3 ways to use Twitter Fast Follow to strengthen the home-school connection

5/10/2013 12:00:00 AM

Did you know that anyone (in the US) can receive Tweets on their phone even if they haven’t signed up for Twitter? Twitter Fast Follow allows anyone to follow Tweets right from any phone with texting capabilities. For a school community, this can provide a simple way for people to get information they care about in real-time. It is a terrific way to build and strengthen the home-school connection.

Here are some ways it can be used.

Be on top of the latest happenings in your school district by following them. For example, let’s say you want to get Tweets from New York City Schools (@NYCSchools). Just text: follow NYCSchools to 40404.

Suggesting parents follow your school district’s Twitter account can serve as a powerful way to keep parents informed of up to date information. For example, during the 2013 Nor’easter in New York, the @NYCSchools Twitter account provided up-to-date information on school closing and afterschool activities in both English and Spanish.
NYC Public Schools @NYCSchools
Schools are open today, but afterschool programs and PSAL games are cancelled. Please visit http://nyc.gov  for the latest info. Details

Gobierno de NYC ?@nycgob
Alcade: Las actividades después de clases y juegos PSAL están canceladas. Actividades y clases @NYCSchools el sábado estarán canceladas. Details

It doesn’t have to stop with following your school district. Schools can set up Twitter accounts to keep parents connected to the latest information.  Check out how this worked at Locke Elementary School in Chicago in the video below.

While we know that parents wish they could spend more time at their child’s school, unfortunately, busy schedules often don’t provide such opportunity. However, when a teacher,  librarian, or leader sets up a Twitter account and informs the families they can get live updates from the class, the library, or around the school, we take the age old question, “What did you do in school today?” to a new level! Teachers like Grace O’Keefe, leaders like Matt Brown , and librarians like Tracy Karas are doing just that. Click on their names to see the type of information they are sharing.

Here’s how it works:

Just text Twitter at 40404 and then type any of the following commands:
Follow [username] - allows you to receive updates from that user.
OFF or STOP or LEAVE - turns off receiving updates from the users you are following.
ON - will turn on device updates and you will start receiving tweets again.
WHOIS [username] - retrieves the profile information of the user.
STATS - returns the number of people that you are following.
GET [username] - retrieves the latest update that user has posted.
This is a terrific and easy way to stay connected with your school community. Once you set up your account don’t forget to include reminders in various places including signs in your school, as a part of your email signature, school flyers, business cards websites, blogs, etc.

Lisa Nielsen writes for and speaks to audiences across the globe about learning innovatively and is frequently covered by local and national media for her views on “Passion (not data) Driven Learning,” "Thinking Outside the Ban" to harness the power of technology for learning, and using the power of social media to provide a voice to educators and students. Ms. Nielsen has worked for more than a decade in various capacities to support learning in real and innovative ways that will prepare students for success. In addition to her award-winning blog, The Innovative Educator, Ms. Nielsen’s writing is featured in places such as Huffington Post, Tech & Learning, ISTE Connects, ASCD Wholechild, MindShift, Leading & Learning, The Unplugged Mom, and is the author the book Teaching Generation Text.

Disclaimer: The information shared here is strictly that of the author and does not reflect the opinions or endorsement of her employer.

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