This post is a repeat of a previous post on my blog, Day In the Classroom.
Most of what I know about using technology in the classroom, I learned from people on Twitter. It has changed my teaching. I have developed new friendships because of Twitter, and it has recharged my enthusiasm for teaching. I even have a new dog, because of someone I met via Twitter.
When you are a Twitter regular, you forget how intimidating it can be at first. When I first joined Twitter, I thought the whole idea of “following” people sounded like stalking. I couldn’t figure out how things worked and I thought the whole thing was ridiculous. And of course if you don’t have anyone to follow, there is nothing to see. It wasn’t until about four months later, when I was taking a professional development class called “Using the Internet in the Classroom,” that I got back on Twitter.
With just a few exceptions, I follow only educators. I found the first people to follow by going to Twitter4Teachers. Once you have a few people to follow, you can observe who they follow, and begin following those people yourself. Many people post names of people they follow. On Fridays you will see a hashtag #FF and Twitter names. FF stands for Follow Friday. This is a good way to find new people with important things to share.
I have found a lot of people that I have things in common with, and that I can learn from by following the chats. A chat is when people schedule a time to hold a discussion on a topic via Twitter. My favorite chats are the grade level chats. For me the grade level chats are great because people talk about ideas and resources that can be used immediately in my classroom. During the week leading up to the chat, interested people vote on a topic to be discussed.
Kyle Pace (@KylePace) wrote a great blog post on getting started on Twitter and following the chats. You can read it here.
The chat for fourth grade is held every Monday from 7 to 8 PM. This is an opportunity to talk with 4th grade teachers from across the country and around the world about the things they are doing in their classrooms. You can learn more about #4thchat by visiting the 4thchat wiki. Weekly chats are also archived here, so if you miss one, you can find out what went on,
There are also chats for other grades and specialties. Jerry Blumengarten (@Cybraryman) is a great person to follow on Twitter. Here is his page of Educational Chats on Twitter.
The best way to follow a chat is to install Tweetdeck or Hootsuite on your computer. Here is a great video by Shell Terrell (@ShellTerrell) explaining how to use Tweetdeck to follow chats and other hash tags. I learned several things from this video that I did not know before, even though I’ve been using Tweetdeck for a couple of years now.
So give it a try. Get on Twitter and meet other educators from around the world. You will be amazed by the possibilities.