Can Twitter Expand as a Classroom Tool? (Week 2)


You have 140 characters. Think about what you want to say.

Take your time. You’re in front of a camera and about to “go live,” but when those 140 characters are tweeted, you go live in a different way.

In the introductory chapter in Teaching Writing Online, author, Scott Warnock, quotes a Pew report’s finding that many students do not consider their “emails, instant and text messages as writing.” I have read this before, and think that it extends to Facebook, Twitter, and other online environments. How can teachers use Twitter in the classroom? How can teachers show students that the use of Twitter can be used as a writing tool?

U.S. News reports ways in which classrooms use Twitter in “5 Unique Uses of Twitter in the Classroom.” While the research focuses mostly on the collegiate level, the five uses maybe used in secondary and middle school classrooms, also. The study says that the use of one Tweet helps students write concisely. With only 140 characters, students learn how to get to the point.

Using Tweets to make a concise point might work well when a class is reading a book together. Students can discuss the book on Twitter using a hashtag, getting to the point of a chapter, or raising a question. If the student raises a question, it may cause other students to think of a short, to-the-point answer.

While the article conveys some professors’ uncertainty about using Twitter as a tool for class participation, it does not mean that the use of Twitter cannot grow in the classroom. For instance, one professor in the article stated that he only uses Twitter to report last minute changes to the schedule. Instead of being limited to 140 characters, teachers and students can expand by making their message shorter?


Yes, shorter. By making a Tweet, or microblog, shorter, more people can participate in the discussion. It engages a live discussion while at the same time students are thinking about what they want to say and the point of a chapter or poem. Another article by Samantha Miller (50 Ways to Use Twitter in the Classroom) mentions that teachers can track a discussion with a hashtag.

The U.S. News and Miller’s article both mention the importance of role play for students. U.S. News mentions role play in two different ways. One is to create a brand, which helps students practice by creating a Twitter page for a career in which they’re interested.

Another way includes students personifying characters from books on Twitter. According to U.S. News, students not only imitate a character from a book, but they show their “knowledge of the book’s writing style in their tweets.” For example, the article states that students use the writing style found in Twilight when they write their Tweets.

In place of a traditional round circle discussion, students can get into a character, and for the first time, show their knowledge of the writing style. I believe that is significant because when students sit in a circle, they may talk about the writing style. They do not necessarily put their minds into the style of writing. In the Twilight example, students get into characters’ minds more by displaying understanding of how the book is written.


By Becca Bridges



  1. I love this idea of students tweeting from the persona of a character that they are learning about. I think that students will really enjoy the assignment and because they are able to be themselves and speak in their native tongue, whatever that may be, I think that the students who participate in this will lean more about what they are being taught. My one question about this is, what do you do for the students that get overly excited about the freedom of twitter and do not take the assignment seriously? Meaning what kind of boundaries can be placed on the assignment in order to keep all students on task and reaching the highest potential that the assignment has to offer?

    • You ask an excellent question! In a READ 645 class that I took with Dr. Ming, we learned about preparing the class for online learning. There is preparation that goes into working and writing properly on the Internet. Before writing a blog post, the teacher discusses with students how they should respond to their classmates and leave specific messages. One word from the textbook in Dr. Ming’s class stayed with me: “netiquette,” or how we act and communicate on the Internet.
      For different tools, like Twitter, I think my answer would be philosophical. I would need to do more research because it is difficult to encourage students who are carried away on Twitter to jump back on task.
      Teachers can use tools provided by a content management system. A few years ago, I subbed at a nearby high school. A class of boys were designing houses online. Their teacher showed me how to monitor every computer from a master computer. I could see, in a “1985” big brother-kind-of way, everything the boys looked at or pulled up on their computers. This kept me from having to walk around the room. A person could easily pull up another website once I walked past their desk. By having the master computer monitoring all screens, I knew who did and did not do their work. I could text them on the computer, and they would get back to work. This also saved me from having to point out an individual, who was off task, in front of the class. The action from this class may be applied to the time when students work on Twitter.

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