Write the Right

Social media is all about technology. Ultimately though, it’s the words and messages that really make the difference. To that end, here’s some information that caught me by surprise that I think you’ll find interesting.

Words often look alike but have different meanings. Sound alike but have different spellings. Or look the same but sound different. Thanks to this article from Mental Floss, I now know about contronyms . . . words that are their own antonyms.

An example:

Here’s an ambiguous sentence for you: “Because of the agency’s oversight, the corporation’s behavior was sanctioned.” Does that mean, ‘Because the agency oversaw the company’s behavior, they imposed a penalty for some transgression’ or does it mean, ‘Because the agency was inattentive, they overlooked the misbehavior and gave it their approval by default’?

The article lists 25 of these gems, but here are just a few:

  • Dust is a noun turned into a verb meaning either to add or to remove the thing in question. Only the context will tell you which it is. When you dust are you applying dust or removing it? It depends whether you’re dusting the crops or the furniture.
    (Remember Amelia Bedelia?)
  • Off means “deactivated,” as in “to turn off,” but also “activated,” as in “The alarm went off.”
  • Go means “to proceed” but also “give out or fail,” as in “This car could really go until it started to go.”

The point is to be sure to choose your words carefully and eliminate any possibility that the message can be confused by a contronym.

Social Media Campaigns for Employee Recognition and Engagement

One reason school districts have embraced social media is the opportunity it gives to connect with our various stakeholders, most notably parents and community leaders. However, there is an often-overlooked stakeholder group that doesn’t get the attention it deserves, even though it is considered to be the most important group of all – our employees!

Sure, we post lots of great things about our teachers and administrators. But how often have we stopped to consider the contributions of our support personnel?  These employees serve such important roles in our schools and in the lives of students, from the bus driver who provides the first smiling face a child sees in the morning to the custodian who waves goodbye to them in the afternoon. But many times their behind-the-scenes efforts are going unnoticed, because we aren’t telling their stories like we do for our teachers.

This year, I am honoring the efforts of these hard-working employees through a social media campaign highlighting our Support Person of the Year winners from each local school. Using Canva, I create graphics for Facebook, Twitter and Instagram that include photos of the employees along with short descriptions of how they are helping to shape the journey of students and fellow employees. The hashtag #journeyshaper ties back to our district’s tagline, “Prepared for the Journey,” which shows our district’s commitment to ensuring that both our students and staff are prepared for whatever journey awaits them.

The response from the support personnel has been great! Not only has it been an easy way to boost employee morale, but it has also provided new content for my social media pages and boosted engagement. This post about our central office winner received comments from other employees about how grateful they are for Kristy’s support and assistance and generated an organic reach of 3,150!






Top Tools for Twitter Chats

Whether you’re hosting a Twitter chat for your district, or joining a conversation for your own professional development (#K12prchat), there are tools that will do the job much better than the Twitter website or app.

Here is a list of the best Twitter chat tools out there.

The first few options all have a chatroom-like interface and automatically include the chat hashtag when you tweet.


Pros: Unlike other options, Twubs gives you a square preview of images in any tweets.

Cons: If someone replies to you without including the hashtag, you might not see it in Twubs. Clicking the retweet button will do an old-school retweet (“RT” followed by the user’s tweet).


Pros: Tweetchat gives you the option of “highlighting” specific people, for example the chat moderator so that you can more easily see when they post a question.

Cons: Uses old-school retweets and retweets with comments. Images are left out. You won’t see any replies if they are missing the chat hashtag.

Similar to Tweetchat is tchat.io, but without the “highlight” feature, and clicking the retweet button will open a popup window to Twitter, where you can do a real retweet or retweet with comment.


This interface was daunting at first glance, and the dark interface isn’t as inviting as those mentioned above. However, Twitterfall is definitely more powerful. In addition to following one hashtag chat, you can follow any number of search terms or Twitter lists. You can also have mentions show up, in case someone replies to you but forgets to include the hashtag.

Bonus: you can color code the tweets; for example, direct replies or mentions will be in black, while tweets with your hashtag can be any other color of your choosing.


This is what I use for monitoring Twitter on a daily basis. For a chat, it won’t give you that “chatroom” feeling, but you will have access to the usual features that the above tools won’t provide.

The ideal set up includes one column to follow the chat hashtag, and one column to see your mentions and replies. If you are the chat moderator/host, you could even use the scheduled tweets column to set up a queue of questions to go out at specific times during the chat. Plus, you can use real retweets and retweet with comments — a feature missing from all other Twitter chat tools.

There are two downsides. First, you can’t make the columns very wide, so you will only see a few tweets at a time — much less of a “chatroom” feeling. Second, Tweetdeck won’t automatically include the chat hashtag when you tweet.

Similar to Tweetdeck is the reliable, column-based interface Hootsuite. The downside, however, is that their fastest automated refresh is 2 minutes. You have to manually refresh a column if you want to see new tweets any faster.

What I use

No one tool has every feature. During Twitter chats I use Twubs as my primary tool, with Tweetdeck open in another window so I can be notified of mentions and replies that don’t include the chat hashtag.

Here is a feature comparison chart to help you find your ideal Twitter chat tool:

Twitter Chat Tool Comparison Chart

Using video to optimize your Facebook reach

Video is king of social media. I know it, you know it, we all know it. Even amidst the constant fluctuation of Facebook algorithm changes, video remains a huge part of Facebook. The average video post on our Parkway Schools Facebook page reaches four times more people on average than a post with a photo and eight times more on average than a post containing a link.

Rather than try to beat the game, just make awesome stuff! Post as much video content as you can. If you don’t think you can do it because you lack the equipment or expertise, consider this: the majority of content can be done with a tool you carry with you every day – your phone. Some of my favorite apps to edit video on my phone are iMovie and GoPro’s Splice. If you have an Android phone, Videoshop is a terrific tool.

Here are some tips on what type of content works best:

Interviewing kids:
Seems obvious right? But anytime you put a camera in front of a few students and ask a simple question, they often say some of the most funny, smart and genuine things you could imagine.

Spin on what’s hot:
Seen the #MannequinChallenge? Maybe the Tasty videos? Keep updated on the latest trends and create something similar that ties in to your district in a unique way.

Kindness counts:
Feel-good, emotional stories usually do very well on social media. Did students open up a food pantry, donate time or have a special friendship? Those stories tug heartstrings.

Have fun! We have terrific kids among us who do amazing things every day. Hollywood studios would love to have what we have. Go capture those moments!