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Twitter is Your PLC

Contributed by MaryAnne Mather Consultant Simply Teach Tech

Educators understand the learning power of professional learning communities (PLCs), professional learning networks (PLNs), and peer collaboration and sharing. Supporting this understanding, Twitter offers the potential to bring many PLCs to your fingertips easily and often.

Simply Teach Tech believes that Twitter is a learning opportunity whose time has come. The best part is that a user can enter the “twittersphere” at what we think of as four comfort levels:

1. Follow Register on Twitter and follow actively tweeting educators and organizations with plenty to share. The passive Twitter user can skim a smattering of daily-learning sound bites and pearls of wisdom that provoke reflection. Here are a few twitter handles to get you started: @simplyteachtech @edudemic @SNewco @justintarte

2. Click “thru” for more information Many tweets offer a single thought, followed by a link that leads to a blog post or article with commentaries, details, and additional links to related resources. Clicking through to read more often brings real-world examples to the single idea communicated in the tweet. Try these: @edutopia @EducationWeek @TERCusingdata

3. Contribute Consider adding your voice. When you contribute you add to the depth and breadth of the conversation. The most valued insights and resources are often shared by educators like you. They are just as busy as anyone else, but have made a commitment to professional sharing and giving back to their Twitter community.

If you’re ready to take this next step and wondering what to contribute, Canadian district administrator George Couros (@gcouros) offers 10 tips about: What should a networked educational leader tweet about?

4. Participate Twitter offers a unique way to have facilitated text conversations with geographically dispersed colleagues and experts. We refer to the scheduled conversations (many occur weekly at a designated time) as hashtag chats because each tweeted contribution includes a designated hashtag that links the conversation thread together.

These chats can deliver just-in-time answers to pressing questions and advice on everything from student motivation to the impact of the Common Core standards on teacher evaluation. Think of them as teacher inspired and directed professional development-learn about what you need when you need it. Here’s a list of hashtag chats and their times and topics (generously curated by these educators you can find on Twitter @thomascmurray @cevans5095 @cybraryman1).

If you already have a Twitter account, think about increasing your participation to expand professional learning, or step-up local sharing about what you are learning. If you’re a Twitter beginner, check out Getting Started With Twitter to take advantage of a powerful learning tool. Your students are most likely using this technology, and we think it’s important for you to have personal context about their digital worlds, plus…you’ll soon discover what’s in it for you!

Twitter Interview: One Educator’s Twitter Life

Meet Angela Tremble (@ajtremble on Twitter), an elementary teacher and educational leader in San Diego, CA. Angela is committed to effective integration of technology in classroom practice.

She regularly brings transformative tech-supported classroom experiences to her students and actively shares these experiences with other teachers through the professional development she leads. As an active Twitter user and contributor, Angela’s know-how can reach beyond her immediate community, and she also is able to retrieve worldwide resources to share with local colleagues. Simply Tech Tech recently spoke with Angela about her work.

1. @SimplyTeachTech: You use Twitter for your own professional development. Do you have a strategy for getting others in your district to use it? @ajtremble: I lead trainings to show teachers how to use Twitter professionally, and I encourage them to follow me after the session. I also created a District hashtag (#SBSD) that I typically use to label my tweets and try to get others to use when they tweet. This way we can easily search Twitter for items that relate to our district needs and interests. We really don’t have that many teachers who actively use Twitter yet, but some of our administrators are active users.

2. @SimplyTeachTech: How do you typically use Twitter? @ajtremble: I read tweets, and I tweet often-typically links to articles that I think would interest like-minded colleagues. At times I communicate through Twitter when I’m attending a conference. Most conferences identify a special hashtag that attendees use while tweeting during the event. This keeps us connected and expands our learning beyond the sessions we are able to physically attend.

3. @SimplyTeachTech: Have you ever attended a hashtag chat? @ajtremble: I sometimes attend the scheduled #edchat chats. But there are a ton of Twitter chats going on all the time that are facilitated by educators. I have a list that I peruse occasionally to see what is most appealing and fits into my schedule (see lead article in this newsletter).

4. @SimplyTeachTech: When you tweet or retweet to share valuable information, are there particular hashtags you include? @ajtremble: I try to use our #SBSD hashtag, to raise awareness locally. Depending on the content of my tweets, I also use #Commnets4Kids, #kinderchat, #edchat, #pblchat, #flipclass, #spedchat, #earlyed, #edtech, #elemchat and #elearn.

5. @SimplyTeachTech: Do you share resources you find on twitter via other district communications? @ajtremble: Yes, within my district I typically share at meetings, through email, and through a monthly tech tip for teachers that I share on our internal WIKI. Additionally, I post resources that I discover via Twitter on our district website for parents.

6. @SimplyTeachTech: Are there one or two edtech blogs you find particularly useful and why?

@ajtremble: I follow 337 accounts on Twitter. Two of note are: @KleinErin whose posts are useful, practical and vary in topics and @EdTechTeacher21. This is a great group of educators who provide quality professional development resources.

7. @SimplyTeachTech: Can you give an example of one recent valuable resource you found via Twitter?

@ajtremble: I recently discovered Ed Tech professional Tom Whitby (@tomwhitby). He shares great technology resources for teachers and holds Twitter chats where teachers share ideas about teaching and learning with technology.

8. @SimplyTeachTech: What piece of advice would you give to an educator about how to get started with Twitter and how to get the most out of it?

@ajtremble: • Start small; • learn the basics. • Begin by following others and then start adding your own ideas. • When someone begins to follow you it’s appropriate to follow back. • I’ve created a “getting Started with Twitter” handbook that I share with school and district colleagues.

Simply Teach Tech helps schools build extraordinary classrooms using interactive technologies. Contact us today to find out how we can help your school –


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