As an agricultural science instructor in Texas I began to wonder what would happen if I used Twitter to teach my class? Most of my students are completely unfamiliar with the platform because they too believe they have WAY more than 140 characters on their mind. And most of them do. So they use Facebook or MySpace or YouTube to put themselves before the world. In an attempt to allow them to metacognate and develop their self-editorial skills, I decided on Twitter.
Our school saw fit to buy 5 iPads for the AG department (www.bridgeportffa.ffanow.org). So the officers and I set up 4 Twitter accounts. I “pre-followed” several people I knew would consistently put up great information, links to really good online articles, and would interact with my students.
Then to plan the lesson.
Day 1: Learn to use the basics of Twitter. Tweet, re-tweet, direct message, hashtag. If my students knew these basic tools, we could begin teaching via twitter.
Day 1 Result: Kids enjoyed learning about the new tool, but need more specific direction.
Day 2: Find an article that has been tweeted. Summarize in less than 140 characters. Use bit.ly to shorten the URL and include it in your tweet. Then tweet your summary.
Day 2 Result: Life had ended!: “140 Characters?!” “NO WAY!” “We need more space”…”Nope, that is all you have, learn the power of brevity...GO! We only have 45 minutes remaining.” Many (not all) students were successful.
Day 3: Find an article that is related to Agriculture Education (required more digging and more specific). Summarize, read 5 articles that have been tweeted by classmates and re-tweet your favorite!
Day 3 Results: SUCCESS! Kids finally got “it”. They learned that if they wanted their tweet re-tweeted they had to do something different, be quirky, have some fun.
Recently we had our Bridgeport ISD Elective Fair. All the student organizations set up around the high school gym with booths displaying pictures from the previous year, awards won, and successes in the classroom all in an effort to lure as many of the right students into their classes as possible (I am a fan of the “Good to Great” book by Jim Collins….get the right kids on the bus and the wrong kids off the bus). We set out the 5 ipads, 2 with pictures rolling and 3 with twitter up….you should have seen the kids and parents scrolling through our twitter feed…checking out the tweets and direct messages. AMAZING!
Long story short, in my 3 years at Bridgeport ISD – With my Teaching Partner Cody McCauley, we have gone from 65 FFA members to 414. Our students have won 3 state championships. More importantly than anything, our Students are engaged in learning and love using technology to foster their metacognative ability!
Agriculture Science teacher at Bridgeport High School. Taught previously at Lubbock-Cooper ISD. 8 years total teaching experience. Graduate of Texas Tech University. Past state officer, background in leadership development, sheep, and angora and boer goats. Will be married for for 8 years in april. Have 3 wonderful Children (1 boy and 2 girls) ages 6, 4, and 19 months. Grew up in Lometa, Texas raising sheep and goats on our ranch in the Hill Country. Really love teaching, watching college sports and being a dad!
Twitter - @jeffreyklose