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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 Read more

Tip of the Week: 5 things every social studies teacher needs to know about Twitter

I joined Twitter about nine years ago in late 2007. As a social studies guy trying to learn more about how tech could be used in instruction and learning tool, I was a bit underwhelmed during my first few months with the tool.

Most posts fit the stereotypical – I learned a lot about what people did the night before, what they ate the night before, and how disappointed they were about the third Pirates of the Caribbean movie. But it got better. And I am becoming more and more convinced that Twitter is now one of the those non-negotiable things that we all should have in our tool belts.

It’s not the silver bullet that will solve all of your problems (And I will admit it may create some.) But it does do some pretty handy things – we can connect with experts, connect our students with experts, connect with each other, find and share content, ask questions, help others, and apparently save the world at the international, national, state, and local levels.

So today five things I think all of us need to know about Twitter. (New to Twitter? Get set up here. And remember that you can have multiple Twitter accounts – so think about creating both personal and professional versions.) Read more

This Twitter hashtag is genius

On a scale of one to ten, with ten being a person whose phone never leaves their hand and one being someone who has absolutely no clue what social media is, I’m probably around a seven.

And while I do have Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+, and YouTube accounts, much of my social media time is spent messing with Twitter. I use Twitter quite a bit – mostly lurking on #sschat, #gafe, and #edtech – using Flipboard and Hootsuite as my access points. Like most of you, I’ve fallen into the habit of using one favorite social media tool. It’s comfortable. People can find me. I can find them. I get useful ideas and resources. Everybody’s happy.

And I get it. To be a true 21st century educator, I suppose I need to be using all of the different platforms. But seriously. Who has that kind of time?

So if your tool of choice isn’t Twitter, feel free to move along. Nothing to see here. Cause this awesome genius tip isn’t for you. It’s for Twitter users. Unless . . . you know, you’re just a little bit curious. Then, sure, definitely hang around. Read more

Twitter haiku: 17 syllables and 140 characters through US history

You gotta love the Twitter. Seriously. Even you choose to not use it at a personal level, there’s just too much stuff you and students can do with it.

Historical re-creations. Tweets as historical characters. Exit card activities. Assign homework. Virtual study rooms. Question and answer sessions with students. Connect with parents. With other teachers. With other classrooms. Provide study tips. Ask questions. Share ideas. Real time chats. Follow breaking news and current events.

And now?

History as haiku. Read more

Twitter in the Classroom: Green, Blue, and Black

I’m not that good at it but I still love to snow ski. My family does too. And we try to go at least once a year.

But we always run into trouble. Son wants harder slopes than the old man wants to mess with. Daughter wants steep but no bumps. Wife looks for groomed runs that let her avoid the more difficult moguls.

This is where the handy-dandy ski trail classification system becomes very useful. Green circles designate beginner level runs, blue squares equal intermediate difficulty, and black diamonds identify advanced trails.

FYI. I avoid most black diamonds. I value my knees.

But I like the system. Even on unfamiliar slopes, we all know what we’re getting into. Green. Blue. Black. Everybody can pick the level that best fits their ability and interest.

Last week, I had the opportunity to work with a great K-12 staff as they explored the possibility of using Twitter in their classrooms and as a professional development tool.

And we used the idea of Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced as a way to help teachers pick their level of engagement. Teachers new to Twitter explored the basics and advanced users felt free to began messing with things like live chats and third party apps. It worked pretty well so I figured I’d share some of those goodies here. Read more

Historians on Twitter

I love Twitter. I probably don’t use it enough or in a way that maximizes its potential. But I still love it. I also think we need to be using it as both a professional development and instructional tool.

And I just ran across Russel Tarr’s very sweet list of historians on Twitter. It’s a big list, and it’s growing every day, but it is a nice place to start if you’re looking to add to your follow list. He also has a great list of History Educators – more of a focus on classroom teachers.

And don’t forget to head back to his ActiveHistory page and all of his Class Tools like FakeBook and Fake Tweet.