So I had a few questions about how to interact on Twitter, especially through chats. So in addition to my first post about Twitter chats thats full of other helpful links, I decided to write more of a how-to post to help some of the educators out there take a risk and try something new. I feel so passionately about the PD that is offered through a Twitter Chat that I do not want anyone to miss out on it.
Download Tweetdeck on your Device or Load in your Browser.
Tweetdeck allows you to “watch” multiple chats at once instead of waiting for new posts to show up in your Twitter feed. Here is an example:
As you can see, I have columns of chats open so I can “watch” the conversations develop. (Don’t feel overwhelmed by this screen shot! I started “watching” one chat at a time and eventually learned how to multi-task “watching” a variety of chats. Your screen does not need to look like this one.) Each chat has a different topic so depending on my mood for the evening, I might tune in to just one chat or all of them. You can rearrange your tabs (drag and drop) depending on which chats you want to “watch” so that you do not have to scroll back and forth on the page. Obviously when you first open Tweetdeck no chats will be open because you haven’t added them. On the left hand side of the page is your menu. Click on the “+” button to add a column. It will prompt you with what TYPE of column you want open (I usually pick the “Search” button so I can type in the name of the chat I want to add). If you accidentally add a column you do not want, click on the icon on the right hand side of the column you wish to delete and a drop down menu will appear. Then click “remove.”
Find out what chats you want to follow.
There are a TON of chats on Twitter. You will want to start with one that you are passionate about. For me, I love helping new teachers so I began with #ntchat [n= new, t = teacher, chat = chat :)]. How did I find this chat? Click here. I found a schedule online that shows all the chats that occur in terms of day/time/duration etc. Talk about a Type A resource! THANK YOU! Log on to Twitter at the time of the chat and be sure to have the chat loaded in Tweetdeck so you can see it unfold. You don’t have to participate until you are ready. Just “watching” a chat is helpful!
A Twitter chat is lead by a moderator, another Twitter user. They decide the topic they want to discuss and pre-plan a list of questions they want to ask the Twitterverse during an hour long chat, on average. (You can pop in and out of a chat; you are not forced to stay the entire time). All chats begin with some sort of ‘introduce yourself’ question so you can always have that typed up and ready to go (don’t forget, you only have 140 characters to work with so be concise). You must use the twitter chat hashtag in your answer or it will not populate in the chat feed. This means, if #ntchat asks an introduction question and I reply: Hi, my name is Gretchen. I am tweeting from Charlotte. Glad to be here. it will not show up to others who are chatting because I forgot to include the hashtag. It will show up for anyone that currently follows me, but not as part of the chat. So my post instead should read: Hi, my name is Gretchen. I am tweeting from Charlotte. Glad to be here. #ntchat. Now my answer will be seen by anyone participating in the chat because I added the hashtag. The chat will continue by using a universal format of Q1/A1 (Q = question, A = answer). That means the moderator will ask a question indicated by a number (Q1: Who inspires you?) and you respond with your own answer by the same number (A1: My 4th grade teacher who pushed me to try out for a play that allowed me to gain confidence in my public speaking skills). And if your responses are of interest to others they will favorite your answer (the star icon), retweet it (the recycle looking icon), or reply right to you (the arrow icon). They often will then click on your name and begin to follow you too!
What makes a chat useful is when you share your life experience and advice. I have learned so much about best teaching practices from ideas that other educators shared through a chat. So if you like something that someone else says, give it a star. If you really really love it, retweet it. And if you want to add on to what they have said, hit reply. Just don’t forget to add the chat hashtag to every tweet you place during that chat time frame.
What if I want to partake in multiple chats? How do I differentiate my responses? Good question. Although all of your responses will show up on your personal page and your followers will see each one, if you only hash tag one chat then that chat will only see that response. So don’t worry about your responses confusing other tweeters if its of a different topic because they are most likely following just that one particular chat hashtag. For example, let’s say I am participating in #ntchat and #edchat. I can respond to questions on both chats by placing the correct hashtag after my response.
Teaching is a struggle the first month of the school year because students are learning procedures. #ntchat
I think parent communication can strengthen a student’s academic skills because they have leaders at home and school to hold them accountable. #edchat
Even though my tweets were back to back #edchat only saw the one that had its hashtag and #ntchat only saw the one with its hashtag. (Unless you mix up the hash tags, your responses will go where they belong and make sense to those participating or “watching” the chat.)
So, thats it friends. It’s very simple once you try it out. Remember, you do not have to set up your Tweetdeck to look my the screenshot above. Start small and easy with one chat. As you gain momentum and comfortability with twitter chats, add one more on to your plate. Before you know it, you’ll be a twitter extraordinaire!
As I have said multiple times on my blog and Facebook page, it is so important for educators to be life-long learners. The best PD comes out of these chats and the best part is, you don’t have to leave your couch to learn from it! So get on Twitter and give it a shot! Then come back here and tell me how it went!
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What questions do you still have about Twitter chats?