Monday, September 9, 2013

Feed homework to your students

Image: WikiMedia Commons
Like many teachers I use weebly to create my class website. It has a simple layout, but there is quite a lot you can do with them. I love the flexibility of having different layout themes, and I am continually learning.

One of my goals this year is to integrate Twitter into my class routines. I love the power and speed of using Twitter to find and share resources with fellow tech enthusiasts, makers and teachers. Hashtags are a great way to manage the volume of information I get from the people I follow.

Image: OpenClipArt.org
I wanted to get my students thinking about social media when think about learning. Connecting and networking are skills they need to be effective digital citizens. Extending learning outside the classroom is one of my career goals as a teacher. But I want to have control over how and what they are exposed to. Especially since they are not yet old enough to have their own Twitter accounts (although I'm certain that hasn't stopped some of them).

Embedding a Twitter widget into my website seems like a good way to get them thinking socially. Especially since I can restrict the content that appears there. I had originally tried embedding my timeline into my website, but the volume of tweets that come in to and go out from my account means that the few tweets my students might be interested in would quickly be overwhelmed by the other tweets. I also have two different English groups and I don't want my students getting confused about which homework tweet applies to them.

After a quick internet search, I was able to find out how to configure a Twitter widget to show only my tweets that have a specific hashtag. I picked the course number for each course that I teach, and I will use that hashtag to address the tweet to that specific group. Each widget search field looks like this: from:@jpetersen02 AND #mat106. One widget per group gets embedded into that group's page on my weebly site, and I now have an easy way to post homework updates to my groups.