recently began using it properly. This year, with the #ShareYourStory Integrationist Theme, I have continued to encourage teachers to join Twitter and explore the benefits of creating their own PLN (Professional Learning Network). Each month, more ISD200 elementary educators are joining and slowly it is becoming a part of our culture.
Take Mrs. Leiser at Pinecrest Elementary. Trinity is a connected educator, but at the start of the year she questioned the value of Twitter in education. As I was preparing to lead a Twitter for Teachers session at our annual "Reboot Camp," she wanted clarification. She wanted to know how it could be helpful in the classroom. Flustered, I gave a subpar explanation - connecting, uh... professionalism... shoutouts to services, companies, and one another... global reach. It was a lousy response, but somehow something resonated with her and she began using Twitter professionally (@MrsLeiser).
Ever passionate about animal conservation, Trinity wanted to empower her students to contribute to the greater good of our planet by researching and supporting a conservation project over the course of the school year. They brainstormed animals in need, researched various support and conservation organizations from around the world, and voted to use their time, resources, and energy to support and learn more about the International Rhino Foundation (IRF). It was a student decision made by student research. This was their choice.
Over the next few months, these third graders had time to research the IRF and learn more about the endangered rhinoceros. The students discovered how to search for quality information from numerous sites. They learned how to search for and use digital images on from the web that are labelled for reuse. They discussed multiple options for supporting the IRF. In the end, they decided to produce PSA videos that could be easily shared online - allowing them to share their research and support rhino conservation. This gave them a voice as they became digital content producers.
After shooting and publishing the videos, Mrs. Leiser worked with her class to Tweet links to the videos to the world. They used the hashtag #TeamRhino and mentioned @RhinosIRF. The hashtag and mention allowed their tweet to be seen by more people then just their Twitter followers. The PSA videos caught the attention of the folks at IRF and they reached out to Mrs. Leiser asking if they could share our Hastings student work on their website and social media. With permission granted, our Pinecrest third graders' messages were viewed globally by thousands of fellow rhino conservationists. Their choice, their voice, their content, and their passions were being recognized around the world.
These videos have only been published for a week and you can check them out on the IRF's official blog. Check the comments at the bottom and you can see that their work resonated with a woman in South Africa. Third grades in Hastings, Minnesota produced content, based on their collective research and passion, and shared it with the world - making a difference.
These are global citizens. These are connected students. Deep learning through choice, voice, and connection. Twitter was the bridge. Twitter allowed these students to share their story.
You can get started by creating your own Twitter account today.
Andrew G. Leiser