Tuesday, April 22, 2014


Less than a week ago, my relationship with Twitter was pretty much limited to watching Jimmy Fallon's "hashtag" videos. But on Friday afternoon, I told myself that it was time to actually get acquainted with this social media site. I had avoided it for 8 years, but that afternoon, I assured myself that if the educators I respect most use it as one of many technological tools in their "teacher tool kits," there had to be more to it than I had given it credit for. I still wasn't 100% convinced that "Twitter for educational purposes" wasn't some kind of oxymoron, but I silenced the doubts and set out to discover what Twitter had to offer.

After creating an account, I began to talk to myself as I journeyed into the land of Twitter...

Now, how do I find Jennifer's site? She's really the one that prompted me to take the Twitter plunge, so I should see what's on her page first.

Tap, Tap, Tap, went my keyboard.

Ah! There she is! I scanned her Twitter feed. It wasn't exactly what I had envisioned.

I thought Twitter pages were basically Facebook-esque little status updates. I see some things like that, but this seems pretty different from Facebook. It's really more of a huge web of conversation. 

My brain attempted to make sense of everything I was seeing. This is kind of like a foreign language...with all of these @s and #s....After glancing at some of the words next to the number signs hashtags, "#dubchat" caught my eye.


Instantly, a massive chain of conversation with each small piece including the label, "#dubchat" opened up on my screen. Whoa!  For the first time, I realized that "hashtags" weren't just randomly made-up phrases to summarize someone's Twitter "status" (Pardon my code-switching between Facebook and Twitter words...I think I'm still in the interlanguage phrase of Twitter-language acquisition).

Hold on...so, everyone on this page uses the same #-label for each post. That must mean that the #s aren't really summaries of a particular post, but labels that connect everyone's comments together. Hmm....interesting! 

As I scanned the page, I quickly realized that I had at my fingertips an hour-long discussion between educators in a nearby school district. And, of all things, they were discussing the uses of technology in schools! How apropos!

I almost felt like I was eavesdropping as I read through their conversation, which was essentially a virtual round table discussion. At first, I tried to figure out exactly how this Twitter world worked...

Okay...so, you use the @ sign to reply back to a specific person and you label your tweet with a specific # so that everyone's comments go to the same place...

I took mental notes.

Before I knew it, though, I was no longer focused on how to use Twitter, but instead on how much I could learn from it. Wonderful ideas from contributing educators seemed never-ending. I took more notes:

Hosting parent education tech nights
Collaborating through Google drive and Google handout
Utilizing Google forms
24/7 learning
Technology as a way to differentiate learning
Redefining instruction and assessment
Giving students an opportunity to write for audiences beyond just the teacher
Teachers as guides who help students learn to find information

Who knew that so much could be communicated in 140 characters or less? Not me... that's for sure! 

One contributor called this style of communication the "PD of the future." I could definitely see it.

I was excited. My former doubts about educational uses for Twitter seemed far away. This is awesome. Now, I need to find people to be my Twitter friends.

Checking out my graduate mentor teacher's list of "friends" seemed like a good place to start, so I returned to her profile.  Oh, they are followers...and then there's those you are following...not friends. Ok, got it. So, who is she following? I began to scan through the list.

Oooh! A Twitter account all about educational technology? I could definitely use that!  The blue rectangle labeled "Follow" enticed me. Should I click it? Why not? 


I read some more descriptions.

English teaching resources? Well, I have to follow that! 

Collaborative help for teaching ELLs? Yes, please! 

TESOL? Another obvious choice!

Ooohh....Stacey, Anna, Dana, Betsy, Tara, and Beth from Two Writing Teachers? Awesome! They are all so talented!

Lynda Mullay Hunt? Hey! That's the author of One for the Murphys! That book was incredible!

Ralph Fletcher? Whoa! I used his poetry as a mentor text last month! 

Michelle N? Hey! That's my Slice of Life friend! I definitely want to follow her!

I was clicking like crazy in my "follow" frenzy. Before I knew it, I had followed more than 30 people and I was having so much fun! You might even say I was "twitterpated." I couldn't wait to start reading what they all had to say.

Not once did it cross my mind that I should edit my own Twitter profile until moments later when I opened my Gmail inbox. Three unread messages? All from Twitter? Hmm...Wait...what?! A mixture of panic and excitement flowed through my veins. People are following ME? Oh, gosh! 

In my excitement to learn what others were saying, I hadn't really considered that people might want to know what I had to say. What did I have to say? 

Thus far, the answer had been absolutely nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch. I was the ambiguous, faceless twitter account with zero tweets. I better do something about that! But what am I going to say? 

I had a feeling a new learning journey was about to commence.