What can Twitter do for you?

Last week I had a conversation with teachers from across the country. There were Social Studies teachers and Language Arts teachers, middle school teachers and high school teachers, plus Laurie Halse Anderson (author of one of my favorite books, Speak). This conversation wasn’t in person or over the phone. It took place on Twitter.
Twitter is quickly becoming one of the best places for professional development and collaboration with colleagues from around the world. I’m constantly running across great blog posts, articles, interesting commentary, etc. all in bite-size chunks which I can digest quickly in my hectic schedule.
If you aren’t on Twitter you are missing out.
Here are some of the ways I use Twitter…

  1. I use it to post links to my blog (http://stocksawesomeblog.wordpress.com)
  2. I use it to read the latest articles from some of my favorite speakers/teachers from across the country
  3. I use it for inspiration (a lot of my ideas come from Twitter)
  4. I use it to get the latest news (most news organizations post tweets as soon as news breaks)
  5. I also use it for the chats

Last week I participated in my first Twitter chat. If you’ve never participated in one of these it is different then anything else I’ve done. Twitter chats take place at a scheduled time/day over a wide range of topics.
The way the chat works is usually a facilitator will throw out some questions and people post responses based on that question. To follow the chat all you have to do is search for the chat hash tag. A hash tag is the # followed by some sort of phrase. For example I was participating in the #engsschat. It was a collaboration of English/Social Studies teachers. You can participate in the chat or just observe and glean some great ideas.
The best way to get the time and dates of these chats is to follow as many educators as possible. A lot of the chats occur on a specific time/day every week.
The chat last week gave me the opportunity to “talk” to Laurie Halse Anderson. She was asking teachers questions and responding. It was great to be a part of a discussion like this. The highlight was when she “favorited” one of my tweets. It’s such a little action, but it was huge for me. It was like I was getting approval from someone I admire and respect. It was a great experience.
If you would like suggestions for people to follow on Twitter, start by following me @teachlikeaninja. Then look at the people I follow, the people they follow, etc.
Twitter can be one of the greatest educational tools if you know where to look.