Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Twittequitte

How Twitter is used 'in the real world' has been firmly established.  The children are hooked, practically salivating.  Now it is time to create guidelines for how we will use the social media platform.  The children are huddled around the easel, ready to begin.

"Let's think about our class rules for a minute.  Who remembers what they are?" I ask.  Children raise their hands, and three state the rules: Help Each Other, Be Serious About Our Experiences, and Use materials responsibly.  These rules were created by the children in September during the rule creation process.  We will be using a similar process as we create our Twitter guidelines.

They share with a partner ideas of how they can care for our class rules while using Twitter.  After a couple of minutes, I ask for volunteers to share their ideas.  I chart them all, restating them in the positive so they show what we will do.  Ideas are spilling out: if someone gets stuck, help them, stay on topic, talk to only people you know.  And the list continues.   After sometime I notice that our list has a great deal of technical and literacy ideas of how to be on Twitter.

I push their thinking by reinforcing how all of these ideas follow our class rules and then redirect their thinking.  "You know, I'm thinking about our class rules and as I look at them I'm wondering something.  Twitter is like working with other people, except online.  Think about the times we work together in the classroom.  What are some things that we do?"  They name a lot of things that they do well such as share materials, show each other how to do something, and finding a way to agree.  "You certainly do all of those things!  Have there ever been times when things don't go so well?"  As is typical with many, these experiences flow even easier.
  • "Sometimes when people get mad at their partner or group, they call each other names," says Jessica.
  • "Sometimes people yell each other when they disagree," says David.
  • "I know that one time I did something and someone in my group told someone else and I felt embarrassed," said Dylan.
"These can be pretty difficult things to handle when we are next to each other, face to face.  I know that a lot of people have had this happen to them online.  Turn and talk to your partner about that."  I hear them talking to each other, stating how that would be hurtful.  They are noting that if it's online, you don't know who will see it.  After a few minutes I stop them and point out what I overheard.  We add those things to our growing list.  "Wow!  Look at all of the ideas we have come up with about how to be online!  I notice there are a lot similarities.  Let's see if we can pull out what is most important to help us follow our class rules."

In the end, we refine our list to 5 guidelines.