This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
A few weeks back I succumbed to the lure of Twitter and created an account for my 3rd grade students.
Over the course of last week’s lessons I had students write a brief “What did we do today?” in their science notebooks. My students are very excited about the prospects of having those entries put on Twitter.
The operating theory behind using Twitter was to use it as a tool to give the families of my students some idea of what their children do in science class.
I am a prep science teacher, which means 3rd and 4th grade students come to me three times a week for 45 minutes. Science takes place in a modular classroom, what I affectionately call the science trailer. I don’t have an aide, so most of what goes on in my classroom is known to only my students and me.
I’ve read and heard from various publications and speakers all kinds of ways schools are using technology to share what they do. I started to think about what families of my students think about their children’s science education. Do they think about it at all? What would they like to see their children being taught?
My first year in the District, I switched from prep science to kindergarten in the middle of the year. Kindergarten is a great grade for teacher/family communication.
At the end of the day, the classroom doors would open and it seemed like all of humanity was pouring into the room to pick up my students. I’d have sometimes 20 different conversations with moms, dads, grandparents, and older siblings about my students. It was hectic, stressful, and sometimes unpleasant, but we spoke to each other. There was a predictable, accessible path to communicate in place.
These days, rarely do I run into a family member of my students. Reading and math rule the day. What counts for adequate yearly progress is clearly what the School District values. Science is on the back burner, if even on the stove.
My hope is that by using Twitter, I can start to open up my classroom to all the people who want to know what exactly goes on in that science trailer.