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. 


  1. Do you share your "Super Tricks?" I homeschool my two youngest, and also teach a writing class to 20+ homeschool students (2nd-3rd graders). Last year I had two hours every other week. This year it will be weekly for one hour.

    One exercise we will do is Five Sentence Fiction, the brainchild of blogger/writer Lillie McFerrin: one word prompt, five sentences. I have a couple of examples at my own blog; one called Peter, which your students might find amusing, and one more serious post called Francesca. You can find me at

    P.s.-I worked for a time, and had the honor of traveling to Africa with Steve and the crew, when I was with Wonderware umpteen years ago.

  2. Hi Britton,
    I wish the idea of Super Tricks was mine. I got it from B Monfort who is a fellow of the San Diego Area Writing Project. Her blog is In a nutshell, it's a great way to communicate the idea of literary techniques such as metaphor, simile, etc..
    Thanks for the idea on one word prompts, and I'm eager to check out your blog!


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