I am definitely a novice when using Twitter, but one of my goals this year is to participate more actively in Social Media. As a teacher in 2014, especially one charged with teaching technology, this is especially important. A few months ago Melissa Eddington, an ELL teacher in our district, started a Twitter Chat (hashtag #DubChat.) I read one of the archives and knew right away that this was something I wanted to learn more about. A few weeks later during the discussion she tweeted an invitation asking if anyone was interested in guest hosting a chat. I contacted my colleague, Jamie Riley, and we signed up to co-moderate a Twitter Chat two weeks later.
Despite my initial nervousness, this turned out to be an amazing experience and I thought I’d share a few things that I learned along the way.
1. First of all it is easy to participate in a Twitter Chat. To join the fun, simply sign on your twitter account and search for the chat. Our chat was #DubChat. The hashtag always starts with a “#” followed by the name of the chat. This links all tweets created by participants.
2. Next, start by lurking. The day after the chat that I hosted a few people told me that they did sign on and lurk, but were not ready to post yet. That’s okay. Lurking is a great way to see what it’s all about.
3. If you still aren’t ready to jump right in, consider responding to other’s tweets.
There are a few ways to do this:
- There is a menu on the bottom of each tweet. If you select reply before you tweet, your message will include the handle (twitter name) of the tweet creator. The handle starts with an “@” and followed by the name of the tweeter that you are responding to. My handle is @CherylAngel4.
- If you select favorite, the author of the tweet will get a message that you “favorited” her tweet and you will be able to retrieve it in the future.
4. When you are ready to add a message, click the pen icon. There are 3 important things to think about before you tweet:
- The syntax – Start the message with A1, A2, A3, etc… to designate which question (Q1, Q2, Q3) that you are answering.
- The message – Your tweet is limited to 140 characters. Using links makes this more manageable.
- The hashtag (i.e., #DublinChat)– which links your message to the chat
My guess is that you will probably enjoy participating in Twitter chats so much that you will look for reasons to host one. I would strongly suggest finding a mentor to give you guidance. When we decided to moderate, Melissa was a tremendous help and gave us some invaluable suggestions such as:
- Use TweetDeck – which is a program that organizes your tweets and the chat. Most importantly it allows you to schedule the questions (tweets) in advance. It appeared like we were real time, but actually we scheduled questions a week prior to the chat.
- Welcome people as they join the group.
- Respond to and favorite people when they make comments.
- End the session by thanking the participants and talking about future chats.
The technical part of moderating was easy. To be honest, I think I will join as a participant a few more times before I host again in order to get a better feel for the moderator role. I can’t thank @Melsa777 enough for the opportunity and the help that she gave us. I must admit that I have a new appreciation for what she does each week.
#DubChat is taking a break for the summer and I am looking for a few other good chats to follow.
It has been about a year since I started this blog with my friend and fellow media specialist Cheryl Angel. I have had a slow start. The year since I wrote my first post has been a very difficult one for me and I’ve definitely been distracted from meeting goals that I had, like blogging on a regular basis. As I reflect on the year I realize that with the bad did come some good, especially in the media center. This year I was given a great gift of support and funding from my school’s PTO and this summer my school’s media center is getting a “refresh”.
I began working as a media specialist in the media center at my current school two years ago and at that time I thought I was incredibly lucky to have such a large, open space. I also realized I was lucky to have a computer for every student, a story pit area, lots of tables for group work, and a great collection of books. Before moving into the library I taught third grade for many years, so my vision of our library program continues to evolve. As it has evolved, I began to realize that the library space itself wasn’t evolving and it wasn’t meeting our needs anymore. It was time to rethink the media center space. My students felt the same way and they played an integral role in how our library space will change. I hope to share with you the process we went through in the next few blog posts and to document the ways our space has changed, as well.
We decided to call our redesign process a “refresh” because refresh means to provide new vigor and energy, to stimulate, to make fresh again, and to freshen in appearance. The first thing that I did was to do some research about library spaces. This research started my first year in the library and I read books and articles, watched webinars, and visited lots of public and school library spaces (including some media centers in our district that had the same layout as ours). If you are embarking a project like this for your library or classroom I recommend The Third Teacher and The Language of School Design: Design Patterns for the 21st Century. Both of these resources apply to all educational spaces. For redesigning library spaces specifically, the books Library Spaces for 21st Century Learners and The Learning Commons: 7 Simple Steps to Transform your Library will be helpful. The most useful tip from the Learning Commons resource was to keep track of the questions kids ask over and over (and the things that most bug you over and over about your space) and use those things as a place to begin your change. For example, even though I had functional tables I was constantly moving them around to accommodate for meetings in the library and students working in groups (and they are heavy!) So our new tables are on casters to allow for the flexibility we needed.
Demco also has a great webinar series for library media specialists looking to make changes to their spaces. I highly recommend watching the following webinars about library spaces:
Next time I will write about how my students became involved, the goals that we developed as a result, and how we started to gain support from our PTO. I’m looking forward to sharing our refresh with you!