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September 17, 2015 Twitter for Teachers 201: Chatting and Best Practices By Meghan Everette
Grades PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8, 9–12

    If you had a chance to read "Twitter for Teachers: A Beginner's Guide" from last week, then you understand a few of the basics. Now, you might be looking for the Twitter magic: the cool and invaluable tools you always hear people talking about.

    Twitter chats are one great way to engage with educators around the world. You can find chats of every size, topic, and speed to grow your Personal Learning Network (PLN). There aren’t titles and rank on Twitter; everyone is there to learn and share. It’s an incredibly valuable tool for boosting your teacher morale and finding great classroom solutions!

    The basic premise is that on a specific day and time people will be using their Twitter accounts to discuss a given topic. Chats occur daily, weekly, biweekly, or monthly depending on what the host decides. Most chats are an hour long, but conversations can continue virtually as long as people want to keep talking. Chats are public: you do not have to belong to a certain group or know a single soul chatting to join in. Just find a chat and start talking!

    Participating in Chats | Things to Remember | Chats to Try | Pro Tips

     

    Participating in Chats

    There are two ways to participate in Twitter chats. I think using an organizer (such as TweetDeck) is easiest. Here’s how to get started:

    1. Go to TweetDeck.twitter.comTweet deck search and set up a free account.

    2. After you are logged in, click on the magnifying glass search icon and type in the hashtag you want to follow. If you want to participate in the Top Teaching chat, for instance, you would search #TopTeaching.

    3. Click on the search icon to the right of your search term and then click on the "Add Column" button. The column that appears will only display tweets that have the hashtag you have searched.

    4. You can write your tweets right from TweetDeck using the blue and white quill icon. If you are tweeting about your chat, just make sure you use the chat hashtag. The hashtag is how everyone will see what you write.

    5. Click the square arrow box on any tweet to respond or quote the tweet with your reply. This is how you can talk to others. Don't forget the hashtag!

    The great part here is if you want to do other chats, you just add columns. You can sign back in later and your columns will still be there. Columns can be rearranged and often, people use that same hashtag to post information even when the chat is not active.

    I like to put my "Notifications" list right next to the chat column I'm using so that I can see when someone responds to me or uses my handle. (You can drag columns using the faint vertical lines on the ltop left of each column.) I also use TweetDeck on my computer, and I make an effort to be in front of it when doing a chat.

    If you don’t want to use TweetDeck, you can still participate in a chat right from Twitter.twitter search on phone

    1. In Twitter, use the search and look for the hashtag you want.
      twitter search bar

    2. Click on "All Tweets" at the top of the results on your phone, or “Live” if you are on your desktop. Usually it defaults to Top Tweets, but you want to see everything.
      live tweet bar

    3. Follow, respond, and quote tweets from here. You'll need to click on your notifications tab if you want to see when people have used your name or responded to you

    Things to Remember

    • Use A1:, A2:, etc. when answering questions to make sure people know what you are talking about. The questions and answers are flying so this allows everyone to understand what question you are responding to.

    • Use the chat hashtag every time you write or respond.

    • Chat! Just throwing out a one liner isn’t exactly maximizing the power of conversation. You really want to participate in a dialogue.

    • Use pictures if you have them and remember to link to your webpage, class information, or Pinterest pins! For example, if someone is talking about class libraries, reply and say "Here is my post on how I organized my library last year: dld.bz/dSWxn"

    sample tweet

    A Few Chats to Try

    #TopTeaching

    Scholastic has a chat the second Tuesday of each month at 9 p.m. ET. You can chat live with the Top Teaching bloggers and other teachers like yourself! The next chat is scheduled for October 13 and we will be discussing parent communication and conferences.

     

    #SatChat

    One of the larger chats around, SatChat is at 6:30 a.m. ET on Saturday mornings and is very fast moving. Topics cover a wide variety of teaching and education tech issues.

     

    #HSGEdChat

    Hope Street Group’s chat aims to empower teacher voice in policy conversations. The chat isn’t regularly scheduled yet, so set your column in TweetDeck so you don’t miss it!

     

    #BFC530

    For early risers, TheBreakfastClub530 posts one question at 5:30 a.m. ET, CT, MT, and PT each day for a 15-minute discussion. It’s a quick and easy way to get involved without taking up your workday or evening.

     

    #EdTherapy

    Every other Thursday at 9 p.m. ET covering topics that teachers find challenging as well as supporting each other with solutions.

     

    Check a complete list of education chats to find your state chat, organizations you follow, or chats specific to your grade and subject. There’s something for every teacher out there! Have a suggestion of a great chat to participate in? Add it to the comments below.

    Once a chat is finished, the chat creator can choose to create a static history of a chat using an online tool, such as Storify. If you miss a chat or it moves too quickly to keep up with all the resources, you can check for the history that is usually a link posted within 24 hours on Twitter. You can read at your leisure and check out any links others posted. Here’s a Storify story from the last #TopTeaching chat on classroom management and organization.

     

    Pro Tips

    Scheduling

    If you have a hard time managing chats or are posting often, you might like a scheduler. Different schedulers do different things such as automatically posting your next update for you, suggesting the best times to post, or allowing you to pick exactly when your post goes live. You can use a scheduler to make sure links to your personal content online ends up getting posted in the heat of the chat. Some chats post their questions ahead of time so you can get your answers ready and focus on responding to others. Posting pictures is a great way to attract more people to your information, but it is hard to attach and add quickly while chatting. For this, a scheduler can help. A few popular schedulers are HootSuite, SocialOomph, and Buffer.

    Link Shortener

    Using links in your posts is a great way to share resources, but if you don’t shorten them, they can take up valuable characters in your tweet. Some schedulers will shorten links for you, but another way is to use a third-party site. Bit.ly and TinyURL. The benefit of these sites is you can track analytics on your links, which is useful when you are trying to market your own work.

    Analytics

    If you decide to lead a chat, or if you just dig data, you can use Twitter’s own analytics tool to see which of your tweets got the best response, how many impressions you made through tweets and retweets, and how you are doing currently as compared to last week or month.

    Fitting It In

    Look, we are teachers. We get up early, stay at school late, have coaching and mentoring obligations, pick up extra jobs and tutor, and magically lead lives outside of school as well. How can you do it all? The truth is you can’t. Find a chat and try it out. You might decide you like the participants, questions, topic, or suggestions enough to come back. Adding chats to your calendar and phone reminders can help. Get a few that you want to commit to attending regularly, and if you enjoy it and want to jump in on others when you can, great. Don’t worry about being on every chat, every time. That’s just not realistic.

     

    Questions? Post them below or tweet me @bamameghan. I hope to chat with you on #TopTeaching soon!

     

    Twitter handles for Scholastic Bloggers

     

    If you had a chance to read "Twitter for Teachers: A Beginner's Guide" from last week, then you understand a few of the basics. Now, you might be looking for the Twitter magic: the cool and invaluable tools you always hear people talking about.

    Twitter chats are one great way to engage with educators around the world. You can find chats of every size, topic, and speed to grow your Personal Learning Network (PLN). There aren’t titles and rank on Twitter; everyone is there to learn and share. It’s an incredibly valuable tool for boosting your teacher morale and finding great classroom solutions!

    The basic premise is that on a specific day and time people will be using their Twitter accounts to discuss a given topic. Chats occur daily, weekly, biweekly, or monthly depending on what the host decides. Most chats are an hour long, but conversations can continue virtually as long as people want to keep talking. Chats are public: you do not have to belong to a certain group or know a single soul chatting to join in. Just find a chat and start talking!

    Participating in Chats | Things to Remember | Chats to Try | Pro Tips

     

    Participating in Chats

    There are two ways to participate in Twitter chats. I think using an organizer (such as TweetDeck) is easiest. Here’s how to get started:

    1. Go to TweetDeck.twitter.comTweet deck search and set up a free account.

    2. After you are logged in, click on the magnifying glass search icon and type in the hashtag you want to follow. If you want to participate in the Top Teaching chat, for instance, you would search #TopTeaching.

    3. Click on the search icon to the right of your search term and then click on the "Add Column" button. The column that appears will only display tweets that have the hashtag you have searched.

    4. You can write your tweets right from TweetDeck using the blue and white quill icon. If you are tweeting about your chat, just make sure you use the chat hashtag. The hashtag is how everyone will see what you write.

    5. Click the square arrow box on any tweet to respond or quote the tweet with your reply. This is how you can talk to others. Don't forget the hashtag!

    The great part here is if you want to do other chats, you just add columns. You can sign back in later and your columns will still be there. Columns can be rearranged and often, people use that same hashtag to post information even when the chat is not active.

    I like to put my "Notifications" list right next to the chat column I'm using so that I can see when someone responds to me or uses my handle. (You can drag columns using the faint vertical lines on the ltop left of each column.) I also use TweetDeck on my computer, and I make an effort to be in front of it when doing a chat.

    If you don’t want to use TweetDeck, you can still participate in a chat right from Twitter.twitter search on phone

    1. In Twitter, use the search and look for the hashtag you want.
      twitter search bar

    2. Click on "All Tweets" at the top of the results on your phone, or “Live” if you are on your desktop. Usually it defaults to Top Tweets, but you want to see everything.
      live tweet bar

    3. Follow, respond, and quote tweets from here. You'll need to click on your notifications tab if you want to see when people have used your name or responded to you

    Things to Remember

    • Use A1:, A2:, etc. when answering questions to make sure people know what you are talking about. The questions and answers are flying so this allows everyone to understand what question you are responding to.

    • Use the chat hashtag every time you write or respond.

    • Chat! Just throwing out a one liner isn’t exactly maximizing the power of conversation. You really want to participate in a dialogue.

    • Use pictures if you have them and remember to link to your webpage, class information, or Pinterest pins! For example, if someone is talking about class libraries, reply and say "Here is my post on how I organized my library last year: dld.bz/dSWxn"

    sample tweet

    A Few Chats to Try

    #TopTeaching

    Scholastic has a chat the second Tuesday of each month at 9 p.m. ET. You can chat live with the Top Teaching bloggers and other teachers like yourself! The next chat is scheduled for October 13 and we will be discussing parent communication and conferences.

     

    #SatChat

    One of the larger chats around, SatChat is at 6:30 a.m. ET on Saturday mornings and is very fast moving. Topics cover a wide variety of teaching and education tech issues.

     

    #HSGEdChat

    Hope Street Group’s chat aims to empower teacher voice in policy conversations. The chat isn’t regularly scheduled yet, so set your column in TweetDeck so you don’t miss it!

     

    #BFC530

    For early risers, TheBreakfastClub530 posts one question at 5:30 a.m. ET, CT, MT, and PT each day for a 15-minute discussion. It’s a quick and easy way to get involved without taking up your workday or evening.

     

    #EdTherapy

    Every other Thursday at 9 p.m. ET covering topics that teachers find challenging as well as supporting each other with solutions.

     

    Check a complete list of education chats to find your state chat, organizations you follow, or chats specific to your grade and subject. There’s something for every teacher out there! Have a suggestion of a great chat to participate in? Add it to the comments below.

    Once a chat is finished, the chat creator can choose to create a static history of a chat using an online tool, such as Storify. If you miss a chat or it moves too quickly to keep up with all the resources, you can check for the history that is usually a link posted within 24 hours on Twitter. You can read at your leisure and check out any links others posted. Here’s a Storify story from the last #TopTeaching chat on classroom management and organization.

     

    Pro Tips

    Scheduling

    If you have a hard time managing chats or are posting often, you might like a scheduler. Different schedulers do different things such as automatically posting your next update for you, suggesting the best times to post, or allowing you to pick exactly when your post goes live. You can use a scheduler to make sure links to your personal content online ends up getting posted in the heat of the chat. Some chats post their questions ahead of time so you can get your answers ready and focus on responding to others. Posting pictures is a great way to attract more people to your information, but it is hard to attach and add quickly while chatting. For this, a scheduler can help. A few popular schedulers are HootSuite, SocialOomph, and Buffer.

    Link Shortener

    Using links in your posts is a great way to share resources, but if you don’t shorten them, they can take up valuable characters in your tweet. Some schedulers will shorten links for you, but another way is to use a third-party site. Bit.ly and TinyURL. The benefit of these sites is you can track analytics on your links, which is useful when you are trying to market your own work.

    Analytics

    If you decide to lead a chat, or if you just dig data, you can use Twitter’s own analytics tool to see which of your tweets got the best response, how many impressions you made through tweets and retweets, and how you are doing currently as compared to last week or month.

    Fitting It In

    Look, we are teachers. We get up early, stay at school late, have coaching and mentoring obligations, pick up extra jobs and tutor, and magically lead lives outside of school as well. How can you do it all? The truth is you can’t. Find a chat and try it out. You might decide you like the participants, questions, topic, or suggestions enough to come back. Adding chats to your calendar and phone reminders can help. Get a few that you want to commit to attending regularly, and if you enjoy it and want to jump in on others when you can, great. Don’t worry about being on every chat, every time. That’s just not realistic.

     

    Questions? Post them below or tweet me @bamameghan. I hope to chat with you on #TopTeaching soon!

     

    Twitter handles for Scholastic Bloggers

     

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