For the past year, I have received the most constant and inspiring professional development of my life and right in the comfort of my own home (and sometimes from a good travel spot). How? Right on Twitter and all thanks to marvelous hashtags. Therefore, I am going to dedicate this post to the word ‘hashtag’, not only because it is the 2012 word of the year, but because it has done so much for me as an educator.
What are Twitter hashtags
According to the American Dialect Society, the word ‘hashtag’ refers to the practice used on Twitter for marking topics or making commentary by means of a hash symbol (#) followed by a word or phrase. In other words, hashtags are words, phrases or acronyms, preceded by the pound sign (#), that represent a topic around which people can share information and have conversations.
For example, go to Twitter.com/search (even if you are not on Twitter). In the search-box type “#langchat” (the most popular hashtag for the Twitter foreign language community).
What do you see?… Simply amazing huh! Do you think you would find that kind of detailed information, resources and/or ideas in one spot elsewhere? Don’t think so! And the best part is, they are all free and shared by real live foreign language teachers like you and I.
Now, let me explain the results below, which came up when I did a “langchat” search on Sunday January 27, 2013 (click on the images to see them larger).
To begin with, all those faces you see there are from amazing foreign language teachers who connect through Twitter to share and grow. So, if you are already on Twitter and are looking for who to follow, look no further.
Now, depending on the day you do your search, you will notice that some posts sound like an actual conversation (chat). Well, the reason is because on Thursdays at 8:00pm EST foreign language teachers get together on Twitter to have educational chats about specific foreign language and education topics. Take a look at the chat below. It is about last Thursday’s #LangChat on the topic “What role should the textbook play in the World Language Classroom?”.
The rest of the entries are from educators sharing ideas, resources, tools, connecting and asking for help or ideas. Such as the ones shown below:
Using Twitter hashtags
Previously we established that to use Twitter as a research tool, you do not need to even join Twitter. All you need to know is the hashtag relevant to what you are looking for and voila! However, if you want to join in the conversation and ask for help or ideas, you do need to join Twitter, follow people and talk to them.
Joining twitter is simple. I recommend you use your picture and include your profession in your profile info. This is because it makes it easier for other educators to know that you are legitimate. If you need some help getting introduced to the Foreign Language community, go ahead and drop me a line on Twitter and I’ll be happy to help. I am @spanish4teacher.
Now, back to the hashtags. Since they represent specific topics, you need to know them in order to either contribute or search for specific information. Hashtags should be placed anywhere within the tweet. It is important to include them because they make your tweet searchable and easy to find.
For example, let’s say I want to connect my High School Spanish class with another one somewhere else in the world. Then I would send out a tweet like this:
How many hashtags can you include in a tweet? As many as you want, but I recommend including maximum three.
Now you must be asking yourself: Where can I find out about Twitter hashtags? Well, here are some popular Foreign language Twitter hashtags to start out with.
- #spanishib: IB DP Spanish
- #IBSpanishB:IB DP Spanish B specific
- #spanishteach: Spanish teachers
- #spanishteachers: Spanish teachers
- #authres: Authentic Resources (authentic FL teaching resources)
- #langchat: FL Language Chat
- #flteach: Foreign Language teaching
- #mfltwitterati: Modern Foreign Language
- #latinteach: Latin teaching
- #profesele: Profesores ELE (español como lengua extranjera)
- #twitterele: Español como lengua extrajera (enseñanza)
- #fle: Français comme langue étrangère
- #aimlang: AIM – Accelerative Integrated Method
- #mfl: modern foreign languages
- #engchat: English chat
Other useful hashtags
- Find an ongoing collaborative list of hashtags here: The unofficial index to Educational Twitter Hashtags
- Find all educational Twitter chats with hashtags, dates and times here: Cybrary Man’s List of Educational Chats on Twitter
Foreign language materials, resources and ideas shared this week
These are just a few (very few) samples of the resources shared this week. Keep in mind that I am not posting ideas, views and opinions which are the best part of Twitter PLNs and one of my sources of inspiration.
- Wikibooks – French texts and lessons from beginner to advanced
- Second International Conference on Second-Language Pedagogies – Canada
- 160 séquences issues de
#CestPasSorcier sont maintenant disponibles sur lesite.tv
- Lecturas socioculturales con audio y actividades que pueden ser descargadas de la revista VeinteMundos
- Medios de transporte en la ciudad – Video
- Infografía de una paella – Da la infografía a tus estudiantes y ellos deben construir la receta con cantidades y explicarla
- List of Spanish readers in order of difficulty by Bryce Hedstrom
- Legend projects
- El uso de tráilers y teasers en la clase de español
- An introduction to Chinese proverbs and their origins
What I have learned through Twitter and hashtags this year, that I would not otherwise know
Using Twitter to communicate with a world wide Professional Learning Community of educators has made me a better teacher. Every time I access Twitter I am inspired to challenge myself and my students to learn, create and share.
So far this year (Jan 2013), I have learned the following from my fellow Twitter educators:
- MOOC: Massive Open Online Courses as Professional Development options. Find some here: etmooc, mooc-mooc, edcmooc. And this is an article about MOOCs that I love: Learn Like an Arachnid: Why I’m MOOCifying
- 21st Century Learning & Teaching Skills: especially the “Active Learning Skill” which is based on two important questions: 1. How are you making your learning visible? and 2. How are you contributing to the learning of others?
- Flat classrooms
How to Twitter Chat – Tutorial
(If the video appear blurry, don’t forget that you can change the resolution. Click on the little wheel at the bottom right and then choose 720p)
Other useful resources
- Meet your new PD tool by Jonathan Sapers
- Twitter for Educators – A beginner’s guide
- Great Twitter tools for your professional development
- Twitter for educational purposes – A tutorial from Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano (below)
Finally I would like to leave you with this awesome thought that sums up what Twitter is for connected educators.