I have been fortunate enough to see many resources created by the thousands of willing educators using Twitter. However in my opinion there is a strong case for using hashtagging more systematically, so that we better organise and structure the resources, ideas and thoughts we all have.
A Twitter hashtag uses this symbol # folllowed by a unique word, abbreviation, acronym or phrase that defines the subject or theme of the tweet it is included in. It is a great way to filter and organise tweets so they are easily found by your network.
Simply put, the more we use tagging the easier it will be to find the most relevant tweets that share resources and advice etc.
One example of a resource created using hashtags is the sentence starter tweets I began under the tags #sentstartdecisions and #sentstarttree. I wanted to gather together ideas for sentence starters that can be used in the classroom. Each tag is specific to a topic or theme that gives other teachers a little bit of a focus for their contributions.
They have proven really successful, with nearly 100 contributions for just these two tags – a great resource for the classroom, to inspire planning and to engage young writers. However the tweets are not that useful as they are – indeed there is also the retweets that use the hashtag, so it is mildly littered with less than useful tweets. I have taken all of the sentence starters and created separate Google Docs presentations with them, a sentence starter per slide. I suspect that in this form it is more useful and accessible to teachers and students.
(Please feel free to edit the above presentations and add your ideas)
In fact by using the Twitter hashtag I have in effect added a step in the process. The Interesting Ways series is so successful because when users contribute they archive and extend a version of the presentation itself – there is no middle man, well there is me and I often add ideas on behalf of people, but there is no middle step, you add your idea and that’s it. Using a hashtag and then having to generate a presentation from that tag before it’s Twitter lifespan runs out is time consuming. (Tweets will eventually not appear in a hashtag search)
On the other hand, adding a sentence starter idea via Twitter is less clicks for a teacher using Twitter – they don’t have to go to Google Docs, add the slide etc. So it is easier to do it there and then and add the hashtag. In fact some school children were contributing with their teachers this week.
I believe it is important we encourage the alacritous members of our network in some form of creation. Whichever way you gather the ideas engage them in creation as much as conversation.