…that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of loneliness in your classroom
Or to take arms against a sea of emails, ProD flyers, marking
And by opposing end learning?
…ay, here’s the rub…
So where did summer go? What happened to all that time you thought you had? Where do you start with your inquiry? Twitter, you say? No way, not another useless form of social media where geeks post trivialities like what they ate for breakfast! Why would you want to read that sort of drivvle? Well, with Twitter, you don’t have to follow drivvle. You are the master of your domain. You can filter your Twitter stream and follow whomever you want and whatever you want.
When planning for a new school year, the most obvious place to get ideas is from the internet. Google it and it’ll be there. However, the first hits aren’t going to necessarily be the best and oftentimes a high Google ranking doesn’t necessarily link to excellent, relevant, inspiring or even accurate content. Consider Twitter as an innovative way to filter online information to further your professional learning and grow your Professional Learning Network.
What if I told you that Twitter could connect you with professional resources and make your planning, inquiry and professional development a little bit easier?
For me, Twitter is where it’s at for staying easily connected with innovative educators, current pedagogy and research-based best practices. I never thought I would engage in professional development through my twitter stream. In fact, I started my twitter account to instead connect with fellow foodies and followed primarily my favourite food writers and personalities. Surprisingly, Twitter has opened my eyes to new strategies for my English classroom: the flipped classroom, iPads, AFL strategies, Glogster, Moodle, gaming and social media for learning and so much more. From my twitter feed, I have followed leading educators in the international world, I’ve read up on the most recent findings pertaining to brain research and its impact on learning and I am connecting to people and ideas I would never be able to do easily during the school year with my heavy marking load and caring for my young children at home.
There is all this current interest about technology in the classroom and leveraging social media to connect learners to curriculum and engage them with content and assessment. This is all fine and dandy; quite appropriate thinking as this generation of learners will most likely be employing technology and social media when they leave our hallways and they will inevitably engage in communicating through these media when they go to into post-secondary institutions and/or the work force. However, isn’t it prudent to start technology integration with the educators first? For this post, I’ll deal with just getting the educator connected. We’ll leave engaging students with Twitter for another post.
WHY TWEET? to make your life easier & more connected.
Through your twitter account, You, the educator can:
*Educators, Policy-makers, Colleagues, Innovators
-follow leading educators and read what they read and see how they think
*Personal Learning Network (PLN)
-maintain connections with colleagues past and present
-keep connected & make new connections through following & interacting online
-as a venue for discussion; thinking critically
*Keep Current with Research, Policies and Pedagogy
-communicate directly to educators and policy makers
-learn about emerging technologies and best practices
-keep up with current pedagogy, research-based practices and lingo
*Self-regulate Your Own Professional Learning
-take charge of your own professional learning
-self-directed Professional development
*Further your Inquiry and Innovate
-identify your learning and professional goals
-curate strategies and ideas for your classroom that you find online
-contribute to the online learning community
-support lifelong learning
*Life is Easier when you control the Filter for your Resources
HOW DO I TWEET? online, on the computer, on your smartphone, on your tablet…
1. Come up with a twitter handle. Depending on how private a person you are, it can consist of your real name or it could be an alias. My twitter handle is Cakebrain. This is because for me, my food blog came first, Cake On The Brain, and I created my alias next. Some people have two different handles (and two different twitter accounts): one professional and one personal. My suggestion for a professional twitter handle is to use your real name.
2. Sign up for twitter.
3. Read up on twitter etiquette, hashtags and abbreviations (see links at the bottom of this post). Create Lists, Follow people you know in Real Life first and click through to see who they follow and you can follow those people too.
WHEN DO I TWEET? anytime you want, grasshopper. This depends on how connected you are. Frequency depends on your lifestyle. There are no rules. Here are some Twitter-types
1. Throughout the day, almost 24/7 because you’re tethered to your device and sleep with your iphone/smartphone.
1. 10-15 minutes at the start of the day; if you’re a morning person like some of my colleagues…just before class starts
2. 10-15 minutes at the end of the school day
3. In the evening if you’re like me and have put the kiddies to bed. This usually ends up being more than 10-15 minutes for me because I end up reading for a lot longer than I intend to.
4. Once every couple of days or once a week if life gets busy…or maybe even once biweekly or monthly if it’s end of term and marks are due. It doesn’t really matter because your stream is still there and you can go back and look at it.
WHO DO I FOLLOW?
1. Be selective. The more people you follow, the more tweets you have to sift through.
2. Create LISTS to organize your twitter stream.
3. Subscribe to publications you like
4. Keep your personal Lists private by locking them.
WHAT DO I TWEET?
1. RT: ReTweet blog posts, articles or tweets you think are interesting, that you want your followers to see or that you want to read or curate for later
2. TWEET: Create your own 140 character (or less) tweets to chime in about a certain topic; use a hashtag to categorize the tweet so individuals following the topic can see it
3. If you blog, share your posts on twitter so your followers can find it
4. Tweet things you find inspirational
WHAT CAN I DO TO MAKE TWITTER EASIER TO USE?
1. FLIPBOARD: if you have an iPad or Android device I recommend this app so that your twitter feed shows in magazine format. This becomes a more enjoyable read because it loads up all the images from the tweets rather than having to scroll through the boring 140 character-limited linear feed and click on the hyperlinks that twitter has. In Flipboard, you’ll be able to easily tap through to the original post or image. Otherwise, there are plenty of Twitter apps that you can try. Experiment and find one that you like. On my iPhone, I currently like Echofon. That may change. I’m fickle that way.
2. HOOTSUITE: if you have multiple social media you’d like to integrate together like me, this app allows you to see and manage your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Foursquare accounts on one dashboard. There are definitely better apps out there and I switch around readily if I find one that is better. You have to keep looking if you don’t like the UI of the one you have.
3. SET NOTIFICATIONS: on any smartphone or tablet you can make your connection to twitter easier. You can set your notifications on your device to let you know what’s going on minute by minute. Or shut it off completely and get to it when you want to get to it…like when you’re sitting there waiting for your daughter’s piano lesson to end.
WHERE to next in your learning?
1. CREATE CONTENT: if you find that you enjoy Twitter, and would like to contribute more of your voice to the online discussion and trending topics, you can further develop your PLN and your online presence by creating original content on your own personal blog (WordPress, Edublogs, Blogger, Tumblr et al). Your reflections on your practice and learning in your blog posts may be further tweeted by others. Sometimes 140 characters just doesn’t cut it; especially for verbose artsy types like us English teachers. Thus, we blog.
2. GROW YOUR EDUCATIONAL COMMUNITY: Create a wikispace to extend the walls of your classroom. Teach your students how to collaborate and learn online too. Use Twitter and Google+ to collaborate online with students and other educators through video-chatting, document sharing and more.
3. RELAX: Social media is supposed to help you, not hinder you. Don’t sweat it if you can’t keep up with all the tweets. It can be overwhelming. It’ll always be there for you in the summer when you’re nursing that perfectly pulled espresso shot in your fave local coffee shop which just so happens to have free WiFi.
*NB: be forewarned. If you follow me @Cakebrain, you will sometimes encounter foodie drivvle (primarily on the weekends) because along with my educational tweets, I also tweet pictures of dishes from my restaurant recommendations.