Thursday, February 13, 2014

How to Fly with Twitter Basics

This PD Session focuses on the Basics of Twitter and TweetDeck.  The key word here is BASIC. While there are many fabulous features to share, I have no desire to overwhelm those new to Twitter. So, dive in, try some things out and be sure to use the hashtag #tweet4lps for this session.

You will need a Twitter account before proceeding with this post.  If you have not made an account, please click HERE for a brief tutorial.  Then come back to this post to spread your wings and fly with Twitter.

Here are a few reasons as to why educators need Twitter:
  • Your Twitter PLN (Professional Learning Network) will continually push you to think outside the box and try new things in order to positively impact student learning.
  • In a recent article by University of Phoenix (2014) almost 60% of secondary educators polled believe students educational experiences can be enhanced with the use of social media in the classroom, yet less than 20% of teachers actually use it.
  • Need more? Here are 50 Ways to Use Twitter in the Classroom via Teach Hub
With that being said, it is time for you to spread your wings and fly with Twitter so that you can grow as an educator and increase student engagement in the classroom.  

Let's get you started with some of the basics below...

Where are my settings?

Who to follow?

When I joined Twitter I really had no clue as to who to follow or what I was doing. Following is really something you learn by trial and error.  Here are some general things I look for when choosing to follow someone:

  • Do their bios or tweets reveal they are in education or support education?
  • Do they have a following of educators?
  • Does it look like spam? (are there zero tweets, do they have very few followers, does it just feel suspicious?....then don't follow)

Here is a peek at some of my favorite Twitter educators.  They are supportive, collaborative and fill my bucket weekly with inspiring ideas for the classroom! Be certain to click HERE for updates. For now just click on a name below to see bios and to follow!

What about those hashtags?

First you need to know about the hashtag.  The hashtag is essentially the topic of discussion.  These fabulous guys compiled an "Official List of Twitter Chats" @thomascmurray, @cevans5095 and @cybraryman1 click HERE for the list (PLUS add them to your Following List). Here is the same list but I highlighted the chats I participate and/or lurk the caption below the picture:

Click Here for Highlighted Chats
How do I participate or lurk in a chat?

Once you find a chat you are interested in, need to know that there are typically two styles of chats:
  1. "EdCamp" style:  This means a moderator (person leading the chat) will pose 1 question/statement for everyone to weigh in on.
    1. I recommend #sunchat (moderated by @barbarawmadden, @JayhawkTN, @mssackstein, @JamieArmin and me...@differNtiated4u every Sunday morning at 8CST) 
  2. "Q & A" style:  This means a moderator(s) will pose a series of questions throughout the chat.  
    1. The question will appear in the tweet starting with "Q1, Q2, Q3" and so below.
      1. "Q1: What is the purpose of formative assessments? #sblchat"
    2. Those in the chat will tweet a response starting with "A1, A2, A3" and so on
      1. "A1: to keep ur fingers on the pulse of all learners needs #sblchat"

Now, it is up to you if you want to participate or lurk.  Lurking is a great way to begin! Simply follow the chat and "favorite" tweets you like along the way.  Your Twitter account will always save your "Favorites" so that you can reference them at any time in order to respond or re-tweet (RT).

Once you feel you have a hang of a chat, jump right in! You will find that your PLN is VERY SUPPORTIVE.  You may wonder....why are they so supportive of a stranger? Because, like you, they are in the chat to share, learn and grow! Simply let the chat know it's your first time and they will help you out!  To prove how supportive a PLN can be here's what happened the second Marty (@martysnowpaw) saw this session....he immediately tweeted that the #NT2t chat, on Saturday mornings at 8 SCT, "will hold your hands & build your PLN." Be sure to check out this friendly group of educators!

How to Organize & Custom Create Timelines

An awesome tool to organize chat timelines or custom make your own timeline is TweetDeck. So, why in the world would you want to do this? Twitter chats are fast flying conversations. TweetDeck offers a way to capture what you want to see and allows you to scroll back through the chat.  Here is a look at my TweetDeck:

Simple Tips for Organizing Timelines:
  • Have the chat column AND your "notifications" column next to one another.  This allows you to quickly see when someone in the chat is responding to you.
  • Create CUSTOM TIMELINES for your students.  Click HERE for a blog post featuring this tool as well as TAGBOARD (your one stop shop for capturing hashtags across multiple social media sites).
Thank you for stopping by for the PD Session!  It is my hope you found the basics you were looking for in order to fly with Twitter!  For more information, feel free to tweet me, DM (direct message) me or leave a comment on this post.  I will do my best to answer any questions you may have...should I find I don't know the answer, no worries, I will simply ask our Twitter PLN for support!

I have been on Twitter for less than one year...check out my 2013 PLN journey by clicking HERE.

University of Phoenix (2014). K-12 Teachers Uncertain about How to Connect with Students via Social Media, Reveals University of Phoenix Survey. Retrieved from