TED-Talk Inspired Ideas for Twitter-izing Narrative Reading & Writing

Check out this short 12 minute TED Talk by Andrew Fitzgerald, an editor who discusses the new frontier of narrative writing: Twitter (Thanks to Jordana for sharing this with me!).  In it, he discusses the idea of fictional characters engaging in the real world (like the characters of West Wing, who all have Twitter accounts) and flexible identities available on Twitter.

Here’s a screen shot from the talk, when Fitzgerald talks about an author who used different voices (Twitter accounts) to tell a story via Twitter:

Twitter fiction TED talk screen shot
There are so many ways we can bring these narratives into the classroom–as small, daily assignments or larger assessments.

Here’s a few ideas (Note: “Tweets” could be on paper, in notebooks, on bulletin board, or on Twitter):

  • “Tweet” original stories: Throughout a narrative reading and/or writing unit, have students build their own stories twitter-post by twitter-post, meaning, they “tweet” a part of their story as a warm-up and/or closing each day.  They can apply what they learned about narratives or about narrative writing in class that day or the day before to their Twitter serial-stories.  Towards the end of the unit, they could use those as fodder for a full story or performance assessment.
  • “Tweet” from a character’s perspective: Students could adopt a character they’ve read about and be responsible for “tweeting” his/her/its reaction to current events and happenings.  This requires incredible upper-level thinking but they won’t even know how much you’re stretching their brains.  It engages students in current and/or global events and puts them in the driver’s seat of a character and makes them really understand the character and his/her/its motivations.  (This could also work if you’re teaching, say, Medieval England.  As they learn about Medieval England, what would have been that character’s response to certain events?)
  • Apply narrative knowledge by analyzing Twitter fiction: Students find an example of Twitter fiction and watch it unfold live or scroll back through it.  They can apply what they know about narrative to analyze this new narrative . . . maybe even study it as a genre!  What’s different about this when compared to a story or novel?  What characteristics are unique to Twitter fiction?  Why does the author make the choices (s)he does when tweeting certain information at certain times and making the reader wait at other points? (RL.12.5) What does suspense look like in Twitter fiction?  This could be a really fun performance assessment where students go out and study and analyze a new kind of narrative.
  • “Tweet” a whole-class or small-group serial-story: Students could work together to build a twitter story (I imagine this working best on a bulletin board or Twitter account).  Different students might have different roles, like in literature circles, and might be different characters who reply to other tweets in addition to tweeting their own ideas (depending on the character).  This might be quite the experimental adventure, but I think it has great potential! Students, with your help, could analyze the story as they write it to make sure they have all the key elements of story-writing.  They could add “replies” in (after analysis) whenever something, like setting or conflict, needs to be further developed.  This might be a unit-long activity, but it would be great for reinforcing the elements of a story or the elements of narrative and pushing creative and collaborative boundaries.  With the right rubric, I think it could even be a performance assessment grade.  🙂

I’m oozing with excitement over this!  Have other ideas to share? Leave them in the comments for all to see 🙂

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