September 9, 2012

First Steps in the Twitter World

My students are learning to use Inspiration software. Sometimes they have questions about the software and sometimes their questions concern my expectations. Twitter is quick and easy to use for both our questions and the responses. We will evaluate the use of Twitter as a communication tool between teacher and students when we finish our Inspiration unit.
Roobee (Roba Al-Assi) / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
I have used Twitter off and on for a couple years. It seemed that it could be helpful, but I wasn't impressed enough to stick with it. Until now. One of us--either Twitter or myself--has grown enough that it's looking like a more useful tool for education. More useful, in fact, than the limited purposes that my students and I are using it for in our current experiment.

I've been expanding the list of folks that I follow. I follow Obama and Romney since it's election season. I have recently added Edgar Allen Poe and George Washington. I want to add Carl Sandberg and Abraham Lincoln, but haven't decided yet which versions of those two to follow. Just think of the class lessons that could develop from following those four guys. (Hmm... I need to add one--or two--female historical figures.) I have followed Vicki Davis (@coolcatteacher) for quite a while (she's one of my heroes in instructional technology) and just recently added another instructional technology hero, Scott McLeod (@mcleod). I don't want my list to become overwhelming, but I have discovered that the professional development available from following folks on Twitter can be almost as excellent as what can be gained from following folks on their blogs. (I haven't posted my blogroll to this blog yet, but I will.) The professional development aspect of Twitter was a surprise!

I want a quick look at how other teachers are using Twitter, so I plan to explore Twitter4Teachers, a wiki created by Gina Hartman (@ghartman). She created the wiki to help educators connect with other educators on Twitter. I discovered the Twitter4Teachers wiki when I searched TeachersFirst for their collection of Twitter tools and techniques.

TeachersFirst also led me to The 2012 A-Z List Of Educational Twitter Hashtags. I had not used hashtags previous to the experiment this semester with my students. We have a hashtag that we use on all tweets that relate to our class. That keeps us organized and we don't lose any comments. I knew that we needed a hashtag, but I did not know how large the world of hashtags is! It's another way to connect with others--even folks you don't know yet--that have the same interests. For example, if I have time Tuesday evening I plan to join in a conversation on the #edchat hashtag. This site lists more than 300 hashtags. Let's see... If I check out one new hashtag per week, that will take me about 6 years to get through the list. Oh. My. Gosh. This same web site (The 2012 A-Z List Of Educational Twitter Hashtags) has an embedded Google Docs presentation of ways to use Twitter in the classroom. You can add it to your own Google Docs.

By the way, I am using TeachersFirst to find my way through the Twitter world because of my respect for the quality, practicality, and thoroughness of their research. If they are not one of your favorite web sites, I urge you to go to to check out what is available at their web site.

Links in this post:

Scott McLeod (@mcleod)
Gina Hartman (@ghartman)
Google Docs
The 2012 A-Z List Of Educational Twitter Hashtags
Vicki Davis (@coolcatteacher)

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