Math Rocks Mission #4: 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 Missions #1 and 3, 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

We already created our Twitter accounts in Mission #2, but there are a few more things you can do to get properly set up before beginning the mission.

One thing that makes Twitter so powerful is being able to follow people. In your case, you’re probably going to want to follow some fellow elementary educators. Here’s a list of folks to follow if you need help getting started.

If Twitter forced 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.

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!

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!

This is a cat picture.

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

Twitter Mini-missions:

  • If you’re new to Twitter, announce and introduce yourself in a tweet and include the hashtag #MTBoS. (Note that a hashtag is 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 their Twitter handle – @[Twitterhandle].
  • 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 their Twitter handle – @[Twitterhandle].
  • Open up the #ElemMathChat and/or #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!
  • #makeupawackyhashtagandtrytogetittocatchon.
  • 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 #ElemMathChat and #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 #4 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. If you have room in your tweet, also include #ElemMathChat.

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!


From Exploring the MTBoS Mission #2 by Justin Lanier (with minor adaptations)

Math Rocks Mission #2: Getting Started with Twitter

The other tool you’ll need this year is a Twitter account.

Ready to get started? In this mission, we’re going to guide you through setting up a Twitter account, help you decide your Twitter ID, and talk you through privacy settings.

If you already have a Twitter account, skip down to step 4.

If you’re new to Twitter, don’t fret, it’s a cinch! It will probably take you no more than 10 minutes! And that’s if you’re slow at typing.

If you really have no idea what Twitter is or how it works, watch this short video. It’s corny.

Here’s a link, just in case:

We’re going to post the steps to sign up below, but we also want to share these eight videos with you. They are to-the-point and made by a teacher for teachers dipping their feet in.

1. Sign up for Twitter and get a username

To sign up:

  • Go to and find the Sign up box.
  • Enter your name, email address, and a password
  • Click Sign up
  • On the next page, select a username. This is a unique identifier for you on Twitter. The one you want may not be available, so you might have to think of a few possibilities.
  • Double check your name, email address, password, and username.
  • Click Create my account. And you’re done! See, simple!

2. Say who you are

You will get to upload a picture that will represent you on Twitter. You can always change the picture later! You should definitely upload some image. The picture that you use gives everyone reading your tweets a super quick way to recognize you. You’ll have to make the decision whether to use a picture of yourself, or of something else. It doesn’t really matter.

You will also have to write a short description of yourself. Do this. Seriously, let me say that again, do this.

What is common to all of these is that they all talk about teaching math. That is super important…trust me. When deciding whether to follow someone on Twitter or not, most of us use this description to decide whether you’re worth following or a spambot Twitter account!

3. Decide your privacy settings

Here’s where you need to think about how public you want to be.

My recommendation is that you initially Twitter with public settings, so that whatever you tweet can be seen by anyone who goes to your Twitter page. That’s probably not quite the advice you expected. But when you start tweeting, you’re going to be finding people to follow, and people are going to be deciding whether to follow you back. And when someone is making the decision whether to follow you or not, they will often go to your page to see who you’re talking to and what you’re saying. If you’re not public, they can’t see anything. So my advice is to start out public and just remember to keep it professional.

However, after a while, once you’re gotten a core group, if you feel you want to go private and let your hair down a little, it’s really simple. You go to setting and click the checkbox:

Then anything you say after you go private is protected. That means only people that you approve to follow you can see your tweets. Of course, regardless of whether you are protected or not, you want to make sure that you’re being professional, especially since your followers can take screenshots of what you say and share those with anyone they want.

4. Follow, read, and tweet

  • Follow @bstockus and @reginarocks
  • Explore tweets in the #ElemMathChat hashtag.
  • Tweet something. If you’re not sure what to tweet out, here are a couple of ideas:
    • What is one thing you are wondering about during our session today?
    • What is one thing you are looking forward to this school year – it doesn’t even have to be math related.
    • Share a link to an online resource that you like to use in your planning.

Be sure to include the hashtag #rrmathrocks in your tweet.