Friday, June 24, 2011

4 Reasons I'll recommend Twitter to my math dept in the fall

I began using Twitter a few years ago as a teacher. At first it was just a quick way to get information out to students without needing to edit my website each time. I still do that, using tags for the student related material, but have found great value in the past 6 months in the learning that I have acquired through Twitter as an educator. 

In my evolution of Twitter understanding, I have gone through what seems to be 3 phases of Twitter use.

At first it seemed like just another Web 2.0 tool that maybe could have some uses in the classroom. I played around with that, tweeting links to videos for students. In the past year I attended a technology conference and began seeing the value of interacting with teachers across the world. I was receiving professional development when I actually had time to try and apply it (sitting in my own classroom). The latest phase I feel that I am in is that to remain relevant as a teacher in a rapidly changing world, this is a tool that is nothing short of required to stay connected and up to date with educational research, thought and technology. Printed material is too slow and waiting until the following summer for new ideas and professional development will never accomplish educational reform. This is the grassroots movement that combines collaborative learning, action research and professional reflection all into 140 character doses.

With that said, here will be my 4 reasons for recommending Twitter to my math colleagues:
  1. Collaboration is only as good as what you and your partner can bring to the table. Extending the conversation to Twitter brings new perspective and ideas that you may never come up with on your own.
  2. Staff development, when separated from the classroom preparation in my own experiences, is seldom applied. Using Twitter I can look for topics and resources relevant to me when I have time to apply them. 
  3. Any time a professional conference is happening, not only will you know about it, you will get updates from people that are actually there and can engage in conversations and resource sharing from across the country. You would know what CCSS, PD, and PL were if you were on Twitter.
  4. In our building next year we are (finally) moving away from leaving class instructions on an automated telephone service. With staff now needing to update web pages, embedded Twitter feeds can be a fast way of doing so. Imagine the public's perception of teachers if they have a window into a school where the teachers are actively engaged with a world-wide education community.

If you are interested in getting started, here are some tips for you:
  1. As you first begin Twitter for professional purposes a good practice may be to observe others to see what the norms are first. 
  2. If you are using the account for professional purposes you probably shouldn't make posts about your child's first runny nose. 
  3. There does not seem to be anything personal about following (or unfollowing) someone on Twitter. If at any point you feel like the posts aren't relevant to you, cut them loose.
  4. Learn to use tags with your posts. If you have a question for other math teachers related to practices type the #mathchat tag in your message. Click here for some other tags specific to other areas. 
  5. I've also gone through and created a short list of people to follow to start off our building math department staff, you can access it here if you're interested.
David Wees has put together a great group of videos instructing others on how to get started in Twitter. (To view them, click here).


  1. I'm honored you put me on your list, thank you. I think you have some very sensible advice for getting started on Twitter. I'd recommend including a link to a simple "how do I actually do this" type of post so that the less tech-savvy members of your department can get started without you.

  2. Thanks David. I was actually just thinking about looking for a twitter step by step post. Know of any good ones or have one yourself I can link to?