This past summer, I attended Alan November’s Building Learning Communities Conference in Boston, MA, and from attending this conference, it helped me look at my classroom from a global perspective. I have continuously stated in my sessions that one of my goals is to get my classroom’s curriculum and activities onto the parents’ smart phones. And in the past few years, with schools using digital learning apps like Seesaw or requiring teachers to communicate via websites and social media, it is becoming more of a reality for us to get the content of our classroom onto their smart devices. However, this conference helped me to take it one step further. I felt that even though I have Skyped in several classrooms and specialists, there was still more that I could do to make my classroom global. Essentially, to not only reach parents, but to reach further and have my elementary music students connect with other elementary music students across the state, country, and world.
When I watched a 1st grade teacher from Canada, Kathy Cassidy, have her students tweet about what they were learning in class, and then to see the responses from other classrooms from around the world to their tweets, I was hooked. She showed an example of tweeting how long it took her students to dress in their snow gear. It was a lesson about time and it also helped them dress quickly. The response that they received was other classrooms timing themselves when they dressed in their snow gear. This brought about a discussion about time, what is snow gear, and problem-solving to how they could dress faster to beat the other classroom’s time. This one tweet led to curricular discussions along with problem-solving techniques.
So, I did it. This past week, during our first full week of school, I started my music classroom’s twitter channel. I began the week with 6 followers and we are now up to 13.
How to set up the channel:
What do you need to create a classroom Twitter account (https://twitter.com/)?
- A computer with internet access
- An email address to associate with the account
- Choose a profile name
- Two pictures so that one is the cover photo and one is the profile picture
- Complete a bio
- Add a website address (optional)
- Follow some classrooms (not too many so you do not clutter up your feed)
- Begin tweeting (no pictures or names from the students)
- Add hashtags to bring people to your classroom twitter account such as #mused or #elemus
What do the students tweet?
I assign two jobs when the students walk into my classroom: the classroom helper and the classroom tweeter. The helper assists with running the SMART board during songs and assists with passing out and collecting musical items. The Tweeter tweets one item they learned in music class that day: an “I can” statement, if you will. In the past week, it has been great to see what the students who are the classroom tweeters feel are the most important items to tweet from music class. They have ranged from, “We learned the note B on recorder.
#recorder!” to “Happy Birthday to the Star Spangled Banner! #202”.
I have enjoyed watching my students take to this and to read their reflections from music class. In addition, we are integrating spelling, writing, and reading skills. In the next few weeks, we will incorporate an audio recording of themselves performing an activity from our music classroom. I am hoping that by mid-school year, we will have other elementary classrooms responding to our tweets and that we will be responding to their tweets as well.
If you would like to follow our music classroom twitter channel, please so at https://twitter.com/mrsburnsmusicfh!
Amy M. Burns is an elementary music educator, clinician, author, and musician. She currently works at Far Hills Country Day School in Far Hills, NJ teaching PreK through Grade 3 general music, grade 5 instrumental music, and grades 4-8 instrumental band. She is the author of Technology Integration in the Elementary Music Classroom, Help! I am an Elementary Music Teacher with a SMART Board, and Help! I am an Elementary Music Teacher with One or more iPads! She is also an author for Online Learning Exchange™ Interactive Music powered by Silver Burdett. She has given numerous presentations on integrating technology into the elementary music classroom as well as being a keynote speaker for music technology conferences in Texas, Indiana, St. Maarten, and Australia. She is the recipient of the 2005 TI:ME Teacher of the Year Award, the 2016 NJ Master Music Teacher Award, the 2016 NJ Governor’s Leader in Arts Education Award, and the 2017 Non-Public School Teacher of the Year Award. You can find out more about Amy at her website: amymburns.com