Twitter can feel like a strange new landscape when you first jump in. It is not always clear what its professional uses are, or what to post in 140 characters or less. But when you start to think of Twitter as a micro-blog (and not just a forum for the personal minutiae of people’s daily lives), you will find that Twitter can be a valuable tool for professional development. Here are 25 ways that teachers can use Twitter to ask for help, get lesson plan ideas, book and professional resource recommendations, connect with other professionals, and even host an online book club.
First, a guide to Twitter shorthand. You will see examples of these in the sample tweets that follow:
@username: creates a link to that user in your post.
RT: Retweet, to copy someone else's post in a new update. Give them credit by adding their @username.
#: hashtag, helps to organize your tweets into categories for easier searching.
DM: Direct message, send a tweeter a private message instead of an update that all your followers can read.
1) Ask for recommended books, lesson ideas, or teaching tools.
Sample tweet: Can anyone share their successful SMART board lessons for 2nd grade?
Sample tweet: What are some good books to read aloud to 4th graders? I switched grade levels this year and need some ideas!
2) Be sure to thank the people who respond.
Sample tweet: @RickToone @evelynsaenz Very cool digital stories! Thanks for pointing me to them. http://www.squidoo.com
3) Ask for help or advice about a professional question.
Sample tweet: Is there a way to find out when your teaching certificate expires?
4) Write a book list one tweet at a time, or link to a book list on the web.
Sample tweet: Grade 3 #summerreading: Clementine by Sara Pennypacker, the most lovable troublemaker since Ramona Quimby
Sample tweet: #kidlit Updated list of China books for kids. Thanks for all your rec's. http://tinyurl.com/clt683
5) Tweet about a useful web resource, a particular blog post, video, website, book, product or service that teachers would find useful.
Sample tweet: Fantastic edublog giving teachers practical tips for integrating technology into the classroom. www.iLearntechnology.com
6) Provide a daily tip like a word of the day, book of the day, random trivia, useful fact, teacher tip or helpful resource.
Sample tweet: Summer Reading Tweetfest coming June 1. A daily summer book recommendation for kids. #kidlit
7) Share new studies of interest to other teachers.
Sample tweet: Supporting Struggling Writers Using Technology: Evidence-Based Instruction and Decision Making http://tinyurl.com/qzzq6q #edtech #education
8) Celebrate timely events. Recognize author birthdays, African American History Month, and other holidays or events.
Sample tweet: May 5th - Happy Teacher Appreciation Day!
9) Tweet about your school's website, blog and/or podcast. Add a new tweet to let your followers know when you make updates.
Sample tweet: A link to ESL Summer School Information can be found on the home page http://bit.ly/14DHwX
10) Link to a book trailer or video booktalk you create.
Sample tweet: New video booktalk for Chu Ju's House is up on Bookwink.com. http://www.bookwink.com
11) Start a Twitter book club and tweet your reactions to the book as you read.
Sample tweet: Just finished chapter 1 of Graceling and I'm hooked. What do you think is going to happen next? #reading
12) Invite followers to an event (online or offline). Events can include open-house programs, author visits, extracurricular activities, meetings, your online book club, webchat, etc.
Sample tweet: Live Chat: Helping Students Find Their Inner Reader. Today at 4EST. http://www.edweek.org
13) Link to photos of your classroom.
Sample tweet: K-3 Teacher Resources Photo Gallery - Share and Browse Classroom Photos http://tinyurl.com/px7so4
14) Share teaching humor.
Sample tweet: Funny teacher videos because we could all use a good laugh. http://bit.ly/SbG7u
15) Retweet someone else's post that you found interesting.
Sample retweet: RT @charlottetracks Great podcasts for kids on our new podcast page: http://tinyurl.com/cq9q4wet
Sample retweet: RT @Bookwink Great #summerreading video review of "Museum Mysteries for Kids" similar to Elise Broach's MASTERPIECE http://bit.ly/dt5MD
16) Say thanks when someone retweets you or mentions you in their tweets.
Sample tweet:@KateMessner Thanks for the RT. I have a video of Masterpiece as well http://bit.ly/zHTsD
17) On Fridays, recommend other tweeters that your followers should check out.
Sample tweet: #followfriday @kidderlit Twittering the first lines of children's books. I love it!
18) Answer someone else's general question, and reply to those who ask you a direct question.
Sample tweet: @LizB Occasionally booktalk books I haven't read or didn't like but always explain why. Too scary for me might be perfect for someone else.
19) Schedule to meet fellow teachers at a conference, or organize a professional tweet-up in your area.
Sample tweet: Trying to plan a tweetup to coincide with a big technology and education conference (NECC) and all are welcome!
20) Make a personal connection by sharing your favorite teaching resource, lesson idea, new book, blog post, etc.
Sample tweet: The most exciting fiction book I've read this year is The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Recommend it to everyone age 12 and up.
21) Ask others for favorites.
Sample tweet: What are your favorite Twitter tools for teachers?
22) Post requests for people to come and speak at your events.
Sample tweet: Sign language experts needed for Deaf Awareness Assembly at our school.
23) Find summer work or school employment postings. If you see someone else looking for a job, retweet their request.
Sample tweet: Anyone in the Orlando area in need of a tutor or summer babysitter? Certified teacher in need of a job with great recommendations!!
Sample tweet: Anne Arundel County Public Sch is #hiring a TEACHER ASSISTANT-Annapolis,MD http://tinyurl.com/qnzje4 #job #tweetmyjobs #jobs
24) Ask for something free. Post your classroom wish-list or tweet about your school fund drive and request online donations.
Sample tweet: Fundraiser for Solidarity School win a $600k villa + $100,000 cash for $50 ticket - http://bit.ly/8NwNJ
25) Join a Twibe. A twibe allows you to follow a group of like-minded people. As I'm writing there are 333 Education twibes for all kinds of people tweeting about education, but new twibes are forming all the time. To see the list of Education twibes, visit http://www.twibes.com/category/education.
Sample tweet: Just joined a twibe. Visit http://twibes.com/edtech to join.
A former teacher and Middle School Librarian, Sonja Cole now hosts Bookwink.com, video booktalks for kids. She is also an active Tweeter @bookwink.