I’ve been messing around on Twitter since early 2007 – using it, well . . . not very often. Early on there just wasn’t wasn’t a ton of people who even knew what it was. Four or five of the people in our office got on it but it really was easier to just get up and walk across the room to ask them what they had for lunch.
I understood the concept, even chatted about the potential for Twitter to connect kids, teachers, and experts. But it just seemed difficult to find the time and energy to follow it much.
It’s different now.
Twitter has over 50 million users. Teachers are using it. Non-profits are using it. Kids are using it. It actually fulfilled its potential. And you should be user 50 million and one.
Why? Lots of reasons but mainly because of #sschat.
Social Studies Chat, with its Twitter hashtag #sschat, is a network of social studies teachers using Twitter as a way to grow professionally, share resources, ask questions, and get smarter. Together with its Ning site, Social Studies Chat is an awesome resource for social studies teachers.
If the only reason you get on Twitter is to use #sschat, it’s the only reason you need.
SSChat started July 6, 2010 after Ron Peck and Greg Kulowiec realized that while #edchat was a great conversation, that particular Twitter chat for educators wasn’t focused on content that would help them where it mattered most–their social studies classroom. The two discussed having a history chat but decided on social studies and the hashtag #sschat was born. So, on Monday July 12, 2010 the first #sschat took place on Twitter. Our first topic was using tech tools in the social studies classroom. Over the next several months the chat remained small in numbers discussing topics like PBL, critical thinking and using maps in the social studies classroom.
At the beginning of 2011 the chat began and continues to grow. Becky Ellis and then Shawn McCusker came on board to assist and support the chat. Others who have joined us and are part of a great supporting cast are Jamie Josephson, Susie Nestico, Heather Kilgallon and Angela Cunningham.
In March of 2011 we conducted our first crowdsourcing chat and it was incredibly productive on the Cold War. The chat produced 75 pages of resources and ideas for teachers to use. Another event that revealed the true potential of this community, was the spontaneous real time chat that took place on the night that Osama Bin Laden was killed.
In addition to the discussions hosted on the Ning site, SSChat also conducts weekly live chats via Twitter Mondays at 7pm EST. I often am not able to participate in the weekly chats so I spend a lot of time on the archive of the recent chats.