“Nowadays, social media is the easiest place to go to find something. “By David Nail

Social Media consists of websites and applications that enable users to create and share content or to participate in social networking. Some of the best known social media platforms are Twitter and Facebook. Today we are going to discuss how these two powerful platforms can grow your network and improve your craft as an educator.

Let’s start with Twitter. Twitter is an online social networking platform where users post and interact with messages, known as “tweets.” In education there are many ways that you can use twitter. Here are the top three ways:

  1. Follow Education Experts: Lots of ‘famous educators’ are on twitter that you can follow and see what their latest research or learn about the best practice that are happening in their classrooms. Some of my favorite people to follow are Paul Solarz, a practicing fifth grade teacher and author of Learn Like a Pirate, Pernille Ripp a 7th grade ELA teacher and author of a few books but my favorite of hers is Passionate Learners, Craig Gastauer, a high school teacher and Persinalized Learning Lead for his school, George Couros, principal and author of Innovator’s Mindset and Steven Weber, Associate Superintendent. We can also learn a lot from other experts outside of our elementary, middle and high school educators, such as psychologists, college or university professors, or education consultants who have plenty of research to share as well.
  2. Informational Text: Tweeters share a lot of great articles that you can use to grow yourself in your craft or for integrating into your classroom as part of relevant real world text. Follow hashtags or topics based on your interest. Some of my favorite hashtags to follow are #21stedchat, #edleadership and #cmspdl.
  3. Education Chats: Twitter chats may be the perfect form of professional development because they’re free and you get to choose the topic you want to learn about when you want to. Twitter chats  happen regularly and they give you access to a global community of educators with lots of perspectives. If you google education twitter chats, multiple twitter chat hashtags, dates and times will appear for you to choose from. Chats usually last one hour, but you may jump in and/or leave at your convenience and your needs. To begin slowly start be simply liking or retweet others’ chat responses to show support and to validate the ideas that resonate with you. The next step is to start commenting on others’ responses. Typically chats have Q = Question and A = Answer format so the narrator of the chat might have a tweet that says Q1 followed by a question and you would respond with A1. My twitter chat is #21stedchat and it happens every Sunday at 8:00pm EST.

Facebook is another great social media networking platform. Many think of it as a way to connect with friends but you can also use it to connect with educators.  

  1. Groups: There are a lot of great Facebook groups that share a lot of resources, ideas and can also serve as a great place to have though partners. Some of my favorite groups are Personalized Learning Collaboration, The Innovator’s Mindset (MOOC), Breakout Edu General Discussion and The Reading and Writing Strategies Book Community.
  2. Pages: Pages are a great place to follow as they also post resources and ideas but it is not as interactive as groups. Some of my favorite pages are CMS Personalized Digital Learning,  Learning Personalized, Edulum LLC and Getting Smart.

For the visual learners out there, or for those of you who are like me and sometimes want a picture to help spark an idea of your own, Instagram is the social media network avenue to take.  Like Facebook, Instagram can be used with a professional lens. There are lots of educators using Instagram to post pictures and videos of their classroom in action, as well as anchor charts and other resources they have created.  I suggest checking out @keslerscience and @nittygrittyscience where you can collect hands on science tasks and resources, and @worldlangcafe for my spanish and french teachers and  @subwaybookreview is another Instagram account to follow, but this one is a little different in that it is a collection of book reviews from subway riders from all over. Also, there are several Instagram accounts that are awesome ones to share with your students: Zion National Park (@zionnps), The National Gallery in London (@nationalgallery), The Smithsonian (@smithsonian) and the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (@noaa).

There are other great social media networks out there besides Twitter and Facebook such as YouTube, Pinterest and Google+.  Social networks help to keep you in the loop about what is currently going on in education.  Today’s technology allows you to connect with people all over the world while in the comfort of your own home. All you have to do is scroll your newsfeed, join a group, or sign up for notifications and you will be apart of an amazing educators network!

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