Monday, August 13, 2012

From "Twitter-Taker" to "Twitter-Wins" : Get Connected!

My name is @TheresaShafer and I’m addicted to Social Media. Okay, not really, I actually take time to read, kayak, knit, walk our dog, hang out with friends, family and do many other things that don’t involve being online.
That being said, my affinity for using social media professionally, especially Twitter, began on November 10th, 2008. At the time, I was newly minted as Director of Technology for Rochester Community School Corporation in Indiana. I am not a “techie” by background, I am an elementary teacher with a strong background in integrating technology in my classrooms, my superintendent, Dr. Debra Howe,  felt that as we moved into a 1:1 environment with wall to wall project based learning via a partnership with The New Tech Network, we needed to focus on technology integration, unblocking sites and tools , while modeling how to incorporate them into the classroom authentically, not just in a lab setting.  
When I needed help in my new role, the first place I went was a tech directors listserv, my first post was something like “What are your policies around students using cell phones for learning?” Wow, I practically got hate mail! (In defense of that list, the voice has definitely evolved) but in 2008, I needed a more progressive go-to source for collaboration!
Enter Twitter.  Suddenly I’m a resource-finding genius for the PreK-12 staff. Need an interactive, collaborative timeline? Need a resource for royalty free music? How about an expert who will SKYPE with your class? I could make it all happen with a tweet or two and have an answer for them in less than 10 minutes. All of that was happening when I was simply a “Twitter-Taker”. At that point, I rarely answered others questions, I would give a re-tweet now and then, I certainly valued the tool, but I was a taker!
Fast-forward to present day. My twitter style is much more conversational. I tweet for New Tech Network, as well as continue to build my own PLN.  Every day I learn, find & share resources, have conversations, have my ideas challenged, keep in touch with schools, teachers & students from all over.
 I have many examples I could share around the power of using Twitter for both our professional development as well as for our students! Here are just a few examples:
  • #PBLChat is held every Tuesday at 9pm EST. Each week people connect, share ideas and continue to grow through this chat. One of my favorite aspects of this chat is that many times students join. Here is a storify that demonstrates the value of student voice throughout this chat. Check out the other archives of the chat as well.
  • Students at Sacramento New Tech High created a zombie movie, Insert Brains Here  on their own time, after tweeting their movie link, director Adam Rifkin re-tweeted their movie and gave them critical friends feedback. Invaluable input otherwise not available to these aspiring movie makers.
  • Students at Danville New Tech High in Illinois were exploring the novel My Bloody Life, teacher Adam Babcock tweeted that a showing of the documentary The Interrupters would have great impact for his students. The Interrupters responded, communicated via Twitter with students and culminated in an hour long amazing SKYPE session with Alex Kotlowitz. This tells the story.
  • Bloomington New Tech High utilized Twitter to connect with higher-ed partner, Indiana University and the world through their whole-school “Social Media for Global Change” project. They explored how to go from talking about global issues to taking action. Their story is here.
I could fill pages with all of the “Twitter wins” I’ve witnessed or even helped to facilitate. So why do we do this? We do this to connect our students & ourselves to ideas, resources and most importantly people that we may have never otherwise met. This Ignite Talk I delivered at our National Conference this summer tells in more detail why we should be building bridges with Twitter.
I’d love to hear from you! Please share your “Twitter Wins”!

This blog is cross-posted for #CE12 at

1 comment:

  1. Nice post. It's like we tell new teachers - it's ok to Lurk,Listen, and Learn. But soon you will find yourself discussing things with an education "star" or you'll be sharing things with someone miles (if not continents) away. As you always say - "Love it!"