Twitterizing your classroom has been a pet project of mine. An action research project I did in my Master's program got me thinking about increasing student engagement using technology. One the ideas I came up with was using the concept of Twitter and hashtags to help students make real-life to content connections. Being back in the classroom part time this school year, I have been able to put this idea to work and, as #AlwaysInBeta suggests, the idea continues to iterate.
Hashtagged Learning, as I call it, follows the same basic structure each time. One could call it my own #EduProtocol. It begins with an appsmash of Google Classroom, Google Slides, YouTube and Snagit screencasting software. I create bullet-free Google Slides full of images, symbols and teacher generated hashtags. From there, I use Snagit to screencast my lesson. Lessons range from 15-25 minutes depending on the standard. In the screencast, I'm explaining and teaching the standard as I would delivering the lesson live to students. The style I employ is patterned after Keith Hughes of Hip Hughes YouTube channel fame. Once the video is complete, I upload to YouTube and distribute to students via Google Classroom.
The lesson takes place when students watch the lesson video, with headphones, and take notes (digital or paper) at their own pace. The advantage this gives students, EL's especially, is that they can pause and rewind when they don't understand. Instead of facing the embarrassment of having to ask a question in front of class, I can circulate and come to them as needed one on one. In addition, the image and symbol heavy slides force students to "make notes" not take notes. When I say take notes, I mean copy bullets. This is huge for ELs who may struggle with the written language, but they can better engage with symbols and images as well as my verbal explanations, metaphors and hashtags in the video.
As students navigate the video, they are instructed to pause at the end of each slide, reflect and write a hashtag (with rationale) showing a real-life to content connection. This is huge for all learners because it validates their prior knowledge, life experience and interests as well as helping them see themes and patterns between content and life. Students write the hashtags and rationales in their notes as well as on my whiteboard walls. This allows me to see their thinking and give feedback if I notice the connection between hashtag and content is weak. In addition, students are instructed to "steal" a classmate's hashtag from the walls and write it in their notes. At the end of each slide, students now have three perspectives, the teacher, their own and that of a peer.