Teaching in the 21st Century

Traci GardnerTraci Gardner, known as "tengrrl" on most networks, writes lesson plans, classroom resources, and professional development materials for English language arts and college composition teachers. She is the author of Designing Writing Assignments, a contributing editor to the NCTE INBOX Blog, and the editor of Engaging Media-Savvy Students Topical Resource Kit.

Ten Ways to Use Twitter with Colleagues

posted: 5.6.09 by Traci Gardner

In my last post, I shared Ten How-To Resources that explain how to use Twitter, and if that’s not enough, here are thirty more Twitter tutorials. There’s no end to the number of Web pages that explain the technical how-tos of using Twitter. You’ll also find quite a few sites that explain how companies are using Twitter for marketing, customer support, and more. But how are language arts and college English teachers using Twitter?

Twitter makes a great tool for professional development, for keeping in touch with colleagues, and for promoting yourself. Try these tactics to share what you’re doing with the world, and stay tuned for more tips later this week.

  1. Pass on news stories and educational articles. Be sure to read what you post, and send only the best stuff on to your followers. And, just as important as posting the URL to the resource, say why people should read it. Tell them why you’re passing the story on.
  2. Send out reminders and updates to your colleagues. Twitter is a great pipeline for departmental (and even school-wide) updates. You can post last-minute changes, share emergency and weather postponements, and remind everyone about committee meetings.
  3. Tell people what you’re reading. What’s the book on your night stand? What pedagogical book are you immersed in? What’s the blog that you can’t stop reading? Tweet (that means post a message on Twitter) about what you’re reading, where you are in the text, and why it’s captured your attention.
  4. Engage your followers with some discussion. Twitter isn’t just about posting what you’re doing. Remember to read the Tweets from the people you follow too. Reply to questions. Encourage friends. Share opinions. And don’t forget to address your followers by name using the @nickname format (e.g., I’m @tengrrl).
  5. Record your “invisible” work. So much of the work that teachers do isn’t seen. There’s administrative work to keep the department or program running, preparation for classes, responding to students’ writing, and so on. What does it look like? Just be concise and say what you’re doing. Here’s an example: @janiesantoy grades for portfolios for one class done; one class to go Mon, Apr 27 22:52:44
  6. Find collaborators for papers and presentations. Thinking of answering the Computers and Composition Call for Manuscripts for Copyright, Culture, Creativity, and the Commons? Scrambling to get a proposal submitted for the 2010 CCCC? Send out a call for conspirators on Twitter! Just be sure to give followers a clear idea of the topic and kind of collaboration you have in mind.
  7. Brag about students’ work. Find an exceptional sentence in a student paper? Students just post their semester projects online? Post an excerpt or URL, and let everyone see—and don’t forget to say why you’re sharing. But do be sure to respect student privacy and your college’s guidelines for posting student work.
  8. Promote your publications and presentations. Wherever you are in the process, you can post about it on Twitter. Tell your followers when you’re writing a paper or proposal, revising, or sending off a final draft. When you get that new journal with your essay published inside, let everyone know. When you post a new blog entry, tweet about it.
  9. Share updates on the meetings, conferences, and other events you attend. Connect with other attendees and let everyone back home know the great things you’re seeing. Post about the speakers you hear, colleagues you meet, and new resources you find. Let your followers know what you’re learning and how it will influence you as an teacher.
  10. Ask questions. Can’t put your finger on that great handout someone recommended last year? Looking for a way to reinvigorate your Shakespeare unit? Want to hear recommendations on the latest book about teaching literature? If you have teachers among your followers, just ask your question and watch for your colleagues’ answers!

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Categories: Collaboration, Professional Conferences, Teaching with Technology
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