Despite the popular belief that teachers spend their summers “gettin’ paid for doin’ nothin,'” many are actually revamping lessons, creating supplemental materials, and learning how to implement new and exciting tools into their classrooms. A couple of weeks ago, one of my fellow educators/fantabulous readers contacted me and shared her desire to use Twitter with her students. Even though this topic has already been covered, she asked if I would explain it in my “inimitable” way. Once I looked up the definition of inimitable, I was humbled by the sweet compliment and then amused at the request; in fact, I laughed my silly little head off because if anyone has been twitterpated by Twitter, ’tis I.
Months ago, the incomparable Leslie “The Bearded Iris” Marinelli followed me on Twitter. I tell you this not to toot my own horn (okay, maybe a little), but to make a point: she is the shizz and I am in awe of her, so I did what any adoring fan would do and ignored her. I didn’t follow her back for, like, weeks. Maybe a month. Maybe two. WHATEVER. (In my defense, I honestly thought I was already following her. Ooopsie). When I finally realized my snafu, I clicked her follow button (not a euphemism) as fast as I could. She Tweeted to me, asking, “Are you playing hard to get or are you just Twitter challenged?”
My witty response: “A little of both?”
I rock this networking thing, right?
Realizing my lack of Twitter etiquette had quite possibly left a lasting impression of incompetence on someone I kinda wanna snuggle with made me a little sad.
Since then, I’ve made it a point to get better at this Twitter thang. I don’t consider myself an expert by any means, but Leslie is pretty close; she created a Bible of Twitter Truths. Read them. Learn them. Love them. But not before you finish reading here.
We’re taking Twitter into the classroom today.
WHAT? Social media in school?! Is that even legal?!
Relax, Little House on the Prairie, we’ll go slow.
I’ve found some pretty awesome sources and examples of how teachers are already using social media in their lessons and even assessments. I link to those sources at the end, so if you’re in a hurry, just scroll down. You’re rude, but go ahead and scroll.
Now let’s get down to business.
* Hashtag: use it to group and track conversations of the same topic. #fireworks #IndependenceDay #mydogsarepissingthemselves are all topics that were trending over the Fourth of July.
*@: use the @ symbol to mention/tag someone. For example, I liked something I read, so I Tweeted the author using the @ symbol to mention her, and this also let my followers know I thought she rocked:
— CrazyExhaustion (@CrazyExhaustion) July 2, 2013
* Favorite: it’s the same thing as “liking” someone’s Facebook status. If you don’t know what Facebook is, I can’t help you.
* Re-tweet: it’s like a “Favorite” on steroids; but a RT shares it with your followers. I love RTs, just sayin’…
* The Follow: If you want someone to show up in your Twitter feed (found under the Home button), you’ve got to follow him/her. As was previously mentioned, it’s the right thing to do to follow back. But don’t get ticked if your favorite actor or someone kinda important like President Obama doesn’t follow you back; they’re kinda busy.
How can you utilize Twitter in the classroom?
- Tweet to an author or expert in the subject/topic you are studying.
- Engage in online discussions; “rooms” like Tweet Chat and Twubs will help keep track of participants and their contributions. Just a heads up: these chats require everyone to be online at the same time.
- Create and maintain a running list of assignments and important dates for your students and classes.
- Follow hashtags of relevant topics and learn from others.
- Make connections to blogs, websites, and other valuable resources that can be used for discussion and research.
- As the teacher, you can post links to sites and other supplemental materials.
Words of caution:
- Students are not the same online as they are in your classroom; I’m talking curse words, inappropriate conversation, and possibly graphic photos. Oh and if they hate you, they’re not afraid to tell everyone who follows them on Twitter. As such, they may not want to give you their Twitter handle. Moreover, you probably don’t want to see all that mess.
- Unless you make a separate Twitter account to use exclusively with your classes, your students will be privy to everything you post. Yikes.
Rather than continue my ramblings or reinvent the wheel, here are links to helpful educational sources that explain how to use or give examples of what to do with Twitter in the classroom. Promise to report back and tell me if your Teacher Twitter endeavors were successful!