Using twitter in the classroom: Brave New World!


I have been an avid twitter user personally and professionally for a very long time and since becoming a full-time educator I have benefitted from the platform ENORMOUSLY as a source of inspiration and way to connect with MYRIADS of fellow educating professionals worldwide. It truly is my preferred social platform. But not until now have I had the idea to use it for English class, thinking it might be too complex for 14-year olds to wrap their heads around. Still, I was intrigued by the idea and decided to try. After researching a bit on how others use twitter in class, I prepped a lesson around my favourite communication network. Here’s how it went …

On the weekend, I had created a class account

To make better use of the class time during the lesson, I prepared 2 videos explaining how to set up a twitter account and describing what twitter is, which the students watched for „homework“. After watching the videos, their job was to answer questions on this Google form and create their own accounts.

Getting started with twitter

How to create a twitter profile

Using this flipped learning format, the idea was to be able to save time during the lesson.  This worked surprisingly well. Some already had accounts and the others managed to set themselves up with a bit of help. We „lost“ a few minutes while I made sure everyone was logged onto the platform and ready to go.

I began by explaining the learning goals for the lesson:

  1. Practice English writing using short texts (tweets)
  2. Practice researching using the internet and twitter
  3. Practice working with digital media to support learning
We did a quick warmup with general questions:
  • What is twitter?
  • What do people tweet about?
  • How long can a tweet be?
and then I explained how we were going to work.
I created a list of tasks where they could collect as many points as possible. I knew they would not complete the full list, but I wanted them to have a choice in the type of task they would do, so the could steer themselves in the direction the were interested in:
  1. I watched both videos on twitter posted on in Classroom (2). Extra point if you tweet the link to 1 video and give feedback.
  2. I filled out the Google form (2). Extra point if you tweet the link.
  3. I submitted the assignment in Classroom (1).
  4. I understand what twitter is and have described it in a tweet (2).
  5. I have downloaded a twitter app to my phone (1).
  6. I have installed a cover image and a profile image (1).
  7. I have created a personal account on twitter (2).
  8. I have added followers to my account (1).
  9. I have used the hashtag #firsttweet in my first tweet (1).
  10. I have answered at least 5 tweets of @EnglishAKG4F (5)
  11. I have tweeted a picture of a tattoo or piercing (2).
  12. I have found a video on youtube about body language and tweeted the link (4).
  13. I have retweeted a tweet from my classmate (2). Extra point for quoting the retweet.
  14. I know how long my English teacher has been on twitter, be the first to tweet the answer (2).
  15. I have found the twitter account of my favourite musician or band, tweet the handle (2).
  16. I have found out who first had the idea for twitter, be the first to tweet the answer (2).
  17. I know which actor was the first to have 1 million followers, be the first to tweet the answer (2).
  18. I know what is trending on twitter in number one place, be the first to tweet the answer (2).
  19. I have tweeted my opinion about tattoos or piercing (3).
  20. I have tweeted my opinion about a recent movie I saw (3).

I distributed this list using the Paper plane (Papierflieger) app to their class iPads.

I additionally tweeted questions to the class, which they responded to:

  1. Who do you think is the strongest superhero?
  2. Who is the smartest superhero?
  3. Which is the best superhero movie?

Here are some more tweets:

What would I do differently  next time?

  1. Reserve at least a double lesson for this type of exercise OR reduce the number of tasks. We had only 45 minutes; just as they were getting warm, they had to stop.
  2. Make sure they know that it’s important to use hashtags. Most tweeted but their posts can’t be found 🙁
  3. Remind them to use copyright-friendly images only.
  4. Remind them not to use full name as display name (privacy issues).
  5. Tweet the tasks as individual tweets so that they can choose to respond or react in twitter without switching back to the Paper Plane app.

All in all, it worked surprisingly well and I am quite happy with the results. My goal of getting them to use English to express their opinion was met!

We will DEFINITELY be doing this in future. The students were on task and active during their working time; the classroom was alive with buzzing activity.

Not bad for our first twitter class challenge! 🙂