As I looked at the Essential Vocabulary for this week, I could make a connection with all three words. I have a class Twitter handle with my three year old students in Pre-K. When I started it in the beginning of the year, I did not really know if I would be able to make this work or even get it off the ground. Initially I started using it with the idea of keeping the parents updated about our daily activities. But as time went on, I became more confident using it.
It is different when you use social media for your own personal or professional development as compared to using it with your class. When I read Rebekah’s post, I immediately googled myself. Thankfully nothing incriminating came up because I have mostly, not always though, tried to be very careful when using social media. Using Twitter for the class was different because I knew that I wanted to post pictures of my students’ activities but not with their faces visible. As I used it regularly, I felt the change in my students’ thinking. Instead of me sharing what was going on in the classroom, now they want to share their learning with others. Yes their first thought is that they want to let their parents know what they are doing at school. But they are now connecting with other teachers and classes at our school and beyond.
— @msrahilaspk (@msrahilaspk) December 7, 2015
We mostly use the See/Think/Wonder Visible Thinking Routine in the classroom. They are now used to the language and even when I read a story and they have questions in their minds, they use the same language. They collaborate as a class and use that strategy to tweet their questions. They are slowly empowering themselves without even realizing it. We are constantly talking about using ‘nice words’ in our tweets, words which do not hurt other’s feelings. We also talk about respect, empathy and tolerance. They are learning social skills and attitudes while helping me tweet.
As we connected with a class in Sofia, Bulgaria – my students wanted to know where in the world it is. We looked at the globe in our classroom and also looked at how far it is from Kuwait. Most of the student community at our school are avid travelers. They might not understand how far it is in terms of distance but they are making connections in their learning with the understanding that yes these two places are on two different continents. Last Saturday, during our Critical Friends Group meeting, I shared this as my success story and my colleagues pointed out that my students are getting a bigger picture of the world not just around them but beyond what is clearly visible.
So yes I feel that we can empower our students to use technology no matter how young. They will not make a positive impact right away but we as educators can help them to take that first step towards connecting and sharing responsibly.