Balancing life with social media

This post is brought to you by the word: hiatus  [hahy-EY-tuhs]   /haɪˈeɪtəs/

1. a break or interruption in the continuity of a work, series,action, etc.
2. a missing part; gap or lacuna


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I’ve been away from my blog for a long while – sorry about that. I hate that I’ve become one of the many people who have left their blog lonely and stale. Actually, I’ve taken quite a long and significant social media break lately because work and family life got rather busy and that was my priority. After family got busy, it got even busier when I had a baby girl in mid July. Now I’m feeling ready to get back into the swing of things (maternity leave helps a great deal) and start posting to my blog more regularly again. To that end, I thought a good topic to discuss might be the balance between social media and real life because, let’s face it, many of us really struggle with this. Here are some suggestions that work for me or for others.

Decide how much time you have to commit and at what level of commitment

Do you have 1 hour a day or 3-5 hours a day? Will you check your socmed platforms once a day or are you hooked up to them seemingly by intravenous? The time you invest can be different for different platforms. You may put more time and energy into one or two platforms (e.g. Twitter and Facebook) at the expense of all others, depending on your priority and how you use your social media. I’ve also heard of people keeping track of how much time (via post it note next to their computer) to help manage and limit the amount of time they spend on social media sites.

How much time you want to invest will also dictate how many different platforms you can handle. Personally, I’ve found I devote the most time to Twitter, then some time to my blog and very little time to Facebook. I devote almost no time whatsoever to LinkedIn and have basically dropped Google +. That’s become my preference in how I use social media and I reserve the right to change that up based on where I’m at in life at any given time.

Find ways to make this time investment the best bang for your buck

Consider scheduling your social media time and posts

I once read an article that mentioned checking your email on a schedule, rather than having it open to pop up and tell you whenever an email has arrived. This is so that you aren’t interrupted as often and can be more productive. I think this is a good trick for social media as well. Schedule times throughout your day to check or update to your various socmed platforms, especially on busy days. I’ve found egg.timer a great tool for this to ensure I keep to one task for a certain period of time and when the timer goes off, I can check email and Twitter for a few minutes, then I reset the timer.

Scheduling future updates/posts (through a social media client like Hootsuite – which can handle Twitter, Facebook and many other social networks simultaneously) can be very handy for this so that your posts come in a steady trickle and it doesn’t appear as though you’ve popped online, updated 5 different things all at once, and logged off again. Facebook now allows you to do this from your Facebook page too.


Which socmed sites are most important to you and why? Now check in on them in the order you just considered and if you run out of time, the ones lower on the list don’t get checked. In order to make Twitter, in particular, faster and easier to manage, I suggest you check and respond to any DMs and Mentions first, before you do anything else. You probably already do this but consider, if you’re having a busy day, that this is ALL you do that day.

I hear many of you saying “but I might miss something?!” with some amount of hysteria in your voice. I once felt this way too but if you can get over that fact, life becomes much easier. I might scroll back a little bit in my various timelines (through lists – see below), but not much anymore. Let’s face it, you’re missing TONS of stuff by sleeping, not following certain people, eating dinner, watching Big Bang Theory, etc. There’s plenty of sharing to go around, missing something isn’t a big deal.

Make lists and check those before you randomly check your entire timeline

If you only follow 100 people this isn’t necessary but once you go past that, it’s a huge time saver. Then you can also prioritize which lists you’ll browse depending on how much time you have. Basically, you’re filtering out the people who tweet content you don’t care as much about and ensuring you see tweets you really don’t want to miss. With lists, you can save yourself from having to browse through hundreds of other tweets to see the your favourite tweeters. How much time you have can dictate which and how many lists you peruse (or if you have time to read through your whole timeline). Here is how you create and manage lists in twitter.

You probably only need to check the #SLPeeps feed about once a day – while it is typically one of the most used hashtag in healthcare, people don’t post so much content that you can’t breeze through it in about 5 minutes two or three times a day to find what you’re interested in knowing and sharing via RT.

Learn to scan tweets quickly

Don’t feel you need to read every tweet carefully in your entire timeline. If you can perfect the art of scanning tweets for keywords, key tweeters, and whether or not they have follow up links, you can become much faster at reading what you care about and skipping what you may not be interested in right now. This just takes practice but I suggest you scan tweets for keywords (not always hashtagged words) to know if you want to read further.

Post once for all platforms

Hootsuite will allow you to connect to most socmed sites which allows you to read posts from various sites in one place. More importantly, though, it allows you to write one post and choose which sites you want the post to appear in, which is a very versatile and time saving feature!

If you use Facebook and Twitter, you can also connect your Twitter and Facebook pages to one another (if you don’t want to use Hootsuite). Your tweets will then show up as a status update on Facebook. You can do this by going to “Settings” on Twitter and “Profile” and then choosing “Post your tweets to Facebook”. I strongly suggest you hook up Twitter to go to FB and not vice versa, or else ensure you write posts that will fit within the Titter 140 character rule. This is because Facebook forwarded tweets often don’t fit in the character limit and can’t be read in their entirety from most people’s place of employment (due to Facebook blocking), not to mention you then force people to click the link to read the rest of the tweet, which is very annoying.

Timing is everything and real life people should come first

Try to choose times when you can be tweeting and casually looking through your timeline while doing something else (making supper, while eating lunch at work, quickly in between activities with family/friends). Also, know when and where it’s not OK to be checking your socmed sites (e.g. during dinner with family/friends, during fam/friend activities, while driving, during meetings at work, etc). Consider making rules for yourself or your family and sticking to them (e.g. no checking socmed when in a conversation with others, eating dinner, etc.).  Also, consider taking a complete socmed break while on vacation (or limiting its use significantly) so you’re fully present in the moment with your vacation partners and you’re getting rest/relaxation/fun. I hear some of you saying, again, “but I might miss something?!”  Yup, you definitely will,  but far better to miss something online than to miss precious moments with friends and family.

What other tips do you have to help others keep their sanity in a socmed world? Please leave me a comment – I’d love to hear from you, since perfecting this balance is a constant work in progress and what works for some people doesn’t work for others. And I’m always looking for more tips and tricks!

Using hashtags effectively to get noticed, not ignored!

This post is brought to you by the word:  append  [uh-PEND]  /əˈpɛnd/

1. to add as a supplement, accessory, or appendix;  subjoin: to append a note to a letter.
2. to attach or suspend as a pendant.
3. to sign a document with; affix: to append one’s signature to a will.


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Hashtags are very handy and a wonderful tool for Twitter (and even Google +) when used correctly. When used outside of the common and major functions that have organically emerged for hashtags, it can sometimes upset other users or, more importantly, cause your tweets to get skipped and go unread.

I want to outline the common functions for hashtags and how to use them so that you can feel confident that you are writing effective tweets that get read by others! If you don’t yet know what hashtags are, please go here first. If you want a list of commonly (and not so commonly) used speech and language hashtags go here.

Hashtags have four general functions, with hidden rules behind most of them. They are used for: chat/conference participation, marking topic area or intended audience, adding emotion/intent or thought processes to a tweet, and comedic effect. Each function requires a slightly different way of using hashtagged words in terms of the number of words included and the place in the tweet where they appear. So, let’s dig into how to use these and look like a pro (or, possibly more importantly – NOT look like a newb).

Chat/Conference Participation

This is probably the best understood function of a hashtag. If you are participating in a twitter chat or attending a conference you mark each tweet with the predesignated hashtag that everyone has agreed upon. Examples of chat hashtags are #slpchat, #ATTchat, #SpEdChat, #OTalk, etc. Examples of conference hashtags are #ASHA12 #CASLPA12 #ATIA, etc. The idea is that you use these hashtags while participating in the actual chat/conference or to provide information about upcoming chats/conferences. The hashtag usually goes at the end of the tweet but can go elsewhere if that makes sense in the flow/sentence structure of the specific tweet.

Potential Misuses

Using these hashtags for any other purpose (e.g. to advertise your product, gain attention of those who might participate for some reason, ask a question for that audience) is considered somewhat rude, especially if you do it all the time. It is more tolerated to use conference hashtags for other (albeit related topic) purposes. Some teacher-based chat tags seem to be OK with this use – for example, #edchat has become the #slpeeps tag for teachers – but I’m not certain they are OK with the (mis)use of the tag or if it’s so pervasive they just gave up worrying about it.

Why is it rude to use the tag when you aren’t tweeting about/within the chat?

It distracts those who want to participate because of off topic tweets that show up in the chat timeline. Also, it’s kind of like poaching a potential audience and then your tweets get viewed as spam, which we can all agree is a very bad thing! Also, you may not be getting your intended audience! Tweets marked with hashtags only show up for about a week in a tag search. #slpchat, for instance, only happens once every several weeks and I feel confident that SLPs don’t check that tag regularly except at chat time.


  • use the tag whenever actively participating in or promoting a chat or conference
  • use the tag when providing information/links DIRECTLY RELATED to that chat or conference topic (e.g. link about pragmatics with chat tag for upcoming or recent chat on pragmatics is fine)
  • use a conference tag for related issues or social events you want to bring to the attention of conference attendees

Do not:

  • use a chat tag for advertising or topics/tweets unrelated to the actual chat topic (use #slpeeps tag for that purpose to much greater effect and respect)

Marking Topic/Audience

Many people use hashtags for this purpose very effectively. You may want to start with or add the hashtagged word at the end of the tweet to mark it for an intended profession (e.g. #slpeeps, #audpeeps, #OT). The idea is that people in that profession or interest circle will follow the hashtag regularly and see your tweet. I follow #slpeeps and read all tweets marked with this tag once or twice a day, for example.

If you are marking an overriding topic of interest you may want to use a well followed hashtag (e.g. #AAC, #dyslexia, #autism, #SpEd, etc.). The reason to do this is the same – you are marking the tweet for an intended audience with the overriding topic of your tweet. People will often follow these sorts of tags because it is their interest area and they want to see tweets about that topic.

You may also want to mark a tweet with a hashtag so that readers can click the tag to see other relevant tweets on the topic. Did know you could click on hashtags to see all tweets with that tag? Now you do. (By the way, you can also search ANY word, not just words with a hashtag).

Only use common or ‘valid’ hashtags for this purpose

You pretty much always want to tag a tweet with a hashtag people would actually search or are actively using. How do you know if it’s a common enough hashtag that people are searching/using? Search it yourself and see what comes up. If no one or only one person (probably you) has used the tag, it’s not worth including in future tweets, unless you are actively trying to make it a new hashtag – in which case I suggest you tell people so. Also, if you search a tag and get many irrelevant tweets that are not on the same topic or audience you had intended, it’s pointless to include it (e.g. the hashtag #slp means ‘sleep’ to 99.9% of tweeters).

For example, here’s a search for #slpeeps. Clearly it is well used (one of the highest in all health care related fields!) and a general purpose hashtag intended to mark tweets as relevant or directed to SLPs. If you want SLPs to see your tweets, please mark it with #slpeeps, but don’t mark it with #slpchat, #SLPsnQs, #ASHA12 (unless it’s actually DURING or about the conference), and so on.

How Many Hashtags are Acceptable in a single tweet?

Good question. This hasn’t been narrowed down precisely, but when every second word is hashtagged it becomes cumbersome and difficult to read. This is especially true if the tags are ‘meaningless’ in that no one would ever search that hashtag (remember your search test to see if it’s a ‘valid’ hashtag).

Generally, people prefer a string of tags at the end of a tweet – maybe up to 5 or so. It’s OK to put the occasional tag in the middle of a tweet if you are only using 1-3 tags in the ENTIRE tweet. Here’s a funny but serious conversation we once had about it. Below are examples of effectively used and poorly used hashtags:

Reader Friendly:

Not Reader Friendly:

I took that example from a non-SLP on purpose so no one feels I’m potentially targeting them in this blog post (and messed up the handle so as not to offend in general) but that is a REAL tweet. Aside from the fact that the fragmented sentence is hard to read (and that the tweeter used an egg as their avatar, thus indicating they aren’t worth paying attention to in the first place), let’s look at the choice of hashtags for a moment.

I’d say the majority of those are completely unnecessary and only serve to clutter the tweet. In fact, given the topic, I’d only keep #Murdoch (valid & on topic search results) and #privacy (valid & on topic search results). #phone, #surfing, #naked, and #data come up with too many irrelevant tweets when you search them so they aren’t helpful in targeting your audience. #tapping comes up with some VERY irrelevant and off-topic (off-colour) tweets, so that’s a poor choice. #4change, while somewhat on topic, is too broad and not as relevant to this specific tweet’s content to be worth including.

When I see a hashtag heavy tweet, I almost always skip over it because it’s so annoying cumbersome to read. I’ve even unfollowed people because their tweets are regularly hashtag heavy. I know I’m not alone in this so be aware and get your tweets noticed!


  • use the common general purpose hashtags within your tweets to mark it for intended audiences
  • search the tags you’re using to see if they will be effective or just clutter
  • use the #slpeeps and #audpeeps tags for any general purpose, questions, or advertisement tweets directed at SLPs and AUDs.
  • Include only a few topical hashtags per tweet so your tweets are more readable
  • Put hashtags at the end of a tweet if you have more than 1-3 tags (but max ~5 hashtags in ANY tweet).

Do not:

  • Hashtag many words in a tweet
  • Use hashtags that are not meaningful or do not lead to many other tweets (by multiple people other than you) on the same topic.
  • Use hashtags to highlight key words just because you think people will noticed them more – people are actually more likely to ignore them (and you).

Adding Emotion/Intent

Text can be difficult to interpret correctly so we’ve designed ways to make it easier to communicate an emotion or thought behind a tweet. Emoticons are helpful, but tweeters have organically come up with some more creative solutions. Often people will add a ‘fake’ hashtag (meaning you didn’t intend anyone to search it or click on it to see similar tweets) to the end of a tweet to give it a certain emotional or topical colour. This is often used in reply to someone else.

For example:

When Tara uses #justifying – she is giving you insight into her intent or thoughts. When Carl uses #saynotohoarding, he’s doing something similar, but differently. Others use words like #sarcasm or #jk (meaning ‘just kidding’) and so on in their tweets for the same effect.

Remember that twitter is about building relationships, not just broadcasting your ideas or advertisements. So putting a single hashtag like these are helpful in bringing out your personality and making you feel like a real person behind the tweets. It also helps to give others insight into your intent or motives, which is key. I like this ability so much that I often wish I could include a hashtag for this purpose in emails. One or two well chosen words tagged at the end of a sentence can speak volumes about your frame of mind or emotional state! Where else can you (appropriately) add a random word or two to such effect? It’s genius.


  • Add a word or short groups of words in one hashtag at the ends of tweets to help elucidate your motives, state of mind, emotion, or intent.

Do not:

  • hashtag random words that do not contribute to this process (or others mentioned above).

Comedic Effect

Along the lines of adding a ‘fake’ hashtag to clarify ideas/motives/emotions/intent, which works very well, it naturally follows to use this same technique to add a brief (or sometimes not so brief) joke or wry observation to your tweet in much the same way. There are different ways of pulling this off and some ways are more effective or witty than others.

One way to make a joke in your tweet with a ‘fake’ hashtag is to add one or two words in a combined hashtag – exactly like you would with the emotion/intent purpose.

Sometimes people use whole sentences to make a hashtag joke. I strongly suggest you closely limit the really long sentence hashtags, however. Like anything, too much a good thing is too much and becomes annoying.

Tip: If you use more than 2 words in a hashtag, consider using capitalization to help your readers so that #TheHashtagLooksLikeThisAndIsMoreEasilyReadable. Also, remember that you cannot have spaces or ANY characters in a hashtag – only letters and numbers.


  • Use fake hashtags for comedic effect or to make a joke or wry commentary (when it fits the situation to do so)
  • Use only one or two joke hashtags max – almost always at the end of the tweet
  • Use this more often when talking to another tweeter than in general tweets to all your followers.

Do not:

  • Do this in every tweet – overuse any ANY/ALL hashtags can also become problematic and you will lose readers.

What do you think about these uses and potential misuses? Did I miss any uses for hashtags that you like? Please share in the comments.

Edublog Award Nominations

This post is brought to you by the word: proffer   [prof-er] /ˈprɒfər/

Verb (used with an object)
1. to put before a person for acceptance; offer.

2. the act of proffering.
3. an offer or proposal.


The Edublog Awards were born in 2004 in an attempt to share the great learning and sharing happening in online or social media for education but were being blocked by employers/districts. I feel I need to back this process since, over the past 2 years, I have become a social media enthusiast and it absolutely falls in line with my beliefs about tools to help students and professionals share and learn together across nations, oceans, and disciplines. This is my first time nominating anyone for Edublog awards, but I feel I’ve been in the online community long enough now to finally have a good idea of what I really like and have learned from. There are many I wanted to also nominate, but had to make some difficult decisions. There’s always next year, right?

Best individual blog:, who won best new blog in 2010, has continued to share great content in regular blog posts throughout 2011. Sean‘s posts hold a wealth of knowledge that can be applied to teachers or SLPs alike and applies web and tech based resources to curriculum and language development in a creative way. I love how he merges curriculum and language development and helps us all to see the overlap.

Best twitter hashtag: I admit that I personally use this hahstag more than any other but I am overwhelmed by the amount of growth and the quality of sharing through the #slpeeps tag. I especially love that the #slpeeps tag is used by many who are not SLPs to connect with SLPs or share multidisciplinary information and collaborate.

Best unconference: Unplug’d was an ‘off the grid’ summit of Canadian educators who put a great deal of thought into their individual ideas and experiences, answering the question “Why ____ Matters”. They then spent a week in Algonquin park together to share those ideas and experiences. Together, these educators are publishing their collaborative work and are sharing it at conferences across Canada to effect change and growth in education.

Best student blog: I have loved Becoming Olivia SLP since the first post. This youtube/blog combo has melded to create a vlog that is fantastically produced and creatively written by first year UWO graduate student, Olivia Hazledon. As she vlogs her journey to becoming a SLP, her audience can learn more about getting into SLP grad school, what SLPs learn about and do in their profession, or relive their own grad school journey along with her. This is my favourite blog right now, hands down.

Best educational use of social network: I’m not a teacher, although I do a little teaching, but I thoroughly enjoyed lurking on the 31 Day Game both times that it ran this year. Ben Hazzard and Rodd Lucier organized and created a game/chat/blog to help teachers learn new teaching strategies through sharing them and voting on them in a sort of round robin of teaching strategies. At the end, the participants have fleshed out the supreme strategy but have also learned many other creative techniques  along the way. Brilliant.

Best educational use of audio / video / visual / podcast: Edceptional podcast/blog by Patrick Black, Deb Truskey and Anne Truger. I enjoy how it continues to be education-based and relevant but how they often cross pollinate teachers with other professionals working in education and promote a multi-disciplinary approach to education.

Best ed tech resource sharing blog: is a fantastic blog that allows a platform for SLPs, OTs, and other professionals to share reviews on apps and suggest how they are using these apps in therapy and assessment. Created and maintained by Jeremy Legaspi, Renena Joy, Deb Taylor Tomakaros, and Sean Sweeney,  it has a wealth of information and hits all the points that a professional needs to know to decide if they would find the app useful in their practice. It’s open to others to submit reviews which allows for many different view points as apps fight to become established tools in therapy and assessment.

Lifetime achievement: I’m probably not allowed to do this, but I want to nominate two people who are, I believe, inextricably linked. Rodd Lucier and Ben Hazzard have participated in a host of activities to help educators learn, share, and grow. In fact, together they have dreamed up and then put into action many ideas. I recognize that they rarely do these things all by themselves, the scope of their ideas require great time and effort from multiple people. I don’t want to exclude the many people who have also worked hard on projects with them but I see them as the creators of many great educational events. From TEDXOntarioEd, to the 31 Day Game, to Unplug’d (to name some of their collaborative accomplishments), these two have become a force to be reckoned with in the educational sector.

Please check out these great resources – I hope you’ll find some to add to your PLN! 🙂

To tweet or not to tweet: The professional’s question(s)

Today’s post is brought to you by the word:

circumspect [sur-kuhm-spekt] /ˈsɜrkəmˌspɛkt/


1. watchful and discreet; cautious; prudent: circumspect behavior.
2. well-considered: circumspect ambition.


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Whether you are using social media for professional, personal, or a combined purpose, each professional needs to think carefully about what persona they are ‘putting out there’ onto the web and who might (will) see this persona. This becomes especially sticky when you are engaging online for personal and professional combined, but I have found that it may also be sticky for those of us only using social media professionally. It can also be problematic for those who are only using social media for personal, but who happen to be professionals. So, basically, if you are a professional and you’re also using social media (especially Twitter) for ANY purpose, you should be making informed decisions about what content you put out there and how you present yourself.

So which are you?

Most of you are pretty sure if you are using social media primarily for professional purposes. However, if you are unsure, here’s a quick litmus test: if you are engaging other professionals (SLPs, AUDs, teachers, etc.) in any capacity to share ideas and information or to ask questions about the profession, you are using social media for professional purposes.

The following are some grey areas that surround the use of social media as a professional. I want to present them for your consideration so that you can be sure you consider your actions/words/persona carefully and make the best decision about social media use for you that you know you can feel good about. This will be a personal decision and everyone’s idea of what’s OK will be different. First of all, take a moment to Google yourself …  Are you happy with what you found? If not, what can you do to ensure that everything is content you can be proud of (or at least not ashamed of)?

Making the best decisions for you

Here are three questions a professional should always be asking themselves whenever they post something to the internet as a whole (regardless of the platform: Twitter, Blog, Facebook, discussion forum, or otherwise).

1) How does this content reflect on me as a person and as a professional? Could it jeopardize others’ opinions of me?

This boils down to the age old problem of people saying things in the ‘anonymity of the internet’ that they would NEVER say to someone’s face. The problem is the internet is not so anonymous anymore, especially if you are using it in any sort of professional capacity. Even if you recognize that you aren’t completely anonymous, it is all too easy to fall into the trap of saying things in a conversation that you wouldn’t normally say in ‘mixed professional company’ as it were. Conversations within social media are not private, or even limited to the pseudo ‘party’ you may feel you are a participant of ‘in the moment’. They are open to everyone. This is the glory of social media – the open sharing.

This open sharing can also be the downfall to your reputation if you say things that could offend, upset, or otherwise paint you a negative or unprofessional light. I don’t mean being colloquial with “you rock” or participating in off topic conversation sometimes – being authentic and developing real relationships is vital to social media success. Please don’t come to Twitter, Facebook, or your blog with a false and/or overly distant professional persona that isn’t the authentic you. However, should we make off colour jokes amongst ourselves? Should we say angry or accusatory things to or about others?  Where is the line between quietly debating controversial issues and saying inflammatory things about those issues?

2) Who will read this and what will/could they interpret?

We tend to get caught up in the moment within social media platforms and that’s not always a bad thing. But for the most part those moments are etched in stone (discs) for a long time (‘forever’ seems somewhat hyperbolic to say just now). Anyone/everyone has access to read what you’ve said far outside of the moment. Could what you’ve said be misconstrued detrimentally? What if you say something about someone and they read it? Or someone connected to them reads it? What if a parent (even one you’re not involved with) reads it? Could what you say reflect poorly on you or the profession from their point of view? Could real life colleagues/families misinterpret the more low key and friendly relationships that social media engenders in the online community? Could your employees misinterpret anything you’ve said or any friendships you have online?

If the people and families you serve, your real life colleagues, a current or future employer/employee, or your online colleagues would be upset, offended, or think less of you or your profession as a result, I’d refrain from saying it much less typing it into the internet. Say things you would ALWAYS say to someone’s face and in a public meeting, because that is what you are doing in social media as well! Everyone’s idea of what’s appropriate or OK will be somewhat different. At least be sure you are OK with everything you’ve said from the perspective of others and any fallout that may occur.

3) Will this build up others within and outside my PLN or tear people down?

People are flocking to social media platforms to share and be inspired. There is no room for negativity or trashing of others in a professional online community. I’ve found that consistent negativity, even about inane things in your life, tends to drive people away in the online community. Also, attacking others or being aggressive toward others is not tolerated. Please refer back to the first question above.

Social media is not a good platform for professionals to vent or rant either; especially on a regular basis. Venting only pulls others down or gets people exasperated with you and it’s not why others are online to share with each other. Seeking support from your PLN is not the same thing as venting, however. The difference is in your approach to the problem you are facing at the moment.

People come to social media platforms to share ideas and energy, to gain a positive outlook, and seek help and support to change things for the better. Let’s build up the staff and families we work with as well as each other!

We’re human

So, I’m sure I’ve messed up some of what I’ve just talked about once or 20 times. I’m human and so are you. I also expect you to mess up occasionally.  Not in earth shattering, reputation destroying ways, but in little ways that make me disappointed in myself occasionally. In that case I make a concerted effort to fix my mistakes, delete a few tweets, and monitor myself more carefully. Engaging in regular self reflection is how we grow as professionals. It’s asking yourself the questions that is the most important thing!

Protecting your tweets

This is yet another personal decision.  It certainly helps to smooth over instances when you may act less than professionally online. However, anything you say on the internet, be it in private or in public, can be copied and pasted by someone else very easily.  Also, protecting your tweets limits you a great deal in fostering and participating in professional dialogue online.

What do you think?

What other sorts of questions should professionals be asking themselves in online interactions? What else would you recommend professionals consider in social media?

Mind your SLPs and Qs

Today’s post is brought to you by the word:

canvass [kan-vuhs] /ˈkænvəs/
verb (used with object)
1. to solicit votes, subscriptions, opinions, or the like.
2. to examine carefully; investigate by inquiry; discuss; debate.

verb (used without object)
3. to solicit votes, opinions, or the like.

4. a soliciting of votes, orders, or the like.
5. a campaign for election to government office.
6. close inspection; scrutiny.

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I ran a little experiment earlier in the summer, just to see what would happen. I posed a general question in the attempt to instigate some daily discussions surrounding SLP affairs. It worked well enough, given that I didn’t give anyone any instructions per se, that I plan to run it more regularly starting now. I’m calling it #SLPsnQs (thank you @zealousidler for the inspiration).

Why am I starting now? Well, tomorrow is the first day of school in my province. I figure a lot of people see Labour Day as the last true hurrah of summer, regardless of working in schools or not, so it seemed as good a time to start as any.

How does it work?

I will post a question to Twitter (nearly) every day with the hashtag #SLPsnQs. Anyone and everyone is welcome to respond. You don’t have to reply to me, but you do need to include #SLPsnQs in your tweet (so that it will show up in the search feed). I will capture a week’s worth of questions and responses in a chirpstory like this. Some weeks may have themes, some will be completely random or inspired by someone else. My hope is to incite discussion and reflection amongst SLPs on a more regular and also more casual basis than #slpchat.

If you have a question you would like me to pose as a part of #SLPsnQs, please DM me on Twitter! I would love to have more minds working for inspiration. However, I ask that only I post the #SLPsnQs questions, since it gets cluttered and confusing if there is more than one question or topic of discussion in a given day. Don’t forget that we still have the #SLpeeps hashtag if you are looking to pose a specific question to the SLP community!

So, watch Twitter tomorrow for the first official #SLPsnQs question of the day and please participate!

PS: Sorry I’ve been so absent. I certainly took a long hiatus from the blog. I am back now and have several posts in various stages of completeness so expect more soon!


Update May 2012: Here are links to several (not all) of the previous #SLPsnQs – a week at a time. Note that there is not always one question per day.

Mentors and their advice

Who do you want to see on twitter?

Youtube and therapy

Why #SLPeeps tweet and tips for new Tweeters

Workload and decisions

Data collection and management

Technology in Practice

How did you become an SLP?

Fave tx resource, trailblazing as an SLP, and mentors

Learning: this year and past years

Is figurative language important to teach? (also lang and cognitive skills)

Most versatile goals and therapy resources with a smattering of other stuff


SLPs Are Full of Awesome

This post is brought to you by the word:

awesome [aw-suhm]  /ˈɔsəm/


1.  inspiring awe: an awesome sight.
2.  showing or characterized by awe.
3.  Slang . very impressive: That new assessment tool is totally awesome.

There’s this book I’ve been meaning to read for about a year now.  I think this summer will be the time. Maybe you’ve heard of it, maybe you haven’t.  It’s called The Book of Awesome, by Neil Pasricha. Here is a link to his inspirational TedxToronto talk (I just found out he’s Canadian too!) about why he started his blog,, and later wrote his book(s).

Lately work has been really difficult for the entire team I work with.  We’ve had an increase in referrals but no increase in staff plus this is the fourth year that the SLPs on the team have been only doing assessments and follow-up and not doing therapy anymore.  When you’re not doing therapy, it’s a lot harder to feel like you’re making a difference or to feel effective in your job.  It’s not that we AREN’T effective or not making a difference – of course we are. But we lose sight of that somewhere along the way in desperately trying to keep up and provide quality service to the students and teachers we support.

Recently I got the idea to start a Wall of Awesome  at work.  My intent is that we will post our triumphs, laughs, successes, and generally awesome moments throughout our year.  This way we can look at that wall throughout the year and (especially) at the end of the year and say “wow – look at all the awesome moments we shared and things that happened for our students, staff and their families”.  I think our department desperately needs that boost.

It then occurred to me that maybe our department isn’t alone in this difficult time when things seem overwhelming or difficult.  I think many of us are feeling this to varying degrees for various reasons throughout the world. We can all benefit from seeing awesome things that have happened around us in our profession.

So, I began an SLP Wall of Awesome.  It is my hope that you will contribute to this wall from time to time, when you have a success or awesome moment, and we can continue to build it as a global SLP community!!  We can feed off of each others’ successes and moments of fun when we are down and chances are it’ll remind of us something similar that happened in our careers recently as well.

I know you can think of something awesome.  Even the simple things (and usually the simple things) are full of awesome. If you still need some ideas, here are a few examples of things you might share:

  • Something a client, staff member or community member said to you or to someone else that made you smile
  • Great progress (or little bits of hard fought progress) your clients have made
  • A connection or breakthrough you made with a client, family member or surrounding support staff member
  • Something you learned that will change how you practice
  • Little things you love about your job or the people you work with

That list isn’t comprehensive, but maybe it’ll give you some ideas. You may also get a few ideas after reading some of Pasricha’s 1000 Awesome Things on his blog. Heck, why not go over there and read some anyhow – it’s a guaranteed pick-me-up!

So, please add some awesomeness to our Wall of Awesome today.

Using Social Networks to Increase Professional Learning Opportunities

Want to know more about using social media like Twitter for professional information and collaboration? See the top right sidebar for links to the entire blog series —->


This blog post is meant to list the resources we cited at our CASLPA2011 presentation in order for people to reflect on them later (and ask questions in the comments). It is also so that people who could not be in Montreal today, can participate – of sorts- and in some ways ‘watch’ the presentation live or after the fact.

I should clarify that ‘we’ means Janelle Albrecht and myself, who presented this material originally on April 30, 2011 at the CASLPA 2011 Conference in Montreal, Canada.

Here is the prezi we used during the presentation (updated Aug 2011) – it outlines the majority of the information and contains video clips. We STRONGLY SUGGEST you view it in full screen for the best effect – especially during video clips embedded in the presentation.

Here is the handout for our presentation with links to various sites we discussed during the presentation. I am unsure how long they will remain on the CASLPA website so here is the list of resources and links we provided in the handout.

Blogs for SLPs

Sean Sweeney has made a blog bundle with 25+ blogs by people who are S-LPs. You can see it here.

CASLPA members

Becoming OliviaSLP: @OliviaSLP
Cree-zy, Crazy Speechie: @ndnspeechmom
Lexical Linguist: @SLPTanya
TiPS: Technology in Practice for SLPs: @SLPrj


Dysphagia Ramblings: @apujo5

Tech Use in Therapy and Assessment

Therapyapp411: various contirbutors
Speech Gadget: @SpeechGadgetDeb
Speech Language Pathology Sharing: @esailers
Speech Techie: @speechtechie
GeekSLP: @GeekSLP

General Therapy Tips/Ideas/Thoughts

2 Gals Talk…About Speech Therapy: @2gals
Artic Brain Blog: @ArticBrain
Easy Speech and Language Ideas: @speechreka
Pathologically Speaking: @speechbob
Speech Therapy Ideas: @SpeechTXIdeas
The Speech Pathway: @SpeechPathway

Professional Organizations

Express Yourself Speech and Language: Pearson Ed’s blog, @SpeechnLanguage
ASHAsphere: @ASHAweb
Advance for Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists:

Blogs for Audiologists

Cochlear Implant Online:
Tucson Audiologists/TIA Inc:
Deaf Village:



Stuttering is cool:
ASHA podcast: (rarely updated)


Audiology Talk:
Hearing Review:

MUSC Health:

Sources for webinars


Are there any other resources or links I am missing? Please add your fave SLP or AUD related blog, podcast, Facebook page, or webinar source in the comments section!

Follow Fridays (An Ode to CASLPA)

This post is brought to you by the word: extol   [ik-stohl, -stol] /ɪkˈstoʊl, -ˈstɒl/

–verb (used with object), -tolled, -tol·ling

  • to praise highly; laud; eulogize e.g. extol the supportive and inclusive nature of CASLPA


Want to know more about using social media like Twitter for professional information and collaboration? See the top right sidebar for links to the entire blog series —->


Follow Friday (also known as #FF and #FollowFriday) is a way to recommend people in Twitter. The premise is simple: someone is contributing to your PLN or tweeting about things that you have enjoyed, you recommend them on a Friday. Any Friday. Every Friday. It’s your choice. In your recommendation, you include the hashtag #ff, #FF or #followfriday. There is also #SLPeepsSaturday which is along the same lines to recommend SLPeeps on Saturdays but I’m focussing on Follow Fridays today for a specific and good reason (see the end of this post).

The way you would do this is to tweet something like this:

#FF @CASLPA because they are the best professional association on Twitter and take care of their members (and non-members).


A huge #FF to @TwitterHandle for helping me out this week and making my life easier when I had to do a fluency assessment.


#FF @OtherTwitterHandle because his/her tweets are helpful to the #SLPeeps – especially for literacy info!

You get the idea.

Things to consider when giving a Follow Friday recommendation

Only recommend people you truly feel are worthy of being followed by others in your PLN.

People who should get recommended are those who:

  • Contribute meaningfully
  • Give you enjoyment from their tweets
  • Are tweeting actively

People you probably shouldn’t recommend:

  • People so new to Twitter that they haven’t yet tweeted anything or may not stick it through in the long haul (although giving a shout out or otherwise letting people know they’ve joined is still a good idea, just not in a “Follow Friday” way).
  • People who are not tweeting actively anymore (e.g. for more than a month or two).

You can choose to mention several people in an #FF tweet but it’s always better to provide one tweet per person you are recommending. It’s more personal, gives your followers the reason why you think they should follow someone and may actually cause people to follow them (which is kind of the whole point, right?). Most importantly, it’s paying that person a more specific compliment and building up others in your network.

@dayneshuda on said this and more very eloquently here.  Ever since I read that last fall I have more often than not created specific and detailed FF recommendations, rather than ramming in as many people as possible into each tweet. People really do appreciate it and I get a chance to publicly recognize others in my PLN in a much more heartfelt way.

FF Rankings

There is a ranking system for FF recommendations.  It’s managed through  and ranks people based on the number of FF recommendations they receive each Friday (no matter where in the world it is Friday) .  This is ranked globally but also by country.  I don’t think anyone should be overly concerned about their FF rankings in general, but it is interesting to look at who is getting the most FF recommendations to consider who you may choose to follow.

Points assigns points to each user for getting FF recommendations from other users.  It works like this: you get 50 points if you are the only one recommended in a tweet – if you are given a recommendation with others in the tweet, the points are divided by the number of people in that same tweet. So if you are recommended in a tweet with 5 other people, you only get 8 points for that recommendation.

Important Rules

The rules to get points are that you must be mentioned in an ORIGINAL #FF tweet (so RTs do NOT count, nor do replies or thank yous to the original #FF).  Another important rule is that your FFs won’t be counted if you recommend more than 50 people in a given week – probably because they think you are spam and who honestly has time to recommend 50 or more people?? The final important rule is that only your FIRST recommendation for a given person will be counted per week.

IMPORTANT: If your tweets are protected, they will NOT be counted for FF rankings!

I think those are the most important rules, but the other rules can be found here.

Challenge: Make CASLPA Top 10 in Canada for the #CASLPA2011 Conference

The CASLPA conference is running from April 27-30, 2011 in Montreal, Quebec.  I know that you all rave about @CASLPA (pronounced castle-pah) and love what they do for you and how they interact with you on Twitter, even those of you who aren’t members.  I’d like to propose a challenge – let’s make @CASLPA one of the top 10 #FF recommendations in Canada this coming Friday leading up to the conference. They didn’t know I was going to do this until now, so this is completely unsolicited on @CASLPA’s part!

How can you make @CASLPA top 10 in Canada on Friday, April 22, 2011?

I actually don’t think it will be difficult to accomplish this task. We simply need people to recommend @CASLPA in a heartfelt #FF tweet this Friday. Obviously feel free to recommend others in other tweets, but please be sure that your recommendation to @CASLPA only includes them so they can get the maximum points possible from your recommendation. Since each FF gets 50 points (assuming you don’t FF anyone else in the tweet) 20 people would give @CASLPA 1000 points!  That’s typically been enough points to be in the top 10 (for Canada – US ranking is an entirely different story).

Also, if you want your #FF shout out to count in the rankings, you must set your account to be unprotected when you tweet the #FF or it will not get counted.

But this Friday is “Good Friday”?

That’s OK, if you’re busy all day Friday with family or church commitments, you can do your FF recommendation on Thursday night or early Saturday morning if you live in North America or Europe.  If you live in Australia, you have all Saturday morning for your FF to be counted.

So this Friday, if you like following @CASLPA and you think others should follow them too, please consider making a #FollowFriday recommendation on Twitter to say so and give them a real boost going into their national conference!

Speech/Language Pathologists on Facebook

This post is brought to you by the word: coterie [koh-tuh-ree] /’koh-tuh-ree/


1. a group of people who associate closely.

2. an exclusive group; clique.

3. a group of prairie dogs occupying a communal burrow.

In late March, @SpeechGadgetDeb (Deb Tomarakos) posted to her blog about SLPs using Facebook to connect.  Since she did a fantastic job there, I didn’t want to reinvent the wheel and she was gracious enough to allow me to repost her article here in a guest blog post of sorts.  The original post was on her blog at on March 26, 2011. She also has a fantastic list of Facebook pages you may want to ‘Like’ if you’re an S-LP.

Want to know more about using social media for professional information and collaboration? See the top right sidebar for links to the entire blog series —->



Facebook-Buttons-59-68- facebook Facebook-Buttons-62-34-

Today I want to discuss using Facebook as part of your Personal Learning Network, but before I begin I want to take a minute to discuss PLN’s. If you aren’t familiar with the term Personal Learning Network, Wikipedia defines it in the following way:

Personal Learning Networks consist of the people a learner interacts with and derives knowledge from in a Personal Learning Environment. Learners create connections and develop a network that contributes to their professional development and knowledge.[1] The learner does not have to know these people personally or ever meet them in person.[2]

I am always trying to increase my network but keep a balance between knowledge gained and time spent.  To increase my knowledge and share my knowledge, I Tweet (find me as @SpeechGadgetDeb), I blog (obviously), and read other professional blogs.  I also use Diigo for bookmarking, although, I must admit I don’t use it as well as I could.  If you want to read some in depth posts on building a PLN written by a wonderful SLP, you should visit Lexical Linguist.   You can also readBuilding Your Personal Learning Network for a list of ways to increase your network.

Recently, I decided that since I spend a lot of personal time on Facebook, I wanted to incorporate Facebook into my Personal Learning Network.  The first step I took was to create a Speech Gadget page on Facebook.  You can find my page by typing the words “Speech Gadget” in the search box at the top of your Facebook page. Next, I searched for and visited pages of professional interest to me.  If I found the content to be of interest, I simply clicked “Like” and was able to receive updates to my wall when new information was posted on the pages.  I am currently creating a list of pages that I Like and will share that with you all soon.

In keeping with the idea of expanding my professional use of Facebook, I decided to create a professional “group” on Facebook.  A group is a little different than a Facebook page.  Within a group, members can connect, chat and share documents.  You must be invited by a member to join, or you can send a request to join the group and be approved by a group administer.  As a member of the group you can post links, photos, and videos, or just general comments and questions.  You can also share documents, edit shared documents, and view documents that other group members have shared. Anyone in the group can view posts and respond.  With this knowledge in mind, I created a Facebook Group called, of course, “SLPeeps”  The name is a spin off from the SLP Twitter group with the Hash tag #SLPeeps. I even created a profile picture.

SLPeep copy

Once created, I promoted the group on Twitter, sent some messages to my personal SLP friends on Facebook,  and waited.  Within a few weeks, the group has grown to just over 300 SLPeeps and I have been completely amazed.  I love that people are starting to share resources and links.  I have created a couple of documents to share with everyone and will be adding more documents in the near future.  It is becoming a place where SLP’s can post questions and receive feedback from other SLP’s.

Only time will tell if the group has staying power and if SLP’s will continue to use it as a part of their PLN’s.  For now, I can say that I am satisfied that SLPeeps on Facebook is enriching my own PLN.

If you are a SLP who is on Facebook, please consider stopping by SLPeeps and request to join the group.  You can find us by logging into Facebook and typing SLPeeps in the search box at the top of your Facebook screen. When you find the group, all you need to do is request to join. I would be happy to add your name to the growing list of professionals that are part of our group.

Some members of SLPeeps have expressed an interest to be a part of the group, but not receive updates/emails every time someone posts to the group.  If you would like to belong to the group, but don’t want to get updates, you can modify your settings.  When you are on the group page, you will see a box in the upper right had corner that says “Settings.”  Click that box and you will find a pop up box.  Inside the pop up box, simply uncheck receive emails.  If you have already joined SLPeeps, and follow my blog, I would love to hear your thoughts or feedback.  Are there any other ways you use Facebook as a part of your PLN?  If so, we would love to hear your comments.

That’s all from me for today.  Until next time…

Tips to make Twitter easier and faster

Today’s post is brought to you by the word: facile [fas-il or –ahyl] /ˈfæsɪl or -aɪl/


  1. Moving, acting, working, proceeding, etc., with ease, sometimes with superficiality.
  2. Easily done, performed, used, etc.
  3. Easy or unconstrained, as manners or persons.
  4. Affable, agreeable, or complaisant; easily influence.


Want to know more about using social media like Twitter for professional information and collaboration? See the top right sidebar for links to the entire blog series —->

Today I am presenting you with some options to make Twitter more manageable.  Hopefully after reading about how to use and understand Twitter and some of the etiquette rules and tips to get involved you feel like you’re getting a handle on how to use it as a part of your PLN. But Twitter can still be overwhelming and complicated. Here are some tips on making Twitter easier.

Follow Hashtags that matter to you

In order to get a quick glimpse of what’s being tweeted about, check out hashtags or search for keywords that are important to you.  Some hashtags to consider following are #SLPeeps, #Audiology, #hearingloss, #slpchat, #speechtherapy.  In order to find these hashtags on Twitter web, simply put the hashtag (with the # sign at the beginning) into the ‘search’ box and click search. In order to regularly see tweets with this tag in them, click “save search”. Better yet, though, ditch Twitter web and get a Twitter client that will provide a way for you to see constant updates from these searches without having to go back to ‘saved searches’ all the time (see below).

Use a Twitter client instead of the web

A Twitter client is anything you may use to access Twitter indirectly, instead of with, which has developed a reputation as less user friendly for various reasons.  There are many good clients out there like Tweetdeck, Hootsuite, Twitter for iPhone/Pad, Ubersocial, Tweetie (for Mac and iPhone) etc. I use Tweetdeck on my laptop, Mac and iPod Touch (throwing a random shoutout to @chelseannbass cuz I didn’t say iTouch). For a brief review of some popular Twitter clients click here.  Also, since that review was written, a Canadian platform called Hootsuite has become VERY popular and I would posit that it has become one of the top 5 Twitter clients available today. It does more or less everything Tweetdeck does, except that it happens to be blocked at my place of work so I don’t use it.

*UPDATE: I still can’t use Hootsuite at work, but it’s the only way I use Twitter on my iPad. I feel Hootsuite is, hands down, the best twitter client for iPad right now. I didn’t have an iPad when I first posted this, though. I still use Tweetdeck on my Mac and laptop. But since Tweetdeck and Hootsuite are so similar, it’s a seamless transition for me between iPad and others devices.


I like Tweetdeck because I can create several columns that I can see simultaneously and that have different uses (e.g. my mentions, my DMs, new followers, and various lists I’ve created). I find it much easier to keep up with the different columns because it means I can take my time and browse things if I have time but I can stick to the basics and what I’m most interested in if I don’t have time. For instance, if I don’t have a lot of time I check my mentions, DMs, #SLPeeps tagged tweets and my list of SLPs that I follow. If I have more time I might look more closely at what teachers and audiologists I follow are tweeting as well as others I follow for various interests/reasons. This is how I’m able to follow so many people without getting too overwhelmed, although it’s always smart to go through and cull the herd every now and again.

In order to add specific columns in Tweetdeck (and other platforms like Hootsuite) I click to add the column (in Tweetdeck it’s a giant + sign at the top left) and then it asks me what I want in my column.

I can choose from “Core” items (mentions, DMs, favorites, all friends, etc.), a ‘search’ of a specific keyword or hashtag such as #SLPeeps, #slpchat, #audiology, or one of my Groups/List (see below) such as the SLPs, audiologists or teachers that I follow.

Pre-written and timed Tweets

Another thing many Twitter clients offer is the ability to set up tweets to be sent out automatically at a future date and time. This can be handy if you’ve stumbled upon multiple things worth sharing at the same time and want to spread out your tweets a bit. It’s also helpful if you want regular tweets to go out interspersed, like we do for #slpchat leading up to any given chat.

Automatically shortened URLs and drag and drop media

Some Twitter clients automatically shorten URLs for you so they don’t take up as much space in your tweet. Also, with several, you can drag and drop media such as pictures, video, etc. directly into your compose tweet box and it will automatically upload the media to twitpic or some other place for that and add a shortened URL to your media in your tweet.

Re-Tweet options

Clients also allow you to do RTs in the classic way as well as the new way. Classic RTs allowed you to add comments to your RTs before tweeting it to all your followers, whereas the “new RT” doesn’t allow for this. It does, however, make it easier to RT a tweet that is long and you CAN cut and paste that person’s tweet if you wanted to but that’s cumbersome. Personally, however, I prefer to be able to add comments to my RTs, which Tweetdeck (and various other clients) allows you to do.

And more…

Twitter Client allow you to do a host of other things beyond Twitter Web but the tips above are the ones I think are best for time savers and ease of use. If you have other clients you really like or functions you find indispensable, please share them in the comments section below!

You don’t have to read every tweet

It’s OK to:

  • Not catch up on every tweet while you were gone,
  • Not read every tweet that comes through when you are on
  • Ignore whole lists of people you follow for periods of time at the expense of focusing on the people you find most interesting/rewarding to follow.

Twitter can get very overwhelming if you feel you have to read everyone’s tweets all the time. It has even been recommended that people tweet important tweets several times a day, since it is assumed that not everyone is reading your tweets at all times. Feel free to return that favour and save yourself some anguish.

Create lists to streamline the topics you want to attend to most

Creating lists helps you to streamline your Twitter feed by topic or preferred people to follow. This means you can follow LOTS of people, but don’t have to read every tweet they all post, depending on how much time you may have from one day to the next. I have several lists but my most important one, SLPeeps, is my list of SLPs and related that tend to tweet about the profession regularly or that I more regularly interact with.

Tip: You can follow someone else’s list by looking at their lists in Twitter Web and clicking “follow this list”. CASLPA and ASHA have lists that may be worth following for SLPs and AUDs.

Creating Lists

You can create lists many ways and it’s different in each Twitter client (see below) but in the Web version you click “lists” from your home screen and then click “create list”. A list can be public or private. Now you’re ready to name your list and then add people. You can add people by going down your “Following” list and clicking the list box (next to the word “following”) to add them to whichever list (or multiple lists) you choose.

Tip: If you don’t want to follow someone else’s list in its entirety, you can look at their lists, click on “following” to see the list of people the list is follwoing and then click “follow” and/or “add to list” in Twitter Web to add people from their list to your own list(s).

Note: You can add people to a list and see their tweets without following them (unless their tweets are protected).

Lists in Twitter clients

Many Twitter clients have ways of doing this as well. For instance, Tweetdeck allows you to create lists and add people to lists by clicking “user – add to list” in the person’s little picture (and it’s a real picture, not an egg, right?).

If you haven’t yet created an appropriate list for that person, you have the option to create a list for that person. You can also click the little plus symbol next to the user’s name (see it next to SpeechTechie’s name in the picture above?) to do the same thing.

What other tips do you have for making Tweeting more efficient and manageable? Also see my post on Balancing Life with Social Media for more tips