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Caroline Elbra-Ramsay. Using twitter to develop student teachers’ understanding of children’s literature and the teaching of reading. Context.

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Caroline Elbra-Ramsay

Using twitter to develop student teachers’ understanding of children’s literature and the teaching of reading.


‘Any work with children and stories depends on a teacher’s knowledge of texts. This does not just mean knowing about the language, structures and narrative devices of stories; it means knowing who are the good writers most likely to stimulate your class. That, in turn, means reading a lot of stories for children.’

Medwell et al (2011p. 139) Primary English: Knowledge and Understanding. Exeter: Learning Matters

  • 3 year BA in Primary Education (with QTS)
  • 153 students organised into 5 teaching groups
  • Year long module “Children’s Learning in English”

[1] Children’s attitudes to reading, Marian Sainsbury, Literacy Today, 2004.

[2] Young people’s attitudes towards reading, Nestle/MORI, 2003.

Source: Ofsted, English 2000-2005

children s reading
Children’s Reading

  • 2003 -The Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) found that, although the reading skills of 10-year-old pupils in England compared well with those of pupils in other countries, they read less frequently for pleasure and were less interested in reading than those elsewhere.
  • 2003 - NFER reading survey (2003), conducted by Marian Sainsbury, concluded that children’s enjoyment of reading had declined significantly in recent years. (Ofsted 2005)
  • 2006- PIRLS survey -English 9-10 year-olds were still well below the international -ranked 37th out of the 45 countries taking part. 15% of English pupils described as having an unfavourable attitude to reading which is 2x international average (Cremin, 2008)
  • 2009- PISA survey - ‘In almost all countries, students who enjoy reading are significantly more likely to be good readers’ (OECD 2010 p.7)



Effective teaching and learning in language and literature depends upon strong subject knowledge, of both a range of texts and of approaches to studying them.

Gamble, N. and Yates, S. (2008 p.1)

‘Any work with children and stories depends on a teacher’s knowledge of texts. This does not just mean knowing about the language, structures and narrative devices of stories; it means knowing who are the good writers most likely to stimulate your class. That, in turn, means reading a lot of stories for children.’

Medwell et al (2011 p. 139)


Project Aims

  • To extend student teachers’ understanding of children's literature
  • To use social media as an additional resource
  • To develop a peer communication network
social media as a teaching tool
Social Media as a Teaching Tool

‘technologies have the potential to promote active engagement, encourage people to work in groups, provide opportunities for feedback from a wide audience, and connect people to others who are knowledgeable’ (Kelm 2011 p. 507)

Foroughi (2011) suggests specific benefits:

• Learning-related benefits: facilitation of collaborative learning, development of independent learning skills, problem solving, team work, reflective learning, peer-to-peer support/feedback,

• Social benefits for students: increased engagement in course material,

development of a sense of community and of transferable skills that enhance student employability, increased sense of achievement, control, and ownership of their work.

Encourages greater learner autonomy and reduces the need for the teacher-dominated lecture environment (Kelm, 2011)


social media as a teaching tool1
Social Media as a Teaching Tool

‘…studies suggest that learning with social media helps students develop metacognition, self-reflection, and communication abilities. …Similarly, Greenhow and Gleason (2012) advance the idea of “Twitteracy,” a functional ability to use Twitter as a place to ex -change ideas and fashion oneself as a professional within a larger community.’ (Hitchock and Battista 2013 p.35)

‘Some students are uncomfortable using social media and prefer to opt out of participating on Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms for a variety of reasons, including privacy concerns, previous negative experiences with social media, or uncertainty about the effects’ (Hitchcock and Battista 2013 p.39)



10 days of twitter



Interactive tag clouds


tasks activities
Tasks/ Activities
  • Favourite book from SE1
  • ********@*********  ·  Feb 13
  • The Selfish Crocodile, 4*, Year 2. The story has really good morals and the children had fun hot seating the characters. #1QTSE15A
  • Award winners / book groups/ authors / resources /recommended reading (#ff)
  • Book queries
  • ******‏@ ******‏ YSJFeb 20
  • Any ideas for a story that could link to the new topic on 'electric rainbow'? #1QTSE15A
  • Caroline ElbraRamsay ‏@celbraramsayFeb 20
  • @ ******‏ YSJ not sure about this one. Try searching Madeleine lindley's bookstore. @teacher_books
  • Madeleine Lindley ‏@teacher_booksFeb 20@celbraramsay@ ******‏ YSJ How about Elmer and the Rainbow, Lighthouse Keeper's Lunch, I Want My Light On or Moonlight and Shadow?


tasks activities1
Tasks/ Activities
  • ******‏ ‏@ ******‏ Feb 20 Can anyone recommend a non-fiction and a fiction book on space? #1QTSE15A
  • Caroline ElbraRamsay ‏@celbraramsayFeb 20@ ******‏ what year group ? #1QTSE15A
  • ******‏ ‏@ ******‏Feb 20@celbraramsay Year 1 #1QTSE15A
  • David Scott ‏@David_Scott_YSJFeb 21@ ******‏@celbraramsay Have you read Sea of Tranquillity by Mark Haddon?
  • mark haddon ‏@mark_haddonFeb 23
  • @David_Scott_YSJ@ ******‏@celbraramsay that's a cracking read if i remember correctly.


tasks activities2
Tasks/ Activities
  • Virtual book discussion
  • ******‏ YSJ ‏@ ******‏ YsjFeb 24#1QTSE15A 'The Rainy Day' 4. Could this book be used effectively in Ks1 science lessons?
  • ******‏ ‏@ ******‏ ysjFeb 24@ ******‏ Ysj I think so, could be a chance for some outdoor learning and small experiments too #1qtse15a
  • ******‏ ‏@ ******‏ _ysjFeb 24@ ******‏ Ysj you could look at mini beasts and habitats
  • ******‏ YSJ ‏@ ******‏ YsjFeb 24@ ******‏ _ysj thanks!!


tasks activities3
Tasks/ Activities
  • World book day – character, examples from practice, activity idea, favourite line
  • *******@********_ysj ·  Mar 7
  • #1qtse15a You're never too old, too wacky, too wild, to pick up a book and read to a child- Dr Seuss
  • ******‏ @ ******‏ ·  Mar 16
  • if you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams, and you will always look lovely- the twits #1qtse15a


tasks activities4
Tasks/ Activities
  • Responding to an article
    • Caroline ElbraRamsay ‏@celbraramsayApr 29
    • #1QTSE14A#1QTSE15A …
    • ******* ‏@ *******May 2@celbraramsay I disagree with this article and believe that there are plenty of books aimed towards boys.
    • ******* ‏@ ******* Apr 29@celbraramsay There are plenty of graphic novels which would appeal to boys on his criteria i.e. EoinColfer's Artemis Fowl series.
    • Caroline ElbraRamsay ‏@celbraramsayApr 30
    • @ ******* Have you see this? …
    • ******* ‏@ *******Apr 29@celbraramsay Young children will not think that a picture book is girlie unless they are influenced to think so #1QTSE14



Contacting specialists - really enjoyed making wider links/connections which may come in useful later in my career

  • I enjoy using my professional account for asking authors and other people in the class help. This means we are all connected and everyone is willing to help over the internet. I have used twitter to help with literacy lesson ideas and I use it to keep up to date with educational news. I also used twitter for ides with my story sack and this gained a large response even from people who did not attend this university.
  • I found it great help getting in touch with specialist authors and book stores. I needed to find a pirate story book for my 3 week placement so I went onto Twitter and asked if anyone had any recommendations and had a reply from a book store which was really useful, it also saved me time.
  • It was interesting to see peers ideas and be able to use some of these in teaching. It has been a good way to improve SE1 and further teaching practises to know which books have been recommended by people who we are similar with and those that have been suggested as not working well with the children.
  • I've found that I have come across a lot more new texts for lower key stage 1 which I found useful
  • I thought the task where we asked each other for specific books for reluctant readers was good. It provided lots of ideas to use.
  • I liked to look through the information being posted in my own time but I didn't like to have to post things or comment on other people’s posts. I preferred to spend time looking through things by myself rather than being under pressure during the seminars.

Has your perception of twitter changed as part of this project? If so, how?

  • I enjoy the instant connectivity
  • Yes - it can have a more professional use rather than just a social one.
  • I barely ever used twitter before the module I just didn't find an interest but now I enjoy asking for help and keeping up to date with educational news. It just makes me feel more in touch with the outside world and with being at uni
  • It has changed, I didn't realise twitter could be used as a tool to support academic development.
  • I didn't think it would be useful but now I've used it independently outside the teaching sessions my perception of it has definitely changed.
  • Yes, I used to just think it was something that celebrities argued on now I feel it can be used very well educationally.
  • I have learnt that Twitter can be used in a professional way as well as socially.
  • I think it has because I see how it can be useful as a professional tool as well as for fun.
key findings considerations
Key findings/ Considerations
  • Enrichment not replacement
  • IT skills, resources
  • SEN e.g. dyslexic students, visually impaired
  • Privacy, e-safety
  • Enter a professional community and develop professional identity
  • Resource rather than just communication.
  • Each other as a resource
  • Tutor time-availability/ communication – blurring of roles
  • Teaching time now a premium
  • Focus/purpose
  • Scaffolding
  • Social constructivist – the social in social media


  • Barnes, K. Marateo, R. C. & Ferris, S. P. (2007). Teaching and learning with the Net Generation Innovate: Journal of Online Education. Vol. 3, No 4
  • Cremin T., Mottram M., Bearne E., & GoodwinP. (2008) Exploring teachers' knowledge of children's literature, Cambridge Journal of Education, 38:4, 449-464
  • Dunn, L. (2013) Teaching in higher education: can social media enhance the learning experience? In: 6th Annual University of Glasgow Learning and Teaching Conference, 19th Apr 2013, Glasgow, UK.
  • Foroughi, A. (2011). A Research Framework for Evaluating the Effectiveness of Implementation of Social Media in Higher Education. Online Journal of Workforce Education and Development, 5(1).
  • Gamble N. and Yates S. (2008) Exploring Children's Literature, SAGE,
  • Hitchcock, L., and Andrew Battista. "Social Media for Professional Practice: Integrating Twitter With Social Work Pedagogy." Journal of Baccalaureate Social Work 18 (2013).
  • Kelm (2011) Social Media: it’s what students do , University of Texas at Austin Business Communication Quarterly, Volume 74, Number 4, December 2011 505-520
  • OECD (2011), “Are students who enjoy reading better readers?”, in PISA 2009 at a Glance, OECD Publishing.
  • Ofsted (2005) English 2000–05 :A review of inspection evidence Crown
  • U.S. Department of Education Institute of Education Sciences (2003) Findings from the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) of 2003 U.S. Department of Education Institute of Education Sciences
  • U.S. Department of Education Institute of Education Sciences (2006) Findings from the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) of 2006 U.S. Department of Education Institute of Education Sciences