Monday, February 28, 2011

To Tweet or Not To Tweet? By Shirley

To Tweet or not to Tweet, that is the question! Several of my friends and colleagues have recently asked why I find using those 140 characters helpful when I could be sharing, helping and creating with colleagues by other more standard methods. I have many answers, but before I explain I should go back to the beginning of my tech journey.
I attended the November Learning Conference in Boston in 08 and enjoyed the keynote speaker, Ewan McIntosh (whom I had met in Scotland the previous year). He asked all participants to create a Twitter account and tweet during the conference using the hashtag  #NLC08. I didn’t even know what a hashtag was, or to whom I was tweeting, but I gave it a try and here is my first tweet.

Rather embarrassing that I couldn’t even spell sitting correctly. 

That was the end of my tweeting until last summer when I created a class blog and wanted some comments for my students.  I asked the advice of my head of school, Josie Holford, who said I should use Twitter,  so I took the plunge and wrote a quick post.  Almost instantaneously, I received this reply from Ewan McIntosh…

That to me was POWERFUL!  Two years later, no contact with him and hey presto he responded.

I began following people I knew and then followed their followers. That’s when I realized how small the world really is today. My tweeps were also some of the same educators whose blogs I had been following.  Immediately, I had worldwide colleagues who could give me advice, share our ideas, answer my questions, suggest new 2.0 tools and be available 24 hours a day.  I began to participate in chats, read more blogs and find out about great conferences, and workshops all through Twitter.  It didn’t take me long to realize the power of those 140 characters.  My students began to receive many comments about their class blog from around the world and I began to plan a variety of projects with different teachers.

My classroom no longer has no walls as we communicate with other students and teachers from around the globe.  I have demonstrated the use of Twitter with my students by tweeting questions and receiving instantaneous response from a variety of people. My humanities classes Skyped with a great teacher, Kendra Gilmore from Missouri, and we learned a lot about each other as we compared our schools, classes and surroundings.  We have planned to take part in the World Read Aloud day (through Twitter) on March 9th and so far will be hearing some Robert Burns poetry read by Bill Boyd from Ayr in Scotland.

I recently had my first face to face meeting with Katy Gartside, a Twitter colleague from New York City, who gave me a wonderful tour of her school. We are now planning some joint projects on ancient Greece and will be sharing my students’ Ancient Greek Studies Wiki.

So to go back to why I use Twitter ….it is an awesome social media tool for all educators.  Join me on Twitter @8rinaldi.


  1. As one of the colleagues who recently asked, "Why tweet?" I appreciate your ability to pass along your knowledge and enthusiasm! I also was delighted to follow your link to your students' Wiki, which I shared with my class today. We enjoyed our brief exploration of all the work your class did in learning about Crete. So, if a Tweet can bring this much information my way, it must be a helpful tool! Thanks, Shirley!

  2. Thanks, Jan. I'm new to writing blog posts (my students are much more adept than me)so I needed to start at the beginning of this journey.Keep checking as I hope to continue my tech journey posts weekly. Glad you got to explore the wiki and I hope it was helpful. The kids put a lot of effort into their topic.

  3. Amazing story of Ewan Mcintosh reading your first tweet two years after he encouraged you open the account and start tweeting. And how exciting it is to be connected in that way.

    Twitter enables all of us to be connected with the best minds in education and have access to their thinking and their work.

    With twitter we all have the ability to create a powerful PLN (personal learning network) with whom to interact, share, collaborate and above all learn.

    I love that story! It's why i have become an evangelist for twitter as a professional development tool. So much to learn, so many wonderful people doing extraordinary things.

    And we can be a part of it all.

    Looking forward to continuing to learn from this blog!
    - Josie