Friday, April 20, 2012

Why I Think You Should Be on Twitter

Lately, I've developed a Twitter addiction. It all started when I gave up Facebook for Lent. I'm going to sound completely ridiculous for saying this, but it's true. (Disclaimer: I'm not perfect.)

So, I gave up Facebook for Lent in order to gain some time to become a better person. So, naturally, I took up Twitter instead (insert sarcasm here). Before you start chastising me, please note that the only people I really follow on Twitter are other educators*. I simply looked to Twitter during my "free" time to get some new ideas because, honestly, Pinterest was losing interest with me at the time (I'll save that for another post.)

I signed up for Twitter ages ago, but I didn't really know how to use it. So I dabbled a bit, got bored, and never really bothered with it again. Until this Lenten season.

I thought I'd give it a shot, and I'm glad I did. I went from about 20 followers to over a hundred in the last few weeks. I was following probably 15 or so people, and now I'm following over 130 educators.

Why is this so important? I've become a globally-connected educator. I've been getting ideas from all over the world; other US states, Canada, Australia, Great Britain, just to name a few places. I've connected with 5th grade teachers, 1st grade teachers, and college professors. I've borrowed ideas, shared ideas, and helped tweak them in crazy, fast-paced chats. I've debated, researched, and commiserated. I love it!

To illustrate how useful Twitter is for educators, I think you should check out Tom Whitby's article, "What if School Was Like Twitter?" Read it here. What I love about this article is that it illustrates how useful Twitter can be, and how ridiculous it would be if schools tried to pass on this kind of current information and collaboration with our copied-papers-in-the-mailbox way of disseminating information.

When I read it, this is the image that popped in my mind: If an administrator wanted to share current published findings on educational research, it would be copied, put in mailboxes, and then many would be recycled rather promptly.

On Twitter, I can be more selective about what research or information I want to read in my precious spare time. I can decide to click on an article and read it, I can favorite it to read later, or I can bypass it altogether. If I find a great article, I can even retweet it to my followers. I only retweet what I find important, intriguing, or worth the read.

Depending on my mood, I can just be a bystander, watching lots of really amazing conversations happening in #edchat, #elemchat, or #5thchat, or I can be an active participant. I can favorite a lot of the comments, or I can tweet out links of my own.

I've learned about so many neat things I can use in my classroom:, Mystery State Skype, WallWisher, ways to make my students' blogging experience even more meaningful, different ways to use QR codes, and several other wonderful ideas (too many to mention)!

One of the most important things that have come from Twitter is my sense of connectedness (that may not be a word, but I'm going to use it!) with other educators in the world. I was able to chat with an author who is sending me a free copy of her new book to read and write a review! How COOL is that?! (Laurie E. Westphal; click here to find her list of amazing books, or follow her on Twitter: @GTConsultant)

In another sense of connectedness (and quite possibly what I'm most excited about), I have linked up with another 5th grade class in Toronto, Canada, to blog with (April - taking care of our environment, May - standing up against bullies) and a class in Madison, Wisconsin to read and comment on each others' blogs. My students are no longer writing just for me and their peers; they are writing for a global audience as well. In my opinion, that's how you educate a 21st century student.

So, after all that chatter, I hope I have you convinced. If you aren't already on Twitter, sign up. Tom Whitby said, in his article, that Twitter is both the easiest and the hardest website to use. Don't be intimidated. There is a whole community of educators online, and all of them started out at square one. Follow me (@ACommaQueen) and I'll be happy to be your follower!

Here's some advice if you do choose to sign up:

  • Find some great educators to follow (I've blogged about who I follow here)
  • Once you find some educators to follow, follow who they follow (confused?)
  • Download Tweetdeck (or something similar)
  • In Tweetdeck, add columns for the #edchat hashtag. There are lots of other ones too, depending on what you teach: #elemchat, #engchat (for english), ##sschat (for social studies), #scichat (for science) #5thchat, #4thchat, #1stchat (I think you get the drift).
  • Check your hashtag searches every so often. When they have chats, they typically go really fast. It's easier to keep up this way. If you see an educator you agree with, follow him or her! (Here are some times: #edchat happens multiple times each week, I typically catch up with them on Tuesday nights at 7 EST; #5thchat occurs every Tuesday night at 8 EST)
Good luck, and happy tweeting!

*The two people I follow who are not educators? My husband and Professor Snape.


  1. When I create a new column in tweetdeck it asks me is this an interaction, mentions, timeline, etc...which one do I choose? I am new to the twttiersphere...thanks for the the blog!

    1. Great question! Choose "search" and then enter the hashtag you want to look for. I hope this helps! If you are moving to Common Core standards, I also have a column for #commoncore that I check every once in a while; sometimes has very good resources. Good luck in the Twittersphere - let me know if I can help! :)

  2. Thanks for sharing! I will definitely have to check Twitter out. ( I'm on Pinterest and Facebook, but not Twitter.) I am a new follower.


    1. Krista, definitely check out Twitter. There's a great #3rdchat going on May 2nd (I think that date is right!). Thank you for following the blog; yours is so cute! I had to follow yours too :)

  3. I really enjoyed reading this post. Thank you for sharing! I tell fellow teachers all the time how WONDERful Twitter is and often times I get "the look". I think I might send this out to my colleagues tomorrow. I love that Twitter is PD I get to choose when, where and with whom.

    1. Barbara, that is exactly why I love Twitter! Choosing where, when, and with whom. Thank you for sharing!

  4. I love Twitter - I have to admit that I have a few people I follow that are not in education. All work and no play makes for a cranky Kelly...
    Anyway, I love it for the connection it gives me to the happenings in other sates and in Washington. The articles and comments from teachers across the country are great. We are all in this together and Twitter makes it seem like we truly can inform each other.

    1. I agree - I love the connection! I'm like you, I love reading articles that are tweeted out. I feel like I get a wide variety of information from across the globe! :)

  5. and new #titletalk, right? from @davidaetkin

    1. Oh, for heaven's sake, YES, #titletalk! Haha! I'm now obsessed with it! Once and I'm hooked ;)

  6. I love your post as I think many of us have started out like you (well, not giving up FB for Twitter - but starting out similarly!). I am offering a professional development course through my district about Twitter and was hoping to include this in the resources list. Hope you don't mind.

    Thank you for sharing.

    1. Nancy, thank you for the compliment! Yes, I'd be happy for you to include this as part of the resource list for your professional development course. Thanks again!


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