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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.

Any favorites?