Sometimes, teaching kindergarten, we have to take ideas that are excellent for older students and tweak them to fit our needs. Integrating social networking into teaching and learning is one of those ideas. It’d be great if kids could post to Facebook using hashtags or send out live tweets to one another. But we have a few problems. First, these kids are too young to host social networking sites. Second, as a teacher, we have to wrestle with our own, our district’s, and parents needs for child privacy and online presence.
There is a way around this in kindergarten, though. A website called Lemme Tweet That For You allows users to create fake tweets and publish them to another site. It even gives you fake followers and fake stats. Even though kids aren’t stellar typers in Kindergarten, Twitter’s 140 character limit is more than enough for a kindergarten sentence. I manipulated a lesson plan that I already have to incorporate Lemme Tweet That For You “tweets.” Every week, kids learn a new high frequency word. They read it, write it, find it in word searches, and use it in sentences. Using the web based programs, and with the help of an adult or older buddy class, kids can create uniform (fake) Twitter Handles, use the word in a sentence, and add a hashtag of the word. In the sample below (click on it to see a bigger version), I used the handle @B4Kinders (we are kindergarteners in room B4), wrote my sentence, and used the hashtag #too. You can use uniform handles like @B4Jonny or @B4Sally to designate kids. You have the option to add a photo or not. Be careful, though: This site pulls real twitter handles from Twitter if they exist. Be sure to test each uniform handle before giving them to kids.
It is easy enough to teach kids to take screen shots on an iPad. By holding down the home button and the power button, a screen shot is taken. (It is probably going to be easiest to manage this if I’m using a small group set of iPads instead of 1:1, so that I can pull more images off one device in a faster time.) Left at that, I can then go back in to the iPads, pull the screenshots, and collect them in one place to later share and talk about with the kids. How fun is it for them to see them all in once place! Although I’m only in week one of doing this, I’m imagining that kids will be encouraged to write bigger and better sentences if they know they are going to be shared with the class!
Although it’s not traditional, there are ways to add (albeit fake) social networking into kindergarten life. Give it a try!