A teacher in Windsor, Ont., is teaching her first and second grade students to tweet, blog and Skype as part of the elementary curriculum.
"It’s a different language in my class," said Kristen Wideen, who teaches a split class at Eastwood public school.
Her students tweet using the handle @MrsWideensClass. Kids write the tweets, Wideen approves them.
"I do look at them before they go out and make sure it’s appropriate," Wideen said.
They solve math problems with a class in Singapore using the hash tag #mathstories.
They tweet photos of tadpoles growing in their classroom to students in Iowa.
"They have an audience that is not just their teacher anymore. If they want to share something they’re proud of, they can share that and get feedback," Wideen said.
The students have their own YouTube channel. Recently, the class read Charlotte's Web with classrooms from around the world; each took a turn reading a chapter of the book while on video chat.
Wideen admits some parents were skeptical and wary of social media being introduced to kids at such a young age.
Now, parents come in every Tuesday and Thursday and participate.
"My students are showing them what we’re doing. We have some parents who follow us now. They’ve been very supportive," she said.
Each student has a digital portfolio and some have blogs.
"You see the progression from a non-writer … and their parents can see that," Wideen said.
But she doesn't force blogs or entries on the students.
"It’s a free-choice activity," Wideen said.
She said a larger audience drives her students to write and post videos online.
"They’ve exceeded my expectations. They teach me things," Wideen said. "I plan things and they say 'Why don’t we do this on the iPad instead?'
There are 20 iPads in the classroom. Wideen says they've transformed iPads into "huge learning tools."
Wideen's work has made her an Apple Distinguished Educator.
She's one of 50 Canadians chosen - 200 globally - that will head to Austin, Texas, in July for a week-long conference exploring how technology can enhance teaching.