When you were in elementary school, did you ever have a pen pal from another country? I did. We each wrote two letters through the course of a year with huge pauses in between as we waited for the letters to make their way through the postal systems of our various countries. My teacher wanted us to learn more about the world and the experiences of other children our age. Today, teachers are accomplishing the same thing but without the time delay, using Twitter.
When I first read the headline that a kindergarten teacher was using Twitter with her students in the classroom, I was pretty skeptical. As much as I get great use out of the social networking site, it seems like a hazardous place for a 5-year-old to spend her time.
This classroom usage of Twitter is, of course, monitored and done as a group. The teacher featured in the article, Amy Murray of Calgary, Alberta, set up partnerships with other kindergarten classes around the world to help her students realize that “there are children all over the world who go to kindergarten who are in some ways very similar and in some ways very different.”
“Using Twitter has proved to be a delight, said Murray. Every afternoon last year she and her fellow teachers and 80 kindergarten students would sit in their respective classrooms before an interactive board, using Twitter to speak and learn from their newfound friends.”
I really love this idea of using technology in innovative ways to expand children’s world views. You could read in an encyclopedia about France or you could have a conversation with a French child. Which experience do you think will stick with the students more?