Friday, February 22, 2013

Twitter: Professional Development at Your Fingertips


Imagine that you are at a cocktail party filled with the greatest and most innovative educational minds in the country world.  Over by the fireplace, Arne Duncan, US Secretary of Education, is chatting with Todd Whitaker, noted author of What Great Teachers Do DifferentlyDave Burgess, educational/motivational speaker and author of Teach Like a Pirate, is in deep conversation about student engagement with educational innovator, Alan November.  On the wall, a big-screen TV streams an inspirational video made by at-risk students.  Over in the corner, teachers from across an entire school district are engaged in a lively discussion about increasing parental involvement   You can join any conversation you want or, if that's out of your comfort zone, you can sit back, listen, and learn.

That's the Twitter world.

Yes, Twitter is also a vehicle for celebrity rants and frivolous banter but, like so many other things, it's all about how you use it. I am a Twitter newbie myself, but I pulled together some resources that can help you get started.

First, check out this great handbook written especially for teachers!  It explains how to set up your account, gives you some suggestions for people to follow, and introduces hashtags and how to use them.  On a personal note, when you set up your account, be sure to add a picture and a brief profile.  It makes the Twitter experience much more personal when you can "see" a person and read a little about them.


So, a wise Twitter guru told me it was all about the hashtags, and I think that simple piece of advice greatly demystified the Twitter experience.  The hashtags I started with were #edchat and #mathchat.  On the first Saturday morning after I joined, I actually jumped in on #satchat (yes, it was a little scary, but such great conversations!).  Check out this list of the most popular hashtags for education.


Hashtags are used to tag tweets for search purposes, but they are also used to organize scheduled, moderated chats.  For more on that and to find chats that might interest you, check out this website.


I hope this post has sparked a little interest!  Please comment and share your Twitter experiences.



16 comments :

  1. yep, always wondered what hashtags were for! Thanks for filling me in!

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  2. Love the twitter handbook. I think it's easy to say "yes, I know how to use this" because you understand that you have to send a message with less than 140 characters. It's more difficult to understand the hashtags, find the right people to follow, and tweet the right message. Thanks for sharing!

    Mandy
    Caffeine and Lesson Plans

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    1. My pleasure, Mandy. It's certainly like a different language, but you get used to it pretty fast!

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  3. I really like the twitter handbook. I've been trying to use Twitter for professional growth instead of just following The Daily Show and Stephen Colbert! (But they do make me laugh!) Chats are new to me- I can't wait to explore some more!
    Carol
    Still Teaching After All These Years

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    1. Love it, Carol! The hashtags really help you focus in on what you want to see!

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  4. I joined twitter to support our olympic team but that is all I have done. Thanks for this great info - I really need to jump in and join the ed. groups!

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    1. I know, Beverley! I had joined last year, but didn't know what to do. I hope the advice is helpful to you. :)

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  5. Donna, I just recently started on twitter and was jumping in slowly. Your info really helps! Thanks!

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    1. Oh good, Deb! See you in the Twittersphere! :)

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  6. Hi Donna,
    When I found your blog I immediately went to Twitter to find you so I could follow you on Twitter as well. Glad to know that you are there!

    One other piece of advice I would give to newbie Twitter folks is to use a personal browser like Tweetdeck or Hootsuit. Using Tweetdeck is what made Twitter easy for me to follow. You can set up columns with all your favorite hashtags and follow the conversations that way. Here is some information: Tweetdeck Information There are tutorials and other links.

    So happy you will be able to share your expertise through Twitter.

    Nancy
    (on Twitter: @ncarroll24)

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    1. Hey, Nancy! Funny you mention Tweetdeck! I tried it out just after finishing this blog post and I love it. I do feel a bit like a stock trader or something, watching the activity in all my columns. Ha ha.

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  7. Thank you for our guidance once again Donna! I must say I'm a little freaked out by twitter...but I will certainly read the handbook you posted and try to get started. I just got into the blogging world this year and love how much I have learned just by connecting with other teacher blogs.

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    1. What's nice about it is that you can do as little or as much with it as you want. I find some great stuff to share on my Facebook page and I enjoy reading posts about what's going in education across the country.

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  8. Thank you for this book study as well as the Twitter information. I've been thinking about joining but don't want to use it socially really...just for education....so this was the perfect post to help me make the decision to join Twitter even though my 13 year old daughter will be mortified to find out I have an account :) Your blog is always so informational...I subscribe by email so that I don't miss a post. Thanks again for everything...you have inspired my teaching a lot this year!

    Stephanie Ann
    Sparkling in Third Grade
    Stephanie Ann's TpT Store

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    1. You are exactly right, Stephanie! I don't use it socially at all. Thanks also for your kind words about my blog. :)

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