One of my big pushes this year (actually a professional learning goal) was to involve my students in social media. My stated rational and goal was this:
For many AAC communicators, due to the delay inherent using the device, seeing the pay-off of using their device to communicate can be difficult, which can decrease motivation to communicate. By opening up the world of social media, where all communication is text and image based, AAC users are on an level playing field when it comes to communication, and need little or no accommodation in order to participate. This fact, combined with the motivation of seeing their words get real-world responses beyond their immediate world of family and teachers, is a powerful tool for motivating and engaging AAC communicators at every level.So far, my students have had limited interest in using our class twitter account. They've enjoyed participating in the twitter projects we've done (e.g. #mathphoto15) but no particular care for posting their finds to the account, and even less for seeing the reactions their posts have gotten. They have less than zero interest in responding to posts from other classes we follow or for checking out what other people participating in the projects have posted or responding to those posts.
I'm normally a very student-lead educator. My instruction is driven by my students' interests. So why do I keep coming back to social media when my students so obviously don't care? (Other than the obvious need for data on my professional learning goals for teacher assessments.)
The hardest thing about teaching my students is not the lack of formal language; it's not the physical needs; it's not the behavior challenges either. The hardest thing about teaching my students is that they do not create product. Interaction with the physical world itself is a barrier and challenge for my learners. It's hard for me, because I have nothing to show to point to my learners' achievements; it's hard for my learners' parents, who want to see what their child is doing/can do and who cannot simply ask their child to tell or show them what they know and can do.
And so I turn to twitter. To digital portfolios. To blogging. To the maker movement. To find a way for my learners to share their stories: with me, with their families, and, yes, with the world. It doesn't have to be Twitter just because that's where I like to tell my story. I will keep looking until I find someplace that works for them.
I do it also in the hope that other teachers who have learners like mine in their classes will dare to tell their stories too. So we can change the story of education for learners traditionally labeled severe/profound. Because that's my story.