Heather Wolpert-Gawron

Twitter as Think Aloud

By on April 13, 2009

I was reading through my Digg headlines this weekend, and I happened on this article of the top 10 most extraordinary Twitter updates.  I also did some digging (no pun intended) and found articles that range in claiming that there are anywhere from 4 million to over 14 million current Twitter users.  If true, then Twitter has a greater population that Greece.  Or, if you would rather think in cities, twice as large as London.

So today, my class is going to start Twittering.  I’ve been thinking about using Twitter as a tool for Thinking Aloud for some time now.  I always pictured it on the LCD projector as I taught, entering thoughts as I simultaneously taught, so as to model my own reasoning and processes for my classes.  

I also think it will be a powerful 21st Century (hate that term) tool for them to use to give me a snapshot of what they are thinking.  So I’ve been tackling the issue of how to Twitter online and offline with students.

Here’s what I’m just now deciding on.  You know how you sometimes get your best ideas in the shower or in the rear-view mirror?  Well, I got mine brushing my teeth.  Just a little share for all you readers out there.

Here’s how I’m setting up the unit and how I’m helping to control their safety while creating a transparent and open-door environment in my classroom.

First, I’ve opened an account that I control the password for.  We will be available @wolpertsclass and I’m the only one with the password.  This allows for anyone with our name to see us, but that doesn’t mean we’re following anyone.  If we get requests, I’ll verify their legitimacy and go from there before accepting.

I’m going to pre-teach today, first by hooking up the ole’ LCD and showing them my Twitter homepage.  I might avoid showing them Tweetdeck this early.  I want them to just get the gist of the thing first, you know?

Anyway, I’ve been developing some worksheets for my books on Internet literacy, and I’m going to try them out.  Basic questions to pre-teach:

What’s a character vs. Word Count?

Twitter a theme.

Twitter a summary.

And so on.   

I’m also going to show them the 10 most extraordinary Twitter updates as rated by Digg.  

I think for this whole week (it’s a funky week as there are two minimum days in preparation for Open House and I’ll be out 2 days for essay scoring) they will just watch me Twitter as I teach (sung to the tune of “Whistle While We Work,” of course).  

On a day TBD, we will then begin conducting “Think Alouds” in our Writer’s Journals.  Perhaps even on a poster with a topic at each table group.  In other words, on each table group will be a “twitter page” with a topic posted and the kids pass around the page to “tweet” offline in their 140 character responses.

At some point after that, I will have Twitter up on the LCD projector so that when students feel the urge to come up and tweet about what we’re doing, the whole class can see what was in their brain.  

The tweets are transparent, and in so doing, my day’s lessons will be transparent to whoever wants to check it out.  

It’s an experiment, but in time, I believe that if it’s up all the time, it will be a great insight to me in what they are thinking, and to others about the rigor that goes on in the classroom.

Wish me luck!



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