Starting our own Twitter Chat – HUSD Style!

Back in September, I wrote an article about how I had quickly fallen down the Twitter Rabbit Hole.  I knew that Twitter existed (obviously) and I even knew that there was this whole world of educators on it.  I just hadn’t really gotten into using Twitter as a source of professional development…yet.  While attending an EdTech Team GAFE Summit back in September, I attended the session “Twitter Chat Live” which was an introduction into joining weekly Twitter chats.  I was hooked.  Who knew there was a whole world of educators that met weekly on a variety of chats to discuss educational topics?  Not me!  So, for the last few months I have been participating in weekly chats where I have discussed numerous topics in education with educators all over the world.  These conversations quickly began to have an affect on me – both personally and professionally.  I started developing my PLN and discovering more ideas for classroom instruction and engagement.  Which started me thinking…

What if we did this in our own district?  What if we started our own HUSD Twitter Chat?

Getting Going

Being the major nerd that I am, I totally ran with this idea and found people (other education nerds) who would want to participate in this adventure.  During our first meeting, I knew that we had an amazing team of passionate educators who could make a Twitter Chat successful.  Everyone was excited and had so many ideas to bring this chat to our district.  We created our Twitter Chat account (@HUSDchat), hashtag (#HUSDchat), and the time that we would want to have our weekly chat (Thursdays – 7PM!).  We created a website to host information about our chat, including upcoming chats and a transcript of previous chats.  The foundation of our Twitter Chat was created, but we had a question…How were we going to get others to join our weekly Twitter Chat?

Our first idea – host a “Twitter Chat Social” for the district where we could teach educators on how to use Twitter and participate in the weekly chat.  Our amazing team met every month for three months to plan for this event, which included creating promotional videos, sending emails to the educators in our district, and planning for a personalized learning environment for all educators attending the event.  Seriously, our team is AMAZING.  It was incredible to see a group of educators work so well together.  Everyone took on a variety of tasks to make this event a success, such as creating websites, logos, and T-Shirts, purchasing gift cards and prizes, designing and building an HUSD Twitter Chat trophy, and designing table placards.  It was certainly one of those events that would not have been successful if any one individual had tried to do everything on their own – it was truly a team effort.

The Twitter Chat Social

Finally, the day arrived for our event.  We were excited and…nervous.  Well, at least I was nervous.  Maybe no one else was, but that just tends to be how I roll.  Personally, I was really hoping for a good turn out.  I was hoping that educators would attend this event and be excited to learn.  Fortunately – we had a great turn out!  I think we had about 20+ educators attend our Twitter Chat Social.  (Unfortunately, we lost a few due to the crazy rain and snow.)

As the educators entered the room, they were all directed towards different tables based upon their knowledge of Twitter.  These included tables for beginner, intermediate, and advanced Twitter users.  At the beginner tables, the educators were taught how to set up their Twitter accounts and the basics of Twitter (hashtags, mentions, etc.).  If they were getting the hang of the basics, they were also taught how to use TweetDeck to organize their hashtags, view notifications, respond to messages, etc.  At the intermediate tables, the educators were taught how to use TweetDeck, including adding columns and organizing their TweetDeck.  Since our group was very new to Twitter, we did not have anyone at the advanced table, which actually worked out very well.  It allowed our team to spend more time with the educators who were completely new to Twitter.

For the first half hour of the social, our team spent time working with the beginner and intermediate groups on understanding the fundamentals of Twitter.  During the last half hour, everyone participated in our first HUSD Live Twitter Chat.  By having our first chat in person, it allowed us to walk these 20+ educators through participating in a chat.  It was perfect!  We were able to answer so many questions and model how the chat can be used for professional development.  By the end of the event, everyone had a strong idea of how to participate in these chats, as well as the purpose behind it.

Just for fun…We also had a competition!  Educators that attended had a chance to win gift cards and the school with the most people in attendance won our Twitter Trophy.  I have to say, my school totally represented.  (Yay Cedar!)  We proudly took home the Twitter Trophy to our site!

Next Steps

Although we have only had one chat, I feel like it was a success and I am excited to start our “official” chat next Thursday.  We will have  to be consistent and keep encouraging others to join.  It can be very disheartening when others do not see the value or do not want to join, but I have come to the conclusion that, if only a few educators join, that is a few more educators that can be given new ideas to impact student learning.  In the end, the goal of our Twitter Chat is open dialogue across our district and encourage teachers to share ideas.  Personally, I truly believe that these kind of discussions can have an amazing impact upon educators and how they teach their students.

Our Twitter Chat is open to anyone to join – so, please! Join us on Thursdays at 7-7:30 PM PST for amazing dialogue amongst passionate educators!

P.S. – If you are looking to follow those amazing educators I keep talking about, check out our Twitter Team on Twitter (of course!): Jenn, Melissa, Amanda, Kelly, David, and Debra.  None of this would have happened without them!

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