Participating in a Twitterview

This past week my students had the opportunity to participate in a Twitterview, a Twitter Interview.  My kiddos loved it!  (I did, too.)  The energy and excitement was quite something to see as they used Twitter, an infamous social network (one of the big three), to interview someone.  A few tips in the event you participate in a Twitterview.

Before the Twitterview:

  1. Know who you are interviewing.  If you are interviewing a famous person, network, or entity make sure that it is a verified account.  This little mark proves that the account tweeting as Barack Obama is the real Barack Obama and not some imposter.

  2. Know if your interviewee needs your questions beforehand.  This is helpful in case additional research is needed to be done.  Also, some responses may require thought on how to keep within the 140 character limit.

  3. Spend time before the Twitterview generating questions.  Whole group, small group, individually.  Students, at all ages, need guidance in generating questions and determining what is appropriate to ask.

  4. Have guidelines (netiquette, Acceptable Use Policy, etc.) created before the Twitterview.  If possible, create them with your students to ensure an inclination to follow them.

  5. Students need to know the ins and outs of tweeting.  How to mention someone so that they are speaking directly to them.  How to include hashtags (#) if they are required.  How to reply if they want to follow up with a question or comment.  How to favorite tweets in case they come across one they want to go back to in the future.

  6. Know how much time you have to participate in the Twitterview.  Thirty to sixty minutes is a good amount of time.  And it may take the first ten to fifteen minutes for the conversation to get going.

  7. Know how the questions will be asked.  Will the kiddos be taking turns?  Asking them all at once?  Staggering the questions?

  8. Make sure the students know which questions are being asked by everyone.  It may happen just because the conversation is going quickly, but you want to ensure that questions are not repeated.

  9. Review the guidelines immediately before the Twitterview, keeping expectations fresh in their minds.

During the Twitterview:

  1. Have the stream displayed.   You can use Twitter itself as long as you are following all of the people participating in the chat or you are using a hashtag.  Or you can use Tweetgrid, Tweetdeck, or Hootesuite.  One reason I do this is so that I can monitor / moderate the chat; ensuring that my students are following our Twittequette.  The second reason why I do this is because the internet connection on our mobile devices is finicky and not all of the kiddos get live updates.  With streaming they can.BrainPOP! Twitterview

  2. Walk around the room to ensure that the students remain focused on the interview.  If the entire class is participating, this is necessary.  A slow internet connection can make it frustrating and kiddos can choose to do something else to fill their time.  (A reason why it is important to display the Twitterview stream.)

  3. If someone violates the guidelines, hold them accountable.   You would do this with any classroom task.  On any field trip.  This experience is no different.

  4. Keep the conversation going.  Sometimes kiddos will need encouraging to reply or ask their question.  Make sure the flow is at a good pace for both sides of the interview.  Interviewers need time to post questions and read responses.  Interviewees need time to read questions and respond.  Particularly if the entire class is participating.

  5. Reinforce the positive online behavior the kiddos are participating in.  The more it is reinforced the more they will do it until it becomes a habit!

  6. Enjoy it!  It is quite exciting to be talking to an expert or someone famous.  Imagine what that's like for a child!

After the Twitterview:

  1. Thank the person / people on the other side of the Twitterview.  They took time out of their schedule and/or workday to chat with your students.  The students need to show their appreciation for that.

  2. Process the Twitterview.  Use an interactive teaching strategy for students to demonstrate in some way what they learned.

  3. Be transparent about how Twitter was just used to learn.  Except ... have the kiddos come to that conclusion on their own.  Pose a question that will allow them to reflect on how Twitter was used.  How it is different from most people's view of Twitter.

  4. If they aren't already, encourage your students to follow who they just interviewed.  This will extend the learning experience and possibly create a mentor relationship.

  5. Highlight all of the positive online behavior you witnessed as the kiddos participated in during the Twitterview.  Even better ... have them highlight it!  Positive peer reinforcement makes an impact and will strengthen the likelihood of positive online behavior becoming a habit.


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