Twitter is a “microblogging” platform. Tweets are limited to 140 characters, including links and hash tags. People read Twitter to follow celebrities, thought leaders, organizations, and friends, looking for ideas, resources, a laugh, a diversion. People write on Twitter in order to share thoughts, what they are doing, links to resources and pictures. Some people and organizations try to hold conversations on Twitter:
Twitter prompt: Start with a two minute reflection: write out the tips for writing that you like to share with students, colleagues, or friends. Share your list with a partner or two. Get feedback to craft your reflection into a 120 character message. Leave room for the #RRVWP, an existing, popular hashtag (#writingtips), and a conceptual or creative hashtag (#greatidea), or work hashtags into the message. Post it to Twitter or compose it for “the teacher” to post to his/her stream.
A teacher at any grade could ask students to reflect / provide insight in 120 characters, with hashtags, collect the tweets, and post all or selected tweets on the teacher’s account. Microdrafting, speed feedback, encouraged.
For K-5 uses of Twitter, follow Kristen Waldeen:
- She tweets (including pictures) about things like the tadpoles in her classroom, and through those tweets she and her students interact with schools around the world.
- Her students tweet math stories back and forth with another classroom in the building, and solve the problems as quickly as they can (tweets encourage speed).
- Read a day in the life of Waldeen’s class #WOW!
Middle school: you can find great ideas (for all grades really) at 50 ways to use Twitter in the classroom.
- Set up a foreign language news stream. Keep foreign language students informed of current events from relevant nations while simultaneously challenging them to use their translation skills by keeping a specific news feed.
- Post math puzzles. Math, chemistry or physics teachers need not feel left out from playing games and posting teasers on Twitter. Like their literate contemporaries, they can microblog a daily problem for students to solve and tweet back the answer.
And YAL fans and teaches should be following John Green and many others.
High school or college:
- NSFHW Twittature, but you can clean it up for your students: http://www.twitterature.us/us/ex.htm
- A ‘bot does this tweeting: @MobyDickatSea: https://twitter.com/MobyDickatSea
- A person does this tweeting: Chaucer Doth Tweet: https://twitter.com/LeVostreGC
- Margo Walter did a twittature remix of The Bell Jar: https://twitter.com/belljarelaine
What’s familiar: This can be an “economy of language” exercise, one that encourages heightened language awareness. Microdrafting.
Newish: using hashtags effectively. They can connect tweets around a group identity (#RRVWP), around a topic (#writingtips), or they can add a punch to your tweet: #damnstraight. They can network your writing and thinking (i.e. give you an audience, a conversation, a sense of community).
Writer’s workshop: move from paragraph to tweet; involve peers in feedback process. The 120-140 character constraint is a fun workshop activity.
Sagolla, Dom. 140 Characters: A Style Guide for the Short Form. Hoboken NJ: Wiley & Sons, 2009. Dom is one of the founders of Twitter; he was also an English major in college, so the book’s literariness might be a pleasant surprise.