Sunday, September 8, 2013

3 people & 3 ideas for using Twitter to share, discover, & connect with students

Twitter ( is a great tool for sharing, discovering, and connecting with others who care about the same ideas and information. You can use Twitter right on your phone without downloading any software and even with just one teacher cell phone per class, contributions can be made and modeled anywhere, anytime. Twitter has become such a popular tool because it asks one question, "What's happening?" Answers must be under 140 characters in length and can be sent via mobile texting, instant message, or the web.

Like texting, the beauty of Twitter's is that its core technology is a device agnostic system that lets the masses participate.  Because of this, with just a cell phone in hand, Twitter makes it easy for folks to stay connected...even if all they have at their fingertips is sms. For example, anyone (in the US) can receive Tweets on their phone even if they haven’t signed up for Twitter. This is a simple way for people to get information they care about in real-time. For example, let’s say you want to get Tweets from the authors of this chapter. Just text ‘follow InnovativeEdu’ or “follow WillynWebb” to 40404.

Who's doing this?

  1. Courtney Woods - Second grade teacher When Courtney Wood’s second grade students wanted to increase tourism in their small town of Bathurst they decided to turn to Twitter.  The students started by creating an amazing, interactive panoramic view of the center of their town to try to attract visitors but didn’t know how to get the word out.  They realized Twitter was the key and Tweet they did. They sent Tweets to local press,  the Minister of Education, the Prime Minister, the tourism bureau and even Bill Gates!  These kids meant business. After their Tweeting extravaganza, they were thrilled to see everyone who responded. Press who saw their tweet covered them in the paper and even visited their class, the tourism bureau is now featuring their work on their website and office, they heard back from the Minister of Education and Bill Gates invited their teacher to showcase their work at an exciting global event for innovative educators in Prague! Read full story here
  2. Tracy Karas - High school librarian
    Using Twitter right from her cell phone enables Tracy Karas, a New York City high school librarian to instantly provide the entire school community with a window into her library. Karas uses her phone to Tweet updates about new books that have come in, to celebrate student successes, to provide reminders about upcoming events and more. All these Tweets are embedded directly on her library page from the school’s website so those who care can get instant, real time updates. Like Tracy, you can set up your own class page and Tweet what's new, what's hot, what's not.
  3. Michelle Luhtala - High school librarian
    Michelle Luhtala has her students use Twitter to collect research about topics they are studying into a newspaper. Students use as a content curation service to publish newspapers using a selected Twitter hashtag selected for the topic they are studying. As students find relevant information, they can Tweet that along with photos a links right from their phone. The tag is then put into and a unique newspaper with all the research articles, pictures, and videos are compiled into a professional newspaper with information that matters most to the students.

More ideas for learning

  1. Twitter reporters
    Designate Twitter reporters at science fairs or other celebrations. These students can interview attendees and tweet responses using their selected tag to be displayed on monitors throughout the school and on their school website. This provides a unique way to capture their school celebration publicly and provides recognition of the work students are doing in an exciting way.
  2. Reflective Tweets
    On your next school field trip invite students to Tweet their reflections using a pre-determined hashtag. This gives parents an instant view into what their child did at school today enabling them to have robust conversations about it. Collect the Tweets with a tool like Storify ( to review and discuss what students saw and spur ideas for further study.
  3. Connect with Parents
    Parents can receive Tweets on their phone even if they haven’t signed up for Twitter. This is a simple way for parents to stay connected in real-time. To do so, just provide parents with the Twitter handle of their child's teacher, school or principal. Then they text "Follow [handle]" to 40404.

Getting started

  • To use twitter from your phone go to and set up an account.
  • Next visit and enter your phone number.
  • Finally, put Twitter into your phone with this number: 40404. Don't worry that it is only 5 digits. Just send a text to it and it will show up in your Twitterfeed.

For more information
Watch the "Twitter in Plain English" video tutorial at

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