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



Individuals and societies

Esther Vargas Twitter
Esther Vargas

What does teaching individuals and societies have to do with twitter?

I had a lunch meeting yesterday with a member of the Individuals and Societies department at my school.  He’s tinkering with ideas connected to be a connected learner.  He sees the potential in opening up, and collaborating with his colleagues just a tweet away.  But, like many of us, he recognizes that there are challenges to taking on one more platform.  So, I’ve tried to compile resources that would work to launch his experiment process with Twitter, and I thought I’d model what a PLN could do.  Here’s where you come in:  add resources for ISOC, IBGeo, IBEcon, or AP History in the comments.  What have I left off?

Where else should today’s Humanities teacher go for inspiration?

Start following:

  1. Digital Humanities
  2. Ms. Ferguson
  3. Rebekah Madrid
  4. Jerry Blumengarten
  5. Andrew McCarthy
  6. Michael Collins
  7. History Bombs
  8. Rajesh Kriplinai
  9. Philip Altman
  10. Kelsey Girouox
  11. John Spencer
  12. George Couros
  13. Kim Cofino
  14. Marcello Mongardi
  15. Ben Sheridan
  16. Justin Staub
  17. Kevin Duncan
  18. Steve Katz
  19. DJ MacPherson
  20. Julie Lindsay


Start lurking here:

Hashtags to watch







Think big picture via:

  1. Rebekah Madrid walks you through how she live tweets in a history class
  2. Twitter techniques in a humanities environment
  3. Tweet in the Blank
  4. The Twitter Experiment
  5. Scope out #COETAIL!

Where are you?

Schools are talking a lot of talk about digital citizenship.  Leaders are drafting a lot of policy, middle managers are meeting again, discussing once more, how we can establish norms of healthy and effective online behaviors. So, where are you?

Are you mentoring or simply managing?

Are you demonstrating why we need social networks? Are you a lead learner? Do your colleagues, students, friends KNOW what you are learning and why you are learning about it?

I cannot count the times I have heard a fellow teacher say something like this:  “I have nothing to share, why would I tweet?” or “Blogging takes up too much time, and besides, why would anyone read my posts?”

The truth is, every teacher has something to share.

Yes, blogging takes time.

Learning takes time.

Reflection takes time.

Everything that makes your school strong, warm, caring, meaningful TOOK TIME.  Initially you might end up being the only audience for your ideas and posts.

Shouldn’t we all sit as an audience member to our own mind now and then?

"Alone" by encik ryunosuke
“Alone” by
encik ryunosuke


Readers will come.

You will be surprised because you will soon realize you have always been a social thinker. All educators are taste-makers, idea-sparkers, and public personas. Even when you don’t have an opinion, your absence of comment says something.

Diversity matters.

Having a PLN, and connecting with a broader range of educators will change you.  Check out this brilliant reflection on ‘How Change Will Change You,”  courtesy of the incredibly witty Jessica Hagy. Perhaps even more relevant to this post is her work here:

So why risk the safety and comfort of your existing ideas for diversity, conflict, and confusion?

Because that is exactly what we ask our students to do every day of the week, because we know it will teach them both how to think, and why society needs thoughtful people.

“Diversity and independence are important because the best collective decisions are the product of disagreement and contest, not consensus or compromise.” ~ James Surowiecki

"Spice_1" by Clyde Robinson


So what have I been doing lately to diversifY my ideation process? 

  1. I’ve hosted two #March2C chats. I’ve been looking for new ways of thinking about blogging in schools. You can look at the storified version of the first one here, and the follow up chat here.

This meant using the excellent International Schools Information Technology Leadership and Integration group on Facebook (The inspired John Mikton is one of the admin) as well as our fantastic Google+ #COETAIL community. 

I used CANVA to create a quick and easy advert for the chat.
I used CANVA to spread the word.


Fellow COETAILER, Marcello Mongardi agreed to co-host the first chat with me on Twitter. We brainstormed questions, and I used Haiku Deck to curate our conversAtion:

#March2C – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires;

2. The initial chat, and extension of my PLN was the direct result of one of my favorite online connections, Sonya terBorg. Sonya is a former colleague, and we recently reconnected when we were both presenting at the ECIS 2015 technology conference. 

Sonya and I have regular chats about where technology could and should be taking our schools, and how it can be a major catalyst for empathy.  After reading her blog post here, I felt inspired to take a blogging project I am facilitating in my own school, and share it with a wider audience. That invitation is still live here.

That’s the power of PLN point guards: they encourage and inspire when you need an added boost.

Sonya reminded me to think about ways to better engage with my audience, and to go visual when sharing my blogging prompts:

3. In the past two weeks I’ve pivoted with the blogging challenge.  There is no reason our PLN should not include our students. So I started asking my students to provide me with blogging prompts, and I’m challenging myself to blog back once a week (you can see my first response here).  It has been really interesting to see how they want to challenge their teacher.

4.  Developing bonds within your PLN community is multifaceted.  One of the lesser talked about networks in COETAIL is Goodreads. 

I’ve been astonished to see what happens when we network our student readers.  I stole this idea from two other PLN point guards:  Jabiz Raisdana and Paula Guinto.

PLN’s do that: they invite you to beg, borrow, steal and remix.

Every single one of my students is now on Goodreads, and we update and connect in that space weekly.  A month ago, I invited our principal to join and connect with students.  He was kind enough to agree.  PLN’s need many roads to connect through, and Goodreads is a great path to pursue. Roughly half of my students have joined the immensely popular Goodreads group “Our Shared Shelf,” reminding me that networks beget more networking.

I’ve sent a tweet to @coetail-admin to see if we can get the Goodreads widget added to our COETAIL blogs. Seeing what educators have on their shelves is incredibly insightful.  Just today I found @Arniebieber ‘s blog (A BIG ROUND OF APPLAUSE FOR ANY SCHOOL DIRECTOR WHO IS BRAVE ENOUGH TO BLOG!) and I decided to check out one of the books on his Goodreads shelf (via the widget) and I’ve already ordered myself a copy.  

I love seeing what other education leaders are reading. The most creative educators are constantly reading, constantly leaving a trail of thought.  Kim Cofino models this practice so well:

If networks beget more networking, reading begets more blogging, and that is a very good thing for schools everywhere.

5. My other PLN extension focus is the upcoming #Learning2 conference in Milan. I’m honored to be an L2 Leader this year. This gives me the stellar opportunity to get more face-to-face time with some of my most valued PLN. It also gives me the opportunity to make new connections.

When I try to distill all my work with my PLN down to an elevator pitch version, here’s what I come up with:

When someone shares an idea with you, or they make time to listen to your idea: ideation spreads. You find yourself having more conversations. You find yourself returning to old ideas, reconnecting with old friends.  You then feel compelled to help others. You remember: teaching is about connection.

Connections by VenusPetrov
Connections by VenusPetrov


Who knows, maybe someone is reading this right now, still on the fence about whether or not to try Twitter, to start a blog, to tell their colleague about a wacky idea. If that is you, comment below or send me a DM on Twitter.  If there is one thing I’ve learned from my PLN, it is that you have to pay it forward. You have to encourage others to disrupt their practice.

“Forget about being an expert or a professional, and wear your amateurism (your heart, your love) on your sleeve. Share what you love, and the people who love the same things will find you.”- Austin Kleon

The 21st Century teacher has a garden to tend to, and we need to be thankful to have so much access to many, many seeds out there.  Spring is coming, what will you grow this season?



Another thank you to the amazing community of artists on Flickr’s Creative Commons bank of images. No alterations have been made to any of the original photos.

“Alone” by
encik ryunosuke

“Come on, I canna hold it much longer” by

“Spice_1” by
Clyde Robinson

Catalyst Plate 3 by Thomas Hawk

Connections by VenusPetrov

Be the model.

Screen Shot 2015-02-16 at 19.32.27

How do we get students to engage with tech?  How do we get those young smiles to shine like they are in the picture above?  How do we get a community to thrive on risk-taking?

We take the first step.

Teachers often want their students to embrace technology.  The key is to take the leap for yourself.  How can we hope for a community of bloggers, or a network of innovation without engaging with online thinking ourselves?

Teachers need to be out on the trail, trialing with ideas.  If I want my students to connect with other bloggers, I need to have experienced that for myself.  Do I need to be the best blogger in the world?  Do I need the most amazing banner and 10,000 hits on my page?  No, but I do need to a footprint on the path I’m asking them to venture out on.

Recently my school hosted an in-house PD two-day workshop session.  I lead a workshop on blogging and a workshop on visual note taking.  We didn’t talk theory, we didn’t sit back and passively consume what those tools can do for our classrooms.  We blogged (on paper) and we took visual notes.  How did that feel?  Uncomfortable for some, and engaging for others.  Tools are meant to be put to use, and if it means we grumble or put on our confused face for a bit, that’s ok.  If you are interested more in visual note taking (stop whatever you are doing and follow @itsallaboutart), I would love your feedback on my slides, available here.

What I like about the 21 Things 4 Teachers site is that it doesn’t theorize the role of tech in our classrooms, rather, it serves as a menu: taste and try. You won’t like everything on the menu, and that’s not the point.  The point is to play, to pause (reflect), and to push forward.  Schools need this PPP model (did I just make that up?)

I have to give a huge shout out to John McBryde, the amazing director, visionary, leader.  He got the PPP model in a big way.  I was amazed at how devoted he was to the concept of sandboxing.  As an educator, I have never found innovation to be more valued than when I worked with John.  He knows that great things happen in learning environments where ‘tinkering’ is given time.

In essence, whenever you upskill yourself as an educator, the next question is inevitably:  now what?

The answer?  Try it out for yourself.  Make learning personal, and see if the hat fits for you.  We need more school leaders like John McBryde, more administrators who teach their teachers to take the leap.  We have to be the model first.  We don’t have to be the experts, but we do have to showcase a love for tinkering.

Perhaps asking, as Angela Maiers does here: what happens when our classrooms are driven by passion? is the real question we are asking when we are asking how to better integrate tech.

Before we apply to our classrooms, we need to apply ideas to our own experiences.  No one does this better than Jane Ross (@janeinjava).  Her blog is available here.

Jane Ross is one of the most passionate educators I have ever worked with.  She tinkers, trials, plays, takes risks, and does it all again.  I’ve been following her online in her latest efforts to teach herself to do amazing things with yarn.  She demands creativity from her students, but rightfully so, Jane demands it of herself first.  Jane and John are incredible ‘passion-modelers.’  They are respected by teacher communities far and wide.  They allowed their classrooms to be driven by passion.