Gifted Education and Twitter: How Social Networking Can Propel Advocacy and Learning – Part I

If you’re a proponent of gifted and talented (GT) education, a parent interested in gifted issues, a teacher who believes in visionary methods, a charter school enthusiast, education reformist, private gifted school administrator, GT association board member and/or a university professor offering a summer program for gifted students, please accept my warm welcome! You are about to enter a post on the Twitosphere.

Twitter pic


For those of you who tweet (post Twitter updates) regularly, I applaud you. Feel free to read along and add your own savvy recommendations and comments. Today, I will offer some basic tips – an “Intro to Tweeting” of sorts – for those who are mystified, intimidated and/or perhaps uncertain about how Twitter might fit into their already busy lives.

Before getting into specifics, though, I would like to offer three reasons to “Tweet for Gifted Education”:

  • Connections
  • Learning
  • Advocacy

The opportunity for impact is significant. Twitter’s traffic continues to grow at an incredible rate. Recent numbers show this microblogging service now attracts nearly 14 million visitors in the U.S. alone (Nielsen Online, March ’08) (taken from Mashable blog). That number is growing daily.

The beauty of Twitter is its customization features. You can choose to follow celebrities, foodies, politicians, sports fans, news organizations and/or friends. And (drum roll please), you also can choose to follow individuals and organizations passionate about gifted education.

Being able to tailor your interface and experience makes Twitter both efficient and worthwhile. If you’re willing to get up to speed, you’ll not only make powerful connections, you’ll have the chance to share information, soak up learning and participate in real-time advocacy.

I’d like to see Ingeniosus help ignite a movement among GT advocates and connect tens of thousands of people who understand and appreciate the vital need for gifted education.


So, how does someone get started on Twitter? The sign-up process is somewhat self-explanatory, but here is a quick primer with some tips:

  1. Go to www.twitter.com and click on the green “Get Started – Join” button.
  2. Fill in the simple blanks (Full name, Username, Password and Email address). When creating a Username, you can choose your name (I’m @DeborahMersino) or use a moniker. Duke University’s Talent Identification Program is @DukeTIP. If you have a long name, you might want to consider going with just your first initial and last name or something shorter. Every character counts and the shorter your name, the more apt others will be to retweet your posts (more on this later). Feel free to get creative, but remember, you won’t be able to change your Username later. Choose wisely.
  3. After you click on “Create a new account”, you’ll be taken to a page that allows you to find friends. Feel free to click on “Skip this step.”
  4. You’ll come to a page that says, “Look who else is here. Start following them.” Twitter automatically selects popular Twitter users for your perusal. Feel free to uncheck the “Select All” button, click on “Skip this Step” or look through the list. You might have fun following a few. I do chuckle at tweets from @jimgaffigan. Be careful though. You don’t want your entire page filled with celebrity tweets each day. You want to be selective in who you follow.
  5. You’ll then be taken to a plain-looking page asking “What are you doing?” And so it begins!
  6. If you click on “Settings”, you’ll see a page where you can customize your “Profile” page. Your “Profile” page is what people will see if they click on your username. It will contain your tweets only. You can upload a picture of yourself, change the background and/or decide whether you want to protect you updates or not. It’s best to make your tweets public, as you will eventually want to participant in Twitter chats (more on this later).
  7. If you click on “Find People”, you’ll have a chance to enter in names. When you find someone and click on “Follow” you’ll start seeing that person’s updates (unless they’ve made their updates private).

Remember, you are limited to 140 characters (and always will be); however, please don’t abbreviate words. Simply be selective. Start with “Joining Twitter” or something simple. While it’s okay to share personal tidbits on occasion, real catalysts share information.

I happen to track and post all accessible (non-subscription) mass media news on gifted and talented education from across the world. Some of its well-written/researched; other reporters need more education on gifted education!

However, I hope to share what’s being published, so that we can all act and react. Some teachers share posts relating to Web 2.0; others track and post information on upcoming education conferences and events. Be a voyeur for a while. You’ll discover what interests you and how and why tweets work. My next blog entry will address “updates” in more detail (how to shorten URLs, be relevant, ask questions, retweet, search subjects, participate in events, send direct messages, respond to a tweet, follow Twitter etiquette, etc.). I learned all of this through trial and error; hopefully, you can have a shorter runway and tweet well from the get-go.


Tip: I’ll save you some time and share some of my favorite gifted education tweeps: @PrufrockPress, @NAGCGIFTED, @DavidsonGifted, @bfwriter, @DukeTIP, @teachagiftedkid and @MyGiftedLife.

This is just a beginning. There are many more. You may want to follow educators not specific to the gifted and talented field. @russeltarr is an amazing history educator from the U.K.; I find his updates intriguing. I also follow marketing communications pros because that’s my other passion area. Find what you like and enjoy.

Together, we can grow our networks and share news and information. Ideally, we can incite action benefiting gifted and talented students. If you’re a gifted organization and want to learn more about sharing news via social media, feel free to contact me directly at deborah@ingeniosus.net.

If you’re in a parent support group, invite your friends to come aboard. The more people we have learning and advocating, the better.I welcome your feedback on the Ingeniosus blog and look forward to sharing more.  Stay tuned for “Gifted Education and Twitter: How Social Networking Can Propel Advocacy and Learning – Part II.”

Until then, cheers!

2 Responses to “Gifted Education and Twitter: How Social Networking Can Propel Advocacy and Learning – Part I”

  1. […] Gifted Education and Twitter: How Social Networking Can Propel Advocacy & Learning – Part … […]

  2. […] Seven resources from around the web that might be useful in your classroom. Originally posted on Twitter. You can find me there as @ByrdseedGifted. If you’re new, Deborah Mersino has a great introductory write up. […]

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