It is often the goal of educators to encourage topic specific interactions and discussion between students within the classroom. When students share their learning with each other it helps them retain information and feel like part of a community. A more significant reason for sharing student learning comes to light in A Framework for K-12 Science Education. The Framework describes eight science and engineering practices. These practices are behaviors that scientists and engineers engage in to investigate phenomena and design solutions to problems. When students develop proficiency in these eight practices the student become better equipped to be critical thinkers and critical consumers.
The eight practices are listed below. For more support on the practices from NSTA check out https://ngss.nsta.org/PracticesFull.aspx. For a free download of A Framework for K-12 Science Education go to, https://www.nap.edu/catalog/13165/a-framework-for-k-12-science-education-practices-crosscutting-concepts
Here are the practices:
- Asking Questions and Defining Problems.
- Developing and Using Models.
- Planning and Carrying Out Investigations.
- Analyzing and Interpreting Data.
- Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking.
- Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions.
- Engaging in Argument from Evidence.
- Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information
Many educators have discovered Twitter as a way to help students share learning in class as a backchannel. A backchannel is often a projector displaying tweets in response to questions or ideas being discussed in class. These background tweets allow all students (introvert and extrovert) to have a voice. Twitter also allows connection with a bigger audience as well as an opportunity to engage in intelligent discourse with students outside their own classroom.
Science classroom tweeting could include:
- Tweeting student classroom learning
- Tweeting student ideas of understanding
- Tweeting student Ah-ha moments
- Tweeting answers to questions or sharing suggestions
- Tweeting corrections to science misconceptions
- Sharing new science findings in various fields of science
- Conversations with scientists, science writers, or other science professionals
- Replying to other students learning with professional and positive comments or questions
- “Liking” and “retweeting” other students or scientists tweets
As many educators are working to a 3D (3 Dimensional Classroom: 1. science and engineering practices, disciplinary core ideas, and cross cutting concepts) Twitter can provide a way to share understanding through the Science and Engineering practices. Tweets from students addressing the practices can have many different appearances. Here are a few suggestions for the content of tweets using the practices.
Tweets might include an explanation of particular phenomenon or a claim with evidence to support. Tweets could also include a data set (image) with a short analysis. In other Twitter posts, it would be possible to list the steps to a student designed investigation along with the results in a tweet. Students could share how their model of a particular phenomenon has improved over time. Learners, perhaps, would simply share observations that help move the thinking of the class and lesson forward. As students generate their own questions about phenomenon they might post them as a way to show their thinking on the hashtag. Many of the tweet suggestions above could also be accompanied with a short explainer video created by students and embedded in the tweet.
Participation by students is encouraged on a class or individual level.
When possible students and teachers are encouraged to post original content at least once a week. Students are also encouraged to reply and retweet other student tweets at least once a week. There are no obligations to post. All grade levels are encouraged. Younger grades often post from teachers accounts. All posts to the hashtags are encouraged be positive, professional, and thoughtful. As a result of Twitter being an open forum individuals with less than stellar intentions may post on the hashtag. When and if these posts happen, use it as an opportunity to teach students about their digital footprint and how to be safe on the internet and specifically the need to be responsible social media users.
Why two hashtags? The first hashtag #StuScience was made by consensus of core group of educators. The second hashtag #Sci4AllSs is an older hashtag that is based on access to quality science standards for all students. Feel free to use one or both.
In room 115 at Dickson County High School I use tweets for formative assessment. So students are asked to include the hashtags listed above and a hashtag for the period they are in my class. Ex, #taysci1 (Taylor Science period 1) #taysci2 etc… Students paste three hashtags into each tweet.
I am excited for the collaboration between students.
Keep in mind the information shared above are suggestions and not requirements to use the hashtags. The hashtags are open for all to use as you see fit in your class.
Please join us on the hashtags and help create a community for science communication for science classrooms across the country. Please reach-out to me if you have more questions. @2footgiraffe on Twitter is the best method. An archive of the hashtags will be accessible on a view only spreadsheet if current archiving methods persist. Contact me and I will share the link.