A Whole Page Devoted to Twitter? You Bet.

Twitter is such a powerful learning tool that it has earned a full page devoted to its use on this wiki. You can use it for professional learning (build your Professional Learning Network or PLN) or simply to stay in touch with what's going on in the world. Better yet, you can teach your class to Tweet, and can connect with experts and learners all over the world!

You can download a free .pdf Twitter Handbook for Teachers from Powerful Learning Practice HERE.

To access Twitter at school, be sure to go to https://twitter.com, NOT http://twitter.com.
Screen shot 2013-04-19 at 2.00.51 PM.png
If I can tweet, anyone can.

New to Twitter? Sign up for a free account. Ifthis Twitter account will be used for professional purposes,then use your school district email address.
Be sure to "follow" people who are engaged in thesame professional activities or who share similar interests thatcan engage you in learning something new.
If your purpose for being on Twitter is to communicatewith family and friends or to "follow" celebrities, it's probably best to createa "private" Twitter account using non-district email.

Now that you have an account, it's time to follow some tweeters.Try following some educators or educational organizations.
Here are some great educators and organizations that wil provide you with professional ideas if you follow them from the get-go:

@kathyschrock @coolcatteacher (Vicki Davis) @edutopia @discoveryed @weareteachers @shellterrell @teachamazing @teachersnet @ascd @wholechildadv (ASCD Whole Child) @diannekrause @pbsteachers @web20classroom @larryferlazzo @edudemic @educationweek @grantwiggins @edweekteacher

This will populate your news feed with interesting information, in the briefest form possible.
Oh, and don't feel guilty if you don't check your Twitter feed all the time. Check it when you can. You'll be sure to learn something! It is a good idea to set aside ten minutes daily to check in on Twitter, especially when you are new to it, so that you get a feel for how it works.
When you see a post you want to share with your followers, retweet it!
Hovering over a tweet will make several options appear just beneath it. Retweeting gives credit to the original tweeter (it shows up like this: RT@fiedlerk) so your followers will know that you're sharing something you've found on Twitter that you think might interest them. If you just want to mark a tweet so that you can find it later, then favorite it.

Practice tweeting.You are limited to 140 characters so plan what you want to say. Sometimes 140 characters are not enough, particularly when you want to share a link to a website. You can shorten a website's url by copying it and pasting it into a website such as Bitly or Owly. The newly shortened URL then can be pasted into your tweet.
Don't know what to tweet about? Then don't. Just sit back and watch others for a while. Just keep in mind that you can tweet about anything you've learned, discovered, or even something you would like help with. Anyone who follows you will see your tweets. If they don't find them of interest, they can either ignore them or unfollow you.
Your first tweet? How about something like this: "I am learning about Twitter today." The Twittersphere will be happy to welcome you aboard!
You can add photos and places to your tweets. They will appear as links to save space, so your followers will have to click on the link to view your photo or the map if you've added a location.
Search for new people to follow.
Now that you're following some people or organizations on Twitter, it's easy to check out who they are following and to add those folks. Just click on their usernames to view their twitter profiles. You'll see who they are following in the pane under their profile.
Twitter will also recommend people for you to follow based on your current followings.
What if someone starts following you that you don't want to allow to follow you? Click on ME in the black menu bar across the top of the page. Then, on the right, click "Followers." You see a list of people who are following you. Just to the left of the blue "Following" button, you'll see a small button with a person's head on it. Click on that, and you will have multiple options. See the screen shot below. (Sorry, Anna!)Screen shot 2013-04-19 at 2.36.00 PM.png

Hashtags and Other Great Ways to Communicate
A hashtag is the # symbol followed by a "tag," or keyword, that allows folks to search for posts by subject. For instance #documentcamera would indicate that your post was about document cameras. And yes, you make them up as you see fit. It is not necessary to hashtag your tweets, but it sure makes it easier for folks in the twittersphere to find good information, even if they are not following you. Hashtag characters count towards your allotted 140, so keep them short and sweet. For instance, you might want to shorten the hashtag for document camera to #doccam.
A word here about privacy settings: If you have your account set to private, no one will see your tweets other than your followers. For hashtags to work as a means of sharing professional information, you will want to remove the privacy setting on your account. So, for a professional twitter account, it is probably best not to use the privacy setting, but for a personal account, you might want to use the privacy restriction.
To search by hashtag, simply type #searchterm in the search field at the top of the page in the black top menu.
Northwestern Elementary teachers wanted a quick way to find one another's tweets, so they agreed to use the hashtag #nwetweets.

Some educational hashtags to search? A personal favorite is #edchat.
Or, try these 15 Best Educational Hashtags: http://learnegg.com/best-educational-twitter-hashtags/
For more, try CybraryMan's 300+ Educational hashtags to follow: http://www.cybraryman.com/edhashtags.html
Or, how about this "Quick Guide to Twitter Hashtags for Professional Development?"

Using Twitter in the Classroom

You will want to practice with Twitter for a bit before you decide to create a class Twitter account. It is important to note that students under the age of 13 should not have their own accounts. In addition, since our district blocks Twitter via the filtering system, it is rather inconvenient to have to override the filter each time you want your students to tweet. Therefore, I recommend a class account from which all posts are made.

Since a tweet is limited to 140 characters, students are forced to do some serious thinking (and composing) until an adequate tweet can be made. You can have them compose tweets about almost anything. And don't just think of having them summarize their learning! Tweet photos of student work to provide an authentic, world-wide audience in real-time! Or better yet...Imagine if they could compose tweets that ask for the collaboration and input of the twittersphere?

Here's a link to a great article that suggests ways a class Twitter account has enhanced a primary elementary classroom. While you may be thinking, "But I teach High School, so there won't be anything here for me," you're dead wrong about this one. Everything in this article can be done in our classrooms, K-12! Here's the link: Using Twitter in the Primary Classroom