Twitter and tweets

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.

Two favorites:

  1. 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.
  2.  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:

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.

Additional resource:

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.


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