Erin Cianciolo and co-author Kimberly Hodgkinson are the K-5 STEM integrators for Salem Schools in Salem, New Hampshire.
As STEM integrators, we were tasked with choosing a social media platform to enhance our district-issued webpage. We decided to give Twitter a try, and we have since agreed that Twitter is an important tool for us. We will share with you five benefits and tips for using social media when teaching PLTW and would love to hear how you are using social media in your PLTW programs.
A tweeted image from one PLTW lesson
1. Show Your Stuff!
We are so proud of the work going on in our district in the area of STEM. Project Lead The Way is in use in our high school, middle school, and is now being assimilated it into our five elementary schools. As STEM integrators, we are able to teach PLTW Launch modules. This impacts not only children, but teachers as well, as we model the PLTW framework for them. We are slowly making our way around the district, and everyone who sees what is going on is full of questions. That’s where Twitter comes in: By looking at our Twitter feed, colleagues, parents, students, and members of the community can get a glimpse into what we are doing. A picture is worth a thousand words, right?
This tweet explained a lot about the use of iPads and VEX kits!
2. Learn From Others
Another benefit of using social media is to learn. We want to mirror best practices, work smarter not harder, and communicate with other educators. By using hashtags and following people who are re-tweeted by Project Lead The Way, we can utilize small moments of free time to grow our own lessons. For example, when I saw what a fellow PLTW teacher was doing in class, I replied to his tweet, asking him to share more information. He kindly sent me some presentation materials that I later used in class.
3. Organize Resources for Students
Sometimes we find ourselves promoting our work to our own students! On more than one occasion, we have pulled up our @STEM_K_5_SAU57 Twitter feed to show students what a peer across town had done in PLTW. We can also save an image we both want to use in a lesson by quickly tweeting it. This keeps everything in one place so that we can pull images up onto the digital whiteboard.
We used this in more than one lesson as we talked to students about their work in PLTW.
4. Streamline Communication
Everyone is so busy, and we don’t always have time to share our favorite moments with administrators. Twitter gives us an opportunity to showcase great moments in our classrooms.
In addition, sometimes we share our work because the two of us are not in the same building as one another: A glimpse at Twitter helps us see how a lesson went, and then we can communicate quick words of encouragement to one another.
Twitter also helped us communicate with our local PLTW director of school engagement, Suzanne Snow. When she came to meet with us this fall, she was already aware of many things we had done because she follows us on Twitter.
An image we tweeted to show how we set up the playfield in one of our schools.
5. Promote Your School and Classroom
If you do a quick Google search about social media’s use in education, article after article arises about educators viewing social media as a necessity and not a luxury. If your program is not promoting itself via one or more media platforms, you are behind the curve. School districts must showcase their use of Project Lead The Way and other curricula for a multitude of reasons.
Tweeting our first PLTW teacher training – it was one way to showcase these teachers’ hard work!
It’s a shift in thinking for many; spending time on social media is not just a fun way to relax – rather, it is a necessary communication tool. We have certainly found that it is a worthwhile way to enhance our program, promote STEM education, and showcase PLTW work in our district.
PLTW’s blog is intended to serve as a forum for ideas and perspectives from across our network. The opinions expressed are those of each guest author.