Wednesday, July 2, 2014

How this teacher got started on Twitter

For a lot of teachers, summer is a time when we get to turn the alarm clock off, make breakfast for our kids, and meet our family/friends for lunch. It can also be when we reflect on the previous year and plan how we will refine the upcoming year.
I am a 3rd grade teacher and will be starting my 11th year. I have always been pretty good with technology and have been blessed to be in a district that has SMART Boards in every classroom. I am a 1-to-1 laptop teacher and enjoy teaching my students how their laptops are a powerful tool for learning. I've come to realize that there are new technologies out there that I know nothing about. In order to give my students what they will need to be successful, I needed to do a little bit of learning myself. So, here I am blogging about Twitter.
If you're looking for ways to network with other educators, Twitter is a perfect place to start. It isn't very intimidating and you really can't mess it up. I started with a Twitter account a couple of years ago but didn't really know how to maximize what it had to offer in terms of teaching. Some teachers steer away from Twitter and understanding hashtags can make one want to forget the whole idea. Like with our students, you need to just jump in and explore what it has to offer!  

I'm excited about this and I'm pretty sure a few of my friends are a little over me going on and on about some new idea I've heard. I want to gather them all together and bring them into this new little world I've found! So, for them, and anyone else out there, here's what I have learned. I have a feeling I am barely scratching the surface and I hope I'm getting this right!
I keep my twitter account focused on education, so I rarely post family related topics. This is a personal preference. I have to think about the fact that I am, or eventually will be, interacting with many professionals from all over.

These little words or phrases that start with a # are like a filter for all tweets with that hashtag. The first one I came across was #Edchat. Initially I thought it was a general hashtag for "education chat," but after some digging, I've learned that it was founded by Shelly Sanchez Terrell (@ShellTerrell), Tom Whitby (@TomWhitby), and Steven Anderson (@Web20classroom). They are people you will want to follow! The range of topics discussed is huge! Check it out! Once you have a Twitter account set up, do a search for the hashtag and you'll see what's being tweeted. You'll find quotes, links to blogs, and informative articles on current topics.

I began by reading through the #edchat tweets and started following people. After you follow someone, they become part of your feed and sometimes they follow you back!

Twitter Chats  
A gold mine, if you ask me! It will be the quickest hour you spend collaborating with others from first year teachers, veterans, administrators and even parents! 

I first noticed posts in my feed starting with "A1, A2, etc" and with the same hashtag. I wasn't sure what was going on so I clicked one of the hashtags that I kept seeing. Low and behold there was a whole Q&A discussion on a specific topic!

Everyone starts by introducing themselves, and the moderator greets you. It's so nice to get that hello! Then, the fist question will be posted. Usually starting with "Q1..." The typical format is you respond with "A1 (your response & hashtag)" The hashtag is given by the moderator. It's that easy! 

Your feed updates with new tweets answering these questions. You can favorite and reply to tweets as the hour goes on. People start following you and you follow them. They start to favorite your tweets and will retweet them. This is how you start networking!  

The first chat I participated in was a New Teachers Chat #ntchat. I am not a new teacher and did mention that but was welcomed by Lisa Dabbs @teachingwthsoul ! The focus (if I remember correctly) was on summer PD and other resources teachers use. There's were so many great responses being tweeted in that 40 mins! The different ideas and instant feedback given was amazing! I feel the best way to stay involved in the discussion and not stray to check out the resources you are getting is to favorite or retweet the ones you want to look at later. Later, just go back to your favorites/tweets, and click those links. Google the sites suggested and bookmark them! (Google Bookmarks has been a new find for me, too!)

To help, this Weekly Twitter Chat Times spreadsheet was shared by Nancy Blair @blairteach and compiled by @thomascmurray , @cevans5095 and @cybraryman1. It includes the days, times, and hashtag to follow. Thanks, for the great resource!

Twitter chats are fun and a plethora of information and resources. Try one out! 

Through these Twitter chats I've found a couple great podcasts that I now listen to. BrandED Radio with and @tonysinanis focuses their podcasts on sharing the wonderful things that are going on in schools. Hearing educators share their stories is inspiring! Often, teachers are hesitant to share the great things they are doing but this is motivating and reminds you that it's ok to shout it from the rooftops!

The Every Classroom Matters show with host, Vicki Davis (@coolcatteacher) is another podcast I have subscribed to. I like Vicki's podcasts because her topics are directed towards busy teachers. They are short but meaningful. Her guests share great ideas and there is a focus on technology, which I love! Her blog, Cool Cat Teacher, is also a great resource.

These podcasts can be heard online by streaming through QuickTime. I downloaded the app iCatcher and from there you can subscribe to your favorite podcasts. Either way, you'll want to sit with a notebook nearby so you can jot down the new ideas you'll hear. 

Warning, you will want to try every new thing you hear about! I had to recently list what my goals are for the upcoming year and which ideas were realistic for my classroom. I have my short term goals set and my 2-year plan developing.  

Like Twitter, I am new to blogging. Please share your comments below. I'd love to hear how you are using social media!

1 comment:

  1. I am really enjoying reading all of your posts and visiting your site! Thank you for all of the tips, motivationand great resources!!! From Sakeenah


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