Classroom innovators: the Twitter teacher

Fintan O’Mahony, Scoil Mhuire, Carrick on Suir, Co Tipperary

Tech savvy: Fintan O’Mahony with second-year students. Photograph: Patrick Browne

Tech savvy: Fintan O’Mahony with second-year students. Photograph: Patrick Browne

 

An early adopter of social media, Fintan O’Mahony got his school to relax its ban on mobile phones three years ago, so he could introduce Twitter to the classroom.

Until then his history lessons were a traditional affair of working through photocopied handouts, “which was fierce boring for you and the student”.

He realised Twitter would make the class more enjoyable and help to develop students’ critical-thinking skills.

Leaving Cert correctors are always asked to look out for “significant, relevant statements” in exam papers; “I realised that could be a tweet: it didn’t need to be more than a couple of sentences.”

For a typical class, groups of students are asked to research a topic online and then to start tweeting facts in chronological order. He monitors quality, deleting misspelt or out-of-sequence tweets.

He then uses Storify to grade and document the tweets. The groups have a sense of researching like historians, he says.

This new way of working “would make a big difference for students who would not be as interested or as able in history,” says O’Mahony, who is running for the vice-presidency of the ASTI teachers’ union on a modernising ticket. “You can see results in some of their scores, an extra couple of per cent.”

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