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Monday, June 30, 2014

Teachable Moment: Twitter for Summer PD

Since it is summertime, I thought I'd take a slightly different approach to my typical Teachable Moment Monday and make it for the teacher (instead of for the students)! I personally use the summer to pursue some new professional development opportunities and catch up on hot topics I noted during the school year but didn't have an opportunity to try out. The power of Twitter has been one of these surprising hot topics that has transformed the way I approach my summer professional development.



Retrieved from upcity.com 

Now, I've had a Twitter account for some time and it's sole purpose was not to tweet myself but rather to peruse the tweets from various celebrities, gossip magazines, interesting fact promoters, and comedians. Twitter was not something I checked daily, but was one of my ultimate procrastination tools. Today, Twitter is something I check multiple times a day and meaningfully participate in regularly.

I guess it started when I decided to apply for the Google Certified Teacher application which asked for the URL to my blog or website. This was the moment when I realized that I was one of those individuals who was extremely passionate about technology integration, but was not reaching out the way I thought I was! I definitely was known amongst my colleagues past and present as someone who promoted educational technology and was eager to assist others in their adoption of these neat tools for teaching, as well as was anxious to pilot and explore new and upcoming tools. However, I was on my own to discover these new technology tools, themes, and strategies.

Since I had a pretty good feeling that applying to be a Google Certified Teacher would be a multi-year process, I decided there was no better time than the present to start blogging and getting involved in the professional development community that existed in social media. Now, I know many of you are not wishing to embark on the same kind of journey but hear me out! The professional development I have discovered through Twitter has already dramatically influenced how I will approach SO many things next year and I've only been an active participant for two months!

Here are a few approaches for those of you that wish to at least give Twitter a brief trial run while you have that little bit of extra time this summer....

Observer
Not ready to participate in Twitter but looking to build up your repository of helpful resources, current trends, and new tool/strategies for the classroom? Then, your first steps should be to find a few distinguished educators to follow on Twitter.

A few lists that might give you some useful recommendations are found below:
10 Educators You Should Follow on Twitter (but probably don't!)
Top 10 Twitter Accounts to Follow for Educational Technology
33 Education Twitter Accounts You Should Be Following

Don't stop with these lists! As you see people retweet articles and sentiments from others that resonate with you check out their profiles and tweets and see if they are someone whom you'd also like to follow. However, quality always trumps quantity when it comes to Twitter so don't just follow everyone who follows you! Think critically, not quickly!

Chat Participant
Perhaps the idea of checking yet another thing on a daily basis is one of the last things on your summer to do list, but checking in for one hour once a week or a month is a more realistic goal for you. You should check out this list of educational Twitter chats compiled by several noteworthy educators. (Tip: Their twitter handles (usernames) are published at the top of the list and they are definitely educators worth following!) Choose a topic that is of specific relevance to you (I participate in #edtechchat on Monday's.) and tune in. I recommend just observing the first time so you can get a feel for how the chat works and then join in the following week/month.

There are also sites like TweetChat that provide ideal structures for following and easily participating in Twitter chats.

You don't need to have Twitter followers or be following others to see or participate in a Twitter chat! However, following others on Twitter and joining in the conversation are the first steps to building a strong professional learning network (PLN).

Conversation Starter
Feeling motivated? Ready to dive in? Start following others, participate in twitter chats, AND post your own content!

If you read something intriguing - post a link with a brief comment. If you need to shorten the URL, try Bitly - gotta save those 140 characters!

If you want feedback on a lesson plan, idea, or problem - reach our for help. Don't forget to use an appropriate hashtag so more people see your request!

If you attend a conference or training, tweet memorable quotes, feelings, and important take-aways!

See a tweet you like? Favorite it to show your support or shared sentiment. Retweet it to your followers to spread the word. Reply to engage in discussion about it or share your knowledge.


*Still a bit hesitant about giving Twitter a try? Check out this new app for Android, iOS, and Windows, TweechMe. It was designed by a teacher for teachers to help them learn about the power of Twitter. It puts the Twitter chat schedule at your fingertips and includes a few brief "Twitter Courses" to provide you with step-by-step guidance in getting started and delving deeper.