Social Media for Teachers: Guides, Resources, and Ideas

By Swaroop Raju, co-founder of eduCanon
 
For teachers taking their first steps into the ed-tech world, Twitter, Facebook, and other social media networks are incredible places to consume and learn about best practices. With groups and Twitter hashtag conversations, teachers dramatically increase their professional learning network and have the opportunity to share strategies with educators across the globe. Moreover, incorporating social media channels directly into the classroom can make for an engaging experience with a tighter feedback loop between teachers and students.Now, how does a teacher start incorporating these tools into their classroom and professional development
 
While your district or school may offer excellent professional development sessions, there is nothing more powerful than a network available 24-7 with educators across the globe willing to share their innovative practices. An excellent way to get immersed in Twitter PD is to participate in Twitter hashtag conversations. These happen every night of the week—generally varying by grade level and subject matter. Here are some steps to get started.
Twitter
 
Step 1: Find the hashtag conversation perfect for you. For a detailed list of Twitter hashtag conversations, refer to cybraryman.
Step 2: These Twitter hashtag conversations move quickly and can get a little overwhelming if you don’t have an app to help you out. I recommend installing the free app Tweetdeck and setting up a column for the hashtag conversation you are interested in. This will make it easier for you filter through the clutter of Twitter and easily engage with the thread.
Step 3: Engage. Engage. Engage. It is incredibly tempting to just read tweets and not create in your first few forays into these hashtag conversations. Hashtag conversations (just like real conversations) require a two way dialogue and only really become effective with the back and forth exchange of ideas.
Step 4: Keep at it! You don’t need to be a chronic tweeter to build relationships with other Twitter educators, but you do need to regularly engage with people that send you messages or are talking about topics you have an expertise in.
 
If you’re interested in learning more about a particular subject, follow people with an interest or expertise in the field. For instance, at eduCanon we specialize in blended and flipped classrooms, so we frequently Tweet out strategies for incorporating video into your classroom. Feel free to follow us on Twitter to learn more.
 
Beyond professional development, many teachers say that incorporating Twitter into their classrooms deepened the level of academic dialogue among students. Students traditionally hesitant to speak out in class found a new medium to express themselves and participate in classroom conversations.
 
A couple of in-class suggestions:
 
– Set up a Twitter feed for due dates, quizzes, or assignments. For instance, whenever a new eduCanon assignment is up, Mr. Ahern lets his students know the assignment is posted and due the next day.
twitterclass.png
– Set up a hashtag thread for students to communicate concerns, questions, or start a discussion. Starting a hashtag thread is as easy as ending each post with #{{yourclassname}}.

Facebook
For those of us not ready for the rapid pace of twitter hashtag conversations, Facebook education groups offer a great alternative. Below find some of my favorite Facebook groups:
– We regularly share best practices for blended and flipped classrooms on the eduCanon Facebook page. Stay tuned by liking our page (https://www.facebook.com/officialeduCanon)
Facebook groups are not just for teacher to teacher communication. For instance, Mr. Ford, a science teacher at London Nautical School, set up a Facebook group on DNA and cloning where students could upload videos, debate the ethics of genetics, and provide feedback on each other’s work. To engage his student’s highest bloom’s he also asked each student to create a Facebook page on the topic where they could paint a picture about the history of cloning.
 
Now, I think you are ready to dive into the Twittersphere and Facebook education channels. 
Happy sharing! 

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