By Laurie Azzi
Laurie Azzi is a Grade 6 teacher and Special Education specialist from Ottawa. After noticing her class actively tweeting, we decided to talk to her and find out more about the value of this tool in the classroom. You can follow her @Laurie_Azzi and her students can be found @MrsAzzi.
What brought you to Twitter and your current #PLN?
To be honest, I was not a fan of Twitter to begin with. I didn’t really understand it’s power until this summer when I became more active in it. The Twitter #PLN is powerful. It motivates me, inspires me and informs me. It is amazing to see so many common educational trends around the world. I believe that, in today’s world, it’s important for educators to engage with others outside their direct vicinity. It allows me to stay current and relevant. It also stretches me, at times, to try new things or step out of my comfort zone.
The term “Twitteracy” is one coined by George Couros in his blog. My wish is for both my students and I to become “Twitterate” in establishing a voice in the global community.
Can you tell me more about the Ontario initiative connecting classrooms via Twitter?
Peter Cameron, a Grade 5/6 teacher in Thunder Bay has assembled a group of innovative and connected Ontario educators to engage with and mentor pre-service teachers in Ontario Universities. “Connected Classrooms” seeks to pair up an Ontario teacher with a Faculty of Education class. Twitter is the main communication tool, however the program is open to other innovative connections. I am excited to have partnered up with Peter Milley’s “Society and Education” class at University of Ottawa. For more information on “Connected Classrooms” check out Peter’s blog.
Mrs. Azzi’s Globally Connected Class
Tell me about your student-led Twitter feed and why you decided to start it.
There were dual purposes. Firstly, I wanted to create a record of student learning throughout the year. The current feed tracks the progression of our inquiry, “What World Do You Want to Live In?” In this unit, we continue to examine global issues and the importance of Solidarity across all continents and people. We learned about what it means to be a Global Citizen and took part in the World’s Largest Lesson. We created a Collaborative Google Presentation on the Global Goals.
The second reason was to give students a “voice” in the global community. As part of the inquiry, we are learning about the story of Iqbal Masih and how his story inspired the young Craig Kielburger into action at the age of 12. Students have been expressing their thoughts and feelings while reading. Their voice is powerful! Twitter gives them a venue.
What has been your most exciting moment on Twitter as a teacher or as a class?
I think any time we get a global response is exciting. At the beginning of the year, students inquired about each of our other student-led classroom followers. They then created a coat of arms for each class and had to justify their choices on the display. The global response was overwhelming and a positive end-result to the hard work they invested in this project.
What do your students like about it?
What benefits have you found it brings to their learning?
Knowing that their work is going to be published and viewed globally, enhances their productivity and pushes their thinking.
Capturing an idea within 140 characters is a skill in itself. This allows for creative thinking and develops the skill of synthesizing the main idea!
The students have learned about other cultures and geographic areas. They have a real interest in our world map!
Twitter gives students a global voice in their concern for the rights of other children.
Our classroom is transparent to parents, as they can follow their child’s learning in real-time, as it happens. Great to promote discussion about current themes when students go home!
Most importantly, Twitter has broken down our classroom walls. Students participate in daily inspirations, such as #CelebrateMonday. #WedWhatIf and #ThinkThroughThurs. Under my supervision, they engage and learn from others. This pushes their creativity and level of expression.
Thank you for sharing with us, Laurie! Happy tweeting!
Do you have a classroom story to share? Let us know how you’re integrating technology into the classroom and you could be featured on the Media Literacy Week blog.