Twitter: How teachers can use it as a PLN

by Luz Chavez

Part two of our series on teachers and social media. For Part 1 on LinkedIn, click hereInfographic source

Oh Twitter. Using it can be like flipping through radio stations on an old static-y radio. How do you cut through all the crappy commercials and music to get to a song you like? Streamline the noise by using it like Pandora. Let’s start with the basics first.

Twitter for teachers educational hashtagsFollow

The beauty of Twitter is that you can follow almost anyone. Twitter is all about connecting with strangers and exchanging news and ideas—all in 140 characters or less. Follow:

 Once you complete your profile and follow some users, Twitter recommends more people to follow.


Unless you make your tweets private, which defeats the purpose of social media, anyone with an internet connection can read what you tweet. So, be wise and professional. Tweet:

  • links to new apps or websites you are using with your students
  • links to resources that worked (or didn’t)
  • questions or requests for information (“Can anyone recommend resources for online primary sources?”)
  • links to important or breaking education news
  • links to online lesson plans that worked well
  • Retweet, where you share someone else’s tweet and insert a comment

Use the @

One of the wisest things I’ve heard from a social media guru is this: “I believe in the @.”

Tweet someone directly by beginning your tweet with the @ plus the user’s handle. Doing so is the difference between using Twitter as a newsstand and using it as an opportunity to engage with the people creating the stories.

There are a lot of educators out there like you in other states and countries, struggling with similar issues. What are their solutions? What solutions do you have that can help them? Using the @ can have a direct impact on how you do things in your classroom.


Okay, so now that the basics are out of the way, let’s talk about cutting through the noise.

  • Lists. Making lists is the best way to filter and organize tweets. In Twitter, you can make a list of users on a specific topic, such as elementary reading experts, IWB users, project-based learning experts, and so on. This way, when you check Twitter, you can hone in on specific topics.
  • Hashtags.  Hashtags are conversation labels. Add one at the end of your tweet to add to that conversation or search a hashtag to check out the latest news. There are tons of hashtags for education, such as #edchat and #edtech. Check out the poster for more.
  • Search. Twitter’s search engine allows you to search specific key words and save your searches. Then you can filter by top tweets or all tweets. This way you can always find exactly what you’re looking for.

Stay tuned for the next part in this PLN series: Keep your social networks organized in Hootsuite!

Luz Chavez is a consultant for Green Light Professional Development.

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