Blue Devil Nation Twitter Challenge

Build Your Professional Learning Network

Become A Connected Educator!

Building a PLN with Twitter offers educators "just in time" networking opportunities from all over the world. With Twitter, users can learn from and connect with others in ways that are not possible through traditional models of professional development.


So, should you use Twitter? Actually, the better question is... Why wouldn't you?


Educators need to be consumers of information—constant seekers of current and relevant content in order to avoid becoming stagnant or complacent in our profession. Most importantly, we need to become the best we can be for our students. One way to make sure this happens is to build a PLN using Twitter, one that will definitely take your teaching to a new level.


Read on to learn more about why the Blue Devil Nation Twitter Challenge is for you!

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True Confessions of A Twitter Junkie

I’ve been fortunate to have had the opportunity to attend some of the best edtech conferences, workshops and training sessions on the planet with some of the biggest names in the edtech world—all of which have been extremely beneficial. Yet, my go-to place for continual learning of invaluable information highlighting best practices, innovative thinking, instructional strategies and the integration of technology is... Yep, Twitter!


Call me crazy, but I honestly learn more and more every day about how to improve my craft by reading info the members of my PLN share across this super popular social media network—resources, tools, articles, thoughts, opinions, inspiration, quotes, images, and more!


And the best part? It’s quick (with a 280 character max per tweet), free, available 24/7 and you can connect, collaborate, discuss, exchange and even debate all sorts of ideas with your virtual colleagues—all in your PJs (or bikini) if you want!

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So, You've Scrolled This Far...

Chances are that if you’re still reading about this challenge you’re probably already thinking about the value of Twitter and the importance of finding connections within this global network of educators. So that means you’re either already an addict like me (Hey, it could be worse, right?) or a wannabe tweeter who’s not quite sure how to enter the dark side. Regardless, these activities associated with this project will certainly either reinforce what you already know to be true, teach you a new trick, or kick-start that urge to become a hashtag fanatic!

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Will You Accept the Challenge?

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So, here's how this non-traditional form of professional development works...


The Requirements:


The Blue Devil Nation Twitter Challenge consists of three parts, all geared toward helping you become a Twitter Super User! Read on to check out additional details about each portion of the project, which will begin on March 5 and conclude on May 24,


The Takeaways:


All participants will have the opportunity to...


  • Work with BASD colleagues to effectively use a social media tool for educational purposes.


  • Build a go-to network of like-minded professionals.


  • Share your classroom story with others! And yes, it is worth sharing!


  • Make global connections with educators throughout the world.


  • Whether it’s best practices, instructional strategies, the latest and greatest tech tools or an innovative project, invaluable information is just a hashtag away!


But wait! There's more...


Teachers who successfully complete the challenge will earn a 10:30 a.m. early dismissal on June 4!

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Part I: The Twitter Tasks

Part I of the Blue Devil Nation Twitter Challenge has been designed to help you become familiar with this social media tool, all of its features and how to effectively utilize it for professional development purposes. It consists of 16 tasks grouped into weekly assignments that increase in complexity.


The 2018 schedule goes something like this...


  • March 5-11: Challenges 1-4


  • March 12-18: Challenges 5-8


  • March 19-25: Challenges 9-12


  • March 26-April 1: Challenges 13-16

Challenge #1: Get Your Twitter On!

You've accepted the BDN Twitter Challenge... Yay, you! The first mission involves several steps that will kick-start your journey toward becoming a connected educator.


1. Sign up for a Twitter account here. If you need assistance setting up an account, click here. Already have an account? Awesome! You're definitely ahead of the curve!


Twitter Tactics: Your username, also known as a "handle", should be relevant, simple and unique. It's also best to avoid using numbers. Use your school email account to create your professional Twitter account.


2. Add your name and handle to the spreadsheet located here. This document will be used to collaborate, support and congratulate you for stepping out of your comfort zone! Once you've added your info, be sure to follow the B-A colleagues who are also participating in this challenge.


3. OK, so now that you are more familiar with the basics of Twitter, it's time to get your voice out there in the Twittersphere. (Yep, that's actually a word!)


Here's the deal: Tweet the world and tell them you joined the Blue Devil Nation Challenge! Make sure to add the #BDNPLN hashtag to keep the rest of us in the loop.


Examples:


  • I'm super excited to be taking the Blue Devil Nation Twitter Challenge! Join me! #BDNPLN


  • Getting my #BDNPLN on with @edutech20 during the Blue Devil Nation Twitter Challenge! #edtech
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Challenge #2: A Prime Time Profile

It's time to make sure your account is ready for the prime time! That means you need to complete two essential items:


1. Update your profile picture so it is not an "egg". No one wants to talk with an egg.


2. Update your profile so it represents you as an educator and life-long learner. Human interest items can be added as well. Include a short bio so others can learn about you before adding you to their PLN. Remember, your page represents who you are... Be creative! #realdeal

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Challenge #3: Find Your Tribe!

Locate at least 15 educators to follow on Twitter (besides the individuals who are part of our cohort). Not sure where to get started? The resources found here and here can help you discover awesome "tweeps", or people on Twitter, to add to your PLN. Follow your favorite edtech tools as well. Doing so will keep you in the loop regarding the latest and greatest updates, features, uses and more!


Some of my best sources of info live here...


@ericurts

@tonyvincent

@gcouros

@TechChef4u

@alicekeeler

@TeachThought

@GTeacherTribe

@ShakeUpLearning

@teachergoals

@smore

@PicCollage

@Flipgrid


Don't forget to check your feed! It should be filling up with Tweets from the people you have followed. #supercool

Challenge #4: Heart the Hashtag

A hashtag is a keyword or a phrase used to describe a topic or a theme. To create a hashtag, the pound sign (#) is used before the word or phrase, minus any spaces or punctuation. Due to the limited space within a tweet, most hastags are typically abbreviations. For example, #edtech represents the educational technology category on Twitter.


A hashtag automatically becomes an active link when included in a tweet. Anyone who sees the hashtag can click on it to be taken to a page featuring all the most recent tweets that contain that particular hashtag.


In a nutshell, hashtags are utilized in tweets to categorize them in a way that makes it simple for other users to quickly find and follow pertinent information. (Almost like a built-in Google search!) So, when you want your tweet to be part of a conversation beyond your followers, add a relevant hashtag to your message, and you’ll automatically reach anyone who is monitoring the same hashtag. Cool, eh?


I love, love me some hashtags, but here are a few hacks to keep in mind in order to utilize them effectively:


  • Avoid using too many hashtags in a single tweet. Save room for your real message!


  • Use specific phrase hashtags to hone in on a particular topic.


  • Hashtags should be relevant to the content of the tweet.


  • Hashtag existing words in your tweets to save room.


  • Use Twitter trending topics to find hot and current hashtags. (In the left sidebar of your home feed on Twitter.com or in the search tab of the Twitter mobile app, you'll see a list of trending topics according to your geographical location. Use this info to join conversations that are happening at the current moment.)


Once you master the art of hashtags, you'll wonder how you ever lived without them! (Kinda like breathing... and chocolate!) Seriously, though this is one social media trend that isn't going to fade away anytime soon!


So, here's your hashtag homework:


Find at least three educational hashtags using this comprehensive resource developed by @TeachThought: The Complete Guide To Twitter Hashtags For Education. Then send an individual tweet for each one to the #BDNPLN hashtag that includes your new find as well as the reason why you think it's so awesome!


Example:


Need some super cool ideas for integrating mobile devices into the classroom? Then be sure to check out the #ipaded feed! #BDNPLN

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Challenge #5: Spread the Word

Retweet a post that was tweeted by someone you follow. Extend the conversation by adding your own thought or opinion by selecting the "Quote Tweet" option. Then use the #BDNPLN hashtag to make sure our community is aware of the information you are sharing!

Challenge #6: Just Like It!

Liking a tweet serves two purposes. One, it shows the person who posted the tweet that you find value in and/or agree with the idea shared. Let's face it... Who doesn't appreciate a thumbs up from others! Secondly, liking a tweet saves the tweet in a list that can be accessed at a later time, a concept similar to bookmarks. This list can be located on your page under the "Likes" tab.


Locate at least three interesting or useful tweets and save them to your favorites list.

Challenge #7: The Selfie Shout-Out

Take a selfie with a staff member (or group of them) and post the picture to Twitter using the #BDNPLN hastag. Include one reason you feel this colleague(s) is a rock star!


And if you're person is on Twitter, make sure to tag them in your tweet!

Challenge #8: Best. Lesson. Ever!

In 280 characters or less, share your most favorite lesson to teach (with or without technology) and why. Add the following to this tweet: An image highlighting the activity (because you know a picture is worth 1,000 words!), the #BDNPLN hashtag and any other relevant tags.


Example:


My Ss really enjoy creating and sharing #iMovie mashups depicting the main events from novels we read in class @AppleEDU #BDNPLN #edtech #ipaded #edapps

Kick It Up a Notch!

Did you know that Twitter users who include images and videos in their posts earn a 150% increase in views and retweets? Since the true value of utilizing this social media tool is in its engagement, here's a new a twist for our challenge...


Add at least one form of media to all of your tweets for the remainder of the challenge!

Challenge #9: The Checkpoint

OK, Tweeps! You're almost there! Send out a tweet expressing a thought, feeling or idea regarding what you've learned from this experience thus far. Be sure to include the #BDNPLN hashtag and an image or video in your post!

Challenge #10: Teacher Recommended

Post a tweet sharing an article, blog post, web site or book you feel is a valuable resource. Tell us why you dig it and why we should too! Add the #BDNPLN hashtag and an image or video to your shout out.

Challenge #11: Wisdom Wednesday

Choose a quote that moves and shakes you and share it with the group via the #BDNPLN hashtag. If possible, locate an image containing these words of wisdom to add to your tweet.


For the adventurous: Inspire us with your very own words and then use an app to create an original quote image to pimp out to your tweet. (i.e. InstaQuote, PicLab or Typorama)


In case it's not obvious, this tweet should be posted on a Wednesday! =) Include one of the following hastags: #WisdomWednesday or #WednesdayWisdom. This will definitely attract more attention to you and your digital presence on this platform!

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Challenge #12: Meme Madness

Before completing this task, let's make certain we're all on the same page… A meme is cultural symbol or social idea that comes in the form of a captioned photo intended to be humorous, often as a way to publicly ridicule human behavior. Other memes can be videos and verbal expressions. Regardless of its form, this worldwide phenomenon travels quickly from person to person through social media.


So now that we have that out of the way… Your task is to share an educational meme with our community using the #BDNPLN hashtag. Find an existing image to share or create your own using one a site such as ImgFlip or makeameme.org) or click here for a list of apps that can be used to get the job done.


Want a daily dose of memes that will give you the giggles? Be sure to follow all things funny, frustrating and fabulous about our profession @teachergoals.


BTW: Memes are an excellent classroom tool as well! Aside from being a fun and novel way to get students engaged in content, these assignments can address the Creative Communicator standard, part of the ISTE Standards for Students, which expects students to communicate clearly and express themselves creatively for a variety of purposes using digital media.


A few ways memes can be incorporated into a lesson include bell ringers, class rules or procedures, writing or discussion prompts and more!

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Challenge #13: The Ultimate Wish List

If you could have a single new item for your classroom, one that would impact your learning environment in a meaningful way, what would it be and why? Share your ultimate wish with the group via the #BDN hashtag. And don't forget to jazz up your post with some media!

Challenge #14: Show Us Your Stuff

This tweet is all about showcasing your classroom, a student project or your school. Twitter is an excellent tool for spreading the good news about what's happening in your space. Be sure to include the #BDNPLN hashtag and some media to give us the full scoop!
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Challenge #15: Follow Friday

From instructional coaches, media specialists and motivational speakers to content area specialists, libraries and edtech tools and other leaders in the field of education, you can grow your PLN by connecting with thousands of individuals on Twitter. Locate at least three new people to follow and then mention these edu gurus in a post using the #BDNPLN and #FF (or #FollowFriday) hashtags so our group (and others) can follow your recommendations.


Creating a graphic to accompany your tweet would be super cool! Just sayin'...


Example:


Be sure to add these #edtech rock stars to your #PLN @TechChef4u @burgessdave @TaraMartinEDU @ericcurts @meagan_e_kelly @alicekeeler @tonyvincent @MsVenturino @jmattmiller @NFLaFave @MrSchoenbart @FrewsCrews @SilvioSherrie @AuntyTech #FF


And yes, this task should be completed on a Friday!

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Challenge #16: Dare to Dream

Set one goal for yourself and/or your students to accomplish by the end of the school year and then tell us about it. Include the #BDNPLN hashtag and an image or video in your tweet.
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Part II: The Next Steps

Now that you have the Twitter know-how, the next part of this challenge involves putting your skills into action.


Expectations for April & May:


  • One original tweet and two retweets per week.


The suggested topic(s): Whatever resource, article, strategy, tool, quote, etc. that will have a positive effect on your growth as an educator, your classroom and/or your students!


Don’t forget to include the #BDNPLN hashtag as well as other relevant tags and hashtags so that our B-A online community and other followers can benefit from the info you are sharing. And as previously mentioned, engagement with tweets increases when media (an image or video) is included. That said, include these items whenever possible.


At the end of this portion of the project, your feed will be pimped out with at least eight original tweets as well as 16 retweets that you and your following can now put to good use! In addition, you'll be finding inspiration from other educators and marketing your learning space to the entire Twittrverse!


BTW: The purpose of this part of the challenge is to encourage you to spend some time each week growing your PLN by continuing to to share, like, follow and even unfollow so that your Twitter feed has a meaningful impact on you and your instruction. Plus, the more you interact with this tool, the more it will become part of your practice!

That said, please do not wait until the end of the month to complete the assignments.

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Part III: Wrapup

Provide us with some feedback regarding your participation in the Blue Devil Nation Twitter Challenge by complete the Google Form located here. (The link will "go live" at the end of May.)


I will be following the #BDNPLN hashtag throughout the challenge and will award badges to BASD educators who fulfill all requirements. Stay tuned for more details...

Got Questions?

If you have any questions about the Blue Devil Nation Twitter Challenge, please contact me.

Jamie Forshey

Director of Instructional Technology & Media

Bellwood-Antis School District

Creds: This challenge was inspired by attending the Pennsylvania Educational Technology Conference & Expo (PETE&C) in Hershey, PA as well as Angela LaPlante and Samantha Hulsman.