Bios, Threads, & Retweets: Moving Writers with Twitter Simulations

We know that writing strategies are everywhere.

And, I am amazed at the amount of writing skills and strategies that are embedded into social media platforms. Although the student writer may not actually notice the author’s craft and intention that goes into well-crafted tweets, they are there in abundance, and I realized recently that these Twitter structures can be used to teach and practice and analyze author’s craft.

Lately, I have really leaned into Twitter as a place for self-expression. And, the more I post, the more I find myself growing as a writer and stretching the way I think about concepts both familiar and unfamiliar to me. As I was tweeting the other day on my lunch break at work, it dawned on me that I wasn’t just tweeting… I was writing. I was thinking about all the people I follow and how they make their content engaging and realized that there are so many important writing skills and strategies required that we are currently working to help our students grasp. Ultimately, I realized, as I started voraciously writing down all the ideas I had on my giant notepad, that Twitter has a lot to offer our emerging writers.

Here is a preliminary list of all the skills (and standards) I realized can relate to writing on Twitter through threads, quote retweets, and bios. This is, by no means, a complete list of writing skills related to social media platforms or Twitter, but I hope these ideas inspire additional ideas for how these skills can manifest themselves for writing in the classroom.

Threads

  • Analyzing shifts in poetry and breaking down larger pieces into poetic stanzas
  • Identifying and breaking down paragraph and sentence structure to determine meaning, phrasing, and important details
  • Identifying and using effective transitions
  • Re-arranging and revising sentences or phrases to increase coherence or reduce length to make writing more concise

Single Tweets & Quote Retweets

  • Defending or challenging a claim by using evidence
  • Adding details, perspective, or analysis
  • Convey meaning through purposeful use of diction and/or graphics

Bios

  • Making inferences about personal ideals, beliefs, and qualities
  • Convey meaning through purposeful use of diction and/or graphics

Side note: It is not lost on me that we are at the end of an incredibly challenging year, and, while some have as little as 2-3 weeks remaining, others will still be grinding for another 5-6 weeks. So, this month, I wanted to make sure I created something focused on realistic and short activities for the classroom that reinforce vital writing skills but that also engage student writers using the writing constructs from Twitter. 

I have created Google Docs, Slides, and Jamboard templates to help make this concept come to life for use in the virtual or in-person classroom–each of which can be manipulated for individual student writing activities or for whole-class collaborative activities and for short, impromtu activities or more complex demonstrations of understanding.

Tips for making the most of these templates

Each Google Docs template can be force copied to students for individual use and for longer or more complex assignments. They also allow students to have a character or word count turned on in order to emphasize the importance of conciseness and to further simulate the Twitter writing experience. Once turned on, student writers can highlight their tweets to check their character count.

How to turn on word and character count for Google Docs

Each Google Slides template has been editing under ‘Master View’, which means that each slide can be duplicated and added while maintaining that essential items for the Twitter template affixed to the background. These elements can also still be edited as needed to fit the needs of the Twitter task at hand. For these particular Google Slides, the ‘Blank’ slide had been edited with the Twitter content. The Google Slides were created with the intention of whole-class or small group collaboration where student writers can think of ideas quickly, respond to the ideas of others, or to team edit pre-created tweets.

Where to access the Master template for editing affixed background elements in Google Slides

Each Jamboard template was created by downloading a PNG version of the corresponding Google Slides template and then uploading that PNG as the background to the Jambaord, which means if you’d like to make changes to the affixed elements in the background of the template, changes should first be made in Google Slides and then the background can be re-downloaded and uplaoded to the Jambaord. Each Jamboard can be collaborative by duplicating the Twitter template for each student or the entire Jam can be force copied for students to use individually.

How to reapply the background for Jamboard after editing Google Slides

Each type of template can also have memes, GIFs, and images added to simulate similar content that would be included in a Tweet. I recommend dragging and dropping from GIPHY, or another Google Chrome Extension for GIFs.

Send me your thoughts, reflections, and questions! =) Continue the conversation with me on Twitter @StarianBlake, on Facebook at facebook.com/movingwriters, or email me at starian.porchia@allenisd.org. At Moving Writers, we love sharing our materials with you, and we work hard to ensure we are posting high-quality work that is both innovative and practical. Please help us continue to make this possible by refraining from selling our intellectual property or presenting it as your own.

Thank you!

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