21st Century Skills and Twitter

Freshmen can come up with the silliest ideas.  A few days ago I had a student suggest I tweet the homework.  Of course, I was thinking of Tweety and Sylvester and dismissed her as being a few words shy of a complete sentence.  Nonetheless, I listened and learned a lot.  (Read my post from Sept. 28 on Socratic Seminars.)  Apparently, tweets have nothing to do with a cartoon.  I can text or email a message of 140 characters or less and my followers or minions can read them.  Some of the students tweet or read tweets hundreds of times a day.

Consequently, I set up a twitter account to send out homework assignments because using a daily planner is obsolete.  Using tweets and Google calendar is 21st century.  I can also tweet a person to let them know I wrote a new blog.

I promised students that I would not tweet my everyday activities like I am going to a kid’s soccer practice or I am mowing the yard, or I am duct taping the kids to the ceiling fan again.  No one wants to read about the mundane, banal life of a gray-haired nerd.  And, I promised not to follow the students’ tweets.  I cannot imagine taking the time to read hundreds or thousands of tweets with abbreviations that I don’t understand about topics teenagers find interesting:  “Like, OMG, like, no way!”

When I announced my Twitter account to my students, several immediately began to follow it.  Kids even asked me to tweet the Words of the Day.  I gave the con that that was too much because I already post them on my lesson plans and on the board each day.  Then, one young man started to tell me that I could put our Words of the Day on if I … and he proceeded to speak Klingon, or some other foreign language.  My eyes got real big, and I became that deer who stands in the highway staring at the headlights of a Mack truck rushing toward it.  The humorous part was the fact that all of the students except our resident Tweet expert noticed my blank stare.  I did ask him to see me one day after school when he did not have cross-country practice to teach me more.

I am not sure how Tweeting will work out, but it is worth the effort.  By listening to the freshman, I am learning new ways to teach.  I have come to realize that I do not need to know how to utilize all of the technology or websites.  I need to give the kids the ideas, the time to explore and create, and stand back and watch.  It is the best way anyone learns.  Plus, I can not keep up with the students.  They are too intelligent and creative.

As leaders, we need to allow our people to try and even fail.  Then, learn from the mistake and try again.  The end result will be a greater success than any we could imagine.

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Filed under 21st century skills, Lessons from students

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