Finally after great anticipation and a little begging and pleading, all of the Twitter notes have been returned. Interesting to note that out of all 52 students about 5 were not able to set up a Twitter account. Those parents have opted for the option to have them use the classroom twitter account rather than their own. I also had one interested response where the parent wanted me to email them what the student chose as a password. I found that interesting because on one hand it implies that their might be some trust issues with that student, but then on the other hand, they could easily change it on their own and the parent would be none the wiser. Sometimes I guess parents just feel more comfortable with a “perceived” level awareness of what their children do online.
On the day that we actually set up the accounts, I woke up as soon as the alarm went off with a horrifying thought crossing my mind.
“They might have Twitter permission, but they need an email account to set it up!” This stopped me dead in my tracks. How will I set up these accounts without individual emails? Do kids have emails? Last time I tried to so something like this, less than a quarter of the students actually had email addresses. What should I do? I didn’t want to send an entire note home asking about permission to set up an email. I decided to wait and talk it over with Eden and with my other grade alike teacher to get some ideas of what we are comfortable with.
Upon discussion with them, we decided to proceed without another note, on the basis of, a twitter account is much more public than an email account and therefore if a parent is ok with Twitter, they likely would be ok with email. Those that accounts were set up for, I would let their parents know that we did the accounts for them.
Sometimes as teachers we worry unnecessarily. All the kids in grade 8 except for 2 have email addresses. Thank goodness for Instagram, because all of them needed an email to set up Instagram. So we were able to proceed fairly painlessly. The permissions for Twitter are far less invasive than perhaps Facebook or other social media sites, so Eden and I were able to get them setup with an account with minimal information about themselves included. We even had them use only first names and icons rather than actual pictures.
Some of the students were shocked by Twitter matching them up with people they knew. It was a great teachable moment when we could say, “Why do you think your cousin’s picture just popped up?” They were shocked at the “levels of connection” that Twitter made, just by the email that they used.
Another “aha” moment was when they learned that they could connect with people or celebrities. For example, one student said, ” I could follow Taylor Swift!” They found it exciting. We soon explained to them that you could follow her, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that she will follow you back, so in that regard it isn’t like a conversation, it is still only you reading about what she posts.
At the end of the class we were pretty satisfied. 52 Twitter accounts set up and profiles created.