(Mission title runner-up: Tweet Yo Self)
Welcome back! This is Justin Lanier—on behalf of mis amigos—here to present you with your second Explore MTBoS mission. No worries if you haven’t finished Mission #1 yet—I haven’t—but let’s keep the ball rolling, shall we?
Mission #2: Twitter Me This
Your mission—should you choose to accept it—is to try your hand at Twitter. Maybe for the first time, maybe for the first time in a while, maybe in new ways, maybe with new people.
This mission, combined with our blogwork in Mission #1, will provide you a sure foundation for all future Explore MTBoS enterprises. You’ll be platformed up and ready to mingle by the week’s end.
Twitter is chatting with the world. It’s microblogging. It’s the world’s best teacher’s lounge. It’s a free-flowing and wide-ranging conversational tapestry, a place to ask a pressing question, let off some steam, share and reshare resources, find inspiration and encouragement, and crack hilarious jokes. It’s a great place to listen in, vet an idea, and let your colors shine through.
All this in 140 character bursts. Day and night. With #copioushashtags and @KimKierkegaardashian.
Having timely, thoughtful, and charming interactions from a whole world of online colleagues? Yes, please.
Step 0: The Account
First of all, if you don’t yet have a Twitter account, let’s get you set up with that. Note that in addition to what I say here, there’s a Twitter sign-up how-to at the “Welcome to the MathTwitterBlogosphere” weebly site. (If you’ve already got a Twitter account, just scroll on down Step 1, demarcated by a picture of a cat.)
First up, head over to twitter.com and start filling in some info under New to Twitter? Soon enough, you’ll need to come up with a username. Remember, characters are at a premium, so you might prefer shorter over longer.
Next, Twitter has you go through a short tutorial. You can probably follow through with these steps on your own, but I’ll provide some commentary anyway. Twitter asks you start “following” people. These are the people whose tweets will populate your Twitter feed. We’ve made a little list of mathy folks to follow if you need help getting started, and there’s a larger list on the mathtwitterblogosphere weebly site. And there’s a recently compiled list in this spreadsheet, which you can also add yourself to.
If Twitter forces you into following accounts that you aren’t particularly interested in, not to fear—you can unfollow them as soon as you finish the sign-up process. Note that after you follow ten accounts, you can “skip” following more with a small grey button at the bottom.
You’ll want to upload an avatar, or else present yourself to the world for the time being as a dashing and comely default egg avatar. And in your Twitter profile, it’d be a great idea to include the URL to your blog. That’s a great way for people to find their way to your site!
Your first tweet. What will it be? Anything you like.
For funsies, here are our first tweets:
(Turns out Tina had no idea there was a math community on Twitter for her first two years of tweeting. Now she only twitters with math teachers. )
The next step in your mission will help you to get going further with Twitter, but if you’d like some further orientation on how math teachers can use it, there’s a great guide over at the weebly site. Here are just a few small thoughts that might be useful to you.
Different people use Twitter in different ways. You’ll find the way that works for you.
Don’t be discouraged if someone doesn’t reply to you. It may mean they are super busy and might not be checking their tweets a lot—Twitter is a funny combo of synchronous and asynchronous communication. Or it may be that they have a zillion followers and they get overwhelmed and they also have a mile-high stack of papers to grade. And sometimes, you know, they may just not have anything to say. Twitter’s a nutty, fragmented, free-for-all. Things get lost in the shuffle. But think of the insanity as a feature and not a bug, and please don’t take it personally if someone doesn’t respond to your tweets.
Since there are only 140 characters in a tweet, people sometimes write tersely, which can come across as very direct — but mainly that’s because of the lack of characters to type things like “oh wow, neato! one thing i was wondering is if…”. Often sentiments can get truncated. Tone can be tricky on Twitter, but practice helps and you can always ask for clarification. Also, don’t forget that you can always send multiple tweets if your thought needs more than 140 characters to be expressed.
For Twitter to really work, you are going to want to commit to trying it out for a week or more, and that means hanging out. If you just sign up, tweet the mission, and then sign out, you aren’t going to be having mini-discussions and reading other peoples’s mini-discussions! So for this week, at the very least, check your Twitter feed regularly! Write to people and reply to people! Toss out your random musings. Really give it a chance. See what it’s like —and we hope you’ll see what’s caused so many math teachers to fall in love with Twitter.
You might be tempted to make your Twitter account private/protected when starting out. This might provide you with a sense of security, but people can’t see what you tweet if you’re private. It’s a good idea when you’re first starting off and trying to find good people to interact with—and they’re trying to find you—that you should probably keep your account public. And in a while, when you have a good number of people to tweet with, then you can switch your account settings. Also, I’d say the majority of math teachers hearabouts have public profiles. Again, you’ll figure out what works for you
The advice on this page for getting started with Twitter is good to read if you’re still apprehensive. And if you think it will help, you can read the experiences of how some math teachers started out with Twitter here. But our hope is that with this flurry of people using twitter this week, you’re going to have a comfortable way to get involved. Jump in!
Step 1: The Mini-missions
So you’ve got a Twitter account, and you’re not afraid to use it. Fantastic. Below you’ll find a list of some mini-missions. Don’t dawdle, because they’ll self-destruct in three minutes. #jk You’ll engage with them as you wish—as many or as few of them as your schedule and taste admit—but here are two arbitrary goals for you that I just made up, one qualitative, one quantitative.
- Make sure you do at least one Twitter mini-mission that sounds superfun to you, and do a Twitter mini-mission that is outside of your comfort zone—that gets you to try something new.
- Pick a number between 5 and 10. Got it? Now double it. Add two. Cut it in half. Do at least that many mini-missions.
All right? All right. Let’s go.
- If you’re new to Twitter, announce and introduce yourself in a tweet and include the hashtag #MTBoS. (Note that a hashtag it’s simply a tiny phrase included directly after a pound symbol in your tweet. That way if you want to see all tweets about the mathtwitterblogosphere, you can tell Twitter hey, find all tweets with #MTBoS in it and Twitter can show you all tweets with #MTBoS in it! At heart, it’s a search tool. There are hashtags for all sorts of things, but no need to worry about then now.
- If you’ve done Twitter for a while, announce and introduce yourself in a tweet in a way that sheds some new light on who you are. Surprise us. Include #MTBoS.
- Pick three people you follow, but with whom you haven’t interacted—recently or ever. Say hello and introduce yourself to them, beginning your tweet with @theirname.
- Pick three people who follow you, but with whom you haven’t interacted—recently or ever. Say hello and introduce yourself to them, beginning your tweet with @theirname.
- Open up the #MTBoS feed and peruse it. Retweet something that you find compelling.
- Announce a blog post you’ve written, new or old. Include #MTBoS.
- Share a blog post that you’ve read recently that blew you away. Include #MTBoS.
- Share a question that’s been on you mind about your classroom practice. Include #MTBoS.
- Take a photo of your chalk-or-smartboard, or of a piece of student work. Tweet it and include #MTBoS.
- Share an online math resource you really love. Include #MTBoS.
- Tweet something mundane about your life. Include #MTBoS!
- Respond to a famous person or guru’s tweet.
- Tweet a favorite quotation or fact about mathematics. #MTBoS it up.
- Share something awesome about your day of teaching. #MTBoS.
- Share something hard about your days of teaching. #MTBoS
- Open up the #MTBoS feed and find some new tweeps to follow.
- And while you’re there, send a reply to a few interesting tweets you see.
- Tweet a tweet that’s exactly 140 characters long. #sosweet
- Think of someone whose tweets you appreciate. On Friday, give them a #FF (Follow Friday) shoutout.
Step 2: The Blog Post
After you complete Step 1, you’ll have some new Twitter experiences under your belt. What better way to reflect on them than to blog about them? The interplay between the longer-form reflection and exposition of blogging and the rapid-fire conversation on Twitter is part of what makes the MTBoS tick.
Here are a few writing prompts that you might convert into a blog post.
- Pick a tweet that you read and liked. Blog about what it made you think about.
- Or maybe it wasn’t a single tweet, but a conversation you had. Blog about those ideas.
- If you’re new to Twitter, what is something that has surprised you about it?
- If you’re an experienced Twitter user, describe and reflect upon how you tend to use it.
Also, something worth noting about blogs is how to handle comments. In your blog’s Settings—perhaps under Discussion or Comments—you probably have several comment moderation options. This video explains it all. Moderating comments give you more control over what shows up on your blog—and not after the fact—but it can slow down conversation. Not moderating comments can let conversations proceed more naturally, but it may mean having to delete a little spam here and there. Just some thoughts for your consideration.
And speaking of comments…
Step 3: The Comment (Comment, Comment, Comment, Commet Chameleon)
Once you’ve written your Twitter-themed blog post, drop a comment at the bottom of this here Mission #2 post announcing it and offering it up for others to comment on. Also, you should tweet out your post on your Twitter account! Include #MTBoS.
Finally, just like last week, you’ll go comment on the blog posts of the three people who commented directly above you. You’re of course welcome to comment on any of the other blog posts, too, and we encourage you to browse the comments to see which posts sound most interesting to you. But, if you play along with this chain mail flashback, then everyone gets at least three comments on their blog—at their site, not a response to the comment here—and everyone likes comments. So please play nice!
Stay safe out there, agent. See you in the Twitterverse!