Don’t forget to floss–and twitter

If you’re the kind of person who feels guilty about things,  such as not flossing enough, you may lately be feeling guilty about not tweeting.

You  know that twitter is a social networking tool and that it is something you should be participating in.  But you’re still not getting what is so important about it.  What are you missing?

Only you can answer that question. Students, teachers and administrators in your school or district are using twitter, each in their own ways and for their own purposes. Who knows how you will integrate it in your own work.

Don’t worry about tweeting at first, says educator Carol Cooper-Taylor on her blog at her website, The eLearning Site.  Just be a listener for a while.  Read other people’s tweets until you can get in the flow.  If you set up a twitter account, which is quick and easy to do, enter search terms with hash tags in the search bar for whatever interests you at the moment: “Student motivation”, “English Language Learners” and “reading research” to see what other educators are talking about.

Twitter is often described as microblogging. The messages can be no more than 140 characters long, which is approximately the same length as the sentence you are reading right now. Cooper-Taylor’s blog post is a good intro on the protocol of using twitter (e.g. “Don’t just tweet about yourself, talk to other people about their interests, too,” she counsels).

In the classroom, teachers are already using twitter by having students write a group story, with each student contributing a 140-character installment to the story. Educators say twitter helps students to be more succinct in their writing. On college campuses, professors have been using twitter to create a greater sense of community among students and to encourage class participation by students who may not be comfortable speaking in front of 100-200 other students in class. There may not be enough time in class for everybody to speak and twitter allows more college students to give their input.

One prof required that his students sign up for twitter so that they could follow his posts in which he shared links  and his musings on a research topic. Twitter has become a tool for brainstorming and collaborating on projects.

I recently attended a webinar where one of the speakers talked about his grandson’s mix of fascination, fear and hesitation as he stood beneath a roller coaster at the amusement park recently. His grandson wanted very much to ride the roller coaster, yet was afraid to try it.  The speaker told his grandson to look at all the people in the cars having fun as they rumbled around the rails.   People were hooting and screaming, lifting their arms high up in the air, the girls’ hair flying across their faces.  “C’mon,” he said to his grandson. “Just try it.”


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