The Mysterious World of Twitter

By Cathy Beck and Hollyanna Bates

This post is first in a three-part series exploring the role of Twitter in education today. In future posts we will share about Twitter in the classroom and the role of Twitter chats for PD. The focus of this first post is the Twitter feed.  

For those not immersed in the world of Twitter today, the whole concept seems a bit mysterious. Some wonder how this could be the same world where rock stars Tweet about their rock star lives, adorable cats and where to buy the latest rock star name-emblazoned apparel. For educators, our worlds are consumed with topics of the greatest importance. “How will I reach this student? Am I doing the right work? How can I help this child develop confidence? How will I move this child to proficiency?” It seems almost ridiculous that Twitter could provide answers to any of these questions. And truthfully, the answers have to come from within. But experts of all of these topics and more are part of the rich fabric of educators on Twitter. And rich it is- with resources, articles, thoughts to ponder and chats to join. Enter the Twitter feed. The feed is the name for the constantly updated stream of posts from people or organizations followed. As organizations and people (think Kylene Beers or Jennifer Saravello) post content, each one is listed in your Twitter feed. The more people you follow, the more frequent the posts appear in the feed. It is important to follow the right people. Look for educators who Tweet a lot. Look for experts who post positive messages about this work that we do. You can begin by hitting the “like” button (the heart icon). “Like” posts that speak to you. You might then either respond or repost.

Wondering how you might find time for Twitter with all the other things competition for a piece of yourself? We recommend putting aside ten minutes a day.  The suggestions below will help you get started. As soon as you follow a few people, your Twitter feed begins to appear. Twitter sends you weekly recommendations of people you might follow, using algorithms and the people you are already following. These can also broaden your base and expose you to new thinking, ideas and resources. In your Twitter feed you will see Memes like the one on the left, links to professional books people have found helpful, activities, conversations, and teaching resources. When following educators, the most important posts are updates on research. Education Week, School LIbrary Journal, International Literacy Association and CCIRA are all engaged in posting new articles and research to help us refine our work and be even better educators.             

When you live in the world of Twitter for a few minutes, you are suddenly in a world outside of your school, district, and state. We love hearing about what teachers are doing at the International School of Bangkok while seeing pictures of an amazing classroom library in a small town in Vermont. Although we have shared a side of Twitter that is all about taking, this is only one side of a reciprocal relationship. After spending some time on Twitter, you may want to ReTweet.  This is the act of sharing, with people who have followed you, something you find juicy or relevant to your work. The more you share, the more people who will want to follow you and your network begins to expand. When you’re comfortable, you will want to share something from your own work. One question you’ll want to ask is if your school/district has a hashtag. If not, create one. Encourage everyone in the school/district to Tweet daily and use the hashtag. This is a great way for different schools to share ideas, for parents to see happenings in your building, and for the community to engage with the meaningful work you do everyday. Before you know it,  you will have a robust Twitter community, full of like-minded educators who push your thinking and make you better.

Suggestions on Literacy/Education Experts to Follow on Twitter:

Name Twitter Handle (name on Twitter) Name Twitter Handle (name on Twitter)
Larry Ferlazzo @Larryferlazzo Education Week Teacher @EdWeekTeacher
Jennifer Serravallo @JSerravallo Heinemann Publishing @HeinemannPub
International Literacy Assocation @ILAToday Amanda Hartman @amandalah
Stephanie Harvey @Stephharvey49 Gravity Goldberg @drgravityg
Cornelius Minor @MisterMinor Carl Anderson @ConferringCarl
Teachers College Reading Writing Project @TCRWP Public Education Business Coalition @PEBCorg
Paula Borque @LitCoachLady Kristine Mraz @MrazKristine
Nell Duke @nellkduke The Educator Collab @TheEdCollab
Burkins & Yaris @burkinsandyaris Jeffrey Wilhelm @ReadDRjwilhelm
Ernest Morell @ernestmorrell Dr. Mary Howard @DrMaryHoward
Linda Hoyt @lindavhoyt Tanny McGregor @TannyMcG
Dorothy Barnhouse @dorobarn Fran McVeigh @franmcveigh
Nerdy Book Club @nerdybookclub Kristin Ziemke @KristinZiemke

Dr. Cathy Beck is the Superintendent of Schools in Cheatham County, Tennessee and former Colorado educator. She is the author of Easy and Effective Professional Development and Leading Learning for ELL Students. Please connect with her on Twitter @cathypetreebeck.

Hollyanna Bates is a Past President of CCIRA and a Reading Recovery Teacher Leader/Literacy Coordinator in Summit School District in Frisco, Colorado.  Follow her on Twitter @hollyannabates.

Author: CCIRAblog

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