Welcome to the fourth step in our free professional learning series on building your PLN.

In our previous step, we introduced you to Twitter and explained how people use it to build their PLN.

The aim of this step is to:

  1. Explain what hashtags and Twitter chats are.
  2. Explain the benefits of participating in Twitter Chats with your PLN.
  3. Provide tips for getting the most out of Twitter Chats

What Are Hashtags?

Before we begin explaining Twitter chats, we should break down hashtags which are an important part of Twitter.

A hashtag is written with the “#” hash (pound) sign and is used to index keywords or topics on Twitter.

Putting a hashtag symbol (#) in front of a relevant keyword or phrase helps to categorize the tweet and make it easier for people to find.

Hashtags can be used anywhere in a tweet. They can replace a word as demonstrated below, or just be tacked on to the end of a tweet.

When you click on the hashtagged word or phrase (e.g. #podcasts) a new page will load with tweets from everyone who is tweeting about podcasts — whether or not you follow those people.

Note that hashtags can’t have any spaces so math chat becomes #mathchat. 

What Hashtag Should I Use?

You can use any hashtag you like, however, if it’s not being used by others then people won’t be following it or searching for it. So to get the most out of hashtags, you should usually use ones that others are using.

Note that hashtags are not created by Twitter, but by Twitter users. Often if there is an event going on, the organizers will publish the official hashtag on the conference materials and social media.

For example, when ISTE 2018 was happening, ISTE tweeted out the official hashtag:

Following Hashtags

You can type a hashtagged keyword in the search bar on Twitter to discover tweets and accounts based on your interests. There are easier ways to follow hashtags so you don’t have to keep running the same search.

TweetDeck is commonly used to follow hashtags that you want to keep track of regularly (the Twitter search bar is fine if you just want to do one-off searches).

Check out this video by Jennifer Fox to find out how to set up TweetDeck to follow hashtags.

Starting Your Own Hashtag

Hashtags are community driven and anyone can start one. Maybe you want to start your own hashtag with a group of people from your PLN who have a similar interest.

Say you’ve been talking to a group of teachers about using greenscreen technology and you thought you could use the hashtag #greenscreen101 to keep the conversations going.

To avoid using a hashtag that is already being used, it’s advisable to search for that hashtag first. Things can get confusing if your hashtag is being used by another group!

Simply search in the Twitter search box for your preferred hashtag or use a free tool like hashtagify.me.

Here I can see that #greenscreen101 hasn’t be tweeted in a number of years, so it would be fine to use.

Twitter search for #greenscreen101 Edublogs

Fun Idea: Use Your Own Hashtag To Find Your Tweets

Kathleen Sokolowski has shared a handy tip about creating your own personal hashtag in order to find tweets that you want to remember or come back to.

Read all about it in her article on creating a Twitter Digital Notebook. 

If you are like me and frequently read articles and posts that resonate, challenge you or speak to you in some way, consider creating a hashtag for yourself! When you want to find your tweet again, just search for your hashtag in the search bar and be sure to click “Latest” to see all your tweets.

Finding Popular Hashtags

Maybe you’re a teacher tweeting about the arts. You’d like to include a hashtag in your tweet to reach a larger audience but you’re not sure what the popular hashtags are in that niche.

You might have seen #arted used but you’re not sure if this is a popular choice.

A tool like hashtagify.me can be really handy (the basic features are free).

When I type in #arted I can see that the popularity is 42.7 (on a scale of 1-100). It also shows me a wordcloud of related hashtags. The bigger the hashtag, the more popular it is. #artsed (with an s) stands out.

#arted on hashtagify.me

Clicking on #artsed in the word cloud shows me that the popularity is higher (51) and I can also see some related hashtags I could explore as well.

#artsed hashtagify.me

Popular Hashtags In Education

Jerry Blumengarten (aka Cybrary Man) is well known for curating hashtags used in education. You can find the complete list on his site. 

Ryan O’Donnell has also used information from Cybrary Man’s site and the November Learning team to curate a list of popular hashtags in education.

Find the original image here. 

64 Twitter Hashtags for Teachers Edublogs

Trending Hashtags

Trending Topics on Twitter example
Examples of trending topics

When you’re on your Twitter home feed, you might have noticed “Trends for you” on the left hand side. This is located in the search tab of the Twitter mobile app.

Trending topics are a mix of hashtags and regular phrases that show what’s currently being tweeted about most. They’re tailored for you based on your geographical location and who you follow.

You can click on these trends to find out more and join in the conversation by leaving a reply or tweeting something of interest.

Like a lot of aspects of Twitter and social media, clicking on trending topics can take you down a rabbit hole. So be warned! 😉

What Are Twitter Chats?

As we just saw, hashtags make it easier to search and follow the Twitter conversations on specific topics at any time. Sometimes people gather around to discuss a specific topic at a specific time. This is a Twitter chat and a hashtag is the glue that brings the Twitter chat together.

We’ll now take a look at how Twitter Chats work and break down how you can get involved.

If you’d prefer to watch a video to learn, this is a great short overview of Twitter chats by The University of Nebraska Medical Center.

Twitter chats are one of the best ways for educators to connect with other educators, exchange and debate ideas, ask for help and provide assistance, find new resources and take action.

Twitter chats are where educators meet at a set “meeting time” to engage in conversations by sending out tweets on a topic using a designated hashtag during a specific time on a certain day. Most Twitter chats last for an hour.

During the Twitter chat, you’ll see educators tweet their responses in real time. The best way to participate in a Twitter chat is to set up a search for the hashtag in TweetDeck, Hootsuite, or in the Twitter app on your mobile device.

Check out Laura Moore’s video which explains how to take part in a Twitter chat using TweetDeck. The video goes for 25 minutes because Laura has recorded herself participating in an actual chat. You can just watch the first few minutes if you just want to learn how to get set up for a chat. 

Participating In A Twitter Chat

Twitter chats normally have a moderator (or several) who guide the conversation during the chat using a Question and Answer format.

Prior to the Twitter chat, the moderators decide on the topic of the chat and organize a series of 5-10 questions to ask during the chat.

Below is an example of a Twitter chat using #moedchat (Missouri Educators Chat).

The chat normally starts by introducing the topic and asking participants to introduce themselves.

Welcome to chat

Participants respond by including the hashtag for the chat in their tweet (in this example all replies include the hashtag #moedchat).

Recipients respond

Once introductions are finished the moderators will commence guiding the conversation using their questions. Each question is normally starts with a Q and a number to indicate which question it is.

Moderator question

Participants’ replies normally start with an A and a number to indicate which question they are answering as well as the chat hashtag.

Responses

Twitter chats are a conversation — you can add your extra thoughts to anyone’s answer by replying to their tweet and including the hashtag. Provided the hashtag is included, everyone in the Twitter chat will see your reply.

Conversations

I Can’t Keep Up With A Twitter Chat

Tweets can fly fast in a Twitter chat! Don’t worry if you can’t keep up.

Here are some tips to help:

  • Archives: Moderators often archive or curate the information and resources shared during the chat session. This used to be through tools like Storify but this service has closed. Sometimes a tool like Wakelet is now used or there will be a specific website for a Twitter chat.
  • Be prepared: Moderators often publish the questions that will be asked in advance so you can think ahead. You can also get your Tweetdeck set up before a chat so you’re ready to go.
  • Be selective: You don’t need to answer every question. Twitter chats are very flexible. They often go for an hour but no one minds how long you stay or how involved you are.
  • Follow up: If you were interested in what someone had to say but you found the tweets were flying too fast, don’t worry. You can resume the conversation with people at any time.
  • Bookmark: A relatively new feature of Twitter for mobile is Bookmarks. You can bookmark Tweets you’d like to refer to later. Tap the share icon next to a tweet and select Add Tweet to Bookmarks. Tap Bookmarks from your profile icon menu to access your saved tweets.
  • Like: If you like a tweet by pressing on the heart, you can go back and look at these later. Just click on the Likes from your profile icon menu.
  • Lurk: It’s fine to just watch a few chats before you decide to contribute. The first question is generally an introduction so don’t be afraid to say it’s your first time participating either.

Popular Twitter Chats

Education chats generally occur in the evenings each week, either during school terms or throughout the whole year. Most chats focus on a particular topic, subject area, theme, or year level.

Some states or countries have their own chats, but anyone is welcome to take part in any chat.

Finding Twitter Chats

Now you know about Twitter chats it’s time to find one and take part!

There are many places to find chats that interest you and work with your schedule.

Examples Of Twitter Chats

Here are a few examples of popular Twitter Chats to help you get started:

All the times listed below are in Eastern Standard Time (USA).

  • Use this time zone converter to help figure out what time this will be for you.
  • Double check the time by clicking on the links as things can change with daylight savings etc!
  • Please let us know if we have any of the information below incorrect.

#edchat

The “original” education chat. This one is very busy and fast paced. Takes place on Tuesdays 12 PM and 7 PM EST. Learn more here.

#edtechchat

This chat focuses on educational technology and is held every Monday at 7 PM EST. Find out more here.

#NT2T

NT2T stands for “New Teachers to Twitter”. Held Saturdays at 8 AM. For more information, click here. Tip: There is also a Twitter mentor program for newbies.

#whatisschool

Educators discuss shaping the future of school. Takes place Thursdays at 7 PM. Find out more here.

#kinderchat

A chat for those working with younger children. Held on Mondays 2:30 PM and 8 PM EST. Learn more here.

#spedchat

For special education (see more here).  Takes place on Tuesdays from 9 PM EST.

#ditchbook

Created by Ditch That Textbook author Matt Miller. The chat focuses on innovative teaching ideas. Takes place on Tuesdays from 9 PM EST. Find out more.

Conclusion

Twitter might feel overwhelming but if you give it a chance for a few weeks it will really start to make sense and you will see how it’s so popular with educators.

You’ll also notice that Twitter chat hashtags are often used outside of the designated time frame to share resources, ask questions and help each other. The hashtag becomes a community!

If you need help at any time you’re on Twitter, just tweet one of our team e.g. @edublogs, @kathleen_morris, @Edublogs_Eugene, or @suewaters.

Your Task

We’d like you to add your voice and ideas to our ongoing conversation about PLNs by undertaking one or more of these challenges:

  1. Browse: Do a Twitter search of one of the Twitter chats and check out the information shared during the chat. For example, tell us about any resources, or ideas, you discovered reading through the Twitter chat conversation.
  2. TweetDeck: Set up TweetDeck and add a column for a hashtag you want to follow. Leave a comment on this post to share how you went setting up TweetDeck and share your tips for other newbies on using TweetDeck.
  3. Join a Twitter Chat. Leave a comment on this post to share what you learned from participating in the Twitter chat. Tell us about any resources, or ideas, you discovered during the chat.
  4. Blog Post: Write a blog post about your initial impressions of Twitter Chats. You could include — what you see as obstacles to taking part in Twitter chats, what you have learned from participating in a Twitter chat, or tips for someone new to hashtags or Twitter chats. Don’t forget to leave a comment here with the link to your post.

Also feel free to leave a comment to ask any questions or share your tips.

How to leave a comment: Scroll down to find the comment box. Write your comment, then enter your name and email address (email addresses are not published). Enter the anti-spam word. Press submit and we will moderate your comment ASAP.

414 thoughts on “Step 4: All About Hashtags And Twitter Chats

  1. I created my Tweetdeck and I’m amazed at how much information popped up. I can see myself researching and reading for hours! I also see the benefits of hashtags. It’s not just for a nice post or making a statement, but it can be to connect with like-minded people and to gain great information.

  2. When I first started Twitter I didn’t like their chat it was a little complicated at first but as time went on I began to like it.

  3. Prompt #4- My initial response to Twitter Chats was that they are interesting and sort of like newsletters. I think it is really interesting and can be really helpful if you are cultivating your personal learning network

  4. Since I already have a twitter account, I went to the chat under #edchat. The first thing that came up under the hashtag was interventions for students that struggle with time management. In the future I can use the conversation under this hashtag to help with the students in my classroom who may be struggling. I also saw many inspiration quotes which are always welcome to me and my classroom.

  5. I was browsing through the hashtag #ntchat for new teachers since I figured that would be the most relevant and helpful for me. I ended up seeing a lot of tweets from Todd Finley who is an Associate Professor at East Carolina University. What drew me to his tweets was this graphic organizer/image called a Brain Blast where a specific topic is centered in the middle and there are broken down steps, methods, and tips and tricks that I appreciated. For example, there are several Brain Blasts about how to navigate assigning readings for homework, the topic about inclusion, how to implement closure activities, and so much more! I think Todd Finley also is the creator of these images, so I decided to follow him to see all the other ones he has created so far.

  6. In setting up my TweetDeck I wanted to put up hashtags that I thought would be beneficial to me. The first three I put up where #edchat (to get me used to Twitter chats), #edtechchat (to be on top of new technology useful for teaching), and #history (as a lover of history). The main focus I had when setting up my TweetDeck was on two things. The first was putting up hashtags that would hopefully expand my PLN. The second was putting hashtags that will focus on my interest as an educator.

  7. While scrolling through the “edchat” I noticed that in the beginning of the chat it gave different mindful checkups or activities that you could do in your classroom or by yourself. Also, there were some people that gave out different lesson plan ideas.

  8. I started a TweetDeck. I really like how you can set up multiple columns in it, being able to keep up with different pages of information. I followed a hashtag and was also able to go to explore and find things in relation to what I was actually looking to search. As a result, I think this is a good option to have clear and organized streams of information on the same screen.

  9. I decided to search the Twitter chat #kinderchat. This chat will be very useful to me now and in the future because since being placed in a kindergarten classroom I’ve gained a new desire to teach the younger grades. And I think this chat would significantly help me know what to expect as well as how to prepare should I ever become a kindergarten teacher in the future. There is loads of information on there describing the experiences of both lower and upper-grade teachers and teachers share activities, resources, and supplies through pictures and chats.

  10. I decided to check out the #spedchat hashtag and found it to be quite informative. Important discussions and videos were a part of this thread and talked about certain matters that special education teachers are facing in their classrooms. The thread also included resources like a public profile called Remind that has motivational quotes for parents and teachers of special education students.

  11. Wow, Twitter is making a lot more sense for me! I never understood what hashtags were and I definitely didn’t know about Twitter chats. I think hashtags are a great way to amplify a post and reach the right audience, and Twitter chats are a great way to connect with others that are speaking about the same thing(s) you are.

  12. I scrolled through the #edtechchat. Different workshops including: how to use keyboard shortcuts, starting points for teaching media literacy in the classrooms to prevent cyber bullying, “how-tos” for different apps, etc.

  13. After browsing through twitter I noticed the huge usage of hashtags. I can see how knowing how to hashtag effectively is effective for professionals. It was also very helpful to use the hashtags to look up different topics. Its also very helpful to find new ways to keep the students engaged.

  14. The chat that I decided to investigate was #NT2T. A lot of the information included live seminars in person or online and a lot of advice to teachers in urban areas. This is something that directly applies to me because I am interested in gaining as much advice and experience prior to beginning my future as an educator. Additionally, I plan to work in an urban setting and some of the advice and experiences I read are things that will more than likely apply to me.

  15. I set up a tweetdeck and then bookmarked it in my “teacher resources” bookmark folder – we all need one of these. I followed #edchat, #engchat, #ellchat, and #literacy to start. The last three are particular to my content and classroom needs. I have a large ELL population at my school and am in desperate need of strategies for teaching ELLs. While looking through that chat, I found some other accounts to follow and what seems like a valuable resource for identifying academic word finder that lets you input up to 2,000 words at a time and you can select grade levels. I’m very excited about this tool and look forward to finding many more.

  16. I set up my tweetdeck and I did the hashtag #firstyearteachers, I looked at the video provided and just followed it step by step.

  17. I looked up #kinderchat and was immediately interested in all the different things people were posting. I found looking through the pictures people posted about crafts they’re doing with their students, or even pictures of their classroom setups. Twitter chat’s are a great and quick way to find numerous classroom activities and lots of advice from educators who have lots of experience.

  18. Hashtags are what make twitter trendy. When you put a hashtag on your tweet, people can click on that and see other tweets with that same hashtag. This is how trending tweets start. Once one person creates a hashtag, other people can use that hashtag in theirs and see what else is happening or what others have to say about that topic.

  19. Prompt 1: What was something you found out by doing a Twitter search for one of the Twitter chats? I did a Twitter search for #whatisschool. One great idea I found during the search was to start out new units by asking students about what questions they might have and to try and get input from students on how they would like to learn. I think this could be really useful in getting more engagement and helping students to feel empowered in their learning.

  20. I looked into #kinderchat which is a hashtag used especially for teachers who work with younger children. As I was scrolling, I noticed a variety of activities students could do. I also was reading the comments on a video that someone posted of an Architect Simon Nicholson “How Not to Cheat Children: The Theory of Loose Parts Play.” It talks about the importance of constructive play with bigger blocks or sands and the development and improvement of motor skills, sharing with others, and being able to experiment with blocks, mixing sands, and more.

  21. I learned a little bit more about how hashtags can be used. I browsed through the general #edchat and found some interesting posts. I just looked through the most recent content and found an interesting article on 5 creative ideas for formative assessments, that I would definitely like to try. http://snip.ly/6bjdn

  22. I browsed the twitter chat #kinderchat. I found a post by @PaulEnderle Linking an article on verywellfamily.com about ways to build more self-esteem in your child. I also found ideas of fall activities you can do with your students. Including painting pumpkins, the stress free kids way by Lori Lite @Streefreekids.

  23. Hashtags are a great resource to use on Twitter to find many different things. I am a physical education major and just searched the hashtag “physicaleducation” and multiple pages and discussions popped up! I found some great videos and activities to use when I am a teacher! Hashtags are definitely a resource that I can use as I get into my profession as an educator!

  24. I searched #ditchbook and found many resources to use in the classroom. One that stood out to me- which I think will benefit older students is a writing feedback key. It is feedback given by a teacher to students. The student can scan a QR code to visit any hyperlink resource to help them revise their work! All of it is in one place and has 8 steps students can follow to better their work. If the story needs a better ending, step 5 provides a hyperlink to review those ideas.

  25. The biggest takeaway that I had from joining a Twitter Chat was that they can be a mixed bag. What I mean from that is that the discourse within the Twitter Chat sometimes doesn’t pertain to the topic that the chat was created for, and more importantly, the information shared within the chat isn’t accurate or reliable, and instead serves to make it more difficult to learn about and inform yourself about a particular issue or topic. One helpful resource that I discovered from a twitter chat was a resource where you could see areas in which drinking water was contaminated in order to determine if the drinking water you were consuming was at risk, which I thought was helpful, but alongside that resource were ideas and information from other people about the issue which was inaccurate and unhelpful, so I would recommend practicing caution when using this feature.

  26. After browsing through twitter on @EdTech_Heather page, I came across a video of her students using Adobe Express. They were able to create a small video clip by story telling. I am assuming their assignment was to create a small movie clip to tell a story. I thought this was so creative and it could be super fun for students to use their own ideas and create something of their own.

  27. I set up TweetDeck, and I followed #EdChat and #NT2T. It’s really simple and straightforward. As soon as you go to the website, it’ll connect you with your twitter account, and then it will ask if you want to add a column. After that, you can search up anything you want to keep track of.

  28. I checked out the most recent iteration of #NT2T. It seems a lot more formal and stuffy than my personal use of twitter. It’s also pretty difficult to follow along since respondents don’t always reply to or quote the tweet that contains the question, choosing instead just to include the hashtag. I don’t think I’m likely to take part in many synchronous twitter chats.

  29. Since I already have a twitter account, I had went to the chat under #edchat. The first thing that came up under that hashtag was interventions for students that struggle with time management. I can see that I can use the conversation under this hashtag to help with any assistance I may need in my classroom. I also had seen inspiration quotes that we all may need in our life at some points.

  30. I joined the #sschat and I found tons of teachers and others posting primary resource documents from their lives, pictures from lessons they have conducted, discussions about the world, and tons of lesson plan ideas across all grade levels. There was an emphasis on teaching about diversity across all time eras which I appreciated. There is also a wide range of social studies subjects available to browse.

  31. I searched #ditchbook on Twitter and discovered that one of the ways that educators are increasing student engagement is through creative and interesting PowerPoint templates. These templates range from themed, like slides for Halloween or even an online ‘haunted house’ that students navigate online, and social media inspired formats, like a Snap Chat ‘would you rather’ setup.

  32. I scrolled through quite a few of the hashtags and chats mentioned above. I was able to gain a lot of knowledge and resourceful ideas and Project based learning which is something I am really interested in incorporating into my future classroom.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *