Saturday, June 16, 2012

Twitter Poetry

Twitter is perfect for poetry.  I always tell my students that poetry is the writing medium with the most imagery and the fewest words.  That's why Twitter works so well.  Twitter writers only have 140 characters to express themselves, so they had better make the best of each and every word.
The idea of Twitter poetry is not new.  Last year, the New York Times had an interesting article on this writing genre.
Since my sixth-grade students would soon be moving on to middle school, I asked them to write a reflection of their memories of elementary school.  Before beginning the assignment, we discussed the effects of  limiting their letters.  We looked at mentor Twitter poems.  We noticed how the character limitations make the poems similar to haiku poetry.  These haiku poems even had a name: "twaiku."
I let the students decide how to organize their subject matter.  Some wanted to write a summary of all their experiences.  Others decided to write a snapshot of a moment in time.  My only precondition was that they include writer's craft (which we call Super Tricks) in their poetry.
The students looked through their writer's notebook for ideas about their poems.  They also reviewed the Super Tricks that they had learned throughout the year.
As they finished their poetry, they lined up at my desk to post their poems on our classroom Twitter account .

I was thrilled to see that many of them included metaphor:

As the lambs go by/ I notice the year is going to end/ I look back at all my memories/ I don't want to let them fly away. JP

Days go by like a books pages / as we get to our conclusion / we begin a new introduction. CD

I enjoyed reading Sienna's poem about a moment in time in the school's garden:

We sit on the stumps/Laughing and joking around with each other/As a circle of friends under a willow tree. SR

I realized that the format of a Twitter poem works well when the writer stops the action and writes about a short period of time.
I loved the poems and can definitely see the potential for this medium.  Next year, I can use this as a powerful tool for teaching many types of writer's craft. I will devote more time to revising the poems and using them as a strategy for instruction. 

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Classroom Tweets on Twitter

I had big ideas.  I could have the students tweet their responses and questions in class during a lesson.  Instant feedback! We could experiment with hash tags using ideas from They could use the Twitter search engine to look for articles related to research.   There was so much to explore.
I walked into class on Monday morning and announced, "We have a Twitter account!" The students gasped.  Their mouths dropped.  Smiles spread.  The room buzzed with excitement.

Within fifteen minutes of announcing our new Twitter account, I began to realize how complicated this might be.  First of all, the students would all need email accounts, and some parents had were not comfortable with this.  In addition, if they allowed their child to have an email, they were not quite ready for their preteen to be experimenting with social media on the Internet, even though Twitter enables users to have a secure and private profile. 
Quickly, I scaled back my plans.  The Twitter account would have to serve a different function. It would  have to be voluntary and parent approved. 

"Twitter.  Really?" began an email from one of my sixth-grader's parents when I began my classroom Twitter account. In response, I quickly sent her a link to 50 Ways to Use Twitter in the Classroom ( to assure her that we weren't going to be monitoring Justin Bieber or Ashton Kutcher.  I let her know that we would in fact be using it to better connect with our parents.  I immediately sent out an email to all the parents, explaining Twitter's purpose in the classroom.

Every day I leave the Twitter site open on Chrome, and I post tweets randomly a couple of times a day. I often tweet about a project or homework assignment.  But mostly, I like to capture a moment in time in our day. I am able to give the parents a glimpse into our activities, like the students reading in the shade of an oak tree in the school garden with their book clubs. 
These tweets enable them to see another side to their children.  I was able to share a touching moment when a sixth-grader designed a monkey end- of-year card with his kindergarten buddy.  These snapshots enhance their connections with their children and their school lives.  At the dinner table, they won't ask "What did you do at school today?"  They can share specific experiences.

Twitter has not only improved my classroom and home connections, but it has also created professional connections and opportunities.  Next blog: Twitter and professional development.
Visit the classroom blog at

Bosworth Traveler

Bosworth Traveler
The Taj Mahal