As a beginning teacher, there were times in the classroom when I was so steeped in day-to-day routines that I isolated myself from the rest of the world. The daily grind kept me just at the surface, wondering if I was ever going to get it under control.
I was stuck. Not moving forward. I wish I had Twitter back then.
Nowadays, teachers are discovering the amazing benefits of using Twitter. If your students are on Twitter, so much the better.Click to tweet
There are 2 categories of reasons why Twitter can be a teacher’s best friend: personal reasons and teaching reasons.
Probably the easiest use of Twitter, before you even start following people, is the hashtag (#).
Find a working hashtag after a little trial-and-error or use one recommended by websites or colleagues. Look at what is being posted under that hashtag and decide if the information is relevant to you. You might have to sift through some garbage, but eventually you might come across a gem of information.
I like to look for links to articles. These are typically shortened forms of the real URL and are indicated by the following examples:
- bit.ly (Bitly)
- goo.gl (Google)
- ow.ly (Hootsuite)
- t.co (Twitter)
- TinyURL (Gilby)
- Tr.im (Gravity4)
Notice who’s posting the best relevant material, and then follow them. It’s in following people that your network grows. This is where conversations start. You can build a community that you can go to for advice. This becomes a strong facet of your PLN (professional learning network).
Because you are choosing whom you follow, you trust that community to bring you meaningful and relevant content. The neat thing is your community members can come from anywhere in the world. Twitter also allows only a certain number of characters (150) so it’s quick. It’s brainstorming at its best.
When world events are happening, students can get into the global conversation. One such teacher was following some news from Egypt. He opened a Twitter conversation with someone who was in Cairo while the event was happening, and invited this person to a Skype conversation with his class. They were then able to ask questions about the news and about life in Egypt.
Twitter also allows you to have instant contact with your students outside the classroom. You can connect to them anytime you want!Click to tweet
Jessica Caviness found a great teaching moment in the middle of a Texas Rangers game. She tweeted a picture of her stadium drink cup, and asked her students to brainstorm warm-up questions for the next class that focused on “volume.” She immediately received tons of responses with some great suggestions from the students.
Finally, here’s a great infographic on more ways to use Twitter with your students. Click on it for a larger view.
Twitter allows teachers to extend their reach outside of the classroom for their own personal/professional benefit, as well as providing instant contact with their students. While one tends to wonder how much school you want to encounter outside of school, teachers can decide how much they want to involve their students.