Posted by: Bill Lord | December 30, 2009

Using Twitter with the Giraffes – a term’s review.

I have posted previously about the work taking in places in some classes with
which I am working where the children have been using Twitter.
I have watched the Giraffes (@giraffeclass) develop their use of Twitter with
great interest and find how they have adopted its use and adapted it over the
term. I posted on the 18th October in Twitter to support writing in Year One
about how they used it and expressed the opinion that they had already reached a first tipping point.
Over the following two months the class have moved from one tweet being posted by the star of the day with support from the class Teaching Assistant to the teacher continuing this as well as giving targeted children greater independence to compose and type tweets independently. These children have been trained to ask for an adult to check their tweet before clicking on send.

Independent tweeting

This tweet was written by two children working without support and the teacher noted that they had written significantly more quickly and in more quantity.

Supporting tweeting

Supported tweeting

‘Traditional’ tweeting in Giraffe class

In addition the children have also started buillding relationships with other classes and adults who have been cleared by the classteacher. (The teacher uses true twit to prevent spambots from following the class)
The children tweet to different classes including @classroomtweets (taught by @multimartin) and @globalrams who the children love communicating with.

Talking to Globalrams

The children wanted to wish their friends in Missouri the best of luck for their winter concert which was streamed for parents and family to watch.

Talking with Classroom tweets

The children read some tweets and looked at twitpics which @classroomtweets posted of their beautiful Joseph coat and wanted to tell them how good it was.

The children enjoy talking to adults and treasure these relationships. They are lucky enough to have teachers, parents and academics following them and have started communicating with some of them. I know that the teacher was delighted by the fact they have several parents now following what they are doing and how this meets the school’s aim of communication with their local community.
I was particularly struck by the response from one of the children to a question by Jackie Marsh (@Jackiemarsh) when they said that they wanted to share their work with the world. This shows a some understanding of the global nature of their readership. Indeed they had messages from people in St. Louis, Missouri; New York City;  London, Ontario; California; New Zealand; Australia and England. They are also very curious about the locations of their followers.

The teacher was hoping to undertake the virtual ballon race which I discussed in the previous post but do to a range of circumstances it became somewhat amended. The classes involved sent out a huge amount of requests for classes to contact them but it is clear that outside those already using twitter for their Personal Learning Networks the use within schools is extremely limited. In addition, there were teachers who did not feel that they wanted their class to tweet on a one off basis and so were in the process of building their classes up to becoming twitter users.
In the end the three teachers in the school decided to use twitter to make the children aware of where their followers are in the world and then try to build a relationship with one specific class. The giraffes twinned themselves with children at Matipo Primary school near to Wellington in New Zealand using googlemail to communicate.
The planning for the class concentrated on learning about New Zealand and their peers on the other side of the world. There was a magical moment when the teacher created a class delicious account to support the children’s internet research. The children accessed it from the class favourite page and then had a choice of four pages to open. One of the choices was a web cam in Auckland city centre which inevitably showed a dark scene for the children use to work out that it was night time for their friends. By the end of the day using the web cam and a globe the teacher was able to help them understand the implications of the time difference.
This led to them tweeting globalrams to compare what time is was in the different schools.

What time is it?

This is the reply that they received from Missouri
The teacher also looked at other applications which could support their work and you will see that there is a link to  a virtually empty wallwisher page (as time ran out towards the end of the Christmas term) but they also asked their twitter network to think of three words which they associated with New Zealand. They had a great response and produced the wordle below.

New Zealand wordle

Ultimately all of this is very nice but has it met any of the teacher’s initial intentions?
She took on a class which had issues over writing confidence and motivation to write. There has been a clear impact on their attitude towards writing – one of their tweets even talked about how much they had enjoyed writing (on the day of an assessed piece of writing).  It would completely folly to suggest that this is as a result of using twitter but it is clear that twitter is one of the approaches which has added a sense of joy to children’s writing. The children have been given many different opportunities for writing with clarity of their audience and why they are doing it.
The teacher has planned to develop twitter as an integral part of their work and is looking to develop other web 2.0 applications such as wallwisher and further use of twitpic with children taking greater independence in taking photos. The teacher is delighted with how amazingly well the children have done and is now determined to make it a sustainable approach. The school is looking at alternatives to skype which is blocked by the Local Authority network in order to allow the children to communicate with a wider community of children – twitcam could be one of the approaches they use.

I will continue to share the developments in the class and share the work they complete.


  1. […] Giraffe Class I talked about the use of Twitter in a Year One class @giraffeclass – I am about to post on their Spring term experiences but here are two blog posts about their use of Twitter – October 2009 – December 2009 […]

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