Thursday, February 5, 2015

You, Too, Can Moderate a Twitter Chat*

I have been continually inspired through my participation in the Breakfast Club 5:30 AM twitter chats (heretofore referred to as #BFC530 ET and MT). They truly are "spark chats" that take just 15 minutes of your time initially, with positive effects lasting much longer. I also joined the Voxer chat group, and frequently learn from my BFC Voxer friends as I listen to posts on the way home.

You can read more about #BFC530 here, but the best way is to just follow the hashtag #BFC530 (Did you know you can search twitter even if you do not have an account? ...although I can't imagine learning without twitter now. ) Because I had gained so much, I decided it was time for me to attempt to give back, so I volunteered to moderate for a day.

I had recently read a post about an ASCD book by Suzy Pepper Rollins called Learning in the Fast Lane: 8 Ways to Put All Students on the Road to Academic Success. The first chapter really resonated with me. Take the time to open the link above; does the first paragraph describe anything you've ever seen?

Book available from

Topics on #BFC530 have been very thought-provoking, applicable to almost any educators' situation, sometimes philosophical, sometimes content-specific, sometimes serious, sometimes fun. Inspired by the book, I decided to submit the topic, "What are your best methods to assist struggling students?" and agreed to moderate both the 5:30 am ET and 5:30 MT (7:30 am for me). When I was booked into the schedule, I looked forward to it with eager anticipation for an entire week.

My initial thoughts: the 530 ET chat will be very nerve-wracking because there are so many people. The MT chat will be really easy, because not as many people participate. Was I ever wrong!!

The 530 ET chat generally begins a few minutes early with lots of hellos from around the world (lately including many laments about weather and snow day and delay announcements, as well as comments about the heat from our Floridian, SW US and Down Under friends) When I have tweetdeck open, it is a fast and furious conversation that reminds me of spinning fruit on a slot machine.

The surprising, wonderful thing about the MT chat was that while there were fewer participants, the conversation was much richer, deeper, and challenging.  There was actually time to think through a response and interact with the participants. I felt that my role as moderator was more important. There was more time to ask more questions to keep things moving, and more time to formulate a reply.

I've noticed that many of the valuable chats I've participated in have moderators who move things along (believe it or not, sometimes we get off topic!), and have carefully thought out questions that build upon previous ones.  However, they are also not averse to capitalizing on a good question or comment shared by a participant.  If you like leading class discussions, you'll be a natural, and if not, you can learn (growth mindset noted).  Before I give myself too much credit, it should be noted that yes, this was just a 15-minute chat. Many chats are an hour long, although I am starting to notice more 30-minute chats as well.

Please consider joining the #BFC530 chat sometime, no matter what your time zone. There are some storify posts available as well, and you will have a treasure chest of favorite and reply tweets. It's also a good idea to have a method to curate much of the information you receive, because you will learn a lot! Better yet, the feelings of inspiration and camaraderie with other educators throughout the world will often last until you recharge the next week day.

*Yes, I looked up the proper use of commas in this instance; most responses said it depends upon the emphasis desired, and I wanted to emphasize you!

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