Guest post: How I’m using twitter to remind students about their homework – and it seems to be working!

A few days ago Schools Improvement Net reader and teacher Mhairi Healy made a comment (on twitter of course) that she was having success with her students by using a class Twitter account to keep them updated on homework deadlines. I asked Mhairi if she would share her experiences and she has kindly obliged (but first an example of one of @EnglishMhealy‘s tweets)…

I set up a Twitter account for my S5/6 Higher pupils this year and I feel that it has had a positive impact on the students. I have enthusiastic and hard working pupils who are keen to do well in their Higher exams and I am using Twitter to continue to raise attainment in my classes.

Reasons for setting up Twitter:

  • We sometimes have issues with homework deadlines being missed due to pupils not recording their homework effectively
  • Pupils forget about homework as they don’t check their diaries regularly
  • Pupils can forget about NAB dates (especially when they have five other subjects with NABs also)
  • Pupils forget supported study is on at lunchtime
  • I currently work part time (after returning from maternity leave) so pupils can contact me through the week – not just the days I work.
  • Twitter is a ‘safe’ environment for pupils to contact me – I do not follow them back.

My tweets consist of:

  • Reminder of NAB dates (which will be stored on the feed at all times)
  • Homework dates
  • Upcoming work for that week
  • Reminder to bring in notes, etc
  • Links to good websites to help with essays/studying
  • Pupils are aware that I am just a ‘tweet’ away if they want to ask a question
  • Motivational(!) pictures

The positive impact (so far):

  • (Most importantly!) Better relationship/rapport with pupils
  • Busy supported study (used to have 2 at lunch, now we average 16 – and not just my pupils!)
  • Homework deadlines met
  • Fewer homework letters sent home (less paperwork)
  • Pupils more organised and arrive prepared for working
  • Improvement in work as pupils have the confidence to ask for help over Twitter

Pupil Feedback:

  • Pupils check Twitter more often than diary and admit to looking at Twitter last thing at night and first thing in the morning.
  • They like that they are reminded on a Sunday night what is expected of them that week
  • They can get organised and prepared for that week
  • They are reminded of deadline dates well in advanced (not just the morning of a deadline)
  • They like that they can get help at ANY TIME – day or night/week day or weekend.
  • They will get an immediate answer to any questions when I’m online
  • One pupil said that he passed an essay thanks to a link I sent with important quotations that he needed.
  • They help each other with tasks using Twitter

Problems:

  • I’m not always ‘online’ (I have a toddler!!) so pupils may wait for answers to questions.  I do reply as soon as I see it however.
  • You will receive tweets on your ‘day off’ – usually at 10pm on a Sunday
  • Not all pupils have Twitter
  • Some pupils are reluctant to follow me (although I have said I will not look at their Twitter feeds)
  • I haven’t spoken to parents yet (I will do at the upcoming parents’ evening) but I think that I can keep in touch with parents more easily too.   It is another way of alerting parents of homework deadlines and encouraging parents to be involved.
  • Not sure if it would work for everyone or for every subject
  • Can’t always access Twitter on the school computers
  • Pupils would not like all subjects to tweet as they wouldn’t want their twitter feed to be all school work

I feel that using Twitter as another way of communicating with pupils has had a positive impact on my classes.  I enjoy it and I think that they do too.  There is a lot of negative press about social media (I am very aware of this) but this perhaps shows that it can be used in a positive way.

Mhairi’s class twitter account is @EnglishMhealy

What do you think of Mhairi’s experiences using a class twitter account? Is it something that could help others? Please let us know your thoughts or add any questions in the comments below or on twitter… 

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Categories: Guest Post.

Comments

  1. MsJacksonTweets

    SchoolsImprove me! It’s excellent – I’ve also encouraged students to get their parents to follow me for the same reason

  2. 5N_Afzal

    Excellent idea. One thing I would suggest is that maybe students should be asked if they would like to set up a second twitter account which would be used for homework reminders etc. This way they won’t worry about teachers reading their twitter feed.

  3. Misscornmell

    lakematt SchoolsImprove I am debating whether or not to implement a twitter account for my department. Thanks for the feedback!

  4. aisha_rsh

    lakematt SchoolsImprove I found over 16yrs teaching Vl form college, more I did to help students, less responsibility they took, bad 4 HE.

  5. Sarah Hoss1

    I’ve just come across this post – and altho it was written a while back it raises an important issue.  I generally agree with it! It is helpful to experiment using many communication channels to keep students ‘on track’ and trialled the use of Facebook messaging a few years ago – which resulted in a few students submitting work on time that would otherwise have been uncounted on the deadline day which would have been an issue not just for the learner but also for me. 

    However, as an institution, my employers felt that it was not appropriate for teachers to engage with learners via social media sites for many reasons and thus I no longer engage with learners on social media at all. I’d be interested in knowing how many others are also ‘banned’ from such comms? 

    Also, what is your institution’s stand on what to do if, when using social media, you come across content that raises welfare concerns regarding a pupil? Where do you draw the line? Do you actively teach social media skills to your young learners? All the best – I enjoyed reading this post 😀

  6. Sarah Hoss1

    I’ve just come across this post – and altho it was written a while back it raises an important issue.  I generally agree with it! It is helpful to experiment using many communication channels to keep students ‘on track’ and trialled the use of Facebook messaging a few years ago – which resulted in a few students submitting work on time that would otherwise have been uncounted on the deadline day which would have been an issue not just for the learner but also for me. 

    However, as an institution, my employers felt that it was not appropriate for teachers to engage with learners via social media sites for many reasons and thus I no longer engage with learners on social media at all. I’d be interested in knowing how many others are also ‘banned’ from such comms? 

    Also, what is your institution’s stand on what to do if, when using social media, you come across content that raises welfare concerns regarding a pupil? Where do you draw the line? Do you actively teach social media skills to your young learners? All the best – I enjoyed reading this post 😀

  7. Sarah Hoss1

    I’ve just come across this post – and altho it was written a while back it raises an important issue.  I generally agree with it! It is helpful to experiment using many communication channels to keep students ‘on track’ and trialled the use of Facebook messaging a few years ago – which resulted in a few students submitting work on time that would otherwise have been uncounted on the deadline day which would have been an issue not just for the learner but also for me. 

    However, as an institution, my employers felt that it was not appropriate for teachers to engage with learners via social media sites for many reasons and thus I no longer engage with learners on social media at all. I’d be interested in knowing how many others are also ‘banned’ from such comms? 

    Also, what is your institution’s stand on what to do if, when using social media, you come across content that raises welfare concerns regarding a pupil? Where do you draw the line? Do you actively teach social media skills to your young learners? All the best – I enjoyed reading this post 😀

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