Sunday, May 16, 2010

Using Twitter for Professional Development

When I first signed up for a Twitter account, I did so to be in “the know."  I’d seen Ashton Kutcher on Larry King live talking about how he tweets and how many followers he had   (I think he had 1 million).  I really just didn't get it.  After watching, I tried it a few more times and still didn’t get it. 
Although I didn’t get it,  I really liked the aspect of being able to tweet by phone and immediately saw some applications that students could use in the classroom, i.e. using Twitter for Socratic seminars, as a backchannel or to write Twittories.  Uses in the classroom seemed almost limitless.
Believing in the old adage, "Two heads are better than one", I gave my staff a homework assignment over the summer to open Twitter accounts to use for our back- to- school activity.  Our staff went to the movies and used Twitter as a Back Channel and Tweeted during the movie Julie & Julia.  The purpose was to encourage all of our instructional staff to host a blog with the plan to increase student performance in writing. That was eight months ago.  While several staff members hosted blogs this year, little tweeting took place in the form of professional development (we have however used it as a parent communication tool for activities and events).  I knew I wanted to use Twitter regularly with staff, but I just could not see how to make it work--that is until about a month ago.  So, here is what we are planning:
  1. Host a PLN Blog for staff. I post once a week (Passage PLN Blog).
  2. Include a feed to my Twitter so staff can get an idea of other educators they can follow and get some of the great links that I come across from my PLN.
  3. Have staff sign up for their own Twitter account (in my case, ask my staff for a do-over)
  4. Create a Wiki (probably Wikispace) so we can share websites, web 2.0 tools, blogs etc…
  5. Include useful articles, sites, blogs on the PLN Blog and offer incentives/encouragement to those that post to the Wikispace. I think this will be the tough part—convincing staff that Twitter is more than just sharing what you are doing. After all, it took me eight months to figure Twitter out.
  6. Use our Technology Integration Specialist as a resource for teachers to plan lessons and activities that integrate the resources/ideas into the curriculum.

Wish us luck!  Any ideas are welcome!


  1. I would suggest that you use an account like Diigo instead of a wiki for sharing tools. Make a group of it and then your staff and PLN would be able to add comments to the sites and notes on how they use them. You would still be able to list all of the websites, blogs, resources they find, and it is more controlable (through tags) than a wiki. Plus it keeps things simple. Just a thought.

    I found your site through my PLN on Twitter. I am enjoying your posts.

  2. Thanks for reading CJ. We had a blast with the activity. Great ideas!