In yesterday’s post I referenced The New York Times Article, Writer’s New Form: Tweet-Up Comedy. One of the most interesting components to the piece was WitStream, an aggregator of humorous tweets. Now I think WitStream is simply genius. It helps that Michael Ian Black is one of the brains behind it, and I do like the idea of a “24 hour live comedy ticker.” I am not recommending that you show the website/posts in their entirety to your students. It can be a minefield. Instead, take a screenshot of appropriate WitStream posts. See example below:
Have them read the About WitStream page. You may want them to also read
about the Team. Lisa Cohen’s section is particularly funny. Discussion afterwards could include:
- Why an aggregator?
- Why not just a series of hashtags?
- What does a 24-hour live comedy ticker offer an audience?
Next, consider creating a “classroom aggregator” to compliment the satirical texts you already teach. No, I don’t mean create your own program. Instead, choose from these two options:
Twitter is too tricky, problematic or painful. Trust me I understand. It isn’t always easy to have students use tech inside or outside of school. So cheat. Have students write tweets either on paper or in a Word document. On paper limit them to 20-25 words. In Word they can do a character count.
Have students create a private Twitter account. You’ll need to create one two and set it to private so you can “approve” your followers. If students already have their own Twitter account, have them create a new one set to private with you as their only follower. There’s no need to see the other people their following on Twitter.
The goal is to have students construct their own tweets mimicking an author’s voice or employing an author’s focus. Here’s the rub: all tweets must be 140 characters and all must be perfectly punctuated and grammatically correct. No cheating.
“Me Talk Pretty One Day,” anything David Sedaris, OR The Catcher in the Rye
- Have students tweet using his sharp wit and voice.
- Have students focus on some of his favorite topics: personal interactions, family, self-criticism.
- Have students pick a local, national or global issue, local, and tweet using dark satire.
- Use some of The Onion Tweets as a reference point/model.
The Canterbury Tales or The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
- Have students choose one of the topics either author exposes or ridicules: corruption, hypocrisy, religion, etc. Have them tweet tongue, firmly, in cheek.
Students should end up with concise, pithy statements that make strong opening lines for personal narratives or college application essays. They also serve to make interesting hooks for analytical essays if done appropriately.