Facilitating PD in my PJs: Moderating my First Twitter Chat

Tonight I had the pleasure of moderating my first Twitter chat: #1to1techat (1:1 teacher chat).  This has been my favorite Twitter chat, professional development, and weekly motivation for a long time now.  I was flattered when Shaelynn Farnsworth asked me if I wanted to moderate this week.

You can check out the archive of #1to1techat on 2/19 by clicking here.

Before I answered her, I got very nervous. What if I didn’t have a good answer to someone’s question? It only took me a few minutes to calm down and realize, she wasn’t asking me to be an expert at anything.  The beauty of a Twitter chat is that it is a bunch of educators and practitioners coming together to exchange their expertise, brainstorm and bounce ideas off one another. I’m sure someone learned a thing or two from me, but I bet I learned the most from everyone else!

If you’ve participated in a Twitter chat before, you get the benefits.  If not, don’t worry-they happen every week day, so you have time to see it for yourself.

#1to1techatA Twitter chat is the easiest, most affordable (free!) and convenient way to connect with other educators across your state, the country, and even the world.  You use a program like TweetDeck, or even the Twitter search feature, and follow the chat by setting up a column (or searching) the designated hashtag (in this case, it was #1to1techat) at a specific time.  They usually last an hour.  A moderator poses questions to facilitate the conversation, and you- as a participant- include the designated hashtag in all tweets to keep it in the stream for others to see and respond to.  Twitter chats are like the best faculty room/hallway conversations and brain storm session you’ve ever had… on steroids!

“…until you look at Twitter, you won’t realize the sheer volume of conversations that are happening without you… It was kind of scary and awe-inspiring at the same time: the education world had been going on without us, and it was going really fast.”
Jody Passanisi and Shara Peters

Some Tips for Moderators and Things I Learned Along the Way:

  • I invited some individuals, (Twitter) lists of people, and  other common hashtags/chats to join us. The more people that are involved-the more fulfilling the conversations!
  • I had my questions pre-typed and double checked for the 140 character limit. This made it a lot easier to copy & paste the questions from a Google Doc (which I was also able to easily share with Shaelynn for feedback prior to the chat).
  • I used TweetDeck on my Mac to keep track of everything going on during this fast paced chat. I had multiple columns dedicated to the chat based on replays, RTs, favorites, etc.
  • I kept a notepad and pen near by to jot down any new tools, sites and go-to gurus that I want to investigate after the chat. HAH! I did not write one thing down because I didn’t have time. I’ll have to go back through and re-read the tweets and check out the archive.
  • Chats go fast and it’s easy to lose track of which question you’re on or what the question is.  After participating in #NTchat (new teacher chat-another inspiring chat) a couple of times, I borrowed Lisa Dabbs idea of pointing out the question as the moderator like so,
    —>Q1: question here. #hashtag.”
  • As hard as it will be, pay attention to time. I got caught up in conversations and didn’t leave as much time for some questions as I’d have liked.

Overall, I’d say it went pretty well. Well after the hour was up, people hung around to keep talking and sharing ideas (no thanks to me, but rather the people who participated and shared their experiences and ideas). When is the last time you were a part of “sit & get” PD where teachers weren’t looking at the clocks and ready to race out the second it was over? When was the last time people were actually bummed PD was over already?!  All of these people will continue to check out the ideas and tools shared on Twitter and implement them into their own classrooms to improve their instruction/facilitation.

This is the power of twitter chats, my friends!

Have you participated in a Twitter chat before? What did you think? What tips do you have for moderators?  What are some of your favorite Twitter chats?

Tech To You Later!
-Katie

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