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At 7PM on Monday night, a district technology director and I hosted our first Twitter Townhall for Parents. We began by showing a couple videos shared by Kathy Schrock, who graciously shared with me her comprehensive site of edtech resources. (Yes she shared it on Twitter).
After a few clips were shown, a list of basic Twitter terms or Twitterology 101 was reviewed. The basic commands (Tweet, Retweet, Mention, @, DM, etc) were explained, and modeled on the big screen for all to see. I cannot articulate enough how difficult it was to explain the intricacies of this social media tool to those who had never used it. Much dialogue and modeled examples were required during the first hour of “explaining” the whats and hows of Twitter. Still, I wasn’t feeling the parents were clear on how this thing really worked. (Were any of us really sure after the first hour!?)
The second hour was designed to provide more of an authentic hands-on opportunity to use their new Twitter accounts. Once all participants chose a username and signed on, we immediately began the act of “tweeting.” At this point you could really start to see them catching on, especially when one of Twitter’s best features played out…Each participant was asked to use the “hashtag” #knappchat at the end of every question and answer composed. They began seeing people they didn’t know respond back to their questions, which helped them understand the true global scope of Twitter.
With all of these “unknown” participants tuning into our chat, the dialogue continued around how parents in the world were using this tool. Parents and educators all over the United States and Canada participated (Link to #KnappChat to see our conversation). I told them this piece was what personally drew me into using Twitter- that ability to find someone else out there working through the same challenges as I, and offer suggestions and examples on how to work through it. Lorna Constantini, who some of you know and watched her recent show “Parents as Partners,” also engaged members of her PLN to add to the conversation. I have never met Lorna in person, but she has been a huge resource, colleague and friend to me over the last month as I’ve started using Twitter more and more for professional development and research.
As we approached the end of the evening, parents were able to reflect a bit and begin choosing others to follow. One parent even tweeted when she got home thanking those who participated during the chat. The next day she “mentioned” our school (@KnappElementary), and attached a link to pictures she had taken of Grandparents’ Day the week before! This is the kind of sharing possible if we can get more of our parents on board with social media tools like Twitter.
Everyone is different. Everyone has a different use for Twitter. Everyone is at a different stage of Twitter (See the 46 Stages of Twitter). For some parents, Twitter will not be something that they implement into their daily life- regardless of how engaging your presentation is. For others, they will want to harness it’s power right away. For the children, it’s important parents have a good handle on what exactly Twitter can do to educate the world +/-, how kids can stay safe while online and how they can connect to their school while using it or viewing a Twitterfeed posted on your school website
The short video clip is intended to give an idea of the presentation set-up and use of Twitterfall to show the scrolling #knappchat. Also, here is a link to the flyer we used to invite the parents.
Good luck! Spread the word. Build your PLN! If you have any questions or need any support, feel free to reach out at @joe_mazza or at firstname.lastname@example.org.