If you’d told me five years ago that I would be saying that Twitter is my professional development best friend, I would have laughed in your face. But here I am saying that Twitter is amazing and I have learned so much from the past couple weeks of use.
I’m a current masters student at the University of Houston, taking a class on Integrating Technology into the Curriculum. Part of this class required participation in a Twitter Slow Chat put on by ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education). I’ve heard of Twitter chats before. Plenty of my undergrad professors at Kent State encouraged us to participate in chats put on by NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English) or other similar professional organizations. I was reluctant because I was just never super comfortable with Twitter. I know Facebook. I like Facebook. Honestly, I’ve only in the past year gotten into using Instagram. (Yeah, I know, I’m a bad millenial.)
I do have a smattering of experience with Twitter before this class. I created an account during the election with the hopes of following news organizations (and my husband’s live debate tweets), but that fizzled out quickly. I tried in my first year of teaching to create a class Twitter to send reminders to my Twitter-obsessed students, but after seeing some of their Twitter pages, I decided that was a bad idea. A very bad idea. *shudder* Then I discovered Remind anyway. Much less frightening.
But, hey, now it’s a class requirement. No more putting off Twitter. It’s time to give it a real go. I didn’t know what I was missing. I think my problem with Twitter in the past was simply that I never really knew how to utilize it.
For those who are like I was and don’t know what a slow chat is…. it’s exactly what it sounds like: a slow conversation consisting of one question per day. People answer each question each day and reply and expand on other’s answers. A regular Twitter chat is usually a rapid fire conversation that usually happens all in the space of one hour. The slow chat is easier to squeeze into a busy schedule – I usually spent about 10 to 20 minutes per day on this (there are websites that allow you to schedule tweets so you can get the whole week done in one day, but I enjoyed interacting each day). The slower format gives you more time to really get involved and delve into everyone’s answers and shared resources.
This particular slow chat is a book study of Integrating Technology in the Classroom: Tools to Meet the Need of Every Student by Boni Hamilton using #ETCoaches.
You’ll find many of the ideas that have resulted from my study of this textbook throughout this blog. My very first post on using Paint actually came as a variation of an Integrating Technology group project based on resources in the book. Our project focused on creating a visual dictionary of STAAR vocabulary. The idea of the project was to use one of the drawing software options from the textbook. After exploring the options such as Tux Paint and Sumo Paint, we decided that the pre-installed Paint program is the immensely easier option, which spawned my post scolding the world of educational technology for making things too complicated sometimes and gave me the idea to use Paint in other ways in my classroom, such as the Lord of the Flies activity described in the same post.
The slow chat itself has been a lot of fun; it’s challenged me to not only think through the questions each day but to confine my answers to 140 characters including the hashtag. I’ve met a ton of new people from across the country. I’ve been introduced to a world of new resources and ideas from both the textbook and the ideas of fellow slow chat participants. I even discovered and have begun participating in a free MOOC-ed through the Friday Institute from another chat participant’s tweet (because, let’s be honest, I am now and have always been an academic masochist; if I’m not overwhelmed, I’m not learning!). If not for the Twitter chat, I would have never discovered this free course.
Thanks to my sudden obsession with Twitter, I was also able to participate in a regular Twitter chat put on by NCTE about teaching controversial books – #NCTEchat. As much as I like the slow chat format fitting to my schedule, the one hour fast-paced Twitter chat was exhilarating. I was able to have some great conversations with fellow educators about what determines if a book is controversial and how to decide the novels to teach in the classroom.
Overall, Twitter has been the biggest part of my start to growing a PLN (Professional Learning Network) and creating my online presence. I’ve learned immensely over the past couple of weeks and plan to continue utilizing Twitter beyond this book study slow chat. I’m looking forward to participating in more chats in the future.
Feel free to comment your Twitter handle and share this post on your Twitter page (and Facebook and Pinterest and Instgram….)!