Wednesday, 13 August 2014

The Twitter Journey - Paper Tweets with Year Nines

So today we begun some more writing challenges - with a focus on reading mileage and a beginning session on using Twitter in a live chat.

1) Promoting and developing a Reading Community - one that chooses to read rather than one forced to read...
2) Encouraging more positive behaviours through collaborative group and class work
3) Encouraging oral/aural listening skills through verbal questions and written answers on paper

We started the lesson with students writing down as many books that they could remember reading - for some I added the "since the beginning of time" suggestion. I asked them to choose their favourite ones and write down what each one was about and also why they enjoyed them the most.

It was surprising seeing the reading mileage by a few particular students - they're not particularly 'strong' readers and one student said today that she was "forced" to read that many. Surely though.. even if she did just have a good memory - could this be a simple cry for help? She remembered at least 20 books in under 2 minutes. When in the reading room in our set reading timetabled period - she sits there reading - but doesn't seem to enjoy it. I really want to help her love reading.

To do this - I was talking to Bridget Compton-Moen (@BridgetLCM) about the 40 Book Challenge from Donalyn Miller's 'The Book Whisperer'. I want to start a ridiculously enjoyable experience of reading in my English classes - particularly with my Y9's. Up until now we've had quite a few disruptive terms - with students leaving to go to alternative education and then coming back and then going again - the class dynamic has changed at least 3 or 4 times and we're finally at a good point in the dynamics where the majority of the kids wanting to learn outweigh the kids who don't really care. The reading mileage has been good, but I still want to measure it - with a few dyslexic students, others with other learning issues and behaviour management issues - it's been difficult measuring their reading - other than through verbal conferencing between myself and students individually.

For this lesson though - the focus was getting some quick feedback halfway through the year in how they're doing and what they're enjoying, struggling with and what they would like to do more of in English.

Before we began with the rules of the game - I asked them to group themselves with two others (groups of 3) with one person who reads a lot, someone who reads a bit, and another who doesn't read much at all.

In their groups they needed to then create handles individually which they wrote in their spelling books. Half will now be used for spelling and half for Twitter practice.

The Rules: Like any Good Twitter Chat :)

1) Every tweet they write needs to have the hashtag - #Y9English
2) They can only say up to 10 words (to fit into the 140 character limit)
3) They need to answer the questions - A1. (response) #Y9English, A2 and so on..

The questions we used:

Q1. What's your name and where are you from?
Q2. What have you enjoyed so far about English this year?
Q3. What subjects do you not enjoy/struggle with at school?
Q4. What makes these subjects not as enjoyable?
Q5. What are three things you have learnt so far this year in English?
Q6. What do you get frustrated with in English?
Q7. What does Miss L do to help you in English?
Q8. What would you like to learn more about in English?
Final Q. What do you think Miss L needs to do better/differently in class?

These questions were chosen to assess their learning, my teaching and also what else I need to do to help my students achieve to the best of their abilities.

Issues during the Mock-Twitter Chat

Some students were initially not wanting to get involved for a few reasons:
1) Felt that they weren't allowed to do Twitter at home so did not want to try on paper in class
2) Said that they had been blocked for some reason from Twitter
3) Didn't understand the task

Out of 23 students - I had 6 students who were being rude, disengaged and unfocussed - they were onto it at different points of the chat but I held them back during interval to discuss their behaviour and how disrepectful it had become.

I hardly ever yell. With one particular student he says I'm "too soft" - that phrase again. I understand why he says that from his point of view and he may very well be correct in saying that I'm not hard enough with him as a result.

Issues in Using Twitter in Class

I have not asked parents yet about using Twitter in class - mostly because we're not actually using it as Twitter yet - but we are using twitter terms like hashtags, questioning and answering structures and handles.

Visibility in Going Forward
I want to make everything I'm doing incredibly visible - transparent even - so that everyone knows what I'm doing in my class - and so that the students can be proud of the work they have done.

In order to do that properly I need to do a few different things:

1) Talk to Principal
2) Talk to BOT and Deputy Principal in charge of IT
3) Double check policies on Cybersafety that students have already signed with their enrolment forms
4) Create a class policy on Digital Citizenship
5) Talk to parents and whanau and ask them about their concerns and issues with students doing this
6) Talk with students about using Twitter appropriately - even if we only begin with a Class Twitter account for starters
7) Set up a Class Twitter account '@EvolvingatHeightsand' maybe and a Class Blog - 'Evolving at Heights' to further showcase student's learning :)
8) Talk with those running @kidsedchatnz and @NZWaikato about blogging and twitter
9) Use this evidence as a base to make sure everything is on board.

I would like to do another Twitter chat in class - perhaps this time on small sheets of paper with the students' handles on it and put them up on the whiteboard or windows to share students' thinking.

If I get the students' permission about sharing their tweets - I will take some pics and put them up here :)