Archive for Twitter

Week in Review: Twitter

           Friday Dialogue from                

                                      Your Two Favorite Educators 

As Emily and Aubrey look back over the week they use their razor sharp wit to discuss twitter, tweets and Demi Moore. 

1.  Do you believe Twitter is a useful classroom tool?  How would you like to see it used in the classroom?

Emily:  My biggest concern lies in teachers using it only as a vehicle for reader-response reactions (“tweet your reaction to this piece” or “respond to the topic in 140 characters or less”).  Those things are important in a classroom; however, I think the requirement to synthesize and condense an answer is so much more meaningful for students.  To me, the most important skill is being able to answer a complex question (typically necessitating a multi-sentence answer) into 140 characters.  That is Twitter in my dream educational setting.

Aubrey: I would agree.  I want to see if students can make complicated arguments concisely.  I think 140 characters holds them accountable.  I also think that they spend more time revising and reworking their tweets because of the 140 character box.  Such a feat cannot go unnoticed. Attention must be paid.

2.  Who do you follow on Twitter?

Emily:  I do subscribe to news sources like The Washington Post and The New York Times, sources that give me a nice overview of what is happening in the world; however, I love celebrities and primarily use this as an approved and accepted form of voyeurism!  I of course follow Chris Harrison of the Bachelor (he always writes good tweets during episodes!) and Kim K. However, my favorite Twitter-lebrity is Ocho Cinco (formerly of the Cincinnati Bengals, now with the team that shall not be mentioned).  His tweets are priceless.

Aubrey: I really like @Slate’s tweets.  But to be honest, I really want funny tweets.  I obsessively check @davepell, @idislikestephen and @nprmonkeysee. Those three always make me snort, laugh and learn.

3.  If you could have any Twitter handle what would it be?

Emily:  Hmm…this is tough.  Realistically, I wouldn’t want anything.  For me, it isn’t about tweeting.  It is about following.  Any suggestions?

Aubrey: Well in light of the conversations this week about whether or not Demi Moore should change her twitter handle from @mrskutcher and in light of Hemingway’s stellar track record with marriage it seems fairly obvious: @theonlymrshemingway.

Twitter: Essential Literary Questions

The New York Times ran a story this past May about Twitter as a classroom backchannel.  The NYT Learning Network even had had those educators featured respond to community comments and discuss their stance on cell phones, technology and backchanneling in the classroom.

The idea reminded me that often I spend all of my time before class determining “essential” questions and then trying to guide students through classroom discussions.  Regardless of whether or not students have engaged in the text or done the reading, these questions are still “my” questions.

Using Twitter or even Today’s Meet, similarly styled around 140 characters, as a means towards having everyone participate is an important first step.  However, this is still a world in which we “make” the questions.

So here’s the alternative.  After you’ve familiarized students with Twitter and even used it as a means of backchanneling during discussions or Socratic seminars give students a list of question types you want them to formulate.  As they read, make them responsible for creating questions via twitter. Read more

Twitter: Research Tool

Teaching students how and where to research can be painful. They struggle to evaluate credibility and they chafe at the amount of time real research demands.  In reality, students should be engaged in some form of research all year. The thought of this makes most teachers shudder, myself included.  Constant research, large or small, is a classroom necessity and not just because the Common Core Standards demand it.

Research makes students better thinkers and better writers.  So the question arises: How can students be engaged in constant research without struggle or burden for all involved?

The answer? Twitter.

Now I know how this potentially sounds. Lindsay Lohan updates and trending hashtags about #basketballslang don’t really inspire teachable moments.   But what can easily get lost in celebrity updates is Twitter as a significant resource for current events.  Every major publication tweets—multiple times a day.  What results is a brief overview of a topic and a link to a story.  It is in essence a ready made “feed” for student research.


1,  Determine how students will access tweets that allow for research/reading on current issues and topics.

  • You may decide to use your own Twitter account for the classroom and retweet a series of “stories” from which students can choose. This offers you more control over what they read.
  • Or you may ask that they follow a series of reputable publications.  From the tweets of those “teacher sanctioned” publications they may do their own current events research.

Some publications for classroom use:

  1. Have students explore tweets and articles.  You may choose to do this inside or outside of class.  Consider asking students to read and evaluate several articles if time allows.
  1. Have students favorite and retweet topics of interest.  For each favorite/retweet, ask students to post a follow up tweet.  The “follow up” should be an argument for the value of the professional article.

4.  Consider this as a constant exercise much like journaling.  You can use it          to produce a 60-second speech or a research driven project/paper.

Tomorrow: Twitter as Essential Questioning Tool 

Twitter: Memoirs & Personal Narratives

Every Fall students accost me in the classroom, on the way to lunch and even exiting the bathroom.  They clutch college application essays that they beg me to read.  I’m usually not the first teacher they approach.  They want as many opinions as possible.  They’re terrified their writing is not any good.  Often, it is not.

It worries me that for some the personal statement is the first meaningful personal writing they’ve been asked to do.  It worries me, as well, that they struggle to understand that the essays we read by Amy Tan, David Sedaris, Joan Didion, George Orwell, Dave Barry, and Garrison Kellior are supposed to be professional “models” for them as to mimic.

In light of the Common Core Standards for Writing, everyone from 6-12 is expected to have varying exposure, practice and expectation when it comes to constructing personal narratives.  Some colleges even ask that students construct an application essay that begins in the middle of their imagined autobiography. Twitter is the perfect avenue for narrative writing and opening line practice because it is only 140 characters.  Often the more “space” the more unwieldy.  Consider working on these skills with any personal essays, narrative non-fiction, or memoir units you already employ.  Here is a short list of texts with which this type of an assignment might be paired.

“Why I Write,” Joan Didion

“Why I Write,” George Orwell

“Mother Tongue,” Amy Tan

Lost in the Kitchen,” Dave Barry

Into Thin Air, John Kraukauer

Hope in the Unseen, Ron Suskind

The Glass Castle, Jeannette Walls

Night, Elie Wiesel

Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl

Regardless of the type of memoir or narrative have students complete a style analysis for these authors and/or themselves. Then, task them with writing the opening line(s) to their own story—in 140 characters.  Everything must be grammatically perfect.  No abbreviations or missing punctuation marks.

Tweet Exercise-Revise, Rewrite, Reconsider 

Ask that students take their original tweet and follow the steps below.

Tweet #1: Have students use the 140 characters however they desire.

Tweet #2: Take the content of tweet #1 and revise it creating two engaging sentences.   You must use a punctuation mark (-, :, ; ) of interest.

Introduce students to 6 Word Memoirs.  While you’ll have to pick and choose the “memoirs” you think best, consider having them listen to NPR’s story about the purpose behind the project. Use this as the final step before Tweet #3. 

Tweet #3: Take the content of the tweet #2 and make it three sentences.  The first of those sentences must follow the format of Smith Magazine’s 6 Word Memoir.  The other two must further the engagement you’ve created with your audience as a result of sentence #1.


Tomorrow: Twitter as Research Tool

Twitter: Overview

I’ve spent the last two days trying to find a clever way to overview Twitter.   In an effort to establish myself as a reputable resource I’ve read Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher’s tweets, rewatched Josh Groban singing Kanye West’s tweets and discovered “sweets” by We Sing Your Tweets.  It’s easy to plummet down the rabbit hole.  So many people, posts, links, chatter, retweets, favorites, lists, twitpics.  You can see how some could view Twitter as a vast sea of self-publishing for the self-important.

And yet, Twitter is more than celebrity feuds, divorces and lunches. Tweets can be invaluable resources for teaching #occupywallstreet, satire, Steve Jobs, writing with voice, etc. Tweets can teach concision, engage quiet students in classroom discussion, be a forum for creating thesis statements.

This past summer Scott McLeod (one of the minds behind Shift Happens) posted on Big Think an “open letter” to educators about the value of Twitter.   Used correctly it’s a stream of resources that showcase effective classroom practices and a learning community for teachers and students.  But navigating Twitter is daunting and difficult for the best of us. That’s why it’s good to have help.  Below I’ve listed some of the most useful links for getting Twitter up and running in your classroom.

Digitally Speaking Twitter Resources & Video Tutorials

Twitter Handle: @plugusin

This is a series of video tutorials and guides that help with navigating the setup of a twitter account.  They are incredibly helpful if you are new to Twitter.

The Daring Librarian’s Wikipage on Educational Twittering

Twitter Handle: @gwynethjones

A significant “library” of links to posts and information about everything from Twitter accounts to hashtags. 

Cybrary Man’s Twitter Resources

Twitter Handle: @cybraryman1

A page chock full of links that all discuss how to implement Twitter in the classroom.  This is an invaluable page if you understand Twitter and you’re looking for ideas and “extras.” 

You may, as you read through, decide that you’d like your students to create their own “private” and locked Twitter account only for educational use. This means they follow only you.  You might also ask their names as twitter handles (or some appropriate version of their name/initials) so you can easily determine who is commenting.

Tomorrow: Twitter as personal narrative.