How Twitter helped me become an award-winning teacher

On Friday, September 28, 2012, I was honoured by the Canadian Association of Second Language Teachers (CASLT) with the H. H. Stern Award, given annually to a Canadian teacher who has demonstrated innovation in the Second Language Class. It was the successful integration of technology and social media in my French classes that persuaded the CASLT awards committee that I was a worthy recipient of this prestigious accolade.

Flashback to exactly
eighteen months earlier. I am at the OMLTA (Ontario Modern Languages Teachers’ Association) Spring Conference in Toronto, talking to my AIM colleague, @joellerudick, who was trying to convince me to join Twitter. I was reluctant, thinking “why would I need more social media in my life”? But she persisted, and sat down with me for a one-on-one tutorial with Twitter and Tweetdeck and before I knew it, I was launched into the Twittersphere.

Little did I know that Joelle’s tutorial would be a life-changer for me. While I have always been interested in technology, th
e resources, insights and inspiration I gained almost immediately from other educators on Twitter surpassed any professional development I had received previously or research I had done on my own. It didn’t take me long to build an extensive PLN (Professional Learning Network) that I could reach out to whenever I needed help, advice or encouragement.

Because of Twitter and the resources and ideas made available to me by m
y PLN, I undertook many initiatives in my classroom that I would not have considered previously. First of all, I started this resource blog to organize the numerous resources I found on Twitter.

Then, I set up student blogs on and introduced my students to the blogosphere where they blogged tout en français. I set up a YouTube channel to collect French videos for my students to watch in class or at home. My students worked on projects with various Web 2.0 tools such as Voicethread, GoAnimate, Prezi, Glogster, Flipsnack, Animoto, Tripline, Storybird and XtraNormal (amongst others). I then set up a Wiki to display my student projects. Just before Christmas, my classes became involved with @LiamDunphy’s QR code Christmas Card project and we exchanged cards with children from all over the world. We then used Google Maps to map where we received cards from.

With my Twitter connections, I was able to create and collaborate with other teachers and students around the world on projects such as "Dear Foreign Language Teacher", "Les mots qui riment" and "Les sons des animaux".
But probably the most rewarding thing for me on Twitter was the sense of connectedness I developed with other educators around the world. Last summer I travelled to London, England, for a conference, and met up with members of the #mfltwitterati. These were educators I “met” on Twitter and they welcomed me with open arms like an old friend. Truly remarkable.

(The #MFLTwitterati)

Another Foreign Language teacher on Twitter, @AudreyMisiano from New York, came to visit my classroom last year and we have become fast friends, remaining in touch via Twitter.

 (Audrey and I at the AIM Language Learning Summer Institute East in Barrie, ON, July 2012)

In conclusion, I now cannot imagine life without Twitter. After 25 years of teaching, I feel constantly invigorated with the ideas I receive on a daily basis through tweets, and my students are engaged with technology like never before. And that award? It is hanging up proudly in my classroom where I glance at it from time to time and say “Merci” to Twitter, my PLN,  and @joellerudick.

(P.S. A big thank you also to @BigGeoffC for supporting my nomination!)

Connect with me on Twitter! @sylviaduckworth


  1. Tu es vraiment fantastique Sylvia! Tu me manques. Merci pour toutes les ressources. Judy Carmichael - London, Ontario

  2. Félicitations, Madame Duckworth! Tu nous as raconté une histoire très inspirante de ton apprentissage professionel!

    Madame Aiello @ Teaching FSL

  3. Bravo Mme Duckworth c'est bien mérité, ta perséverance ton enthousiasme et ta passion bénéficient à un grand nombre! Ton travail est souvent l objet de référence dans notre communauté de profs de français en Nouvelle Zélande. Bonne continuation!

  4. Félicitations, Sylvia! Tu es le «gourou» de l'intégration de la technologie pour moi et tellement d'autres profs partout dans le monde -- on te remercie de ta passion et de ton inspiration!

  5. I'm so very proud of you, Syl, and honoured that you are also my friend.

  6. Awwww... merci beaucoup, mes amis!

  7. Congratulations on such a wonderful accomplishment Mme. Duckworth. From reading your blog and seeing how you have incorporated technology and social media in your classroom, it is well deserved!
    I am a currently student teacher at SFU (BC, Canada) and I am studying to become an Elementary FSL teacher. Some of the tools you have used to connect your students to you, and to the French language seem phenomenal and in fact quite familiar. In one of my current university courses, which is in French, we learn about new important, progressive ways to teach French in the current Core French classroom. My professor encouraged us student teachers to make a professional twitter account in order to stay connected as a class, but also for us to see how easy it is to access amazing, informative educational resources. And she was right, it is incredible how much you can learn through Twitter! I don't use the social media much for personal use, but I see the advantages for professional use.
    I think what you have done with your students is amazing, and you set a great example for both up and coming teachers as well as teachers who have been in the profession for a number of years. You remind teachers of the importance of staying present, and of the advantages of using technology in the classroom.
    Thank you for sharing your accomplishment :) I will definitely be keeping some of your ideas in mind when I enter the classroom as a certified teacher.

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