Edchat Topics For Essays

What is #Edchat?

#Edchat is the weekly Bammy Award winning Twitter conversation that any educator can join to discuss and learn about current teaching trends, how to integrate technology, transform their teaching, and connect with inspiring educators worldwide. We also discuss education policy, education reform and often have leaders worldwide join our conversations, such as Alfie Kohn, Diane Ravitch, and the Finnish Education Leaders.




 When is #Edchat?


Every Tuesday we host an Edchat conversation at 7pm NYC/ 12am UK. 


Who are we?


Please add your information HERE to let us know more about who you are and where you're coming from.  If you have a blog, please list it so we can network and further the conversation.

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This page is a place for you to share blog posts, videos, links or anything else you may want to share about a particular #edchat discussion.  We all would love to hear how the ideas and conversations we have translate into reality.

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A screenshot from TweetDeck showing, left, a recent #Edchat stream and, right, the #Engchat stream at the same time.

Like other groups with shared interests, from epidemiologists to James Joyce fans to locked-out N.F.L. players, teachers are turning to Twitter to collaborate, share resources and offer each other support.

Many, in fact, are using it to take professional development into their own hands, 140 characters at a time.

Each week, thousands of teachers participate in scheduled Twitter “chats” around a particular subject area or type of student. Math teachers meet on Mondays, for instance, while science discussions happen on Tuesdays, new teachers gather on Wednesdays and teachers working with sixth graders meet Thursdays. (Jerry Blumengarten, Twitter’s @cybraryman1, posts this helpful list of educational chats.)

By using hashtags — that is, words or phrases preceded by the # symbol, like “#Scichat” for science educators — users can organize, search and find messages on a particular topic all in one place.

Anyone can participate, and joining is easy: just go to Twitter, search for the hashtag of the chat that appeals to you, and start to read the stream of messages. When you’re ready to add your own thoughts or share resources, just append that same hashtag to your Twitter message. (For more tips, visit our “Nuts and Bolts” and “Resources” lists.)

For instance, as I write this, an English teacher could dip into the #Engchat stream and find a link to a list of five-minute grammar lessons, a query about how to use stations in literature classes, and a note from a high school teacher about how she did a rap for her sophomores on reading strategies to the tune of “Ice, Ice Baby.”

If you wanted to write your own Twitter message and add it to this stream, you’d just say something brief, and put #Engchat at the end of it. For instance, you might write: “Some great resources for Banned Books Week here: //nyti.ms/9qPVku #Engchat.”

We chose three of the chats where New York Times and Learning Network resources are most often shared, and interviewed the founders about what they do, why and how.

Below, you’ll find a question-and-answer session with Thomas D. Whitby and Shelly Sanchez Terrell, the founders of #Edchat, a place for educators of all kinds to gather, and the grandfather of the education Twitter chats; Greg Kulowiec, co-founder of #SSchat for social studies teachers; and Meenoo Rami who created #Engchat for English teachers.

Please note: For simplicity’s sake, from here on we’ll refer to each chat without the hashtag symbol. In the Q. and A. below, we’ll also refer to each participant by his or her initials.

What are Edchat, SSchat and Engchat and how did they come about?

S.T.: The conversation began two years ago between three educators, Tom Whitby, Steven Anderson and me. We all desired education transformation and we all saw the need for educational stakeholders to discuss, debate, explore, reflect and act on various issues which impact education. We also included guest experts early on for Edchat.

T.W.:We realized that many valuable mini-discussions were taking place on Twitter with limited exposure, so we started Edchat to gather as many tweeters as we could, at the same place and at the same time, to discuss topics important to educators in general.

Eventually, faced with global participation, we had to add a noon Edchat to accommodate the time zones in Europe. The Edchat Poll was then developed to give participants more of a say in topic choice. (Some of the broad topics of our chats have been pedagogy, methods, curriculum, skills, technology, leadership, testing, and reform.)

We later branched out to do live sessions with education leaders like Alfie Kohn, Diane Ravitch, Howard Rheingold, Gary Stager, Jim Burke and Steve Hargadon.

S.T.: Alfie Kohn was our first guest, and he spoke about the homework myth. During his dynamic conversation with teachers, Edchat became the number five trending topic on Twitter. We believe this is one of the few educational hashtags that has become a trending topic.

M.R.: I modeled Engchat after Edchat. Last year, a lot of education Twitter chats were emerging but there were none dedicated to English teachers. I was nervous about taking on the task, wondering whether it would actually work or not. But I took the plunge and started Engchat in August 2010.

G.K.: The social studies chat came about in July 2010. I started to participate in various chats, but, as Meenoo did with English teachers, noticed that there wasn’t one that was dedicated to history or social studies teachers. Our first chat took place in July 2010 with about 10 participants. Ron Peck joined in from the very beginning to help us build the chat. The number of participants has grown tremendously in the first year, with the weekly discussion poll getting an average of 70+ votes.

What have been some of the most popular topics?

M.R.: Our biggest turnout for Engchat was when Diane Ravitch hosted; she discussed her book, “The Death and Life of the Great American School System.” She was frank, honest and really made the teachers feel like she understood how they were feeling in our current political climate. Other popular topics have included using technology in literacy; teaching Shakespeare; building a learning community in your classroom; and setting up your classroom library.

G.K.: The topics for SSchat vary, from pedagogy to crowdsourcing for resources.

T.W.: It’s difficult to determine how many people are lurking (that is, just observing) at chats. We have had over 500 individual tweeters in a single chat with over 3,000 tweets in an hour.

S.T.: What the hashtag statistics for Edchat indicated was that about 2,000 to 3,000 or more lurk and visit every Tuesday.

What kinds of contributions are most useful?

G.K.: Participants in SSchat tend to share links, resources, lesson plans, examples of projects and student work. Blog posts written by teachers that relate to the discussion topic are also extremely helpful. Although SSchat takes place on Monday nights as a synchronous discussion, people post to Twitter all week and tag their tweets with #sschat as a method to share resources asynchronously. Participants tend to use the chat hashtag all week to ask questions, share resources and prepare for the upcoming chat. We welcome all, and especially encourage new social studies teachers to join in.

M.R.: Teachers who are willing to share great links and resources with the Engchat community are greatly appreciated, as are teachers who model lifelong learning.The hashtag is active all week long and it’s the place on Twitter for English teachers to share links, resources, ideas and queries. Our community is very welcoming, and loves to connect with new followers.

S.T.: We’re looking for the same links and resources as the other chats. We also welcome participants to disagree or point out how some ideas may not work in their various contexts globally. And we welcome questions! We discourage spamming and bullying, of course.

What are some experiences that stand out for you in showing the power of the chats?

M.R.: A memorable moment for Engchat happened at I.S.T.E. in Philly this June where we actually did our usual Monday night chat, but this time in real life at a bar. It was great to bring the usual participants together and connect in person.

G.K.: The most memorable night for us was when the news of the death of Osama bin Laden broke. People were immediately on SSchat and we were sharing resources and ideas on how to bring this into our classrooms the next day. We then modified the Monday night chat after the announcement to address the news and discuss how to teach this topic in our classrooms.

The second most memorable moment was when a group of SSchat participants submitted a proposal to present at the National Council for the Social Studies Conference. The proposal was written online using a Google document, and none of the participants in the submission had ever met face to face at that point. The proposal was accepted and we will be able to share this fantastic experience with more history teachers from all over the country.

We are also currently in the planning process for EdcampSS in March 2012. The chats are an outstanding way to collaborate. We hope to create an experience where anyone who participates in SSchat will be able to meet their fellow contributors face to face.

T.W.: I am always blown away by the number of references that edubloggers make to Edchat experiences. Stories about Edchat have also appeared in every major educational journal.

S.T.: Our Edchat has created real change by igniting new projects, adding more educators to the conversation, inspiring over 400 additional educational chats, a new school, a free online conference with over 4,000 attendees, an international blogging day of education reform and so much more. Visit this Wallwisher to read about specific stories.

We have also had various educational leaders participate in Edchat and discuss education transformation with teachers. Students, teachers, parents, administrators, education policymakers, and community leaders participate in the conversation each week and collaborate on education reform.

The hashtag can be used by anyone interested in improving education. It was the first educational panel for the 140 Conferences and inspired even more education panels. I would argue that Edchat is one of the most powerful hashtags creating real change in schools.

In general, how do you think new forms of teacher-to-teacher digital communication can impact individual classrooms and schools?

M.R.: Teachers have collective wisdom and we can crowdsource some of common issues we all face in the classroom. By participating in these peer-to-peer forums, teachers are really teaching other teachers. They are willing to share their expertise and are also willing to learn from other teachers. There is real power and potential for positive change in education in these niche communities.

G.K.: Teacher collaboration through social media tools is transforming the way teachers find, develop and use content in their classes. Twitter and our chats allow educators to crowdsource for content, ideas, pedagogy and research.

Social media also allows teachers to connect their classrooms to create collaborative projects that would have otherwise been impossible. Participating in a Twitter chat is an energizing and motivating experience, one that will force you to reconsider your perspective and grow as an educator.

T.W.: It enables educators to know what it is that they don’t know. It exposes educators to a larger frame of reference in the world of education. It offers a connection with people and sources that will help them understand and explore issues about which they were previously unaware. They are no longer isolated educators limited to the experiences and sources of their small schoolhouses.

S.T.: These weekly discussions offer a source of inspiration and motivation for teachers who feel burnt out and unsupported. The conversations lead to real action, and the resources help educators in every field with any problem. Educators who are on Edchat will often ask questions and spark conversations throughout the week. Our chat is used by teachers daily to inspire, motivate and connect. Moreover, these chats inspire educators, parents, students and administrators to collaborate on education transformation worldwide as well as practice continuous reflection and learning.

What do you have planned for this school year?

M.R.: At Engchat, we’re in our second year, with excitement and enthusiasm. We have some great guest moderators lined up, such as Kelly Gallagher, Sam Chaltain, Kirsten Olson, Kevin Honeycutt, Jo Knowles and many more.

G.K.: The biggest move is to plan and organize EdcampSS for March 24, 2011. There is also an SSchat group on Edutopia’s Web site and we will continue to grow and improve the SSchat Ning. We also welcome new participants and welcome anyone who is interested in guest moderating.

S.T.: We’ll continue to provide free Webinars with educational leaders and support other educational hashtags through Edchat. We have been working with various researchers throughout the year who are now publishing their findings about the impact of Edchat.

We will continue to take Edchat to audiences worldwide in face-to-face conferences. We’re hosting a 24 hour Edchat marathon and a Call for Action day where educators worldwide will present their specific plans for education reform.

The Nuts and Bolts:


To observe: Visit the Edchat wiki to learn more, or just take a look at the #Edchat page on Twitter.

To participate: After you join Twitter you can join one of the live discussions every Tuesday at noon and 7 p.m. Eastern time by adding #edchat to the end of your messages. For more, visit the Edchat tips page.


To observe: Visit the engchat site, where you can find archived chats as well as watch the Twitter stream live — or go to the #Engchat page on Twitter to read the messages.

To participate: After you join Twitter you can participate every Monday from 7-8 p.m. Eastern time.


To observe: Visit the sschat ning, where you can find archived chats, or just take a look at the #SSchat page on Twitter.

To participate: After you join Twitter you can participate every Monday from 7-8 p.m. Eastern time by searching for #sschat on Twitter and adding #sschat to your messages so others following the discussion can see yours.

More About Twitter:

A list of Twitter chats for educators and their hashtags can be found at Cybrayman’s collection of Educational Chats on Twitter page

In Twittering, Not Frittering: Professional Development in 140 Characters, Suzie Boss explains the basics of how teachers can get started on Twitter, and why they should.

In How to Use Twitter to Grow Your PLN, Betty Ray lays out more simple ways to getting the most from other educators on Twitter.

If you’d like to read more about the “cultural shorthand” of hashtags, check out the Times article, Twitter’s Secret Handshake.

In our own post, Three Teachers’ Answers to Questions on Classroom Microblogging, we interview teachers who use Twitter and other microblogging tools with the students in their classrooms.

Finally, follow the Learning Network and its staff on Twitter:

@NYTimesLearning — Our main account, from which we send news daily about what’s on our blog as well as what else is in The New York Times and around the Web that might interest teachers.

@KSchulten — Katherine Schulten‘s personal account

@heoj — Holly Epstein Ojalvo‘s personal account

More About the Interviewees:

Greg Kulowiec, co-creator of SSchat, is a history teacher and technology integration specialist at Plymouth South High School, in Plymouth, MA. He blogs at The History 2.0 Classroom.

Meenoo Rami, creator of Engchat, teaches her students English at Science Leadership Academy, a partnership high school between the School District of Philadelphia and The Franklin Institute.

Shelly Sanchez Terrell, co-creator of Edchat and Eltchat, is the Vice President of Educator Outreach for Parentella, and the Social Media Community Manager for The Consultants-E. She blogs at Teacher Reboot Camp.

Thomas D. Whitby, co-creator of Edchat, taught secondary English for 34 years and is now an adjunct professor at St. Joseph’s College in New York. He created The Educator’s PLN, a global Ning site, where approximately 10,000 educators worldwide share and collaborate daily, and blogs at My Island View: Educational, Disconnected Utterances.

“The most memorable night for us was when the news of the death of Osama bin Laden broke. People were immediately on SSchat and we were sharing resources and ideas on how to bring this into our classrooms the next day.”

— Greg Kulowiec

“I would argue that edchat is one of the most powerful hashtags creating real change in schools.”

— Shelly Terrell

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