Twitter is an incredible tool for any classroom,if you know how to use it. Teachers like Karen Lirenman and Kathy Cassidy show us how even very young children benefit greatly from the safe online connections through their teachers. If you’re still not convinced read the 100 Ways to Use Twitter in the Classroom right here on Edudemic.
In my new book Reinventing Writing, I share many of the best practices for the effective classroom use of Twitter. Now that you want to use Twitter, here are the essential apps, hashtags, and tips to help you to work efficiently and get the most out of your tweets.
Make Checking Your Class Twitter Account Faster
Hootsuite allows you to easily see who replied, who direct messaged you and what is going on in your favorite hashtags in one glimpse. It also has the advantage of built in language translation, a feature which a similar tool, Tweetdeck, doesn’t have.
Easily Check Out People for Your Class to Follow
I also like that you can click on a person’s icon and quickly see who they are and how engaged they are online. Before adding a new person to your classroom’s follow list you want to make sure that they don’t tweet any NSFW content. (NSFW stands for “Not Safe for Work” and if you see something with that hashtag on Twitter – NEVER open it at school.)
Schedule Tweets and Retweets
You can also schedule tweets to go out at a certain time using Hootsuite.
Tweet with Groups
If you need to manage a class or school account with a team of people, you can set that up for a small fee, otherwise it is free. You can use it online or on any mobile device.
Create a Schedule for Your Tweets
While you can do this in Hootsuite, I prefer to use Buffer to create a sharing schedule on all of my social media sites because it will also post to Facebook, Linked In, Google Plus and more. (This is how I post school updates to Facebook from school since Facebook is blocked but I have to update the page.)
Many of your parents will be on Twitter or Facebook after school, so you might want some tweets to go out then. Or, if you’re trying to connect with another part of the world, let your tweets post when they are awake. (If you’re studying New Zealand, look at the time difference with kids on Time and Date and schedule your tweets accordingly.)
Don’t Overtweet; Spread Them Out
Don’t make the mistake of “overtweeting.” When you post many updates too close together, you crowd other people out of your friends’ timelines. This way, you can spread them out over the week. So, you can set as goal to share 10 great things that happen in your class every week and once or twice a week you can sit down with your students and write them all.
Tips for Writing Tweets Based on Social Media Research
Use Adverbs and Verbs: Studies have shown that tweets with more adverbs and verbs are shared more often. (What a great way to teach parts of speech.)
Use pictures: Tweets with pictures get shared twice as much as those without. One man studied his account and found that images were retweeted 128% more than videos. Take pictures or make graphics using Canva.
Write Short Tweets: Tweets with less than 100 characters get 17% higher engagement than longer tweets. I recommend you calculate your Twitter “magic number” to get your maximum. Take 140 and subtract the number of characters in your Twitter handle – 5 [room for the @ 2 spaces and RT] and that is the longest you want any Tweet to be. People are more likely to retweet if they don’t have to edit to make it fit. (121 is my magic number)
Use Hashtags (but no more than two!): If you include more than 2 hashtags people are far less likely to share (not the same with Instagram, by the way) and it is best to put your hashtag at the end.
Include Everyone: If you want everyone who follows you to see what you’re saying don’t start your tweet with the @ sign but move it later. When you start with a userid, only the other person, you and anyone that follows either of you will see the tweet.
Use the ‘Kid Card': If you tell famous people you’re a class or a teacher of a class, I’ve found that they are more likely to respond. If it helps your students, go for it.
Follow Others First: Follow at least 50 people or more so that you have people to talk to and so people you talk to know you’re legitimate.
Upload An Avatar: Because of Twitter spammers, many of us won’t talk to or connect with “new eggs” – the name give to those who have the default egg avatar.
Add Your Own Words To A Tweet: In my experience Modified Tweets or MT are more likely to get a response from the person you are resharing than a RT just because you’re adding thoughts.
Engage: Thank people who reshare your stuff and engage in conversation.
Promote Your Site Offline: Tell your parents and community about your Twitter account.
Read Up on Twitter: See Buffer’s Scientific Guide to Writing Great Tweets for more info. I find the most common 2 word and 3 word phrases in the most reshared posts to be helpful for crafting tweets that will get shared.
Hashtags are like a filing label and put all of the tweets with that tag in the same folder so you can see it at a glance when you look for it. Here are a few hashtags most useful to classrooms.
#mysteryskype – Hashtag to find other classrooms on Twitter.
#comments4kids - Created by @wmchamberlain – this strategy can help you get more comments for your public class blogs. You can also add your class blog to the database on their website – Give back by commenting and helping other teachers. Could you imagine if every preservice teacher in the world commented on four student blogs per week?
Your own – Create a hashtag for your classroom if you teach older students or college. George Couros has some great tips for this.
About the Author: Vicki Davis is the author of Reinventing Writing and the Cool Cat Teacher Blog. She is a full time classroom teacher in Camilla, Georgia and host of the bi-weekly show Every Classroom Matters on BAMRadio.
To learn more about Twitter in the classroom and the other 8 ways writing has been reinvented, check out my new book Reinventing Writing and some of these great posts on Edudemic: