Monday, October 18, 2010

Time to Connect

Teaching geometry is one of my favorite courses and students find it challenging because of the heavy emphasis on writing in a math class. To help students understand concepts it is a great idea to have students find counterexamples for statements to prove they are false. Over the weekend a math teacher I follow on the micro blogging site , Twitter, @k8nowak, posted the following tweet.

k8nowak:I need some false Geometry statements where drawing a counterexample is easy. Help. For example: all right triangles are isosceles.

Less than 24 hours later she had received over 20 examples from other teachers and created a link to a post, Counterexamples in Geometry on her blog, f(t). I have known about twitter for quite some time, but I never thought I needed it... not for personal use anyway. However it would be great to share information and ideas with my students , collegues, and other educators from around the world.

For all of those out there who are cynical about the benefits of using a micro blogging network like Twitter and its effectiveness should consider the list of pro’s and cons offered by Grosseck and Holotescu, in “Can we use Twitter for Educational Activities” at The list of benefits ranging from student collaborations to and real world connections. Micro blogging can offer students a place to reflect carefully. Due to the character limitation students most user fewer words to express clear ideas. Its often harder to answer a problem with fewer words, which encourages students to proofread and summarize.

The other types of technology like email, facebook, and blogger, serve a purpose, yet micro blogging is growing more popular across the educational spectrum. In the Chronicle of Higher Education , Young's article, Forget E-Mail: New Messaging Service Has Students and Professors Atwitter” ,mentions David Parry, an assistant Professor professor of emerging media and communications at the University of Texas at Dallas, who after being reluctant to use micro blogging, refers to it as "the single thing that changed the classroom dynamics more than anything he'd ever done teaching."

Heading into the classroom twitter does have it's benefits but be careful to separate the professional from the personal. Joining facebook took me years because I felt I didn’t need it, but when my students asked me to create a site for them where they could ask questions I couldn’t turn them down. The site was just for students and while my personal relationship existed in another profile , this one only contained professional info.

Yet students still shared their personal sites with me, which helped me make connections with them. Showing students that you care can go along way toward helping them be successful. They KNOW when you sincerely care about them and it can make all the difference in motivation and class participation. So I would totally not be embarrassed now to say I tweet. Do you?

1 comment:

  1. Great review of ways to use Twitter and interesting to know that your students wanted a class Facebook page.