Twitter chats are your best friend. So why are you ignoring them?
“Twitter chats are your best friend.”
If you already know this and the two of you already hang out together, feel free to go find something else to do. You’re good. ( You might enjoy Smithsonian’s O Say Can You See blog or maybe head over to National Geographic slightly quirky but always fun All Over the Map site.)
But if you haven’t noticed the many Twitter chats taking place all around you, stay put cause you need to hear it again:
“Twitter chats are your best friend.”
I get it. For many of us, social media of any kind can be just one more thing that adds to the load. We may not understand how best to use it as an educational tool. Maybe we’re not convinced that it actually has a place in education. We haven’t seen a real use for it.
Or maybe we just aren’t sure how to go about it.
And so, at best, we ignore it. At worst, we rail against it.
For the record, I believe that social media and especially Twitter can have a positive impact on student learning. And I’m okay if you disagree about using Twitter in the classroom.
But . . . even if you choose to not use Twitter as a teaching tool, sit back and think about the possibilities of using Twitter as personal professional learning tool. We all want to get better. We all want to hone our skills as educators. And there are lots of ways to do that. Required PD days at the start of school has always been part of the professional learning experiences. Workshops. Speakers. Departmental PLCs.
When done well, these are all appropriate options for PD. But wouldn’t it be nice to have access to professional learning in which you control the content, the time, the place, and who you’re learning with?
Twitter can do that.
Here’s a simple example of how that can happen:
Next Monday night at 6:00 pm CST, open a browser and go to:
In the middle of the screen is a search box. In the box, type:
Click the Search button. A new screen will load. In the top left hand corner, you’ll see some tabs. They’ll say Top, Latest, People, Photos, Videos, Broadcasts. Click on Latest. A different screen will open.
Sit back and read the social studies goodness that appears. Every once in awhile you’ll notice that at the top of the screen, a message will appear that says View 9 new Tweets. Or 3 or 5 or some other number.
Click that. The page will refresh.
Sit back and read the new social studies goodness that appears.
Did you notice anything there? Other than you’re getting to hear from social studies teachers from all over? Their questions? Answers? Ideas? Resources?
You don’t have to sign in.
You don’t need an account. You get the chance to sit in the virtual corner of the Twitter #sschat room and gather up all the questions, responses, shared resources, ideas, and collective wisdom of people who do the same thing you do every day.
This is an example of a Twitter chat.
Using the hashtag #sschat, teachers talk with each other from wherever they have internet access every week at the same time. Monday’s at 6:00 pm CST.
And every week, #sschat has a different topic. Earlier this week, they talked about Strategies for Facilitating Critical Conversations with the folks from Tolerance.org leading the conversation. Next Monday, the topic is integrating literacy and social studies. The week after that? The very cool Newseum is leading a discussion on current events, the free press, and using the news.
You might be thinking
But wait Glenn. How can I pick the time I want to learn if the #sschat is every Monday at 6:00 pm CST?
So . . . you don’t need an account. You can follow the chat live or go back whenever you have time and browse through the archives. You still walk away smarter. And just as as cool, teachers use the same #sschat hashtag to talk with each other throughout the week. The chat is a specific time that we all can get together but that doesn’t mean we’re not connecting other times.
Best friends schedule specific times to get together. But they still talk and text and run into each other throughout the week. So feel free to drop in on #sschat whenever you have a few minutes. There’s always something good showing up. (I just refreshed my Twitter feed and found out that Gilder Lehrman is giving away free Hamilton themed calendars.)
You can do the same thing with more specific social studies disciplines:
First Wednesday of every month
High school government
Teach Like a Pirate in the Social Studies
The following social studies related hashtags don’t have scheduled chats but can still be useful to follow. Explore them by just clicking the link. Later, you can find them the same way we found the #sschat hashtag using the steps above.
#socialstudies – General social studies
#whapchat – AP World history
#apush – AP US history
#ushistory – United States history
#civics – Government and civics teaching
#apgov – Advanced Placement government
#hsgovchat – More government
#historychat – Chatting . . . about history
#historyteacher – History instruction
#geographyteacher – Geography instruction
But here’s the thing. Lurking in the corner is the easiest thing to do. But it’s not the best.
The best? Create a Twitter account and do more than just follow. Ask questions. Share answers. Post ideas and resources. The more we talk with each, the smarter we all become. Get more specifics about getting started here. You’ll also find some teaching ideas over there. Feel free to explore those too.
So . . . sure. Attend your school PD sessions. (It’s not like you have a choice.) But if you really want to connect with other social studies teachers, Twitter is a great way to get specific, on-going, and timely professional learning that you control.
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Glenn is a curriculum and tech integration specialist, speaker, and blogger with a passion for technology and social studies. He delivers engaging professional learning across the country with a focus on consulting, presentations, and keynotes. Find out more about Glenn and how you might learn together by going to his Speaking and Consulting page.
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