Love to Hear the Robin…

Recently, I joined the Twitter crowd(@MindyKellerKyri, here), fully prepared to burst forth with elegantly concise, precise, brevity of thought. I began following a few political and educational twits twitterers, and in a matter of moments, an opportunity for me to debut arrived in the form of a debate:

Creativity is a natural ability of all people. Wisdom is not.     
 Discuss. #edchat #education
Challenge accepted! I began to fill in my box. “Don’t forget to include who you’re sending it to,” advised my so helpful, technologically-inclined husband, “and you should include the hash tags, too.”  

So, I diligently erased what I’d written, including these parameters. “Awww, c’mon! These take up like 20 characters!” I whined. 

Nonetheless, I was determined to state my position articulately.  Each time, I ran over the word count. 

What’s the matter with me? I know what I want to say. Why can’t I say it in fewer words? 

Stumped, I stared at my cursor, which was mercilessly winking at me in the white-cold bareness of its blue-lined box. 

This wasn’t so different than my often-offered advice to students (particularly on doctoral dissertations) to make something clearer and more concise. I wonder how many of them would be able to use the confines of a tweet to help them arrive at the significance of what they were trying to say in five sentences that could better be stated in two.

Then I wondered at the possibility of using this “box” thinking for struggling readers who have a really tough time with main idea, especially implied main idea. What if I asked them to “tweet” that main idea? Would that help move them closer to understanding how the brain takes in details and arrives at a connection between them?

In no more than 140 characters, including your teacher’s twitter handle and one relevant hash tag, state the main idea of this article. 

Or perhaps helping students understand the nature of a thesis as a concise overview of their entire paper? 

And, while we may not be able to have students follow us on Twitter, we can still use the thinking behind it to perhaps move them closer to where they need to be. The haiku of their generation? Maybe. 

Whatever it is, let’s grab onto it in the hopes that we reach at least one student that we might otherwise not reach. 

Just in case the title didn’t tweet with you (or even if it did!):


  1. Comment from one of my groups arguing the idea of using Twitter at all:

    Twittering is a specific form of writing. Twtter requires the twitter to concentrate on how to limit the number of CHARACTERS, not on how to consider the consciceness of a thought. The uses of twitter are (1) informal social contact and (2) promotions or ads. Twittering is not appropriate for teaching students how to communicate precisely and succinctly. What is conscise in in the planning of an utterance when unecessary phrases and interjections such as FYI, WTF, Ur, UC2, SUL, etc are added? What gives conscise to the meaning because it is written in camel case: e.g, UCGo2TheMeeting@12. I am disturbed when educators confuse such shortcuts as instruction in how to think conscicely. To me, it exposes an ignorance of the realith that there exist different styles and purposes of writing; it demonstrates an inability to judge how electronic literacy is so very revolutionary and different from Standard.

    Perhaps, someday, Shakespeare will be written as 2BOrNot2BThatIsThe?.That is not the purpose or intention of Twitter. Do not confuse one specific writing form with another.

  2. I have used the idea of a facebook update and then a tweet in my classroom to help students understand whats important when summarizing. First, my only instruction was to write a summary of the story we read. Then, they had to take that summary and shorten it to fit into a facebook status update. Then, they had to take that summary and shorten it to fit into a 140 character tweet. This really helped break it down so that could analyze and evaluate what makes an effective summary and it helped then to differentiate between what important vs whats not important in a summary. It was such a great lesson!=)