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Kids use Twitter to chat in class

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Add Twitter to teaching and what do you get? Award-winning Kidsedchatnz is a great way to get students connecting, sharing and learning … and enjoying every minute of it, writes Stephen Baker.

Have you ever had a student say to you, “Wow, this is so much fun, do we have to stop?” This is the kind of excitement that children have shared with teachers after participating in the New Zealand schoolwide Twitter chat called Kidsedchatnz.

The idea was born out of numerous worldwide Twitter chats for educators. After all, if they could use Twitter to connect, collaborate, share, and learn, then why couldn’t students? It’s been running since September 2012 and has seen children from all over the country connect and share ideas. The excitement at connecting with others has been infectious. “Kidsedchatnz is my favourite hour of the week! I love putting my ideas out there for everyone to see,” said Abby, a Year 3 student at Russell Street School, in Palmerston North.

What is Kidsedchatnz and how does it work?

Kidsedchatnz is a weekly Twitter chat between New Zealand classes and students, every Wednesday, 2-3pm. It’s organised by six New Zealand teachers via Twitter, each taking a turn to run the chats. Each week, a topic is chosen, and 10 discussion questions are generated on that topic. All topics and questions are posted on the Kidsedchatnz blog, so that students can prepare beforehand.

The teacher in charge is responsible for moderating the chats on the day. Moderating involves posting a question on Twitter every five minutes and encouraging conversation between the students. The students look out for the questions (tweets) from the Kidsedchatnz account and tweet their answers to it.

Chat topics are different every week with an aim to be topical. Sometimes the topics are flipped and students have to read or watch material prior to the chat. After each session, a ‘Tweet of the Week’ is announced for the best tweet during that session. This encourages the students to produce quality tweets.

Some stats about Kidsedchatnz

The age of kids taking part each week range between Years 1 and 8. The number of classes participating each week varies from 15 to 30, with anywhere from 500 to 1,500 tweets being recorded each session.

Kidsedchatnz has also gained recognition throughout the world. It’s been the catalyst for Australia, Spain and USA to start their own chats. Last year, we had our first Trans-Tasman session, with the chat based on ANZAC Day, which is celebrated in both countries.

Seven steps to getting involved

  • Start a class Twitter account for your students to tweet from.
  • Before you start, teach them how to use Twitter and know about timelines, lists, connects, favourites, and retweets.
  • It’s a good idea to create classroom experts that can help other students with their tweeting. You don’t have to have your whole class take part in a Twitter chat. A small group works well.
  • Always check the chat website prior to the session to get familiar with the week’s topic. Preparation is the key to quality learning and quality tweeting.
  • Use the Tweetdeck app when taking part. This allows you to create columns, making it easy for the kids to follow all the tweets.
  • Before taking part, you need to get your name on the Kidsedchatnz Twitter list. This allows all the classes taking part to see your tweets. To do this send a tweet to @kidsedchatnz
  • Subscribe to the Kidsedchatnz list and follow it during the chat.

Why take part?

This activity gives students an authentic audience for sharing and reflecting on their learning. They connect with other classes and students throughout the country, sharing ideas and thoughts. It provides a place for kids to develop their reading, writing, and thinking skills in an authentic context.

Kidsedchatnz is also an excellent place to learn about digital citizenship, allowing children to learn and practice cyber safety in a real context.  

Stephen Baker teaches at Russell Street School in Palmerston North.

Kidsedchatnz won ‘The Best Teaching With ICT’ in the INTERFACE Awards 2013.


For more information

To find out more you can contact the organisers:

Stephen Baker@PalmyTeacher

Juliet Revell@Juliet_Revell

Marnel van der Spuy@1MvdS

Go to the blog

kidsedchatnz.blogspot.co.nz

Or watch how to subscribe and participate

fizurl.com/kidsednzchat

Topics for chatting

Topics covered so far include: Literacy; Maths; Digital citizenship; Education outside the classroom; Rules; Courage; Culture; Homework; Football World Cup; Elections and Student Issues; Passions and Talents; and Hack Your Learning.

Categories: Article, Interface 64