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:
- Explain what hashtags and Twitter chats are.
- Explain the benefits of participating in Twitter Chats with your PLN.
- Provide tips for getting the most out of Twitter Chats
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.
Have you ever tried creating #podcasts with your students? It’s easier than you might think. Check out our Edublogger’s guide to podcasting to go through all the basics! https://t.co/11Kf0QZG6B pic.twitter.com/JXIS2sVbNV
— edublogs (@edublogs) June 30, 2018
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:
Are you following the official hashtag for #ISTE18? Watch for behind the scenes content, tag your posts to share YOUR learning journey and find new connections! pic.twitter.com/V8UnYN2Wsu
— ISTE (@iste) June 22, 2018
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Participants respond by including the hashtag for the chat in their tweet (in this example all replies include the hashtag #moedchat).
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.
Participants’ replies normally start with an A and a number to indicate which question they are answering as well as the chat hashtag.
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.
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.
- Check out the Twitter chat calendar for educators.
- Explore Kasey Bell’s Educational Hashtag and Twitter Chat Database. You can submit your own hashtags too.
- Participate.com/chats is another place to find educational Twitter chats organized by your timezone.
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.
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.
This chat focuses on educational technology and is held every Monday at 7 PM EST. Find out more here.
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.
Educators discuss shaping the future of school. Takes place Thursdays at 7 PM. Find out more here.
A chat for those working with younger children. Held on Mondays 2:30 PM and 8 PM EST. Learn more here.
For special education (see more here). Takes place on Tuesdays from 9 PM EST.
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.
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.
We’d like you to add your voice and ideas to our ongoing conversation about PLNs by undertaking one or more of these challenges:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
472 thoughts on “Step 4: All About Hashtags And Twitter Chats”
I decided to take look at the #spedchat on twitter. My initial look into this twitter feed seemed to be teachers venting about a lot of social/political issues within education. This was interesting to see what issues and concerns real teachers have and have to deal with in their everyday practice.
I set up two TweetDecks, one for physical education and one for health. I is super easy and only took a couple of minutes. Now all the information is in one area.
#hiphoped has a weekly Twitter chat on Tuesday nights and I checked out the one from Oct. 11 about how to keep your head high in education. One of the tweets that really resonated with me was “a triple braided cord is not easily broken and like that is the concept of community.” Even though I am only student teaching at the moment, I have witnessed how important a strong community within the school is for the success of students and the well-being of teachers. This chat really confirmed the importance of a supportive teaching network to support the longevity of teachers.
I looked at #kinderchat. From browsing through the tag, I noticed that there is quite a bit of discussion with arts and crafts such as one with a “fire truck” made out of snacks. There’s even a short thread where the educators talked about how toys have more than one purpose other than simply being “fun” for kids.
While looking through the Twitter chat conversation I went on #kinderchat. I discovered that many educators in younger grade levels are already connected on Twitter and this chat. It was interesting to see lesson ideas through pictures. I would definitely benefit from these ideas from educators. A specific resource I found interesting and would definitely use is a poem about calming down and reducing anxiety.
I decided to check out #spedchat because I want to see what people in the special education field talk about. I found a lot of useful resources such gotlearning, and useful pedagogies. Gotlearning is a resource that is a useful resource where student show and talk about their personal growth. In addition, I have also come across shared articles and lesson ideas that I can use in my classroom.
I looked into #ditchbook in the Twitter Chats. I saw many innovative ideas on how to use traditional technology resources. I saw something about a virtual field trip, ways to spice up a template for google slides and exel, and fun ways to use google forms for an assignment.
I looked into #ditchbook for the Twitter Chat. I saw many ideas from people such as virtual field trips, google templates for slides and exel, and a lot of ideas on fun ways to spice up a google form.
Task #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.
In #spedchat, I saw special educators posting pictures of activities they did with their students (i.e., painting pumpkins), promotions for discussions meant for special educators, and even a Google Chrome extension meant to simplify the browser for people on the Autism spectrum. I thought it was really cool- especially the extension.
I looked up #teacherchat and #middleschool chat, which was full of helpful information and tools. There was material, lessons, classroom decor, ideas, and so much more to scroll through. There is also stories that are relatable and me see that others are going through the same stuff as me.
I went into a deep dive exploring the hashtag #Latinateacher. I found so many different teachers and inspiration stories that left me feeling warm and fuzzy inside. As a Latina teacher myself who did not have many Latinx teachers growing up, I love to see the representation grow. The U.S. Department of Education tweeted a quote a couple weeks ago saying, “The first time I had a Latina teacher was the first time I had a teacher that spoke like me, looked like me, & had stories like mine. I did not have this experience until I was in community college.” This spoke to me in so many different.
I joined the Kinderchat Twitter chat. What I learned from participating in the chat is a lot of ideas and resources. I discovered this idea to use Froot Loops cereal to make a Rangoli to celebrate Diwali which is a Hindu holiday. The teacher posted examples and they were really pretty and colorful! I also found some resources on where to get free books for your students and your classroom. I thought this was a really great resource to find because as a first year teacher, your classroom library isn’t going to be that big unless you spend a lot of money out of pocket.
I had no idea that there was such a thing as Twitter Chats. To me, these chats are like conferences, but better. I think it is awesome that they exist because sometimes educators are unable to attend conferences for many reasons. Also, not everyone is able to share in conferences because there are just so many people. These Twitter Chats allow everyone to share their thoughts and opinions which is amazing! Also, those that missed it can still go see what was said and also share. A tip I have for someone new to hashtags is to keep clicking. If you do not know what to look for, start with a broad topic and you will find other hashtags you may be interested in.
Oh my gosh…I’ll be bookmarking this page for future reference. I had no idea how many ways hashtags could be used, or how their use could be analyzed. And I certainly wasn’t aware of options like Twitterchats as venues for connecting with educators. It’s a lot to take in, to be honest, but hopefully with time, some parts of it will become more second-nature.
The chat that I decided to join is the #LDchat. This chat is geared to learning disabilities and providing tips and suggestions for teachers who have students with learning disabilities. One thing that I learned while examining this chat is that it is important to “show students what to study and how to study it.” This means that it is necessary to teach students how to distinguish really important information from less important information. In order to do this, it is pertinent to give students explicit instruction about information and materials that they should focus on and study.
I looked at #ditchbook. From my browsing I saw educators talking about some technological resources that are helpful. I saw tweets about google slides templates, google forms, and virtual field trips.
I looked at #kinderchat and loved it. I mostly read from their discussion on Monday where the discussed the use of play in the lessons. There was discussion on how the older grades should use the same value of play when it comes to learning to promote higher thinking, independence, and problem solving.
I love seeing the theory of loose part play in this chat. I came across multiple images of random objects and teachers saying kindergartners may play if something is in their reach.
I set up a TweetDeck and used the instructional video posted above to help me. I played around with different # to follow and found some that I liked the best after some trial and error. I think playing around with it for few minutes helps you get the gist of it pretty quickly. I’m interested to find more topics to follow
You are able to get an idea of what other classrooms look like and what resources they have in their classrooms. You are able to ask questions and other educators can respond to your questions. When using twitter chats you get so many new ideas, resources and so much more about everything that has to do with teaching.
When looking at the twitter chats, it reminded me of a twitter chain, it was a little hectic for my personal liking but I found that there was good information, my only issue is anyone can participate in the chats, which can lead to false information and people who aren’t in the education field, which is fine but as a teacher and for my PLN’s I would want to hear from other teachers who are in the classroom and who have had experience, not parents, principals, other professionals who think they know about teaching etc. Teachers are the only people I want to get information from.
In the #kinderchat , I thought the conversation around Loose Play was very interesting. I liked how one person talked about how she carefully curates the toys in the room so that even though the children are loose playing, she still has some structure involved.
When I searched #education in twitter, there were several different chats that popped up. Some examples are videos about interior angles, images and directions for making cookies, a video about the “Top 10 Universities” as well as images of students working in a classroom. The shows that one simple hashtag or “chat” can bring up so many different topics and ideas.
I looked into #kinderchat, the little chat that could, and it looks like they’ve written a book that’s apparently it’s a friendly guide to the early education classroom! They cover topics from setting up a classroom to routines to actively connecting with parents.
#edchat has equal parts useful resources/threads, self promotion, and divisive rhetoric. I do like how twitter’s search function works, however. Filtering within #edchat is possible and I found a lot of good free resources for teachers, specifically technology.
Links and information for teachers were abundant when I googled #teacherchat. I noticed that the comments on these tweets were primarily made by teachers chatting with one another about educational issues. I think using twitter chat, you may find buddies on the internet very quickly.
Side note: Sometimes, people do not always agree with you
#scienceed pulls up some really great resources!
In browsing #langchat I found a thread started by @alenord about using “chat mats” to give students a variety of language options for creating conversation. In this case, the chat mat listed adjectives for describing personality, character, and more. Students then had the language at their fingertips to describe themselves and their classmates in Spanish.
Just by typing in #math you can find a countless amount of helpful accounts and websites. One of my hashtags that I use is #mathiscool and #mathisfun. By using these hashtags I have found some cool activities through those hashtags. Twitter has been such a helpful friend to me and my classroom
I found many educators with whom I agreed with their beliefs on education throughout the module ,that I now can follow on twitter.
I chose task 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.
The Twitter chat that I searched was #PhysEdU. I enjoyed looking through this chat/hashtag because it is directly related to the content that I teach. I appreciated how so many physical educators of every grade level shared not only activity or skill development ideas but also a short video or graphic to help further my understanding of the idea. Being able to see what other educators are doing “in action” is extremely helpful for building my curriculum. One of my favorite examples is how one teacher developed a game of human foosball with minimal equipment in a smaller space to practice ball control!
What is your favorite Twitter chat?
I looked at the #nt2t chats and saw multiple educators prompting and responding to discussion posts about classroom management, as well as some other chats tagging in the #nt2t chat threads in order to collaborate and provide further resources. I did respond to one of the classroom management prompts about getting to know your students interest and it was thought-provoking to see how others engaged with their students.
I liked what #edchat had to say about the emotional health of a classroom. I believe that is really important to assess so that students are being properly nurtured in their classroom. #Edchat also mentions tips to create a safe space for students in their classroom for the upcoming year.
I searched for online chat using the #edchat search and I found a wealth of teaching information that was very helpful. I found great resources related to class procedures. I found videos that were helpful and even funny. I noticed that I found a good amount of information on mental health practices. One great resource that I found was called 8 steps for active listening. Teachers shared struggles, infographics, websites, and even links to other chats!
I had previously set up TweetDeck, but it had been a long time since I had utilized it. This gave me an excellent opportunity to clean it up by removing out-of-date hashtags and adding a couple of new ones. From the options given, I chose #edtechchat to observe. I like the threads on the beginning of the school year. I also added a hashtag more geared to my subject area. I chose #iteachmath to add to my TweetDeck. I found a post about using Legos to teach math and another one on using tangrams in Desmos. I am interested in checking out both of those further.
Setting up a tweetdeck was super easy after watching the videos in this article. Perhaps the hardest part was choosing a hashtag. As with anything that is new, you have to spend a little time exploring to really learn what to do.
The Twitter chat that I searched was #edtalk, and I found a lot of interesting resources! The most interesting one that I looked over was an event being held by Girls 4 Tech, where they focused on women in STEM. This is incredibly cool to me because I have always believed that women are often not encouraged to pursue STEM careers, and an event like this gives younger girls in school positive role models to look up to in STEM positions!
I searched #edchat and found a great info graphing called “15 Rules of Great Teaching”. What I really enjoyed about it was that it was not a bunch a complex “must do” rules, but instead some great reminders and phrases of encouragement for teachers. For example, one of them was about loving your content. Having passion for what you teach is so important and students can definitely see the difference when someone is not passionate about what they teach.
I decided to do a search within reading. This brought up a wealth of information, including numerous additional sites to follow. My emphasis is on children, so, naturally I gravitated towards sites about Dr. Seuss and went from there. It is easy to enter a keyword and go from there.
I looked through #edchat and found some useful resources for special education. I was able to find a twitter account I think I would follow after more investigation. #LeadInclusion
I searched #TeacherChat on twitter and found a lot of conversation starters throughout the results. Discussions like “How do you plan to ‘level up’ your teaching in 2020” encourage growth and reflection within the community.
I searched #teacherchat and it was filled with links and resources for teachers. I noticed that these tweets had comments on them filled with teachers discussing with each other topics related to teaching. I feel that you could quite easily make internet friends using twitter chat.
While browsing on twitter and searching around I found out that you can actually create your own twitter space. A space on twitter is where you can create your own voice chat group and you can make the topic be about whatever you would like. For example, if I wanted to make an elementary educators space I could and I could set up a time for people to go into the space and we could all chat, collaborate, and help one another and gain new resources and knowledge.
I look through #ditchbook and there was a lot of information that was provided. There was one that stood out to me that was called a retrieval wheel. Students spin the wheel, it will land on a topic, and the student(s) will have to recite as much information as they can about the topic, the team with the most correct information wins. I thought this could be used as a fun review game in the classroom.
Just recently, @teacher2teacher posted on twitter a diagram talking about advice on making mid-year judgments. It was a very interesting short read with 7 ways of advice. One that stood out to me was number 6, to always keep the students’ hearts in mind when making any decision in your classroom. There are also so many awesome words of solid advice on their whole twitter page.
Under the #EDchat hashtag, there was lots of information all across the board. The thread included graphics, personal stories, teacher struggles and more. It touched my heart reading all of the things that teachers mutually care about.
I looked into the #edchat conversation on Twitter and found an infographic with class discussion techniques. The infographic claims that the main factor in a good classroom discussion technique is “no hiding within the group, no overpowering.” I think that this is a good thing to strive for when creating a good class discussion technique because it ensures that all students participate. The infographic then goes on to explain 8 different possible techniques to use.
I read through the twitter chat #ditchbook as I work in a classroom where we don’t use textbooks. The first thing that immediately drew my attention was “Hyperdocs”. I am a huge google fan, so seeing something else useful in google drive immediately roped me in. Hyperdocs are a “hub” for each lesson. They outline the flow of the lesson, link everything the students need and keep everything contained in one place. This seems like an amazing idea, especially with all of the absences in school lately with the pandemic. I also have some classes that require a rigid structure and expectations to keep them on task. I currently use a google sheet calendar to organize the day, but this level of detail and this organization would be great for students to work in a self-paced fashion and know exactly what the expectations for that day are.
The Twitter chat for #NT2T was insightful and intriguing because I was able to see many different viewpoints on just one topic. Each participant was respectful with each other, which is hard to come by. Just by reading the conversation, I can hear the frustrations these educators are going through because the same things are also happening in the school I work at.