“Tweet, tweet, tweet!” chirped the kindergartners in Jennifer Aaron's class last week, as they settled onto the multicolored carpet and began to consider what they would like to send out into the Twitter universe that day.
Three days a week, as the school day draws to a close, the children in Ms. Aaron's class sit down to compose a message about what they have been doing all day. They then send it out to their parents and relatives through Twitter, the stamping grounds of celebrities and politicians, where few kindergartners have been known to venture.
Ms. Aaron began the experiment this year with her class at Public School 150, an elementary school in TriBeCa, where every classroom has a Smartboard, a kind of interactive whiteboard, and all the fourth and fifth graders work on their own laptops.
First, Ms. Aaron signs into Twitter — her handle is @JensClass, but the account is private — and closes all the windows suggesting people her pupils might follow, people who are sometimes not appropriate for kindergartners (like strangers named Coco) or are difficult to explain (like Ryan Seacrest). Then she projects the site onto the Smartboard, and the class, as a group, comes up with 140 characters about the day.
"We had to add more stickers," began Lucy, who did not elaborate, so Ms. Aaron jumped in, explains that the class adds stickers for each day in school.
"We learned about time!" another student offered. And Ms. Aaron dutifully typed this in.
The memories of the preceding seven hours pile up. Caroline recalled that during recess, the class played in a new place and the students ate their snacks outside.
"There were no lame reflections," said another student, referring to the end-of-day pieces all the students write, which on this particular day were of exemplary quality.
With a few edits to the message, cutting it down to size, Ms. Aaron asked a student to read it back to her.
Luke: "We added more days in school stickers. We didn't have any lame reflections. We had snack outside. Ask us about time."
Ms. Aaron: "Are we ready to tweet?"
And out went the message, to parents and grandparents, most of whom had signed up on Twitter to follow the class's messages, tickled to see them pop up each day.
Ms. Aaron had more difficulty cultivating a following at her last school, which was in the South Bronx, where few parents had Internet connections. But the parents at P.S. 150 are a plugged-in group.
"To me, Twitter is like the ideal thing for 5-year-olds because it is so short," she said. "It makes them think about their day and kind of summarize what they've done during the day; whereas a lot of times kids will go home and Mom and Dad will say, 'What did you do today?' And they’re like, 'I don’t know.'"
Explaining what Twitter is was a little tricky, she said. But there was a handy analogy. Every weekend, one student takes home a stuffed animal frog and a journal. They take pictures and write about what they're doing to share with the rest of the class.
"So when I introduced Twitter, I said you guys are doing this with Froggie on the weekend, and so we’re going to let your parents know what we're doing in class a few times a week," she said.