Friday Links for Educators 06.27.14

summerAs much as we educators sigh a relaxing ahhhhh at the thought of our summer months, for most of us, the months “off” are a time for reflection, reading, and deepening our understanding of all that we do in the classroom.

This week’s Links for Educators captures some of the best articles I’ve come across recently. If these resound with you, I’d love to hear from you in the comments — or share your own links (including those to your own posts), as well.

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Technology in Writing Workshop: When Students Take the Lead

Two Writing Teachers has long been one of my favorite blogs, and this post by Tara Smith shares great insight into how Google docs and other technology have enriched successes in her writing workshops.

Notes on Teaching Writing Using Tech

More along those lines… Heard of grass-roots PLN ed-camps? This document shares a list of resources that were shared by various teachers at EdCamp Chicago for using technology in teaching writing.

How to Engage Your Strongest Readers

I came across this great post by Pernille Ripp when link to it was tweeted by Edutopia. Activating gifted or advanced readers is an important class focus, and Pernille gives great approaches for keeping these readers inspired and challenged.

Are Children’s Books Darker Than They Used to Be?

Whether you’re a librarian, English teacher, teacher stocking a classroom library, writer of children’s lit or a parent… you’re bound to, at times, have questioned the themes of certain kid-lit or young adult lit today. Teens fighting to the death for the right to eat? Kids in deathly battles against evil lords? Kids telling lies that end in murder? What on earth?! This article at The Guardian is an interesting discussion of what place darkness has in children’s and teen’s literature.

Preventing Bullying with Emotional Intelligence

This article at Education Week acknowledges that bullying awareness has left educators well-versed in defining bullying and perhaps with an arsenal of approaches for clamping down on symptoms, but contends that punitive approaches do not solve the problem. Rather, educators should focus on teaching emotional intelligence, enabling potential bullies to learn to regulate their own emotional state and for bystanders and victims to better cope.  A useful definition of emotional intelligence appears several paragraphs in.

9 Questions to Optimize Your Collaboration

I loved this list of questions shared by John Wink at his Lead Learner site. If you plan with a teaching team, you can relate to how this list of questions would help optimize the effectiveness of every collaborative meeting to the benefit of teachers and students.


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What About You?

What resources are inspiring you most in reaching your summer goals?  Feel free to share your thoughts on today’s links in the comments, or share great links you’ve found, including to posts on your own blog.

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Boards set up by subject, unit or skill. Mrs. T's Middle Grades

Boards set up by subject, unit or skill. Mrs. T’s Middle Grades


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Friday Links for Educators 02.21.14

February has been far from a “quiet” teaching month in my 5th grade.  All the average planning has been interrupted, one after another, with special tasks:  Planning itineraries and menus and walking groups and field notebooks for March’s overnight field trip to St. Augustine… Planning, coaching and hosting the Lower School Spelling Bee… A day away from school to attend the Daughters of the American Revolution essay contest awards ceremony and luncheon… Time out to attend the 2nd grade play, to celebrate our Valentine’s Day party and a day off for Presidents’ Day…

Award CeremonyThey’re great distractions.  Two of my boys placed 1st and 3rd in the Spelling Bee.  In the exciting final rounds, my student was up against his 4th grade brother, the 2 of them cheering each other on in a fabulous finish for 1st and 2nd!  In the DAR essay contest, girls from my Social Studies classes won 1st, 2nd and 3rd for 5th grade, and our school took 12 of the 16 awards, overall!

But, next thing you know, the month is nearly gone.

As we continually adjust our schedules to fit in these events in lower school, my big focus has been on writing and rewriting my lessons and their formative and summative assessments.  Each week, I come across such fabulous resources through the organizations and individual educators I follow online, and I share some of the best links I came across, below, as the second installment of Friday Links for Educators.  Enjoy reading!

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7 Questions to Ask Before Giving an Assessment

This piece is partially directed at educators responsible for purchasing assessment tools, but struck me as a great series of questions to consider in everyday assessments — whether tweaking last year’s assessments for a coming unit, writing new assessments or modifying assessments for differentiating learning.

An Interview with Grant Wiggins: The Power of Backwards Design

Principal Ben Johnson’s November interview with Grant Wiggins on Edutopia is a powerful discussion on the value of putting assessment at the center of planning rather than as “an afterthought.”  I was glad to read this, as I was just looking into a workshop with Wiggins and Tighe (his co-author).


This isn’t a single article but a whole site I’ve just come across and really love. Newsela is a fabulous opportunity to help students build literacy skills with some of the most stimulated reading: daily news articles appropriate for differing reading levels.  It’s an empowering opportunity to allow students to select an article that interests them, while sparking their interest in reading through real world events.

The Best Teachers Don’t Do What They’re Told

I actually happen to get great advice at the school where I teach, so can’t say I entirely support this title, but I like this piece for teacher, Terry Heick’s, insistence on preserving passion above cowed compliance.  While her title sounds defiant, her strategies are clearly about being at the top of your game, using researched practices, well-planned and demonstrated lessons.  In this sense, her advice is about keeping out ahead of the curve of administrative feedback.  I’m all for “Olympic level” teaching.

You Think You Know What Teachers Do, Right?  Wrong.

Don’t skip reading this powerful essay by Sarah Blaine.  The link above takes you to where it has been shared on the Washington Post Answer Sheet column, but it originally appeared on Sarah Blaine’s blog, Parenting the Core.  Blaine was once a classroom teacher, then a parent, and left teaching for law school.  This essay is a powerful tribute to all teachers do, beyond what nonteachers might imagine.  It’s one of my favorite recent reads.

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What About You?

How has your teaching week been, or what great reads have you found?  Feel free to share your thoughts on today’s links in the comments, or share great links you’ve found, including to posts on your own blog.

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If you like this blog, be sure to subscribe using WordPress’s follow option, or via email. I love to connect with readers and fellow teachers or writers.

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Boards set up by subject, unit or skill. Mrs. T's Middle Grades

Boards set up by subject, unit or skill. Mrs. T’s Middle Grades

Friday Links for Educators 01.24.14

Tour of NASA, Cape Canaveral, FL. c Elissa Thompson

Tour of NASA, Cape Canaveral, FL. c Elissa Thompson

Ah, January. Starts out slow: everyone back from holidays, refreshing December’s learning, slowly starting new units… Not so much!  Somehow, entering dates for spring semester makes it clear how quickly we shifted from the “start of the year” to “is that really May I’m planning for?”

With all the demands of regular planning, we’re also looking ahead with resolutions for a new year. For my own part, I’m reflecting on what has been going well, but pushing myself to where I want to grow and improve next.

All of that includes some great online reading.  Below are some of the best reads for this week.  As always, be sure to let me know what you find useful, what you would like to see more of, or leave your own links in the comments.  Have a great week!

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What Students Can do When the Reading Gets Rough

This is actually one of my favorite reads, lately: a great article that gives concrete advice on what is really needed when students bog down in reading — concrete to-dos for student and teacher, alike.

The National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented

As much attention as education might put into differentiating to reach struggling students, it can be to easy to overlook the need to differentiate with enrichment for gifted students. This site is rich with information and links for resources to benefit gifted learners.

Say What? 5 Ways to Get Students to Listen

This is a great piece on Edutopia with approaches to modify to engage student listening — a great tool for to increase student success by avoiding missed instructions or learning.

A Simple Way Teachers Can Learn to Make Apps

Make our own apps?  This link utterly fascinates me and terrifies me, at once.  Haven’t you had a moment where you thought, “If only there were an app that would…”?  What if you could write (and sell?) that app yourself?  If anyone tries this out, be sure to let us know how well it worked!

Re-dos, Retakes and Do-Overs

The idea of do-overs was hotly debated in a recent Twitter thread, as the need to differentiate and allow genuine learning is held out against a fear that do-overs devalue grades. From a series of videos on differentiated instruction,  Rick Wormeli gives his perspective.

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What About You?

This week, my reading came about while looking for resources on specific approaches in differentiation and assessment.  What goals are you working on in your teaching?  Are you registering to attend a workshop or conference, or are there blogs or links you’ve found useful?  Let us know what your challenges, successes or favorite resources have been, by sharing in the comments.

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Friday Links for Educators 01.03.14


From a trip to the Museum of Natural History, c. Elissa Thompson.

On my other blog, one of my favorite ongoing resources has been a weekly roundup of Friday Links for Writers. In the same spirit, today begins the first post of Friday Links for Educators.

Although I run across dozens of great resources each week (how else do we get to thousands of pins on our Pinterest boards?), the Friday Links will focus on the 4-6 articles or resources I found most meaningful.

With each post, I encourage you to let me know in the comments which resources were most useful, what you’d like more of, or share your own finds or posts of the week.

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Taught by Finland

Have you had the “Finland is no. 1 in education” statistic thrown in your face during a dinner party debate, while non-educators list what should be corrected with United States’ education? (I’m raising my hand to that one.) So, wouldn’t it be interesting to hear from an American educator now teaching in Finland?  It was interesting to read what teacher Tim Walker says he is learning from teaching in Helsinki — not necessarily what one might expect.

50 Education Leaders Worth Following on Twitter

This list, shared by Jeff Dunn on Edudemic, may be from October 2012, but is up to date in sharing many of the educators I recommend following on Twitter. (If you want my own list, or want to share your own favorites, check out my Twitter for Teachers: Best Tweeters and Hashtags for Educators to Follow.)

Classroom Behavior? There’s an App for That

In this article at Edutopia, 5th grade teacher from Newark, DE, Lisa Mims, shares her recommendations for the classroom behavior app, Class Dojo. A great 8th grade teacher at my school had shared his experiences using this app within his subject-area classes this past year, but it was great to hear Lisa’s experience in using the app with 5th graders — particularly with how using the app on her phone allows her to report remotely as she differentiates with groups in and out of the room. The headline link takes you to her post; link on the company name takes you to their site for vendor info.

Common Application Essay Questions

The post, from Veritas, shares the common application essay question topics that were revealed for college applications for 2013-14, and may be of interest for anyone teaching writing to students 5th grade and up.  My school places a heavy emphasis on writing and on character, and I agree with the post’s concept that reflecting on one’s own experiences is a writing challenge that stumps many young writers.

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What About You?

How has your teaching week gone, or what resources are you most excited about this week?  We’d love to hear from you in the comments.

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If you like this blog, be sure to subscribe using WordPress’s follow option, or via email. I love to connect with readers and fellow educators!

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Peter Pappas's Taxonomy of Reflection

Peter Pappas’s Taxonomy of Reflection

Twitter for Teachers: Best Tweeters & Hashtags for Educators to Follow


Earlier this year, I posted Twitter 101 for Teachers: Steps for Getting Started on Twitter, sharing the key steps for how educators can crack Twitter and discover its usefulness as a great information resource and way to connect with other educators around the world.

If you are new to Twitter or social media, read that post to discover how to make Twitter useful for you.

One of the keys shared was to find useful people and organizations to follow.  A good tweeter to follow is not only someone with useful information, but one who uses Twitter well.

The list below shares more than 30 of the most useful people, organizations and hashtags I’ve found on Twitter, for educators. Clicking any of the user names will take you to that tweeter’s profile on Twitter, where you can then click the “follow” button to add them to your feed. (You need to be signed in to your Twitter account.)

Find me on Twitter:  @elissafield – I tweet about teaching, writing and current events.

In addition to the users below, check out the most currently updated members of my teaching tweeters list on Twitter: Elissa Field’s Teach list


@edutopia – Edutopia: “Inspiration and information for what works in education”; one of my favorite educational resources

@ASCD – “The international education association dedicated to providing programs, products, and services that empower educators to support the success of each learner.”

@MindShiftKQED – Mind Shift “explores the future of learning, covering cultural and tech trends and innovations in education”

@edudemic – Edudemic: “A dedicated community of educators and technologists looking to enhance learning.” (Cambridge, MA)

@ChildMindDotOrg – Child Mind Institute: “a nonprofit organization dedicated to transforming mental health care for children everywhere. Follow us for up-to-the minute news on child mental health.”

@NYTimesLearning – New York Times Learning Network – an online resource for teaching and learning, using news published in the NYTimes.

@IRAToday – International Reading Association

@writingproject – National Writing Project: a favorite, “focuses the  knowledge, expertise, and leadership of our nation’s educators on sustained efforts to improve writing and learning”

@TCRWP – “The Teachers College Reading and Writing Project is one of the world’s premier providers of professional development in the teaching of reading and writing.”

@Newsela – this is one of my new favorites: a website that serves up news stories on myriad topics, searchable by reading level, offering great current event reading for students of all ages.

@RWTnow Read Write Think. org – “free access to the highest quality materials for reading & language arts instruction”

@TED_ED – TED-Ed: “TED’s education initiative, is an online library of short, captivating videos that engage inquisitive learners all over the world.”

@LearnwithTED – similarly, a resource for using TED talks in learning

@KhanAcademy – Khan Academy: “Working to make a free, world-class education available for anyone, anywhere” — one resource, although not my favorite, for flipping classes

Top Educators, Researchers & Speakers:

(Several educators whom I admire – such as Carol Ann Tomlinson – are on Twitter, but seldom tweet, so are not included on this list.)

@RickWormeli – Rick Wormeli is one of my favorite educators

@arneduncan – go official: this is the official Twitter account for the U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan

@judywillis – Judy Willis: “neuroeducation consultant/lecturer, physician/neurologist, former teacher, How the Brain Learns author.” (Santa Barbera, CA)

@SirKenRobinson – Sir Ken Robinson, best known for his inspiring TED talks on education reform (Los Angeles, CA)

@buffyjhamilton – Buffy Hamilton: “Librarian & Learning Strategist for CPL who loves learning, literacy, stories, social media”

@unfragilekids – Leonard Sax, MD, PhD: author of several studies on gender differences in education (rarely tweets)

Teachers Who Tweet:

Lots of educators tweet (you, too? leave your user name in the comments below) and I follow nearly a hundred, but these are ones who resonated with me at the time I compiled this list.

@JulieDRamsay – “Educator with passion for student-directed learning; author of Can We Skip Lunch and Keep Writing? Collaborating in Class and Online;NBCT; blogger” (Birmingham, AL)

@stumpteacher – Josh Stumpenhorst: “father, husband, teacher, blogger, runner, presenter, learner, and disrupter…always looking to be better and stay relevant. (2012 IL Teacher of the Year)” (Chicago)

@InnovativeEdu – Lisa Nielsen: “Educator. Innovator. Author. Blogger.” (Manhattan)

@whatedsaid – Edna Sackson: I love this teacher’s blog (Melbourne, Australia)

@RobinDubiel – Robin and I routinely trade each other’s Pinterest recommendations, and she is often a great fellow-tweeter

@ChrisLehman – “Educator, speaker, author, dad”

@MicheleCorbat a co-moderator of #COLchat

MG and YA Authors:

@camphalfblood – Rick Riordan, author of Percy Jackson series and more

@RolandCSmith – Roland Smith, author of I,Q series, Elephant Run, Peak and more

@realjohngreen – John Green: “I write books, including Looking for Alaska and The Fault in Our Stars. (Books are like tweets, except longer.) I also make videos with my brother.” His videos are a hit.

@rebstead – Rebecca Stead, one of my favorite authors: “My books for kids: First Light, When You Reach Me, Liar & Spy.”

@KateMessner – Kate Messner: “Children’s author, reader, dreamer, educator, & TED2012 speaker”

@novaren – Nova Ren Suma: author of young adult books including Imaginary Girls and 17 & Gone


#educhat or #edchat – matters related to teaching and education

#FLedchat – chats on Wednesdays at 8 EST via Tammy Neil (@MathNeil)

#edtech – tweets related to educational technology

#mschat – chats for middle school educators

#sbgchat – one of my favorite chat-threads, on standards-based learning and grading

#COLchat – community of learning chat – fab, positive energy

#STEM – tweets addressing focus on science, technology, engineering and math – including writing that addresses these

#gtchat – chats about education for gifted and talented students, for parents and educators

#MGlit – used for chats and other tweets related to middle grade fiction

#YAlit – used for chats and other tweets related to young adult fiction

#litchat – literary or book chats held several times each week

#YAlit, #MGlit or #kidlit – chats about young adult, middle grade & children’s lit

Twitter trick: Have you ever wondered what a hashtag stood for and didn’t know how to look it up?  Try this:

(If you’re curious about a meaning and the tag is not listed on the tagdef site — as happened for me with #WTLconf12 — you can always tweet someone using the tag to ask them the meaning.)

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Feel free to add your suggestions or your own Twitter ID in the comments, and do look me up: @elissafield

Housekeeping takes time: if we are already connected on Twitter, check to see if I added you to the twitter list you would fit on by checking here. If not, private message me so I can add you.

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Twitter 101 for Teachers: Steps for Getting Started on Twitter


Before I began teaching, I was a professional writer, working freelance in a variety of print and web venues. As a writer, I participate actively in doing what is called “building platform” — this means using a variety of social media forums to connect with audience or peers around the country or around the world.

As a teacher and as a writer, I have been astounded at the depth of information and personal connection available through social media, including teaching blogs, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest and Twitter.

Twitter Rules

Of all the social media venues, even writing friends are often surprised that Twitter is one of my favorites.

Twitter is the venue that can feel most cryptic to new users, because of its 140-character format. When you log onto Twitter, you view a feed of current posts by anyone you follow — which means a long stream of unrelated, abbreviated posts. As new tweets post, older ones are pushed down and eventually out of sight.

For those new to Twitter, the stream seems fragmented. They can’t imagine anything meaningful could be communicated in 140 characters.

But I promise you, Twitter is the one social media forum I return to most reliably. Over time, it has been one of my richest sources of news and information.

As a history teacher interested in current events, I frequently learn of breaking news through tweets from frontline reporters hours before televised news catches up. As a teacher interested in sources for dynamic teaching approaches, I find great articles from educational organizations and top speakers in the field.

Biggest surprise of all: tweeting can be surprisingly intimate. Think of it as a universal water cooler where you have the ability to bump elbows with people you could not walk up to in the physical world: I’ve had friendly exchanges with some of my students’ favorite writers, with publishers of textbooks, with reporters on scene and with educators around the country and around the globe.

This post will break down the key steps to cracking Twitter and making it work for you.

Before we start, I welcome you to connect with me on Twitter with questions or to share resources — find me here.

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Step One to Getting Started: Create Your Profile

If you are not on Twitter at all, start by opening an account (access Twitter here; opening an account is free). You will create a user name and password, then personalize the display by adding a picture and short description of yourself.

Creating a user name and deciding which email address to use can stump some teachers. Best social media practices suggest that you use your real, professional name, as this is how people search for you — however, it is not uncommon for teachers to establish a “brand” name for their professional identity online. Many teachers use a nickname or the name of their blog as their user name. This helps to make clear that you are posting in a professional capacity, and not a personal social media forum.  I use “Mrs. T’s Middle Grades” for teaching, and my maiden name for fiction writing, both of which are separate from my private, personal accounts. I also use a separate email address for social media, rather than my email account at school. Don’t worry if you’re stumped about your user name: you can change it if you change your mind later.

Don’t skip the picture or profile. Twitter includes an “egg” icon for new users, and you’ll want to substitute a headshot or other picture to show your professionalism.

For your profile, you’ll write 140 characters of information to describe yourself. Some people are funny, but really it’s best to use words that genuinely reflect your interests. Examples could be: “Teacher, Father, author of articles in Parenting,” or “Teacher, recent college grad, in masters program at UF.” Make sure to include a link to your website if you are trying to drive traffic.

Step Two: Follow Key Players

A successful start on Twitter begins with finding meaningful people and organizations to follow. Since not everyone uses Twitter well, you are looking for people whose information or ideas you respect, and who are active on the site. This often rules out some experts while highlighting ordinary educators who actively forward great information.

4 ways to find good tweeters to follow:

  1. Steal a list: In my second post in this series I will share my list of some of the best people and organizations I follow on Twitter. (Here is link to Best Tweeters & Hashtags for Educators – click it now or find it at the end of this article)
  2. Search out your heroes. Hero is an exaggerated term, but the standard approach for finding people to follow is to search for names you respect. Reading a great book on differentiation? Search the author’s name. Belong to a teaching organization? Search for that group. Have peers you want to connect with? Look for people you teach with, went to school with, or have connected with in other venues, such as at professional workshops, on Pinterest, on blogs or Teachers Pay Teachers.
  3. Mine their leads: while on the profile for a tweeter you respect, click their “followers” list to see whom they follow. Sir Ken Robinson, of TED fame, does not follow a lot of educational experts — more Hollywood sorts. On the other hand, Rick Wormeli, my favorite resource for differentiation and middle grades, follows several great educational resources and actively tweeting teachers. Scrolling through his list, you might spot other educators or resources you’d like to follow.
  4. Use hashtags or participate in chats. More about hashtags and chats in step 4… but they are a good way to find tweeters who post actively on a topic that interests you.

How to do you follow someone? While logged in, click their user name until you reach their profile, then click the “follow” button. When getting started, consider following at least 40-50 people so that you are seeing enough material in your feed to find what you are looking for. If you later change your mind, prune your list by clicking the same button, which will now have turned to “unfollow.”  Tip: you can group the people you follow into categories by creating lists from your profile page. For example, here are a few of my lists: my Teaching list , my YA & MG lit list, and list of journalists & news I follow.

Step Three: Interact

Connection is key to finding meaningful benefit from social media. Twitter is frustrating to new users until they begin connecting with others. Practicing effective Twitter habits will draw others to follow you so that your posts are being “heard.” Heads up: meaningful connection begins to kick in about the time you have 40-50 followers… so get started, but have patience.

Here are the basic ways to connect using Twitter:

  • Share a link: If you read an article you think others would like, then tweet a short description and link to the article. You should also do this to share your own blog posts. Hint: use Google url shortener or other tools to shorten links. Be sure to include enough description or comment to help followers decide if it’s worth clicking the link. For example, I might share link to my reading list post by tweeting, “What are you reading this summer? Teacher’s Summer Reading” Tip: Notice I used a question to engage, rather than just sell. In truth, answer to that question would be interesting interaction.
  • Other ways to share: Use “share on Twitter” buttons throughout the internet to share blog articles you like or items you post on Pinterest (which will include a picture of the pin).
  • Practice concise writing skills to share your stories: it’s possible to share a great experience in 140 characters or less! “Awesome lab w Red Bull and milk helped kids visualize chemical change” or “MG writers wrote amazing narrative essays to bring Rev War to life” are great mini stories of how your day went. Even if no one responds, these mini stories help other Twitter users get to know you.
  • Reply to interesting posts. Answer questions tweeted by others or respond as you would to an overheard conversation in public. If a person dropped a bag of groceries on the sidewalk in the real world, you’d stop to commiserate and help pick them up. It’s the same in the twitterverse: it’s human to reply “so sorry to hear it” if someone posts sad news, or well-wishing if they post good news.
  • Share the love by retweeting. Retweeting supports the initial poster as it improves their rankings, and benefits you by sharing with your followers the kind of information you found useful. (Side benefit: it serves to bookmark the article by saving the link in your feed.) Tips for mastering retweeting: While logged directly into Twitter, when you hit the “retweet” key it will simply repeat the original tweet in your feed with the original tweeter’s icon next to it. A better practice for building platform (creating connection with others) is for you to create a new tweet that quotes the original. Using an app like Tweetdeck or an app from your iphone makes this simple, as a second button is available that automatically quotes the retweet.  Otherwise you have to do it manually (copy/paste the original post into your new tweet, including the original poster’s id). Example of a retweet: “Get your questions ready: RT @GuardianBooks: Webchat 6/14 w Neil Gaiman  Notice that I added my own comment (“Get your questions ready”) and the letters RT, which stand for retweet; the original tweeter is identified (@GuardianBooks) and then their original tweet is included. If I had edited their original tweet to make it fit, I would have used the letters “MT” instead of “RT” to show that it is a “modified” tweet.
  • Thank people — post a thank you tweet including the user’s name any time someone follows you or “favorites” or retweets one of your posts.
  • Participate in Twitter chats. Huh… what? People have actual conversations? Read about hashtags in step 4 to understand this better.

It is important to know: manners really, really matter on Twitter and other social media. Try searching “twitter manners” or “twitter etiquette” for tips on how to behave. It’s generally as obvious as the golden rule — treat others as you would like to be treated. Be personable and friendly in interacting with others, but keep it professional. If you want to promote your blog or other work, do so sparingly and mixed in with other genuine conversation.

Step Four: Use Hashtags

Hashtags are those shortie expressions preceded by the # symbol. They are just plain ugly — but they work.

The key to finding and connecting conversation threads on Twitter is similar to how crab grass grows: ideas don’t follow that linear news feed, they have to branch sideways to connect to people outside your established flow. Hashtags attach your own posts to a conversation, pulling your tweet to where it will be seen by more than those following you — specifically by those interested in the topic you are posting about. And they help you find tweets and tweeters active in ideas you are interested in.

Even more awesome: hashtags pull people together to participate in Twitter chats. These are organized conversations that take place at set times throughout the week, on dozens of subjects. I participate in weekly chats with groups of writing and teaching professionals, and have jumped into a variety of chats on technology or conversations with favorite authors. Every chat has an assigned hashtag. You may discover them by reading your new feed of people you’re following or else I’ll share a few in the next post (link here, or find it at the end of this article).

Two major rules for hashtags:

  • Rule 1: whenever possible, attach one hashtag to the end of your post to connect it to the main topic it is about. “#MGlit” is a great one to add if I’m sharing a link about favorite middle grade authors. “#edtech” is a great one to add to a post asking for recommendations for ipad apps for learning state capitals.
  • Rule 2: unless you have a really, really good reason, never use more than 2-3 hashtags per post. It’s a bad ad strategy, like spam email. In that last example, I might add “#MGss” to specify middle grade social studies, but not more than that.

Okay, now is a good time: to find hashtags for topics or chats you are interested in, check out my second post: Twitter for Teachers: Tweeters & Hashtags to Follow.

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What About You?

Are you a teacher who has tried out Twitter or other social media forums? What questions do you have, or what advice would you share? 

Feel free to share your Twitter name in the comments so we can look you up as well. If you followed the steps here to get started, keep us posted on what works or hurdles you find.

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