Next  Wednesday, March 24 from 9:00pm - 10:00pm EST we are hosting a Twitter chat on this very topic. Here's your chance to chat with Tim, founder of PTO Today, dad, and president of his kids' parent group about the challenges, strategies and rewards of growing parent involvement.

If you are new to Twitter, check out a post I did a few weeks ago titled How to Use Twitter to Grow Parent Involvement. That post will familiarize you the basics of Twitter.

The next question is how do you participate in a Twitter chat? It's really pretty simple.  Here are the basics of a Twitter chat:

What is a Twitter chat? A Twitter chat (sometimes called a Twitter party) is an event where a group of people decide to get on Twitter at a pre-determined time period to discuss a given topic.

How do you join a Twitter chat? To be part of the the conversation, you must first have a Twitter account. If you are just signing up now, again I recommend that you watch the Twitter basics video.  All Twitter chats use a # (hashtag) in their tweets to designate that they are part of a specific chat. Our hashtag is #PTOchat. Once you have an account, you then choose how you want to follow the conversation. You can just follow it in Twitter but there are many other unrelated conversations going on and it's somewhat difficult to follow.

To make the conversation easy to follow there are online applications that organize the tweets: tweetgrid and tweetchat. Tweetgrid has a nice, little how-to tutorial on how to use Tweetgrid to set up and participate in a Twitter party.

Don't let all these videos give you the wrong impression though - it really is simple to participate. You are basically IMing with other people on one topic and participating in and following the conversation using the #PTOchat hashtag. Easy Peasy.  It's a very forgiving form of communication -- can't really make a mistake.

That said, if you are not ready to jump into a conversation but would like to get a gist of a Twitter chat, we'll let you off the hook this time. To eavesdrop on our parent involvement convo,  go to one of the sites mentioned above and search on the #PTOchat hashtag during our chat (don't need to use your Twitter login this way).  The downside of sitting on the sidelines? You are not eligible to receive our #PTOchat give-away, that folks will receive for tweeting with us during the March 24th chat, using the #PTOchat in their tweets.  This month we are going to give away a free Parent Involvement Kit to every person who tweets during our chat. At the end of our #PTOchat, we'll also be giving away a t-shirt.

Hope you'll join Tim and I to talk about effective ways to increase parent involvement. Bring your questions and ideas. Lots to talk about!