Saturday, March 22, 2014

Accidental Live Tweeting with an Author

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OK, let me set the scene for's Friday afternoon, sixth grade, twenty-six restless students sitting in front of me, and a nice day outside the windows...I had to work hard to get through ninety minutes and make them meaningful & productive. Our focus was discussing and working on projects with our books for book clubs. The books we're working with include:

TouchBlue by Cynthia Lord
I Survived by Lauren Tarshis 
Heat by Mike Lupica
A Whole Nother Story by Dr. Cuthburt Soup
Viola in Reel Life by Adriana Trigiani
Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson

 One of the projects we attempted was tweeting as the characters of the books. I pulled twitter up on the promethean board and we discussed the why's and how's and what's of twitter. I shared my twitter feed with them. We talked of hashtags and usernames and tweets. A question before they began, "My book takes place in 1917. Can I have them say LOL, even if they didn't say it then?" I taught them the word that explains that phenomenon: "a chronological inconsistency"  is an anachronism...but I allowed it, because it would be fun. Off they went to tweet as the characters from their books. The buzz was alive in the room as the students laughed about what their characters might say. Suddenly, I heard one voice above the others..."Ms. Haseltine, LOOK it's the author of our book. She's on twitter NOW!" It was Kirby Larson. She was responding to a tweet from someone else. So, I engaged and told her what we were up to...

The entire class stopped...and waited...for a second...and then returned to work. As I was explaining that she may have left her computer...a response appeared...
So I showed her...

It's I look at these tweets, I realize her responses are pretty instantaneous...but sitting in felt like forever! The kids were mesmerized. They (and me too) couldn't believe that we were live tweeting with an author. In real time. In front of them. Right now! We continued to work and finally cleaned up and prepared to go home for the weekend. No response yet about the tweets...yet. I knew she'd respond. Here's what we got: 

My girls will be over the moon excited about her response. Thank you, Kirby Larson! I don't think you know what a difference you made in a sixth grade classroom in northern Virginia on a Friday afternoon. We will never forget it!
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  1. What a difference YOU made in their readerly and writerly lives. The power of technology to bring us all closer is inspiring. What a GREAT and memorable Friday afternoon.

  2. What a cool way to end the week!

  3. How clever to start something like this, Michelle, and then immediately start connecting with Kirby. You're so right, the students will be thrilled. And, what a terrific group of books they've been reading! Have a good weekend!

  4. I love technology! You've inspired me to become more familiar with twitter. I heard Henry Winkler in Feb. at a conference and wanted to tell him how much I appreciated his work and books geared toward kids with dyslexia. I set up a twitter account and just tried to figure out how to tweet him. I figured it out and he tweeted back! I was thrilled and can't even imagine how thrilled your students were at that moment on Friday. An authentic audience and real world skills. I love it!

  5. Oh, if only I had realized you were all sitting in class at that very moment! I was being a "good" writer and actually writing which explains the pauses between my tweets. Ask the kids to forgive me. Had I only understood what was going on, I would've stayed right there with them. On the other hand, having to wait does give them a small taste of the waiting times Hattie experienced between letters from Charlie and Uncle Holt. Imagine how hard that had to have been!

    Give me a head's up if you do this again and I'll try hard to be more fully available. I really want to see the tweet from Mr. Whiskers! ;-)

  6. This is great Michelle. I had book club Friday and it wasn't anywhere near as engaging as yours! I have gotten students tweeting on a class twitter but not like this. Did you have them create accounts as these characters or just input with the @ sign? I'm going to try this for our read aloud next week. Love it.

  7. Ok I looked closer at your post... looks like students created then you took pics? Looks fun.

  8. Oh my gosh! Now that is a successful lesson! Every once in a while a lesson blooms better than you ever planned. Great, unplanned timing. I hope you get to smile about this for a long time.

  9. Do you ever have a reason to celebrate! This is wonderful! I will share this with my students on Monday! Can't wait to hear what your students will say on Monday!

  10. Oh, how wonderful! I want to come to your classroom! Twitter is blocked at our school, as well as many other useful and educational sites. I DO like the idea of talking as the character you study, and our kids did a wonderful job during Black History Month with their "Live Museum." It was fun! I'm sure your students will remember that "teachable moment" forever!

  11. I saw these coming through! What a fun experience for all of you! Neat idea to tweet as a character!


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