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How Twitter (yes Twitter) can be an awesome tool.

holly adamsLess than a year ago I did not have a twitter account and refused to “twit” as I called it. I told my web designer and programmer that I could not bear the idea of blogging, and that I only read a few blogs. Chyeah. At their noodging, I began to read blogs and realized something I am sure you all already know.... blogs are like food. They come in all kinds of flavors, some are candy, some are veggies, some are both nutritious and delicious. There are also cool groups for bloggers, like the fabulous Education Bloggers facebook group, where people talk process and product, content and packaging. You can also sign up to have your blog/blogsite critiqued by the rest of the group.

BUT the truly awesome info tool and potentially inspiring discussion facilitator turns out to be freakin' Twitter. And that's a sentence I neeever thought I would utter, especially in public. For an artist, the ability to quickly scan arts organizations and arts news, and click the links to read more. Okay, fine. For an arts educator (or any educator or community organizer), however, a twitter discussion ROCKS. A twitter discussion can be a regularly scheduled event; for example, there is a discussion on twitter about Education and Writing about education every Thursday at 8pm Eastern time (anybody can participate). You sign in to Twitter, and check the #Edblogs to follow it. Be sure to include #edblogs in your reply (there's a conversation at 9pm called #EdFix, a conversation for educators in which they help each other trouble-shoot).

Perhaps you are thinking, “That's cool, holly...but how is that useful for me?” Okay, your a theatre teacher, and you require your class to watch something phenomenal on television. You give the class 5 questions ahead of time, 2 of which will be discussed at the intermission/long commercial break. You tell them the conversation's hashtag name is TH101 (that's #TH101). Just before the show, you check in and 'take attendance'. At the break, you type “Q1: Whch actr do u pfr&why? #TH101” Your students start to reply—to your question and to each other. After a bit, you tweet “Q2: Is Hamlt just a whinr? #TH101” At the end, there's a predetermined amount of time given to the remaining three questions and discussion (20 or 30 minutes), with you facilitating, responding, instigating, as needed. The next day, you know who participated and who didn't, and you can use Storify (which is AWESOME) to mesh the tweets together into a single narrative. You use that narrative for the next class discussion.

Are you a community organizer? Blend the idea of a tweet discussion with the idea of a flash mob—do a targeted hashtag tweet with responses to questions you broached earlier. Want an artistic element? Require that tweets are Haiku or that if people post more than once, successive posts must form rhyming couplets.

Are you a performing artist? Have the audience tweet responses or questions to your projected images that will be randomly selected to appear, and which will inform your following artistic choices. Just choose a unique hashtag.

No matter what you do, it's a great, free, fun way to instigate concentrated response. Then... Storify the responses and publish it in your blog!


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