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I have been itching to write this Teachers Guide to Twitter for a while now – hoping to encourage K-3 Teachers and others, to give Twitter a try. Many of our visitors have expressed that it is all too confusing – so – I will do my best to unravel the ‘mystery’ behind Twitter – it is worth it…so hang in there with me…
For me, twitter has been the single best source of my ‘professional development’ as a ‘retired’ Teacher, but continuing early childhood educator. My Twitter Network has become my daily source of up-to-date educational information, strategies, techniques, websites, thoughts, questions and answers, ideas and laughs……
Twitter is an interesting phenomena. At first glance, it almost appears as though ‘Twittering’ is a foreign language. A language where there are very odd rules – only 140 characters, funny looking words and url links with strange names – how on earth do you communicate with these people – they are writing in some secret code !
After joining twitter 5 months ago – my page was actually neglected for 2 months as I put it in the ‘too hard basket’. Fortunately, I read an article, not dissimilar to this one which prompted me to give it another try – I’m glad I did.
Ok, I love point form, so basically, I am going to run through what I did to get my Twitter Network humming and the Learning Cogs turning.
First and foremost – be prepared for a little bit of a learning curve with Twitter, it is something that really needs to be practised and used – please don’t expect to be blown away the second time you use it – it takes time (and some energy) to get your Twitter Network firing.
OK – let’s start…
Step No. 1 – Signup…
Step No. 2 – Interesting Profile and Picture...
Extremely important and often overlooked, ensure that you set up your page with a decent looking profile. All this is done in ‘Settings’ at the top of your page. Other twitterers will think twice about following someone they don’t know anything about. So, take the time to write a bit about yourself in the bio section.
It is also really important to place a picture avatar on – really it can be anything – but it makes all the difference for others to get to ‘know’ you. They see your picture and remember – ‘oh yes, they often tweet about great sites – so I will read this…’.
Step No. 3 – Write your First Tweets…
OK, so you have signed up, you have written a small ‘blurb’ about who you are, and popped in a picture of your dog sitting on the computer – that’s fine…
Now, let’s practise writing your first tweet. At the top of your page you can write basically anything – these are called your ‘updates’.
A great start is to write one tweet about what you will share with others (eg. Will tweet to share teaching websites, ideas, resources, frustrations, highs and lows, questions, personal tidbits, etc) – remember 140 characters. Then write a second tweet about what you hope to learn from others (probably very similar).
Now, when someone comes to your page to check out whether you might be someone good to ‘follow’ – they can see what you are all about and are more than likely to ‘follow’ you.
Step No. 4 – Rev up your Tweeting….
Now it is time to increase your contributions (tweets) to your network – every time you come across a great teaching website or blog – tweet about it – other teachers want to know about it too….Try to make them at least informative maybe 60-70% of the time – other can be just ‘venting’ or ‘tidbits’. Next thing you know people will start to want to ‘follow’ you and you will receive a notice email when someone follows you. Follow them back if they seem interesting.
Ok, now if you want to share a website or a link – more than likely, it will be too long to place in the update box with 140 character limit – so – copy the link and go to http://www.tinyurl.com . Paste your long link into the box on this page and presto they make your long url into a tiny one – goes to the same site – but shorter to place in your twitter update.
Easier still, you can use a personal twitter interface like Tweetdeck which shortens your urls automatically.
Step No. 5 – Search for people to Follow……
Twitter works on the premise that everyone has something to share – ok, not all sharing is of interest to you – so – you just need to find those people who share similar interests to you – these are the people you need to find and choose to ‘follow’.
You can basically ‘follow’ anyone, however this does not guarantee that they will follow you back. The only thing that guarantees that is if those people choose to ‘follow’ you because they think your tweets will be interesting.
So, how do you ‘find’ people with similar interests to ‘follow’. Initially, this is where I got stuck. A great start is to go to the ‘search’ function at the very bottom of your twitter page. Click on ‘search’ and a new search page will come up. Ok now is your chance to search for words and phrases which would be of interest to you. I do this every couple of days to find new people of interest to ‘follow’. The main search terms I use are ‘teacher resources’, ‘teaching resources’, ‘education’, ‘k-3’ and similar.
This then brings up all the ‘tweets’ which included those words or phrases. Browse through and look for interesting tweets – when you find one – click on the name – this takes you to that person’s page – take a look around their page and see if their tweets look interesting if you think they might be good to follow – click on ‘follow’ at the top of their page. Ok, you are now following them and when you go to your page – their tweets will appear as well.
Ok, now go find some more interesting people to follow…..remember – they will only want to follow you back if you have something interesting on your page (in other words – you have been tweeting regularly with many interesting tweets.) I have had many invitations to ‘follow’ but when I go to their page – it is blank – no tweets – no reason to ‘follow’ someone with no tweets – so keep that in mind. Start following others only after you have a few tweets up and running.
Step No. 6 – Follow from others….
The ‘following’ others process is ongoing and this is what really gets your network flowing.
OK, now for K-3 Teachers go to my pagehttp://www.twitter.com/k3teachers and have a browse through all the tweets – any interesting ones? – click on their name and follow them.
Now go over to my right hand column and click on the people I am ‘following’ and work your way through to see who would be worthwhile following. Keep your eyes out for people to ‘follow’ everywhere – whenever you read someone else’s page – weave through their tweets from others and click on any that look interesting and ‘follow’ them.
The twitter world is full of people who have so much interesting stuff to share – it is never ending once you get going and really gets interesting, as all the tweets from people you ‘follow’ end up on your home page.
Step No. 7 – The haze is clearing…(really it will !!)
Wow – you are flying now – ok, you have started to ‘follow’ others and get the hang of doing this. You have been tweeting some interesting information and others are starting to follow you. After a while you will start to see some ‘order’ in the processes (really you will – have faith – LOL).
You will begin to actually have discussions with others who are using twitter at the same time. You might find someone you follow has asked a question or shared something you want to contribute to – beside their tweet is a funny arrow, click on this to ‘reply’ to that tweet from your update box – you will see their name comes up first – then you write your reply.
Step No. 8 – Replies and Mentions….
Before you know it – you are visiting your home page regularly (sometimes too regularly!) to see what is going on in your ‘tweet world’ and what you can learn and what you can share with others – very exciting!.
Now, to keep an eye on replies you receive from others you can go to the right hand side of your home page you will see your username…for example @k3teachers – click on this to see all the tweets from everywhere that have your twitter name in them – so if someone has replied to one of your tweets – you will see it in there – or if your name has been mentioned by someone you are not following you can check them out..
Step No. 9 – The Heavy Stuff – ‘Retweeting’..(RT)
Ok, after learning how to reply the next thing to try is ‘retweeting’ (RT). This is when you come across a tweet with some fabulous information and you want to share it with your network. It is twitter etiquette to always quote your source. So- find a great tweet – I usually just highlight and copy it – paste it into my update box and make sure I type RT next to the name of the original source…have a go…
Step No. 10 – Direct Message…(DM)
In the right hand column of your home page you will find ‘direct messages’. You can also send direct messages to people when you don’t want the messages to go public on twitter. These are oftenshortened to ‘DM’
Alrighty! (Aussie talk for ‘let’s move on’)- you should now be well on your way to understanding ‘twitter’ language and before you know it you will be sharing with new friends, colleagues and mentors from all over the world..
Now you have the basics – you might like to start exploring further a field – here is a list of really useful websites related to Twitter….with a focus on Teaching and Education….
Further Twitter Links….
*Hashtags = Topics on Twitter. Put a hashtag on end of your twitter posts to indicate a certain topic discussion – #educhat and #edublogsare great ones to follow – pop it in the twitter search and you can follow all the discussions.
*Another great Twitter handbook for educators just came out yesterday…
*Seven Ways to Find Teachers on Twitter….This is where I started and was a terrific help…..
*Join and Find other educators on Twitter with this wiki…
K-3 TEACHERS GUIDE TO TWITTER – IF YOU FOUND THIS USEFUL –PLEASE TWEET OTHERS…(good practice too)
HOPE THIS HAS HELPED YOU ALL……
PLEASE COMMENT ABOUT ANY OTHER IDEAS, WEBSITES ETC YOU FIND USEFUL…
CHEERS FOR NOW
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