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3 Reasons Why I'm Slightly Obsessed With Twitter

I'm becoming slightly obsessed with Twitter. Friends on the Collab have long touted its benefits, and I signed up for Twitter account several years ago. But not until recently did I actually experience its power and value as a professional resource. Here are my top 3 reasons why:


1. Access.  Suddenly I have access to quick thoughts, resources and reading recommendations from so many educators and thinkers!  I find this endlessly entertaining and I learn so much.  I also find that beyond any one link, I get a sort of "lay of the land" sense of what is going on and being talked about in education--by teachers, policymakers, journalists, YA writers, principals, professors, superintendants, ed techies, and more.  

At first, I couldn't fully appreciate this, because I felt overwhelmed by the sheer amount of tweets all the time.  Now I understand that I cannot possibly keep up with it. It is like the ocean and never stops.  I can take a dip and ride some waves whenever I have a moment, and I can also be done whenever I want. The benefits of popping in are great.  I do this almost exclusively on my phone, by the way, which supports the pop in nature of it, more than navigating to a website on my computer does.  

2. Hashtags. It took me a really, really long time, but I finally understand hashtags!  Hashtags allow you to view and contribute to a conversation on a particular topic with others, whether or not you follow them or they follow you.  For example, one CTQ hashtag is #ctqcollab.  If you search it on Twitter,  you can see what's happening in that conversation whether or not you follow the people in it.  This introduces you to a ton of like-minded people you didn't know before--who you can then converse with and/or start following!  

I've experienced something really powerful when I started following #engchat (started by Meenoo Rami).  This is a hashtag that brings together English teachers. It is a running conversation, but once a month, there is a "chat," for one hour, where someone hosts the conversation and people join in for a more focused discussion during that time.  I got to host an #engchat on whole novels in September.  I didn't really know how to do that, and though I have much to learn, somehow I did it and it was really cool. Through the chat, I met many awesome English teachers--including some in my own city I didn't know before, but whom I've now met face to face with to discuss implementation of the whole novel method at their school! All because of twitter. I also met the moderators of #ELAChat, also a meeting place for English teachers.  I'll be hosting the #ELAChat next week on 12/3. In the meanwhile, some members of the #ELAChat community have been reading and tweeting about my book, Whole Novels for the Whole Class, under the hashtag #WholeNovels! They even "storified" their tweets (another amazing function)! (Ch. 1, Ch. 2, Ch. 3...) Through this hashtag, I have connected with so many thoughtful, innovative English teachers across huge geographical divides. I'm quite amazed and energized by this--and a little addicted. 

Other hashtags worth checking out include: #teacherpreneurs #geniushour #edchat #t2030

3. Brevity. The ability to simply retweet or favorite something I find valuable, or respond to someone in 140 characters or less is a relief.  I can do this on the go, during brief moments in already busy days, without having to devote a specific block of time to it.  It doesn't replace the deeper conversations that happen here in the Collaboratory and in the comments sections of articles and blogs (or face to face!), but it's a powerful way to expand my universe without--it seems--giving up much else. 

And here are JUST a few CTQ Collaborators to follow on Twitter, and there are many more. (I'm @arielsacks.) The good thing is that once you're in the orbit, you will easily find many more familiar folks and strangers, too, worth following.  

CTQ - @teachingquality

Bill Ferriter - @plugusin

Shannon C'de Baca - @auntshan

Jose Vilson - @theJLV

Renee Moore - @TeachMoore

Megan Allen - @redhdteacher

Cindi Rigsbee - @CindiRigsbee

Are you using Twitter? How? If not, is anything getting in the way?

4 Comments

Joy Kirr (@JoyKirr) commented on December 1, 2013 at 8:56am:

Whole Novels

Ariel, we on #ELAchat are so glad you are on Twitter. I'll add a #4 for you - connections. Because you are on Twitter, we can ask you directly about how you run your Whole Novels program. Even if you weren't on Twitter, we'd be tweeting about your book (because we love it and will find it very useful!), but because you ARE on Twitter, you can verify or clarify or elaborate on anything we ask. Thank you for this. I, too, am pretty obsessed with following hash tags to learn. I'm actually starting to back off this month, however, because I find it sucks up a TON of my time, and I don't have as much time to read or write or enjoy my family like I should. So good luck with the obsession - time spent on it ebbs and flows much like the ocean. Enjoy your own learning, and keep spreading the optimism! ~Joy

Bill Ferriter commented on December 2, 2013 at 6:56am:

Glad you made it!

Hey Pal, 

Welcome to the Twitter club!  Glad you finally made it.  

The immediacy and the brevity are my favorite parts of Twitter.  It's such a simple way to find and to share ideas quickly.  Considering how busy we all are, that "quickly" part matters times ten.

Rock on, 

Bill

 

Anonymous commented on December 2, 2013 at 1:12pm:

Over the past year I have

Over the past year I have also used Twitter more in the ways you described in your blog post. I am pretty isolated from other teachers at a small alternative ed site, and I am able to connect with others as well as catch the bigger flow of ideas in education. Thanks for your post--it is useful to those who may not already by connecting on Twitter.

Victoria Woelders commented on December 7, 2013 at 12:00am:

Twitter Newbie

I have only been on Twitter now for three months and I have become very connected with educators as well.  It is great to converse and network with people who are interested in education.  I am started to change my approach to social media, as one that use to view it as stumbling block, to one that is a stepping stone.  Thanks for the post.

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