TeachersFirst's Twitter for Teachers Resources
Twitter is more than just a way to share meaningless tweets about your breakfast cereal or the traffic on the way to school. Who has time for that?
For teachers, Twitter can be a powerful tool for professional development via quick sharing with peers and colleagues whom you may or may not know face to face. Imagine running across other teachers who teach the same things you do and exchanging ideas quickly, just when you need them. Imagine putting out a plea for help and finding others willing to suggest a solution. Imagine sharing the cool finds you have discovered on TeachersFirst or a great way to make dictionary skills engaging in your classroom. We all know the best tidbits are from other teachers, and Twitter gives you a way to create a network to constantly learn.
Twitter can also be an effective way to communicate from your class to other classrooms around the globe. If Twitter is accessible inside your school's filtering, your class Twitter account can be an avenue to interact with classrooms across town or across the world. Share tweets about today's news, environmental data, hot topic opinions, and more using hashtags, mentions, or messages. *A tip from Texas teacher Allison: If you work with English language learners, you will want to avoid some common tweet-shortening abbreviations, such as using gr8 to mean great. Non-native speakers do not easily grasp these abbreviations.*
You do not have to know everything about Twitter to get started. Start out with this video for an overview of Twitter. Set up a Twitter account, and follow @teachersfirst or @cshively (the leader of TeachersFirst's Thinking Teachers) to find other TeachersFirst enthusiasts. You can even follow Geo and Meri of Globetracker's Mission to become familiar with how Twitter works. You can access Twitter on their own web site or use one of the many free Twitter sharing tools available for free download. There are many Twitter tools for mobile devices, also free. But you don't need to worry about any of these to start.
Hashtags (those funny looking things with a #pound sign at the start) are a way of indicating that a tweet pertains to a certain topic or a certain interest group/event. The term hashtag refers to the funny # mark. To see what a hashtag does, try searching for one of these education-specific hashtags on Twitter (or watch them flying by in the little "widget" below. Try to figure out what each specialty is: #edchat, #ntchat, #ptchat, #midleved, #gtchat, #edtech, #artsed, #musedchat, #mathchat, #engchat, #EduIT . This is a good way to find people with common interests so you can FOLLOW them. Send a tweet including your favorite hashtag, telling people you are new to Twitter. Teachers who have searches set up for that hashtag will see your message, and you will receive a warm welcome!
For an easy way to get started, try Across the World Once a Week, a simple way to learn about the details of daily life in other cultures. The #xw1w hashtag pulls the weekly question and responses together in a quick Twitter search. Learn more about it here.
This collection of resources will give you some ideas and places to find other educators using Twitter and some of the various other tools that maximize Twitter's power for specific sharing, such as photos. We even have some reviews of Twitter-alternatives for those who prefer to stay in an education-only network.