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

Twitter-art - sunshine

It’s happening! The National Association for Gifted Children (@NAGCGIFTED) and Hoagies (@HoagiesGifted) are now on Twitter. I couldn’t be more pleased. Social networking can propel advocacy and learning. Now, we just need to keep spreading the word.  Let’s learn more about how we can all “Tweet for Gifted Education!”

Most of you are likely familiar with the National Association for Gifted Children and Hoagies, but be sure to visit them online regularly. The National Association for Gifted Children can be found at www.nagc.org. Hoagies can be found at www.hoagiesgifted.org. Both are phenomenal resources for supporting the needs of our high-potential learners. And now you can start following them on Twitter! I’m also pleased to welcome Carol Fertig (@cfertig1), author of Raising a Gifted Child: A Parenting Success Handbook (Prufrock Press), to our Twitter community. She will undoubtedly be a great asset as well.

As promised, today’s Ingeniosus post will focus on Twitter basics, including:
  • Updating in 140 characters or less
  • Replying to tweets
  • Learning about the all-powerful RT (“Retweet”)
  • Sending DMs (Direct Messages)
  • Knowing when to include a hashtag (#)
  • Doing subject searches and saving subject searches
I’ll let you know in advance this is quite a lengthy post, but I hope you’ll stay with me. We need you! Also, if you have been tweeting for months and/or a year (and already understand/practice Twitter etiquette) or perhaps have additional suggestions or opinions, feel free to share your wisdom, fill in the gaps and add your comments.

If the only thing you have done at this point is create an account, pat yourself on the back! I’ll do my best to keep this post simple, yet informative for you. Be patient with yourself too. If you have specific questions, feel free to email me at deborah@ingeniosus.net.

Twitter pic

Ingeniosus hopes that you will continue to explore Twitter and contribute, so we can “Tweet for Gifted Education” and:

  • Share gifted education resources and news in real time
  • Promote advocacy and action on behalf of high-potential learners
  • Learn from one another

Whether you are a student, parent, teacher, gifted and talented (GT) coordinator for a public school district, gifted association representative, university professor, private gifted school administrator, marketing director, psychologist, author, superintendent and/or a politician passionate about gifted issues, we can all benefit from your participation. Now, let’s talk Twitter!


What are you doing?


Updating in 140 Characters or Less: What should you tweet?

If you’re wondering what to put in the ominous box, here are some suggestions for you to consider. I have lumped updating into five primary categories:

  • Personal updates
  • Professional updates
  • Resource updates
  • News updates
  • Reply updates

The personal update can be anything:

  • “Feeling grateful that my husband cooks dinner every night; how did I get so lucky?”
  • “Wondering if anyone else has children addicted to Toontown?”
  • “After visiting Breckenridge, I’m feeling even more proud to be a Coloradoan.”
  • “I’m going to try out www.peoplebrowsr.com today; I’ve heard it’s incredible.”

The tweets above are ones I could post. And while I have not tended to post lots of personal updates, I will probably start doing it a bit more, but not too much. It’s completely up to you.

Regarding the character count, Twitter will alert you if your update is too long. I highly recommend you avoid lots of abbreviations; it’s just kinder and more thoughtful to be succinct with your words.

The professional update can be anything related to your work:

  • Tell us what you’re working on, ask a question and/or share what conferences you’re planning to attend.
  • Write an update about what you’re learning, what’s new in your world and/or who has influenced you recently.
  • Is your state or school district losing gifted education funding?
  • Did a student say something inspiring that you want to share?
  • Are you studying Web 2.0 and/or excited about it?
  • Are you launching a new STEM program, writing a book, searching for instructors for a new gifted camp or perhaps launching a new Web site for gifted girls or boys or orchestrating a seminar for parents of twice-exceptional students?

Your professional updates will give your followers a glimpse into your world. Everyone can learn from each other’s experiences, even if your happenings seem minor to you.

One word of caution, though. Please refrain from posting overtly critical or negative updates. While our gifted community is undoubtedly a passionate one, it’s simply in good taste to focus on solutions. You’ll enjoy Twitter and learn a lot more if you avoid making critical assumptions, harsh generalizations and/or attacks on another person. If you disagree with someone, it is certainly fine to acknowledge it, but please be respectful. Treat others as you would like to be treated, and remember, we all make mistakes.

Resource updates are powerful.

Resource updates allow all of us to discover new information, which can help us grow and/or aid others’ growth (i.e. students, associations, businesses, conferences, gifted programs). Some of the best tweeters scour the Web daily, weekly or monthly to find the most outstanding and relevant links and then share them with their fellow tweeps. Others share new resources.

If you click on the live http link, you’ll find a well-researched article about the “Top 10 Myths of Gifted Students.” This is exactly the type of critical information that needs to be disseminated far and wide.

  • Recently, I “retweeted” (more on this term later) this resource update from Ginger Lewman (@GingerTPLC), director of Turning Point Learning Center: RT @GingerTPLC If you’re in AR, AZ, CO, DE, GA, IL, LA, NV, NM, NY, NC, or WA, check out this Science/STEM/Service grant:  http://bit.ly/loFjT

Knowing about upcoming grant opportunities and deadlines is yet another noble reason to “Tweet for Gifted Education.”

If you are a gifted association, a resource update might include links to your newsletter, an online Web page and/or a conference overview. You could even tweet your “Call for Proposals.”

I’ll get more into posting links and shortening URLs in my next post, but in the meantime, feel free to explore http://bit.ly/.

If you are a GT summer camp coordinator, you could tweet your summer schedule and sign-ups in advance. Authors can share blogs. Educators can tweet about their courses, recent findings, favorite white papers and/or Web sites.

  • Here is a recent resource update from Duke University’s Talent Identification Program (@duketip) that I “retweeted” (“RT”): RT @duketip #Gifted parents and educators, we recommend reading: “Knowns and Unknowns about the New SAT”, from Duke Gifted Letter. http://bit.ly/le3IZ

This is also where advocacy comes into play. Last week, I was honored to retweet this resource update from @NAGCGIFTED:

Think of the difference we can make working together!

News updates educate us all

News updates are my personal passion. I tweet gifted education news from around the globe nearly every day. If you follow me (@DeborahMersino), you’ll see the stream. I try to use the publication’s headline when possible, but sometimes copy editors don’t do the subject justice, and I rearrange the words a bit.

  • Here’s a recent news update: Washington Post | Shortchanging High Achievers | Summer programs for #gifted students are on the chopping block | http://bit.ly/oi2KZ

If you come across news that interests you, please share it! I’ll do my best to retweet your news update.

News updates are not limited to media. Does your business, association, organization, therapy practice, district GT program and/or summer program have news to share? Post a news update. You’ll have the best luck if you’re relevant and straightforward; a hard sell can work against you.

Reply updates rule Twitter

Reply updates rule Twitter. They serve as the backbone of this social community. The stirring interaction, learning and sharing that takes place primarily happens through reply updates. So how do you reply to someone?

If you are following someone and want to reply to an update they’ve posted, you have options. Let’s say Lisa Lauffer (@deepwaterscoach), a life coach who specializes in working with parents of gifted children, posts something I find inspiring. I can:

  • Write an update that starts off with her name, so that she knows I’m directing my update to her, like this, “@deepwaterscoach– Isn’t that great? Thank you for sharing.”
  • I could send her a DM (“Direct Message”), which only she would see. You can do this if – and only if – the other person is following you. Just click on “Direct Messages” in the column on your right and you’ll see this:



It will show you the people to whom you can send a direct message. Type away (in 140 characters or less) and then click on send. That person will receive your message via their email.

  • Lastly, if I really like what Lisa Lauffer wrote, I might also “Retweet” (RT) her update. To do this, I would simply type in my update box: RT @deepwaterscoach: Hey, everybody! Hoagie’s is now on Twitter! Follow @HoagiesGifted! #gifted

Just be sure to RT exactly what the person originally tweeted, so that you represent them properly/fairly. We’re nearly done, so hang in there!

What are Hashtags? When and Why to Use Them?

I want to explain what a hashtag (#) is and how it is used. If we’re going to “Tweet for Gifted Education,” then we need to know how to search for gifted information and updates. When I post anything relating to gifted learners, I add #gifted at the end of my update. If the word “gifted” is already in my update, I can simply add a hashtag (#) before the word gifted, like this:

  • Irvine- UC Irvine Extension Offers #Gifted & Talented Education Seminars at No Cost | Available Globally Online | http://bit.ly/lykGO

Now, if you want to search for #gifted posts, simply type in “gifted” in the subject search box:

See what’s happening — right now.

You’ll then see a stream of the most recent updates relating to that subject.

Feel free to create your own hashtags. I envision a day when we will have #COgifted for educators, parents and gifted organizations wanting to follow gifted updates specific to Colorado, #NZgifted for those interested in New Zealand’s gifted issues, #giftedcamps for camp options for high-potential learners, etc. We will have to see what we create together!

Once you search for a subject, you’ll have the option to “Save this search.” I recommend this. For now, feel free to simply use #gifted for any general updates of interest to the gifted community.

As your followers grow, it’s also a good idea to search for yourself (I search for @DeborahMersino) to see if anyone has directed a reply to you (that you may have missed). I also search for #education, #edreform, etc. And if you like jazz, search for #jazz. Enjoy the exploration! The possibilities are endless.

Speaking of endless, I’ve got to end this post now! I’ll plan to cover the subjects of “Shortening URLs” and “Who to Follow”, as well as much, much more in my next Ingeniosus post.

Please know that I have been inspired by your courage, particularly those of you who are treading into new territory and into the future – the world of social media. You are to be commended! If you happen to know others who might benefit from this post, please pass it along. In the meantime, have fun on www.twitter.com.



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