A couple of years ago, Zoe Branigan-Pipe (@zbpipe) encouraged me to join Twitter. I’m so glad that I did! Thanks Zoe! The amazing educators that I follow here, inspire me daily with suggestions of rich, learning opportunities that connect the curriculum to topics that interest my students.

This week, I was definitely reminded of this! On Monday, December 12th, I saw this tweet from Karen Lirenman (@lirenmanlearns):

Karen’s tweet got me thinking. The holidays are coming up soon, and creating and tweeting Santa’s secrets might be an exciting activity for the class while also getting students writing. On Wednesday, some of my students worked together with their Grade 8 reading buddies to create some “Santa secrets.” They had to read the secrets that others had posted, and reply to these tweets too with follow-up questions to get people to share more. Other classes from the United States were tweeting at the same time as us, so my students were excited to engage with them as well. When lunch came, both the Grade 8 reading buddies and the Grade 1/2 students were sad to stop tweeting.

They were so engaged in this activity, that I started to think of other ways that I could use the hashtag #santasec2011. We’re working on “voice” in class, and I started to think that it would be great to combine voice with this Twitter chat. I would have my students tweet secrets about Santa Claus, but they would have to tweet them as an elf, Mrs. Claus, Rudolph, Santa himself, or a child that knows or thinks he knows, Santa. The results were incredible! Students were really taking on the voice of these different characters. Below are just some examples from the chat:

I definitely need to do more activities like this one! Had in not been for Karen and the inspiration to even consider this kind of Twitter chat, I would not be where I am with voice right now. Thanks Karen!

While all of this is happening with the “Santa Secret” Twitter chat, I read this great post by Jamie Reaburn Weir (@msjweir) about this fantastic experience that her English class had with Danika Barker’s (@danikabarker) English class. The two high school classes are studying Hamlet, and Danika’s class is actually “acting out” the part online with the use of Twitter. In 140 characters or less, her students are bringing Hamlet to life, but with a modern day twist. I just love this idea! Since Jamie’s class is studying Hamlet now too, the two classes connected using Adobe Connect and Today’sMeet to discuss the play.

As part of Jamie’s blog post, she mentioned that her students were having a backchannel conversation through Today’sMeet with Ophelia’s character. It was this part of her post that really caught my attention! When on Thursday, I had such success with the Twitter chat, I started to think about Jamie’s post, and I wondered how I could use something similar in my class. I was reading, The Gingerbread Baby, to my class on Friday, and at the end of the book, Matti rescues the gingerbread baby and puts him in a gingerbread house to stay safe. I started to think, wouldn’t it be neat if the students wrote from the perspective of the Gingerbread Baby or one of the other characters in the book, discussing what happened after the chase? What are these characters doing now? Students used their own name, but they took the voice of the character. Below is a screenshot of some of the chat (start reading from the bottom):

Independently, these Grade 1 and 2 students are conversing in character. They enjoyed this chat so much, that even when I told them that they could stop and have a choice of activity, almost all students continued to write. Had it not been for Jamie’s blog post and Danika’s idea to role play in 140 characters or less, I would have never done this activity. Thanks for inspiring me!

For the parents reading this post, what did your child think of this activity? How has this activity helped his/her writing? For the educators reading this post, how have other educators inspired you? I would love to hear your thoughts and stories!


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