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25 Tips To Reduce Digital Distractions And Improve Your Focus



25 Tips To Reduce Digital Distractions And Improve Your Focus

by TeachThought Staff

One of 21st-century life’s cruelest ironies is that technology has saved us a lot of time, which we then turn around and spend using said technology.

Most of us are constantly being bombarded by distractions, from coworkers to texts and emails to enticing Web headlines. The good news is Skynet has not taken over yet; we can still control the machines and manipulate them to not hinder our concentration.

For now.

1. Stop valuing the wrong things

Staying up-to-date on the very latest information, events, messages, and developments is less important than the quality of your work and relationships. Get this straight in your head, and it might make other efforts to improve your focus a little easier.

2. Use Forest

Every time you lose focus, you kill a plant. Do you want to kill the little sprout you just made? Of course you don’t. (You can find the app here.)

3. Track your productivity

Make a simple three-item to-do list and hold yourself accountable when it takes all day to get one item done.

4. Leave your phone in another room

The benefit here should be obvious. Even if you ‘need’ the phone for certain tasks, see if those can wait or be done in some other way that doesn’t require the phone.

5. Set boundaries

Let others around you know when you’re working or reading or writing or whatever requires focus. You can even reward them (especially children) for ‘leaving you alone’ and allowing you to remove distractions and focus.

6. Set a schedule 

Which can help set boundaries, too.

7. Use OneTab

Too many tabs, too little focus. While three tabs might be useful, 13 makes a mess. Use OneTab. (We use this extensively at TeachThought.)

8. Unsubscribe

Unsubscribe from all but the most useful newsletters, feeds, text alerts, and other ‘pushed directly to you’ information and notifications.

9. Practice

Focus is a muscle and can grow or atrophy. The more accustomed you are to focusing for a set amount of time, the more natural it will become. Yay for neuroplasticity!

10. Meditate

Meditation can help develop focus but it also can help you ‘let go’–to give your brain a break. An exhausted brain not only leads to poor focus but can lead to poor sleep as well.

11. Use labels in email

The idea here is to organize emails by sender, subject line, etc., to automatically separate more and less important messages. It won’t always work but properly set up, can help save time and mental energy.

12. Reward yourself for focus

Learning is about feedback loops so create healthier feedback loops. Reward yourself for healthy behaviors.


13. Use background noise

Our own Terry Heick can barely function without brown noise or other types of ‘background’ sound. We even made a background noise for writing (though it can be useful for reading or anything else, really).

14. Use voice search and related commands

Siri, Google Assistant, Alexa, and other similar tools can reduce the number of times you need to pick up your phone or open another browser tab. Obviously how much this improves your focus depends on how you use it.

15. Be invisible

Google and Facebook both have chat features that activate when you log into your account, unless you have them set to be signed off by default. As you’re easily distracted, that’s exactly how you’ll want to have them set. It’s bad enough you’re on Facebook in the first place; the last thing you need is to get sucked into a lengthy conversation with a friend.

16. Simplify your tools

Don’t use software with more features than you need. For example, if you’re writing a blog post, a cover letter, a term paper, or anything else,  use the simplest tool to get that exact job done. Avoid the rabbit holes of ‘featured-packed’ tools if distractions are a problem for you.

17. Use Pocket

The Pocket app (formerly known as Read It Later) is a great way to come back to distracting articles and videos on your devices when you have more time. Nicknamed ‘the DVR of the web,’ it lets you save links on all the most popular devices.

18. Adjust or turn off notifications

One example? On Windows PCs, choosing to install updates on the spot can be a ticket to lots of wasted time unpacking, installing, and rebooting. Instead, use the steps listed here to restrict updates to installing only when you shut down your computer. Your smartphone and wearables like Android and Apple Watches are more obvious examples of digital distractions. Mute them to improve your focus.

19. Know thyself

If you know your favorite time-killing websites, you’ll be better able to monitor yourself. There are even apps and browser extensions that can keep you from checking certain sites during certain times if you can’t help yourself.

20. Consider noise-canceling headphones

According to the subtle unwritten rules of office politics, headphones are kosher, earplugs are not. Spending $200 on a pair might seem exorbitant, but compared with the money you’ll be out when you’re fired because you can’t get your work done because you’re always distracted in the office, it’s a downright steal. Don’t have $200? There are far more affordable alternatives.

21. Pick the medium carefully

For dealing with niggling text messages, PC World recommends moving the medium to something that works better for your schedule. If someone texts you, instead of immediately responding (and opening yourself up to more distracting messages), call them back during your next break or email them. Either way stretches the dialogue out and buys you more time to work.

22. Use one screen (not two)

For example, having a dual-monitor setup is supposed to be such a productivity booster, but at least one time management expert recommends ditching the second display. More screen real estate is just an invitation to open more windows and programs. Having just one forces you to focus.

23. Consolidate your feeds

When you do give in to distractions, streamlining the experience will at least cut down on the time you waste on them. Use Tweetdeck to make reading Twitter updates more efficient, and try Flipboard for turning your life into ‘your personal magazine.’

24. Schedule breaks

The chances you’ll give into distraction increase the longer you go without a break. Using an app like Time Out, you’ll get subtle reminders to get up, stretch your legs, and get a dose of social or news every 90 minutes.

Work in short bursts if you have to as you develop your ability to focus over time.

25. Unplug completely

If all else fails, flip the slider on your Wi-Fi to off or unplug the Ethernet cable, turn off your phone, lock the door, and close the window. If you’re still finding yourself distracted, you may need a digital detox.

This is a cross-post from

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40 Ideas For Using FlipGrid In The Classroom



40 Ideas For Using FlipGrid In The Classroom

by TeachThought Staff

We’ve shared How To Use Flipgrid in the past.

In this post, we’re sharing a graphic from Flipgrid that provides ideas for using FlipGrid in the classroom for every grade level. In a post by Terry Heick on viewing comprehension strategies, he talked about how video and text are similar–and not similar.

Like reading a text, video comprehension is a matter of decoding, but with different symbols based on unique modalities. Light, sound effects, scene cuts, dialogue, voice-overs, video speed, music, and more. How should students ‘approach’ a video? How should they watch one? What should they do when they’re done? More largely, what viewing comprehension strategies should students use to promote close viewing? What can they do to increase comprehension and retention of video content so that they are able to repackage meaning into other media forms?

One takeaway is that video can be used as a surrogate for writing and a supplement to ‘speaking’ and real-time, in-class presentations. Short, easy-to-create-and-share video isn’t hugely different than short, easy-to-create-and-share writing–useful for assessment, collaboration, reflection, goal-setting, connecting with communities, and more. Moreover, FlipGrid attempts to make it easy to limit who can view (in contrast to larger social media sites where such controls may not be as functional or obvious or elegant), making it a better fit in many cases for students, teachers, and schools.

So here are 40 ideas for using FlipGrid in the classroom, separated by pre-K through 8, High School, and College/University. One way to think of it is not so much as ‘using FlipGrid’ but ‘ideas for the kinds of things students can document and share with short videos.’ Below is a list to get this kind of thinking started, from FlipGrid themselves and modified slightly for clarity and fit by TeachThought.

40 Ideas For Using FlipGrid In The Classroom

Ideas For Using FlipGrid In Pre-K through 8th Grade

1. Class Intros/Icebreakers

2. Booktalks

3. Class news/school events

4. Math/ STEAM journaling

5. Content check-ins

6. Shared learning processes

7. Goal setting

8. Family involvement

9. Global pen pals

10. ‘What if?’ scenarios

11. Music/Art performances

12. Just for fun!

13. Virtual field trips

14. ‘Aha moments’ or ‘wonderings’

15. End of year memories

16. Current or istorical events

17. Travel reflections


Ideas For Using FlipGrid In High School

18. Class introductions

19. Content check-ins

20. Shared learning processes

21. Virtual Career Day or Science Fairs

22. Expert discussions

23. Class news or schools events

24. Reflecting on learning

25. Interviews, re-enactments, or dramatic skits

26. Book reviews

27. Sports evaluation and training

28. Music, artistic, or dramatic performances

29. Project-based learning reflection during or after the project

30. End of year memories

31. Student government voting

32. Auditions and tryouts

Ideas For Using FlipGrid In College/University

33. Weekly check-ins with instructors, students, group members, etc.

34. Reading reflections

35. Thesis brainstorming, practice, or review

36. Content experience

37. Qualitative research

38. Focus groups

39. Current event reflection, summary, skimming, survey, or review

40. Goal setting

40 Ideas For Using FlipGrid In The Classroom

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The Elements Of A Digital Classroom



The Elements Of A Digital Classroom

by TeachThought Staff

What makes up a classroom?

Is it the space? A room, for example?

Is it the purpose? Can a regular meeting space in a garden be a ‘horticulture classroom’?

Is it the people? Can a video conference with eight people gathered to study chemistry be considered a ‘classroom’?

Or maybe it’s the tools. A woodworking classroom would have wood and saws and sanders and other widgets to shape the wood. It could be in a vocational center or garage or retail environment.

A cooking classroom would most likely have pots and pans and a stove of some kind. It could be in a school or a restaurant or a home.

What about your average K-12 classroom? What are its parts? A teacher, students, books, paper, pencils, chairs, desks, and signage for the walls? Maybe shelves and scissors and, well, you get the idea.

The driving question here has something to do with purpose and tools and spaces. Compared to the the woodworking classroom above, what exactly comprises a ‘digital classroom’ is flexible because a digital classroom is a flexible idea.

Below we start the discussion by identifying eight critical elements of the digital classroom. Note, this mainly refers to the most common modern example of this: a physical classroom that extends into digital spaces. That said, most would apply to purely digital classrooms as well with only a few exceptions.

See also 20 Classroom Setups That Promote Thinking

8 Critical Elements Of The Digital Classroom

1. The Spaces

Summary: The spaces in a digital classroom can be personalized or anonymous, static or fixed, open or closed, responsive or mute. The main theme is potential, though that potential can be unrealized if there is a lack of alignment between learning objectives and the technology used to achieve them.

Examples: An online course with a group for reflective discussion, a reddit or Quora forum to ask questions and solicit new perspective on a problem-based learning lesson, a 1:1 classroom where students move back and forth between ‘digital’ and physical workspaces.

How it’s different than traditional classrooms: In a digital classroom, the spaces are both physical and digital if for no other reason than no matter how ‘digital’ the tools, students are always ‘physical,’ usually coming from a physical home to sit in a physical space with other physical students in a physical school.

Strengths: As described above, a digital classroom has the potential to be entirely personalized for each student to connect with the right content, peer, or audience at the right time—and ‘scale’ insofar as that potential can be replicated for every student every day without the direct and persistent ‘programming’ of a teacher.

Weaknesses: Spaces in a digital classroom can be difficult to align with specific learning standards. They also can be full of distractions, notifications, temptations to ‘play’ (and not the ‘good’ kind of learning through play).

Also, though digital work can be social and open and collaborative, in many ways it can be even more de-personal and isolated than a student completing a worksheet sitting alone at a desk. In the former, the student may be the only person that ever sees any of the work or progress, while the worksheet example would at worst see the student turn in the worksheet to a teacher who would provide feedback and often a grade, which would then be communicated to parent/guardians/family, etc.

2. The Tone

Summary: This one’s a little abstract, but the idea is that the tone of a digital classroom is one of its most striking characteristics. From the aesthetic of the assignments to the workflow for teachers to the pace of the assignments to the frustration of buggy software, digital classrooms have a kind of mood and tone that make it striking in contrast to traditional classrooms, where assignments often begin here and end there and all student activites are contained, finite, and often teacher or classroom-centered.

Example: The sequence of tasks in a digital classroom is recursive and often nonsensical, sometimes requiring students to sign up for an account before completing an assignment (e.g., creating a ReadWorks account before being taking a quiz) other times requiring a student to complete an assignment so that they may open a new account (e.g., to public a project-based learning artifact), while other times signing up for a VPN because of a district internet filter that blocks a resource it has no business blocking.

Why this difference matters: Without embracing the often chaotic and de-centralized patterns and tone of a digital classroom, teachers can become worried that no ‘real learning’ is happening, or that they’ve somehow failed to plan sufficiently.

Strengths: It’s easier to put students, student progress, and student work on display in a digital classroom

Weaknesses: Classroom management in a digital classroom is different—more challenging for some students/teachers, less for others. The tone here can bring out the best or ‘worst’ in students and student interactions.

3. The Feedback Loops

Summary: In a digital classroom, the feedback loops have the chance to be much faster than a traditional classroom—sometimes instantaneous.

Examples: In a traditional classroom, the feedback loops include teacher’s correcting assignments (often days later), teachers provide oral feedback in the moment (which is limited because teachers can’t ‘scale’ and interface with every student every moment. In a digital classroom, a video game in a game-based learning assignment provides immediate feedback that responds exactly to each student input the moment it’s made. Learning platforms can let a student know right away that an answer was incorrect by showing a giant red X animation, or offering a pop-up dialogue box that offers a hint.

How it’s different than traditional classrooms: The feedback loops are much faster in a digital classroom, can be customized—per student, per lesson, per operating system, individual or group work, etc.

Strengths: See above—it’s instant. It ‘scales.’ It equally applies to all students in the same ways, allowing for norm-referenced evaluation when that’s useful.

Weaknesses: While it can be more personalized in some ways (correcting a specific student error), a digital classroom alone can’t reproduce a teacher’s knowledge of the history, temperament, affections, gifts, etc., of each child the way the best teachers can.

4. The Technology

Summary: The fourth element of a digital classroom is the most iconic: the technology. Whether hardware or software, WiFi or LANs, operating systems or social media channels, the technology of a digital classroom is the most visible part for many, and thus can seem the most crucial.

(This, of course, couldn’t be further from the truth. The most critical part of any learning experience for a child is the child—what they learn, and what they do with what they learn.)

Examples: Apps, social media platforms like facebook, instagram, etc; YouTube, live video streaming platforms (from YouTube or twitch for video games to streaming public events; Google Chromebooks, MacBooks, Windows laptops; iPads and Android tablets; Apple Watch and other smart watches and wearable technology; virtual reality hardware, applications, and games; QR codes and scanners; Google search and related web browsers with plug-ins and extensions; adaptive learning algorithms and artificial intelligence; Kindles and other eReaders; projectors; USB and portable memory; cloud storage and file-sharing; smart boards; document scanners; personal computer desktops and Mac Minis (as a portable desktop); operating systems like Mac OS, iOS, Android, Microsoft Windows), video games, message forums; MOOCs; podcasting tools; crowdsourcing platforms

How it’s different than traditional classrooms: It never stops changing


Strengths: It never stops changing

Weaknesses: It never stops changing

5. The Workflow

Summary: In a digital classroom, the workflow shifts from teacher student to the the student —-> everything else —-> student —-> everything else.

Examples: See below

How it’s different than traditional classrooms: In a traditional classroom, the workflow is fairly predictable: the teacher gives an assignment, the students complete the assignment and return to the work to the teacher. Sometimes, collaboration between students occurs. Teachers may also send the work back to the student with learning feedback, then require the student to resubmit. At best, it’s a lot like hitting a tennis ball back and forth.

In a digital classroom, the workflow can be similarly binary—from student to learning platform when a student completes a lesson on Khan Academy, or a student submits an essay assignment via Google Drive to a teacher.

But it also can be between a group of 12 students on a daily basis for a week, to a mentor for feedback, back to smaller groups of 3 for more granular feedback, then to the teacher for evaluation, then published to a public audience via a social platform or local/physical venue.

Strengths: The workflow in a digital classroom provides more opportunities for creative feedback, critical evaluation, authentic ‘real-world’ contexts, psychological support, etc.

Weaknesses: It can be difficult to both predict and ‘contain’ the workflow in a digital classroom

6. The Data

Summary: The data in a digital classroom is crucial to providing precise feedback and personalizing learning for students. It can be elegantly visualized and easily shared, though learning models and curriculum must be flexible enough to abort and respond to a constant influx of new data on learning progress.

This may not sound very ‘progressive,’ but in today’s public education environment few things matter more than data. In a more Utopian view, I’d probably call this category/element ‘personalization’ (because that’s what data should be used for) and analyze it through that kind of lens.

Examples: student interests and background knowledge (yes, this is data); current reading level; reading level changes; criterion-based assessment performance over time; assessment performance norm-referenced against national peers; letter grades compared to standardized testing results; data objectively evaluating student behavior (versus perceived behaviors);

How it’s different than traditional classrooms: While data isn’t exclusive to digital classrooms, in this context it can be easier to extract and visualize, more recent and personalized, and depending on the kind of data, more numerous and accurate as well.

Strengths: There’s so much of it, and it’s easier to visualize and share with other teachers, students, parents, community members, universities, etc.

Weaknesses: There’s so much of it. Also, if a school is focused on a specific metrics to demonstrate progress, even the most potentially useful and relevant data suddenly becomes unuseful and irrelevant. (When you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail; when you’re looking for improvement in ‘fluency’ and have compelling metrics for that, it’s easy to lose sight of the reader as a whole.)

7. The Purpose & Audience

Summary: In a digital classroom, purpose and audience are the most powerful shifts as experienced by the students. With the limitations of a traditional classroom removed, what the student is create and who they’re able to create it for increases to infinity.

Saving the best for (almost) last, in a digital classroom the purpose of the classroom itself can be different—and this can be as concrete or abstract as you’d like.

Examples: Is the purpose of the classroom to promote academic performance or improve the arc of the student’s life and the opportunities (and no, these two aren’t as closely linked as they should be)? That’s abstract.

Is the purpose of the classroom primarily to index students by last nance while managing their navigation through a one-size-fits-all digital curriculum, or is it to provide a gathering place for self-directed learners guiding themselves through project-based learning units and activities? That’s a little more concrete.

Is the purpose to deliver a curriculum and report progress or empower students to discover their best selves and grow as much as they can in the time they are with you in that classroom? That’s abstract again. The point is, because the digital classroom can be as open or closed as the teacher designs it to be, it’s flexible.

And closely related to purpose is audience: Purpose: What should this classroom ‘do’? How will we know it’s working?

Audience: Who is this classroom ‘for’? Who wants and needs to know about each a student and their progress? And more acutely, who can we connect students with to serve them? Who can help them grow? Who can provide authenticity and credibility for the work? Who can provide meaningful learning feedback, support, and mentoring?

Who cares and who doesn’t?

How it’s different than traditional classrooms: A traditional classroom can be designed almost exactly like the description above, but it’s far more time-consuming, the options are more limited, the feedback loops are less responsive, and the teacher can easily become the bottleneck because of the sheer amount of work necessary to ‘herd’ students in this kind of approach to learning.

Strengths: The purpose and audience of a digital classroom can become almost anything with great transparency and collaboration.

Weaknesses: Beyond the teacher, few people have the expertise (and often legal access) to evaluate student work based on specific learning objectives that themselves are standards-based. Real-world feedback can indeed support standards-based growth, but there are far better ways to promote mastery of academic standards than turning students loose in the ‘real world.’

8. The Products & Opportunities

Summary: The products and opportunities in a digital classroom are closely tied to Purpose & Audience. The idea is that because students are learning in digital spaces, they are able to create new ‘things’—organizations, media, collaborations, brands, platforms, etc., which then yields countless new opportunities for them in and out of the classroom.

Examples: Developing a project that plants trees in urban areas, working with a mentor, finding a new hobby, discovering new art/music/literature, making a playlist of art/music/literature, sharing a music playlist, curating their best work, comparing university majors/programs

How it’s different than traditional classrooms: The biggest differences are the immediacy of connections, abundance of information, and potential ‘scale’ of any efforts (i.e., a well-designed project done in a digital classroom could literally reach millions of people in a short time)

Strengths: Quantity, availability, adjustability—if there isn’t already a digital ‘space’ well-suited to every student, one can be made.

Weaknesses: Because of the sheer abundance of everything digital, there is constant need to reflect on one’s own purpose, goals, ‘metrics’ (how ‘success’ is measure), etc., in addition to the always-on need to evaluate the credibility and embedded bias in information and media discovered online

8 Critical Elements Of The Digital Classroom

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20 Ways High Schools Are Using Twitter In The Classroom



twitter-and-higher-order-thinking-skills-revised-fi20 Ways High Schools Are Using Twitter In The Classroom

by TeachThought Staff

Like all social media platforms, twitter isn’t ‘good’ or ‘bad; anymore than a magazine or pamphlet is ‘good’ or ‘bad.’

While plenty of colleges are getting tuned in to all of the great things you can do with Twitter, unfortunately, many high schools are still held back by restrictive social media policies.

However, the lucky few who are able to take advantage of Twitter are already doing amazing things. Chatting with students in Pakistan, reporting high school football on the fly, and supplementing classroom discussion are just a few of the great ways high schools have made use of Twitter.

Following up on our ways to use twitter in the classroom is this more specific post: Ways to use twitter in the high school classroom. This post has been updated from original publishing in 2012.

20 Ways High Schools Are Using Twitter In The Classroom

1. Vocabulary and Grammar Building

In foreign language classrooms (and beyond) students learn about verbs with the help of Twitter. Through the service, students tweet verbs, their definitions, morphology, and grammatical functions, and as the tweets come in, teachers and peers fix or give hints on incorrect entries. Teachers can see how and where students make mistakes, and have them immediately corrected, while students can understand how they’re making mistakes before getting too far, offering immediate formative assessment.

2. Parent Communication

So many school districts are using both Twitter and Facebook to reach out to plugged-in parents without having to send home notes in kids’ backpacks. Lunch menus, school board meetings, and even discussions about school district decisions are being shared online.

Proponents of school districts on Twitter support this move, pointing out that districts can get instant feedback, and parents can conveniently share their insights. In one Portland public school, after sending out information about the flu and recommending that students wash their hands frequently, community members pointed out that there are unreliable faucets, and the school was able to respond with maintenance workers.

3. Backchannel Discussions

High school students can sometimes be quite introverted and shy in the classroom, but outspoken online. Additionally, some high school classes move through discussions quickly, and not all students find the opportunity to speak up in class.

Both of these issues are addressed as high school classes encourage a Twitter backchannel discussion, in which quiet, shy, and unable-to-get-a-word-in-edgewise students are able to speak up in class without actually speaking up in class, sharing their comments, insights, and even relevant links through Twitter as the discussion goes on. Educators have found that Twitter backchannel discussions provide for more interaction not just in the classroom, but beyond, as students often enjoy further carrying on the conversation even after class time is over.

4. Professional Development

Twitter makes the education world smaller, connecting principals, teachers, and other education professionals across the U.S. and even around the globe. Principal Sheninger at New Milford High School in New Jersey started using Twitter to keep in touch with parents, but found its real value in reaching out to other educators and collaborating with them. He is able to use the tool to find new ideas, new resources, and ideas for professional development.

5. Reaching Political Candidates

Wise politicians know that listening to the people is their most important job, and as such, so many have jumped on the Twitter bandwagon to connect with constituents and voters, particularly during campaign season. One 11th-grade social studies class in Canada is using a Twitter classroom to reach out to candidates in local elections, allowing students to become more informed and feel more involved in the political process. The students send out questions to the candidates, and sometimes even get responses right back.

6. Creating Imaginative Dialogues in English-Language Arts

Illinois high school English teacher Tracee Orman uses Twitter to enrich the learning experience of Hunger Games, asking students to tweet as if they were a character from a chapter in the book. This is a fun way to engage students in the content that they’re studying, and a great practice in learning empathy and understanding of characters.

7. Review Content

At Iowa’s Valley High School, Sarah Bird’s DigiTools class uses Twitter as a tool for reviewing material. After each discussion Bird asks her students to twitter their MVP (Most Valuable Point) using their classroom hashtag. This quick exercise allows students to further digest and understand the material at hand, while at the same time creating a great resource for future review.

8. Supporting School Newspapers

In some schools, high school newspapers just aren’t getting the attention they used to, as students are often glued to phones, tablets, and laptops much more regularly than anything representing real paper. Some school newspapers are now using Twitter as a way to aggregate news information, tweet stories as they happen, and interact with their audience through questions and polls. Freedom High student journalists in Pennsylvania’s Bethlehem Township often live-tweet updates about football games right from the stands, sharing news for those who can’t make it to the game.

9. Connecting With Global Peers

Adam Taylor’s class at Nashville’s Overton High School connected with students half a world away in Pakistan, and they’re quite enthusiastic about it. The two classes discuss student voices in school, cultural stereotypes, and more, learning what life is like outside of their own classroom and culture. Taylor’s idea has been quite popular, and is even such a great draw that students are willing to come in early to school for the discussions.

10. Volunteer Opportunities

One non-profit group, Jersey Cares, targets tweets to find volunteers to fill their recruitment needs, and has found that many high schoolers answer the call. High school groups use Twitter to locate projects in their area where they can help out, since so many nonprofits are speaking out and asking for help on the social media service.

11. Concise Writing Exercises

English teachers often need to teach the importance of brevity in writing, and Twitter is such a great tool for that, with its 280 character limit per tweet. Through the service, teachers assign tweets as a way to encourage understanding and efficient use of language. You can also use twitter to practice writing thesis statements, too.

12. Twitter Quizzes

In California, Half Moon Bay High School history students can actually have fun with their quizzes, which take place on Twitter. Teacher Mike Putnam uses the social media service to ask fun questions that students answer, such as, “Who would you rather have dinner with? Adams, Jefferson, or Washington?”

13. Word Tracking

As classrooms focus on a particular unit or subject, Twitter offers a great opportunity for staying up to date with learning beyond textbooks. Through Twitter, high school classrooms are tracking words, in which they subscribe to all tweets that include a particular words or phrase, like “Pearl Harbor,” or “woodworking,” returning results with insights, new developments, and more. This exercise is great for allowing students to follow current events and learn about resources they might not otherwise find.

14. Thought-Provoking Questions

Minneapolis English teacher Candace Boerema doesn’t use Twitter for assignments, but she does keep up the educational chatter, and encourages her students to interact with Twitter. With questions like, “Who are you in Elizabethan England?” and “Is chivalry dead?,” Boerema sparks offline discussion and interaction among her students that’s reported to be inspiring and great for keeping students connected even when they’re not in class.

15. Fundraising

Whether it’s for sending the glee club off to regionals or shoes to South America, high schools always seem to have a need for fundraising, and they can use all the help they can get. Some schools have turned to Twitter and Facebook to get the word out, going social, and hopefully viral, in their efforts. Aided by online fundraising platforms and online payment tools, they’re able to do virtual fundraising to complement and even replace traditional car washes and bake sales.

16. Connecting With Experts

Everyone is on Twitter these days, from celebrities to the President to world leaders, scientists, and more–and some high school classrooms are smart enough to take advantage of that.

In Madison County, Ala., students use Twitter to interact with historians around the world. They put together questions to ask historians on Twitter, getting answers that may not be easy to find in their history books. This sort of interaction is great for learning from experts, and teaches students the value of research beyond traditional sources.

17. Researching and Planning Careers

Another great way high school students are using Twitter connections is in preparing for their careers. Students can talk to professionals who are currently working in the paths they’re thinking about following in their future careers. Some teachers have set up assignments that have students create Twitter lists in which they can follow accounts that are relevant to their career goals.

18. Twitter Scavenger Hunts

Some teachers are helping students improve their research skills by assigning Internet scavenger hunts and only allowing students to use Twitter to find their sources. Students often find this a fun challenge, and a great way to research ideas and movements through Twitter searches.

19. Real-Time Source Evaluation

Using Twitter, students are able to tweet sources and ask their teacher, fellow classmates, and others that they engage with on Twitter whether it seems to be a credible source or not. This is a great way to teach about the use of online resources and learning about which sources are reliable, and which shouldn’t be trusted.

20. Foreign Language Practice

Students in foreign language classes are able to use Twitter discussion around the world to learn about foreign languages. They create lists that allow them to follow foreign language news resources, key Twitter personalities, and more. Students are even able to follow foreign language Twitter pen pals that they can interact with.

20 Ways High Schools Are Using Twitter In The Classroom; This is a cross-post from; Image attribution flickr user hankerstein

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