Twitter for the IBDP Student

While Twitter is an amazing tool for building community, microblogging understandings, and organically developing a real-time yearbook, there’s more to be done with everybody’s favorite blue bird.


Twitter-literacy is bound to become increasingly more relevant for students and teachers alike:

The new study, conducted by Pew Research Center in association with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, finds that clear majorities of Twitter (63%) and Facebook users (63%) now say each platform serves as a source for news about events and issues outside the realm of friends and family. That share has increased substantially from 2013, when about half of users (52% of Twitter users, 47% of Facebook users) said they got news from the social platforms. (full text here).

Twitter is changing the pace of news and more:

Public outrage over the abduction of hundreds of Nigerian schoolgirls by Islamist militants fostered a global social media support campaign with millions of messages tagged with a simple demand.

Although some may refer to this movement as a form of Slacktivism, there is no denying that this Twitter activity fueled a central focus for the international news media. The millions joined across the world certainly had more influence than a single report churned out by a concerned journalist. (click here for the full post)


Here’s a look at a few ways to Tweet like a pro in an IBDP classroom:

ONE: Trendsmap:  

Trendsmap is an integrative map that displays global and local Twitter topic trends. Multiple algorithms are used to process 80 million tweets a day and analyze how much a topic is trending by location. The more popular topics are shown in large, dark bubbles. When you click on a topic, it will show you the global and local tweet volume, trending locations (and related tweets in these locations), images, links and recent tweets. (full text here)

TWO: Lists

The London School of Economics and Political Science has put together this great break down on key lists for academics.

You are also welcome to build your own. See here for more.

THREE: Recreate historical events one tweet at a time…

Use Twitter as a time capsule, and look at events as they could have been Tweeted…click here for more on that.

“Those who forget history are doomed to re-tweet it,” declares the tag line of TwHistory,an educational Web site that began in 2009 with a re-enactment of the Battle of Gettysburg in salvoes of 140 characters or less. So, apparently, are those who remember it.

One can hardly spend an hour on Twitter without getting caught up in a blow-by-blow account of the Civil War, Robert Falcon Scott’s doomed 1911 polar expedition or the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, not to mention a welter of biographical offerings from the likes of Paul Revere, John Quincy Adams, Churchill and Samuel Pepys, the 17th-century London diarist, who has amassed more than 22,000 followers. Pepys’s maid, Jane Birch, even has a feed — or at least she did until last March, when she abruptly quit after posting complaints about her employer’s incessant snoring and incontinent dog. (see here for full NYTimes Article).

Four:  PERISCOPE down…

Virtual Field Trips

In world language classes, students can take virtual field trips alongside teacher-guides from target language countries (e.g. in restaurants or at festivals). Museum tours could be experienced through the lens of a Periscope interaction, opening up opportunities to visit destinations, such as the Louvre or MoMA.

Expert Speakers or Demonstrations

With Periscope, classrooms can connect with field experts or observe scientific lab experiments. Throughout the session, students can actively engage in investigative questioning by recording information and collecting data.

Historical Accounts and Interviews

Students can take a snapshot of history by participating in live broadcasts as elders or veterans tell their life stories from historically significant locations. Teachers can gain insight on depth of student understanding through analysis of such interviews and activities. (full Edutopia text here).

One of the major benefits of Periscope is the flexibility it offers:  “Students who are watching a Periscope can do so from any location, and the app will not restrict the number of participants or limit student interactions like its counterparts. Periscope allows for live interaction instead of videotaping, anytime, anywhere, with any number of viewers,” (click here for more from  Amy Arbogash and Stephanie Rudolph).

FIVE:  level up on your twitter searches: 

Click here to get started on searching Twitter like a pro.

fjromeroa Follow Twitter
fjromeroa Follow




Thanks Flickr for your bank of amazing Creative Commons Images!

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Kiran Foster



Twitter: the bread breaker


In a post I wrote a few months back “INQUIRY: 120 CHARACTERS AT A TIME,” I constructed a fantasy teacher team, consisting of educators I’ve long admired through blogs and Twitter. The reality is, Twitter allows you to have a limitless staffroom.

Once you get involved in Twitter as a way to grow professionally, the possibilities are almost limitless. -Howard Pitler, Ed.D. (full text here)

The applications of Twitter have allowed me to invite experts into the classroom (including some feedback from Margaret Atwood). Not only did Austin Kleon inspire me to trial blackout poetry with my class, but he helped praise my grade 9 poets via Twitter as well.

I’ve followed conferences around the globe, and taken part in professional development chats through Twitter.  As of last year, I’ve been able to invite big thinkers to feature as guest authors for a monthly #teacherbookclub (more on that here).

Some of the best questions I’ve cultivated as a learner have been the direct result of developing a professional learning network via Twitter.

Time and time again, Twitter reminds me to break down my own echo chamber, to invite debate, and to listen to a variety of perspectives.  The Teacher Toolkit has a great list of profiles on Twitter to check out, he reminds us to connect with PSHE experts, with educational psychologists, authors, CEOs, and people who have alternative lenses when it comes to teaching and learning.

One of my all-time favorite podcasts, Note To Self, reminds us that we need to be active in order to truly be open-minded:

If leadership sets the tone and enables teachers to be innovators, how can they best use Twitter as an agent of change?

Screen Shot 2016-08-28 at 2.11.51 PM

To start with, connected teachers need connected leaders.  

I’m always impressed by administrators who make time to ‘walk the talk,’ in order to openly promote authentic reflection, contemplation, and general public thought perspiration.

A great example of that is Paula Baxter’s  (Primary Head of ISPP, Cambodia) very first post available here.

I am a teacher first and a principal second. I come to school every day because I love kids and learning. That’s the story I wanted to share, and that I am still sharing today.

George Couros does a great job of introducing fellow leaders to Twitter in his post “Social Media for Administrators.”

For the rest of my post, I’ll focus on ways I’ve been inspired by leaders using Twitter:

1. Leaders rethinking leadership:



‘Reflection,’ doesn’t have to be clichè. The more stakeholders we see engaging in reflection, the more street credit it will have for students.

2. Creative curation



Every school year is unique.  Taking the time to use Twitter to preserve moments, to document, and to be in awe of what we do when we ‘do learning,’ is admirable.

3. Provocation


Some of the best learning experiences we can have are the byproduct of a good old fashioned argument.  If you can’t feel comfortable hosting a debate with your colleagues, explore that further.

Sentiment is as important as situational awareness. Some arguments stir organizational emotions in ways others do not. Similarly, some disagreements energize the enterprise just as surely as others drain the life out of people. Having the same most important argument for years tends to be a very bad sign. (full text from HBR here)

4. Leveling up on gratitude


So very, very much happens behind the scenes to allow schools to do what they need to do.  The #SISrocks hashtag out of Shekou International School is a lovely example of a tag gone viral in the best possible way.

5. Learn in the great wide open


I love knowing what my leaders and colleagues are reading. I love talking to people about their favorite podcasts.  Our media diets matter.

One of my school’s fabulous librarians, Ms. Day has 2,707 books on her Goodreads shelf.

Yes, 2,707.

Many members of staff have commented on her uncanny ability to know what to recommend to them at the drop of a hat.  One scan of her Goodreads/Twitter presence and you’ll know why that’s not so shocking.

A librarian has the power to shape the way we approach inquiry, and the value we place on learning for the sake of learning.  One of my favorite quotes about libraries comes from comedian Paula Poundstone:

The truth is libraries are raucous clubhouses for free speech, controversy and community.

–Paula Poundstone

When I spend a few minutes in the library or scoping out our librarian’s Twitter feed, I see someone championing that vision: building a space for a learning community in the best possible sense.  How lucky schools are everywhere, that leaders like this are leaving a trail of breadcrumbs for the rest of us.

If you are a school leader, how are you using Twitter to leverage your communities?

Kat Selvocki Follow Trail of (gluten-free) bread crumbs.
Kat Selvocki Follow
Trail of (gluten-free) bread crumbs. Via Flickr




Phraseology as the driver of school culture

A positive school culture and climate is no different than clean air and water. It is the basis for sustainable learning and preparation for the tasks and tests of life. Conversely, in a toxic school culture and climate, learning by all will not take place effectively, and what is learned may be sustainably negative and harmful. When a school is a positive place to be, people are happy to be there, do their best, and make their best better.- Maurice J. Elias

What would you hear if you did an audible audit of your school’s culture today?

I’ve been in my new school for roughly one month.  The climate here is electric.  As a digital literacy coach, I’m lucky to fill my daily calendar with conversations about wellness, innovation, creativity, goals, possibilities, and experiments. Occasionally, in schools, when we talk about new approaches or changing habits, the tone can feel tense.  That’s not how it feels here.  So what’s happening to shift the tone?

Alan Hudson Follow Shift
Alan Hudson Follow


A focus on learning.

That sounds too simple, right?

But a stubborn spotlight on learning reminds us that the journey is intensely personal, and the applications are remarkably public.  For more on that, read Jo Boaler’s account  of


If we want students to know we believe in them, it makes sense to rehearse that intrinsic trust with one another, our colleagues.

Boaler’s work prompted me to account for the single sentences that do the most to keep the spotlight in place, to honor learning beyond all else.

ONE: ‘Wanna borrow….?’

At our first coaches’ dinner,  we spent time guessing one another’s key strengths (see here for more).  First of all–what a lovely framing for a group chat, and a kind exchange of assumptions to have.  But the magic is, it didn’t end when the bill for the meal came.  A healthy school climate will be one where the inquiry is groomed and paid close attention to. Keep having conversations about one another, and about how we can best work together.

Two: ‘Just because we haven’t yet doesn’t mean we can’t’

The number of times I’ve heard this in a few weeks is perhaps my favorite thing about my new place of employment.  People are not weighed down by a misguided sense of ‘tradition.’  I have yet to hear anyone utter the incendiary ‘that’s the way things have always been done here.’   Your traditions are just that: yours, not that of the student body.  Education is not about sitting still. Great schools don’t fear change, rather, they are intentional about what needs to go, when, how, and why. There is no better way to enable an adaptive mindset than by cultivating it ourselves together as a collective institute.

Three: ‘I was talking to….’

And the same thing is true for leadership. Find something worth doing, find others to join in.

Merely begin.-Seth Godin (full post here)

Ideas love being shared. I constantly hear people exchanging them, passing them forward, giving credit to their sources. Teaching can either be an isolating profession, or it can be phenomenally social.  Great school leaders ensure it is the latter.  If teachers are excited about ideas, chances are students will be too.  Idea traffic is indicative of staff well-being.  When you sit around any group of teachers at your school do you hear horns blaring out of frustration, or do you hear the purring of multiple engines fully fueled?

Oleg Zaytsev Follow Semitransparente
Oleg Zaytsev Follow

Thanks to Flickr’s bank of CC Images for making this post a little bit better looking!


Oleg Zaytsev


Thomas Hawk

Sunday Driver


Build a tinder nest.

Last spring, I spent weeks thinking about the power of language, and the many applications it has for shaping the way we perceive our roles in education.  At Learning2 in Milan, I put forth a call to revise the metaphors we use when thinking and speaking about teaching and learning (the full talk is available here).

If a school year is a campfire, these are the days of building our tinder nest.

Blondinrikard Fröberg Follow Trunk with hoof fungus or Tinder fungus
Blondinrikard Fröberg Follow
Trunk with hoof fungus or Tinder fungus


It’s almost 2pm on a Friday.

This has been the first week of orientation with a brand new school.  Said school set today as an ‘open day,’ a day to focus on whatever needs your attention as a teacher. Strike that–not as a teacher, as a human (yes, I could be in the pool right now).  And yes, I do have a to-do list (and a nice pool), but at the moment, I can’t resist the urge to reflect on the start of this campfire in the making.

Last night I finished reading:


I mention this not only because I thoroughly enjoyed the book, but the timing of reading this book speaks volumes about my current state of mind.  It isn’t uncommon for teachers to find a new school, or simply the start of the school year to be well…draining.  That’s not how I’ve felt starting here.  I left every day of my orientation feeling inspired, encouraged to gather tinder and kindling once again.  I couldn’t wait to get back to a little professional development reading, to dig back into my favourite tags on Twitter, and to meet more of my brand new colleagues.


photo credit: me :)
photo credit: me 🙂


Sure, I love doing what I do.

I consider myself lucky to be in a line of ‘work’ that knows that ideas and habits can change the world for the better.  I’d love to say I’m this excited about another campfire igniting because I’m insanely motivated, but that’s not the full truth.  The whole story is that I’ve just joined a school with leadership that is blazing with passion about values that resonate with those who see education as a tool for change. For an example of this, click here.

At other schools I’ve seen orientation time given to rules, protocols, disciplinary procedures, reviews of IB scores, and well, that isn’t really much to light a spark, is it?

Here, everything was about the learning.  

The tone was positive, start to finish every day.  Sessions were structured to be respectful of time and energy.  We looked at growth mindset and its application to school systems. We chatted about the reasons ‘detention’ should be dead already. We toured the boarding house on campus–to marvel at diversity, and marvel we did.  We were reminded that the service learning program is here for student passions to come to fruition, for students to be leaders in seeing the principles of the school shape today, not just tomorrow. Grade 11 students organise, plan, coordinate and execute their very own service trips–without teacher chaperones.  What does that say about trust, understanding, and believing in what the learning is doing? A lot.

If time is the strongest indicator of what an institution values, look closely at your orientation schedule.  What does it say about the learning you hope to foster?  What does it say about the level of trust you have in your staff?  Is your orientation about celebrating the potential of excellence in teaching and learning, or…not?

If we want students to believe that the sky is not the limit, teachers need to get on board with Aki Hoshide’s message too.  A massive thank you to the many people who clearly collaborated on leaving the new teachers with that sensation this week.  I feel like I’ve truly been schooled on the art of the start this week. Every single returning teacher I’ve met has said something along the lines of: “You will love it,” “I’ve never learned as much at any other school,” “This place actually  does what the mission* says it does.”  To have that be a part of your orientation takes so much passion–you can’t script that for your orientation weeks before, you have to tend those fires for years, which is clearly what’s happening here.  Perhaps that is why the sky is not considered the limit at UWCSEA?

What do you hope to put in your tinder nest this August? 

 *UWC mission

  • The UWC movement makes education a force to unite people, nations and cultures for peace and a sustainable future.







Thanks for the Following photo via Flickr’s bank of Creative Commons Images

Trunk with hoof fungus or Tinder fungus