Tweeting in class: Turn ’em off Baltimore

Posted: January 5, 2010 in Uncategorized

I know Twitter is old news for many, but it’s new to me. I signed up for a Twitter account a few days ago and instead of being patient and waiting for people to naturally begin following me, I sifted through accounts and started following basically anyone from Baltimore or anyone who has an interest or role in education. Now I’m following around 700 people and I have around 170 followers. I know I’m off-balance, but things will even out.

In my quest to befriend all of Baltimore, I have had the opportunity to observe tweets coming from high school students. For those unfamiliar with “tweets,” a tweet is a status update that must be written in 140 characters or less. I have a couple of observations that I would like to express about “tweeting,” but the one I would like to focus on today is the fact that so many students are updating their Twitter status while in class!

Why are students allowed to have their phones turned on during the school day? Isn’t that a safety concern? I spent about a month working at Woodlawn High in Baltimore County and I know that drugs run rampant through so many schools; a cell phone is a tool that helps students collaborate and create successful drug dealing interactions. For this reason alone, I think students should be required to have phones powered off during school hours.
Well, students’ phones are definitely not powered off during the school day. I followed and copied a Baltimore high school girl’s tweets from yesterday, and here is what she had to say:

Tweets starting at 7:12AM on January 4, 2010:

Just got 2 my school! All the excitement is gone now! 😦

Bout 2 leave 1st pd! Ready 2 go home already!

I think I wanna get Übertwitter now! Everybody keep talkin bout how good it! I might get it later!

Finally in French 2! I luv this class!

OMG! I’m so tired of being here! So glad lunch is next pd!

In 10th pd! This class sucks, but only got 1 pd left so I’ll be happy soon!

In class doin nothing! 1st class where I’m just sittin here! Probably do the same in last pd!

In last pd, finally! Ready 2 get these bus tickets & leave!

I’m bout 2 download this Übertwitter! I been seein 2 many good reviews!

I hate workin in groups! I work better by myself!

Bout 2 leave school soon! Cant wait 2 go home & eat!

Do the teachers know or care that she is creating messages on her phone? I know in some cases phones can be used as a learning tool. I had a student look up a word on his phone to find a definition and had another student look on Google images to figure out what a sloth looked like. I teach at a community college so I don’t feel the use of phones presents safety concerns in my classes, but if not monitored, phones can still be extremely distracting!

I think it is entirely inappropriate for teens to be updating their Twitter status from school. Turn the phones off.

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Comments
  1. Teri Wilkins says:

    While the drug transactions are cause for concern, there is much to be said for allowing students to use their cell phones during the school day. Liz Kolb has written a book (Toys to Tools) that examines the possibilities. The student you noticed has provided some valuable feedback in her tweets. Resources such as Poll Everywhere can also be used to get immediate data from students via their phones. I see this as an educational opportunity. Students need to know boundaries, and when they use tools in inappropriate manners, we can take advantage of those “teachable moments.”

    • mdeducator81 says:

      You do have a good point. If we could track what students are typing, as I have done above, we have a formative assessment that can be used to see what is working or not working. Apparently this girl loves French 2, which could mean she has a great teacher or she has a terrible teacher and the class is out of control. I see this ubertwitter as bad news though. Not only do teachers have to worry about students having conversations in the classroom, now they have to worry about these silent, discreet conversations that are going on through texting.

      I didn’t realize how many young people were on Twitter until I joined a few days ago.

  2. Teri Wilkins says:

    Silent, discreet conversations have been going on since students have been in school. They have just evolved. Now instead of writing notes, students use tools such as Twitter. Another interesting development has been the use of a kind of “backchannel” at conferences where participants tweet about the presentations they are attending.

  3. Dee says:

    I think that phones need to be turned off while in class period!!

    People forget that before this cell phone craze, we were perfectly ok in class without them! Why are school officials constantly allowing students to write the rules, then go an complain about it later!

    You have to be a special someone to be a teacher these days, my goodness

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