Friday, July 16, 2010

Twitter Training for Teachers

Now that I have my mind wrapped around the "whys" of using Twitter in education, I need to begin thinking about how I will share this with my staff and how I will support their use. Too often in the past, we have asked teachers to do things that they have not received proper training for, or that they feel uncomfortable with. I do not want this to happen with Twitter. The following is my current thinking about an initial introduction to Twitter during the first few professional development days of the school year. I welcome feedback on my fact, I request it!

To begin with, I think much of our first days will be spent talking about technology. Last year's staff survey indicated that this was an area of concern, so it seems natural to begin here. My objectives for the session are:
  • Teachers will understand that Twitter is a valuable tool in education.
  • Teachers will know the basic vocabulary associated with Twitter, such as tweet, hashtag, follower, etc.
  • Teachers will be able to create a Twitter account and tweet to their followers.
  • Teachers will be able to create backchannel discussions using hashtags.
Allotting about an hour and half for the session, I would like to begin with a pre-assessment, something that will give me an idea of the prior knowledge teachers bring to the table. My initial thought is a graphic organizer in four columns: what I already know about Twitter, what I learned about Twitter, what I still want to learn about Twitter and how I will apply my new learning in my classroom. Teachers will start with the first column independently, then group up to share their ideas with their peers. Hopefully this process will help me see how much of the second objective I should cover and how many teachers have already completed the third objective.

After we have discussed the results of the pre-assessment, I need to share some important information. Most importantly, the three uses of Twitter that I discussed in my previous post. In addition, I will need to address concerns that people may have. My initial thought is that people will worry about things like cyber-bullying, equity of access and control of content. I will take these issues head-on; they are real concerns and there is no point to try to hide them. Throughout the course of my presentation, I need to keep the focus on the amazing things that Twitter can do for us, from the problems it will help us solve to the instructional opportunities it creates.

Concluding the presentation, I will ask the teachers to fill in the next two columns of the graphic organizer and discuss it with their peers. At this point, another formative assessment is in order. I will ask the staff to move to one side of the room if they have used Twitter before or go to the other side if they have not. For those who have not, I will further ask them to divide: those who feel comfortable to independently explore Twitter and those who do not.

This now gives me three groups, homogeneously grouped by readiness. They will complete the following learning activities:
  • New Users w/o Confidence: We will move this group to a computer lab and walk them through the basics of creating an account, following people and sending out tweets. The major thrust will be to make sure these users feel confident tweeting information to their class. Further professional development will be offered later to help them use Twitter for more instructional reasons.
  • New Users w/ Confidence: These users will be asked to go back to their classrooms, create accounts and find 20 people to follow. I will also ask them to tweet with yet-to-be-determined hashtag one instructional use of Twitter.
  • Veteran Users: We will move to a different computer lab to explore the use of backchannels. I will use a website like Today's Meet to create a chatroom and hashtag for a discussion on instructional uses of Twitter. I will have compiled relevant bookmarks on Diigo, ask teachers to explore them and tweet their ideas with the hashtag we created.
My goal is that the result of this differentiated professional development will be that all teachers will feel comfortable using Twitter in some capacity, with a subgroup using it for more advanced purposes. As the school year progresses, I hope to offer additional professional development opportunities to expose teachers to increasingly sophisticated uses, especially the creation of a PLN.

So what do you think? What am I missing? How can I make this better?

1 comment:

  1. Looks Great! Can I borrow it for a "how to" for teachers in my district?