Working as an Instructional Technology Specialist, I receive questions about so many different topics. But in the last month, one question has been asked over and over again: “I created a Twitter account…now what do I do with it?” My response? “What would you like to do with it?” What I quickly realized is that many people do not know the educational opportunities that are available when connected globally via a social media platform.
Where should I start?
First, you should consider creating a profile that will help describe who you are and what you do. For a professional Twitter account, always use your real name. Do you really want people tweeting at you using a Twitter handle like '@SweetiePie15'? Using your name as part of your Twitter handle will help students, parents, staff members, and others around the world know who you are and help them find you with ease. For example, my twitter handle is '@InstTechKate'. My hope, when someone sees my Twitter handle, is that they see I like Instructional Technology and that my name is Kate. Pretty straightforward, right? What if you are a teacher and want your students to call you Mrs. or Mr. so and so. Great! Create a twitter handle that incorporates that (for example, '@MrsHanleyTech'). You can also consider adding your grade level, subject area, or even 'RPS' to your Twitter handle, such as '@InstTechRPS' or '@MrsHanleyMath'.
In your Twitter bio, add information that will give the reader insights into what you will tweet about. For example, I kept my bio short and sweet: 'Instructional tech is my jam'.
However, it is very common to add adjectives that help describe you: dreamer, wife, foodie, dog mom, runner, educator, innovator, etc.. I would also suggest including hashtags in your bio. Is there a hashtag that you will use for your class tweets or one that your school uses? Add it! This is just one more way to connect with staff and parents.
Once you have your Twitter profile up and running, start following other tweeters. Using the Explore section of Twitter (look for the magnifying glass), search for topics that relate to you. Try typing in your content area or grade level. You can use hashtags to find information too. For example, '#kindergarten', '#535edtech', or if you’re reading a book in class may search for the title of the book to see what other teachers or students are learning about '#oldyeller'.
Using Twitter for your Professional Learning Network (PLN)
One of the best things about Twitter is connecting with other educators or professionals. There are many great Twitter chats that you can follow along or participate in. Here is a link to a sheet with hundreds of Twitter chat hashtags organized by date, time, content, and hashtag. To follow along with a Twitter chat, search for the hashtag. To participate in a Twitter chat, type your response to a question or another participant; make sure to include the chat’s hashtag to your tweet. (Join local teachers for '#RPSLead' on Wednesday nights at 8:30 PM!)
You can also ask for advice by using hashtags. Have a project you’re working on but don’t know how to facilitate a fun, engaging, or innovating lesson? Crowdsource an answer. Or, better yet, attend an educational conference via hashtag to garner new ideas! For instance, '#sxswedu' just wrapped up last week – check out the hashtag to see all the great comments, ideas, and resources from the conference.
If nothing else, follow other teachers who work within RPS – we have amazing things happening in our schools all day, every day. By following other staff members, you can see what they are doing and can potentially begin taking steps toward collaborating with them. Here is a list that has a few schools' and staff members’ hashtags and handles: consider adding yours to the list!
Using Twitter in the Classroom
Whether you are a novice user who is a little nervous getting started or you are an avid user who is just looking to expand your use, find others to follow who will challenge and inspire you to think differently. Once you've done that, share what you're doing in your classroom so you can challenge and inspire others.
This post brought to you by Kate Hanley, Instructional Technology Specialist. Feel free to connect with Kate via email.
Content from this post was curated by the Instructional Technology Department. Follow them on Twitter:
Kate Hanley @InstTechKate, Jennifer Hennes @jennyhennes, James McCormick @JMcCormickRPS, Chrissie McKinnon @ChrisseMcKinnon
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