A Twist on Classroom Jobs: Starting a Social Media Team
In past years, each Monday when it was time to change classroom jobs internally I groaned. Usually it would take until Wednesday of the week for the assigned student to take ownership of the job, remember all the components of their job and be ready to help answer questions from the next student. I’ve tried different versions of jobs over the years: students applying for jobs that interest them, student generating ideas for potential jobs, changing the frequency of job rotation and nothing seemed to work.
This year I decided to try something new with classroom jobs with my third graders. Over the summer I did a bit of reflecting on them. Thinking how could I use jobs to help increase student ownership of my classroom and work on teamwork at the same time. Both of these are to me are some of the essential characteristics of a type of environment I try to develop each year. Luckily I stumbled across another teacher who had similar ideas. Kady at Teacher Trap had similar ideas and built upon my own including sharing her ideas for classroom jobs. What was ironic to me in reading her post was that we both had gone through similar processes in our thinking. Starting with frustration and then moving to developing larger, broader goals to potentially shift the concept of having classroom jobs. Also, I searched Pinterest and found several other teachers who had created templates of the team jobs they had developed. It’s nice to be able to get practical ideas and be able to tweak templates especially at the beginning of the year when time is limited.
Since August, I’ve been using team based jobs. We have a total of 4 jobs including: Lunch Team, Junior Assistants, Gardeners, Librarians and a team who is on vacation. So far, so good. They have been working cooperatively to develop strategies to complete their jobs and being 8 and 9 year olds ensure fairness (since that’s one of their big developmental characteristics) at the same time.
The only job that I haven’t been satisfied with at this time is having a team of students “on vacation.” When students went onto the Vacation Team, they were disappointed. I also felt why should one team have a break when we are all here to help support one another. One day as I was in the middle of a math lesson, I realized my teaching assistant was working with a small group as well and both of us happened not to have our iPads handy. I thought, “Ack! We’re not documenting all of this amazing thinking! The kids are so excited and we’re ‘missing it.'” I also wondered what if they could help with sharing our learning more as a classroom, not just their own learning as they already do in their portfolios.
Valerie of Math Cookies wrote about about getting started with developing a digital footprint as an educator. She wrote practical tips of how to get started. She didn’t just nudge but pushed her readers to, as Nike would say, “Just do it.” I’ve dabbled in creating my own footprint. I have a professional blog, website and Twitter account. I’m using them more and more thanks to COETAIL. Last year I added to my presence by developing a classroom Twitter account. The problem is, as Alexandra Samuel shared in her Ted Talk “Stop Apologizing for your Online Life” you should committ to one part of your online presence rather than trying to do it all. By committing you can do that one thing well rather than feeling stretched to be good at many different things.
So I’ve decided to do it. No one on holidays any longer. We’re going to have a Social Media Team.
I ‘d like to help my third graders begin to develop their own online presence and to start small. They will help to curate our class’ Twitter and blog. I will be the moderator of content, however, my students will be the contributors to it. Learning these two forms of media will help them to get them started and give them practical experience. In Jeremy Agler’s post “The Power of a Positive Digital Footprint for Students,” he asks the question:
By working together to help develop this, can working as a group have a greater impact than individual? Will that practice help them to develop their own skills with a greater sense of responsibility? I think of Common Sense Media’s 5 Myths and Truths about Internet Safety and think this practice group experience will help to cultivate and create a better practical and supervised understanding of learning what, who and how to post on internet. It also demonstrates that you should work with an adult as you are posting. It models that it should be open communication between adults and children rather than them exploring on their own.
As we begin to implement this new classroom job, I plan to use Valerie’s tips for teachers with my students. Her ideas to “find your voice” and “decide how often you will write” will become part of the structure of this classroom team job. I’m hoping they can help to create a list of things to Tweet and blog about on a regular basis. Valerie’s suggestions of reflection, sharing challenges and successes might be good places to start.
I’ve found a few teachers who use Twitter in their classroom in the ways I hope such as Mrs. Wideen here who helped to develop norms with her class about posting. She also gives some practical examples of how to get started with ideas that I think would be helpful models for my students to see. Kayla Dezler in her post why students should own the class’ social media accounts pushes my thinking further by actually putting her devices and class account into the hands of her students. Reading her post makes me wonder if my whole plan should be revised. Reviewing her class’ Twitter feed also makes me wonder perhaps this is the route I should take. Hmm…
Does anyone who’s an elementary teacher have experience with having a class Twitter account? Any suggestions or ideas? For now I’ll go with my plan as a start but consider revising it along the way to perhaps better meet my original goals.