Tuesday, February 12, 2013

What Are You Tweeting About?

By Savannah Hill, RME Professional Development Coordinator

Twitter is becoming an essential instrument for almost every teacher's toolbox. It is a great way to communicate between other teachers, your students or parents, and the general public.

What is Twitter? Twitter is an online social networking site, which allows users to send and receive messages of up to 140 characters. It helps you to build a network formed around a shared interest.

Why should I join Twitter? Twitter is an extensive online community for anyone to quickly share and gain ideas on a topic, such as math education or a current event. It’s free and easy to use.

What do I tweet about? Tweet about what interests you now. What has your attention? Tweet an inspiring quote you hear. Ask questions – Twitter is a great tool for getting immediate responses from colleagues and other educators around the world (remember to use a hashtag (#) to group your tweet with other similar tweets!).

Key Lingo:
  • Tweet: an individual post; a tweet is just the way to say you posted something on Twitter.
  • RT (Retweet): Re-telling someone else’s tweet; if you see a tweet you like, you can post it to all your followers by “retweeting” it.
  • Message: Direct message to a follower (private).
  • @username: open message to a specific person; The “@” symbol always comes before someone’s Twitter name.  Not only will the tweet go out to everyone, but that person who has been tweeted at will be able to see a notification that they have been mentioned. For example: @RME_SMU
  • #Hashtag: Use hashtags to group and track discussions (conference, seminar, classroom activity, etc.); If you put a hashtag in front of a word, then your tweet will be grouped with all the other tweets that contain that hashtaged word. Hashtags make it very easy to search for posts on almost any topic.
Some great math educator hashtags to follow are
 #mathchat #edchat #edtech
  • Trending: When something is “trending” on Twitter, it means that many people are talking about the same thing.
What role does Twitter have in education? Twitter is a great way to communicate short, direct thoughts.  Take a look at this news report that shows how Twitter has been used in this classroom.

Here are some other ways you can use Twitter for math education:
  • Have your students and parents follow you on Twitter where you can post reminders about quizzes/tests/homework, upcoming field trips, websites to check out, etc.
  • Hold “Twitter Chats” with your students. Allow them to ask questions or have discussions about a particular topic after class using predesignated hashtags.
  • When attending or leading trainings and conferences, place a hashtag at the end of your tweets to organize them for easy access later. For example, at our annual RME conference, people who attend will be using #RME2013 at the end of their tweets. Attendees could easily find other tweets about the RME conference just by searching the official RME hashtag.
  • Follow other teachers! There are educators and educational companies on Twitter who post valuable links and ideas daily. A “Twitter Chats” are a series of conversations on a particular topic using a predesignated hashtag. For example, a great chat on gifted and talented students is held on Fridays at 11 AM and 6 PM CST using #gtchat. These chats can be great tools to communicate ideas with other teachers from around the world!
  • Use Twitter to build a Professional Learning Network (PLN) so that you can learn about the latest trends in teaching!
Summing It All Up
Our educational landscape is changing rapidly. Students are using technology, such as Twitter, every day, and as educators we must stay current and utilize this technology as a way to teach and engage our students. Used effectively, Twitter can transform your classroom, your school, and your teaching.

So sign up, start following, and start listening using Twitter today! Pretty soon, you will have your own professional learning network!

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