Thursday, May 23, 2013

Twitter for Teachers

This post is designed as a How-To guide for teachers at my school (and anyone else out there!) who wants to learn about Twitter as a Professional Development tool.

Here's the reasons why I use Twitter for my personal PD:

Being a Connected Educator.

The internet, and Twitter in particular, lets you connect with teachers all over the world. It "flattens" to earth, taking away barriers that would otherwise prevent you from interacting with like-minded teachers. It allows you to connect to teachers around the world, getting and sharing great ideas. This brings me to #2...

Building a PLN.

A PLN is a Personal Learning Network. Whereas in school-based PD, you learn about what is important to your school and school board, a Personal Learning Network lets you focus on the learning that's important to you as an individual (and supplement that you do in your school). You will find that you will start connecting with certain people and organizations, and these people will become people to whom you go to for support, to ask questions, and to get ideas. It's like a virtual team made up of stellar all stars!

Personalizing PD

As I mentioned, Twitter allows you to learn about what you need to learn about in that instant in time. It's personalized to your own learning needs as an educator. We always emphasize the importance of personalized learning for kids - it's just as important for us too!

 Get Great Ideas and Find Awesome Resources

Many of the great ideas I've brought into my classroom this year have originated on Twitter. It's where I learned about 20% Time. It's where I found DIY.org.

The Basics

What is Twitter? Twitter is a micro-blogging site. It allows you to write short messages (140 characters). Your 140 limit includes letters, punctuation, spaces, and URLs.

@

Everyone on Twitter has a handle. It's preceded by the @ symbol. Mine is @luckybydesign. When you want to talk to a person or handle directly, add the @ and then their handle to your tweet.

The Anatomy of a Tweet

The message is the main part of this tweet.

Hashtags

Hashtags (#edchat #cdnedchat #abed) are topics. You can click on hashtags to see what everyone on Twitter has posted about those topics. Topics also let you focus your attention on particular niche areas. If you're asking a question, the chances you might get it answered are higher if you include hashtags.

Here are a bunch of Alberta-relevant educational hashtags:

EDUCATIONAL HASHTAGS
Administrators
#abed: Alberta Education
#cpchat: Connected Principals
#edadmin
#principals
Teachers
#AbRuralEd: AB Rural Edu Symposium
#aisinetwork: AISI Cycle 5
#artsed: Visual Arts
#cdned: Canadian Educators
#cdnedchat: Mondays 6pm
#comments4kids: Student blog comments
#edchat: Education (worldwide)
#educoach: Instructional coaches
#elemchat: Elementary teachers
#ellchat, #esl: English Language Learning
#erlc: Edm. Regional Learning Consortium
#flexpaths: Flexible Pathways to JH
#french, #fle: French teachers
#gppsdlC: Grande Prairie Instr. Coaches
#K12: K-12 teachers
#kinderchat: Kindergarten
#langchat: Language Learning
#learningcoaches: AB Learning Coaches
#literacy, #litchat: Language Arts
#mathchat: Math, Numeracy
#musiced: Music
#pegeeks: PhysEd
#sapdc: Southern Alberta PD Consortium
#scichat: Science
#spanish: Spanish teachers
#sped: Diverse Learners
#1stchat: First grade teachers
#2ndchat
#3rdchat
#4thchat
#5thchat
#6thchat
Technology
#atchat: Assistive Technology
#atle: Alberta Technology Leaders in Education
#byod: Bring Your Own Device
#chromebooks
#edapps: Apps in Education
#edcamp: Tech Unconferences
#edtech: Educational Technologies
#etcata: Educational Technology Council of Alberta Teachers Association
#google
#ipadchat
#mlearning: Mobile Learning
#smartboard
#TEDtalks: Tech, Entertainment, Design video talks
Alberta School Divisions
#adlc: Alberta Distance Learning
Zone 1
#gppsd: Grande Prairie Public
#hpsd: High Prairie School Division
#hfcrd: Holy Family Catholic Regional
#nsd61: Northland School Division
#sd76: Peace Wapiti School Division
Zone 2
#lpsd: Lloydminster Public
Zone 3
#ecsd: Edmonton Catholic
#epsb: Edmonton Public
#eics: Elk Island Catholic
#eips: Elk Island Public
#fmcsd: Ft Mac Catholic
#fmpsd: Ft Mac Public
#gypsd77: Grande Yellowhead Public
#ngrd: Northern Gateway
#psd70: Parkland School Division
#phrd: Pembina Hills Regional
#ssd24: Sturgeon School Division
Zone 4
#cesd73: Chinook’s Edge School Division
Zone 5
#yycbe: Calgary Board of Education
#fsd38: Foothills School Division
#ghsd: Golden Hills School Division
#rvsed: Rocky View Schools
Zone 6
#hs4: Holy Spirit Roman Catholic
#horizonsd: Horizon School Division
#lethsd: Lethbridge School Division
#sd76: Medicine Hat School Division
#Palliser: Palliser School Division
#prsd8: Prairie Rose School Division


Post-Secondary
#uled: University of Lethbridge Faculty of Education
Get New Followers
Most school divisions have a Twitter account. Try putting an @ in front of the hashtags in the School Division list.
#followfriday
#ff
Cities in Alberta
Check out what’s happening in a city by using their local airport code:
#yeg: Edmonton
#yll: Lloydminster
#ymm: Fort McMurray
#yqf: Red Deer
#yql: Lethbridge
#yqu: Grande Prairie
#yxh: Medicine Hat
#yyc: Calgary
Credit goes to Nicole Lakusta for the above chart.

Retweeting

Retweeting is akin to "liking" something on Facebook. It passes the message on to your followers.

Following

You follow people on Twitter so their tweets will always appear in your Twitter stream. Here's my list of Top 10 Educational Tweeps. This is a good place to start to find people to follow. Here's another bigger list of some of my favourite people to follow in the education world.

Your list of people you follow will grow organically as you explore. You will see things others retweeted that catch your interest, which will take you to new people to follow. You can also search some organizations you are interested in, such as the National Council of Teachers of English, the National Council of Teachers of Math, ASCD, and Edutopia. It's easy to find organizations that fit with your own interests as a teacher.

The Task

1. Compose and send a tweet to me: @luckybydesign
2. Compose and send a tweet to someone else. Include hashtags.
3. Follow ten people.
4. Change your profile picture. Nothing is scarier than a Twitter Egg! It means you haven't hatched yet!
5.  Update your profile to include some of your interests as a teacher and person.
6. Share what you have to offer!

If you're up for more, try something like this 14-day Twitter Challenge!