Saturday, February 9, 2013

Twitter for PD for Beginners

Our blogger today is Nancy Ellis, principal at Frank H. Hammond Elementary in the School Town of Munster.

As an elementary principal, a plethora of topics cross my path every single day… assessments, grading, reading strategies, math practices, school safety, school improvement, technology, behavior, interventions, and the list goes on and on. Although it’s not possible to be an “expert” at all of them, people do expect intelligent answers from me on these topics on a daily basis. I really need some great resources so that I can find the information, research, and trends about any of those topics quickly and efficiently. Twitter has proven to be an awesome tool in helping me organize this!

My first experience with Twitter was rather boring. I followed a few friends, but following their daily activities certainly didn’t really help make my day more efficient. So I did some research. I found a short little “getting started with Twitter for professional development” article that got me started. One of the first suggestions was to create your account and search and follow as many resources and people that you can think of. And he specifically said… not just 5, go for 50, 100…. And don’t be uncomfortable when they follow you back. Then just sit back and observe what happens.

Getting Started- 

So, after I added a few family members to follow, I searched for:
And I followed them. Many of them responded by following me back! But with all the possibilities, I realized that I have the power to choose to follow the Tweets that are of interest to me personally!

Getting Better- 


Still being just the observer, I found that the information that now appeared on my Twitter feed was fascinating. I was seeing snippets of information that was pertinent to my role as a principal, and I found myself saying… “I could use that” or “I want to read that, but not right now.”

And I found the “Favorite” function! By simply clicking on the Favorite option, I had a place to store the links to resources that I could follow up on later… my own little filing cabinet!

Hashtags and Searches 

Then I started wondering about how I could use those hashtags. I found that instead of waiting for information to just appear on my Twitter feed, I could search for topics that interested me. By noting the hashtags used in some of my Tweets, I could figure out what to search for.

Hmmm, I tried searching for #CCSS, and I found that I could transform my Twitter feed into Tweets ONLY about Common Core standards!

And from this list, I also found some great new resources to follow. I clicked on the Reading Rockets Tweet and chose “Follow”! Now I have another great source of information added to my Twitter Feed!

I also noticed that many of the hashtags referred to Conferences and workshops that I didn’t have the time or funds to attend. By searching that hashtag, I could get a closer look at the presenters, presentations, and resources that were shared at that Conference:

I also noticed a lot of hashtags that included the word “chat.”

And I also noticed that I could sort of follow conversations that seemed to be happening between all the Tweets. But it seemed way too confusing to follow a chat with all the other Tweets on the Twitter feed!  But Indiana eLearning provided a Tweet that helped me figure that out:

I went to the beginner tips link…

And decided to give TweetDeck and the INeLearn Weekly Chat a try! I met some new people that I decided to Follow. I had a brief conversation with an author from Minnesota who I now follow. And I learned how to make another feature of Twitter work for me!

Next Steps- 

So my advice to you… teacher, administrator or student… is to give Twitter a try. I have Twitter also on my phone and my Kindle. I read through my Twitter feeds while I’m waiting for appointments, and other spare moments. I mark my favorites and go back to revisit them when I have the chance.

My morning starts out with Tweets:
--that motivate my day:

--that keep me up to date on the latest news from our local TV and newspaper:

--that keep me healthy:

Sometimes I get a pleasant surprise, like the other day when @IXL Learning Re-tweeted the following:

And I realized, hey that’s my cousin! So I now follow Brad and the learning activities of his 4th graders!

And then, of course, keeping track of your kids is also a plus of Twitter. And they occasionally surprise you with a Tweet that makes your day, like this one tweeted by my daughter at Purdue!

The Challenge:

I know I'm just a beginner at Twitter.  I still tend to be more of a "taker" of information, rather than a "giver". But I encourage you to create your Twitter account, search for something you're interested in, and start Following!  I am @naellis1202 and you can Follow me too!  


  1. Great post Nancy! This will help many in education get used to twitter!/

  2. NIce job, Nancy! Looks like you did a great job covering the to find some time to develop mine more.

  3. Nice work, Nancy! A lot of great info here for those who have not had the opportunity to check out Twitter.