I graduated from college almost four years ago, and I’ve been fortunate to stay in touch with the friends I made in some of my upper-level English courses (I have to thank Facebook for this!). Brian Wyzlic and I had a few classes together and share a love for everything YA. He’s teaching middle school language arts AND math! All of the English teachers that don’t like math need to give him major props! Anyway, Brian asked me if I’d blog about how I’m using Twitter with teaching and YA, so here we go!
A couple years ago my principal signed me up for a year long PD course about using technology in teaching. This is how I came up with the idea of blogging and is also how I started using Twitter. I’ll be honest–I NEVER thought I’d use Twitter on a regular basis. During this PD, one of the teachers I sat with told me that she created a Twitter account as a way to help her students stay organized. She was tweeting daily homework assignments so her students and their parents would know what was assigned each day. I grabbed on to that idea and started doing it as well. It worked for some kids, but most of them held the attitude that “Twitter’s for old people.” A few parents signed up as well. I tried this for about a year, but it didn’t work out the way I wanted it to.
When I started blogging about the books I was reading, WordPress included a way to tweet my posts. Some of my students were still following me, and since I blog for them, I figured I’d give it a try. This worked out much better than the homework stuff. It was during the summer and my avid readers loved it because they knew which books I was reading.
Since then I’ve discovered that TONS of authors are on Twitter. (If you didn’t already know this, a person’s Twitter name is @insertnamehere). I follow Laurie Halse Anderson (@halseanderson) and Ellen Hopkins (@EllenHopkinsYA). I follow newer authors like Sarah Ockler (@sarahockler) and Jo Knowles (@JoKnowles). Don’t forget the awesome 2011 debut authors like Gae Polisner (@gaepol), Beth Revis (@bethrevis), and soooo many more! All you really need to do is search an author’s name to find them. When I review one of their books I link their name to my review so they can see it. It’s also fun to see what they’re doing every day and what they’re working on. Most of these authors have blogs as well, and they’ll often link to their latest blog posts and giveaways. Tons of fun I tell you! I’m always encouraging my students to get on Twitter so they can connect with their favorite authors.
At the beginning of the school year a man tried banning Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. In response to this, an English teacher named Paul W. Hankins (@PaulWHankins) started a Twitter feed called #SpeakLoudly. This feed allowed authors, readers, teachers, etc. to speak out against this act of censorship. (A feed like this is similar to a chat room. To find these you type in the hashtag (#) with the term or name in your search box. It might sound confusing, but really it just takes some playing around.) This was an awesome and empowering feed that truly showed how strong the book community is. Paul and David Macinnis Gill (@thunderchikin) took this one step further and created the website speakloudly.org.
Paul is only one of the super resources on Twitter. I also follow Donalyn Miller (@donalynbooks), author of The Book Whisperer. She and Paul created the A-MAZING feed called #titletalk. They host this on the last Sunday of the month at 8pm EST. Titles at every level are shared depending on the topic. I’ve received awesome advice on how to use these titles as well. Plus, it’s a fun way to connect with teachers and librarians across the nation. **Note- Keep your Goodreads account open during this so you can quickly add titles as they come up.**
Another must-follow for the English teachers out there is #engchat which is organized by another awesome teacher, Meenoo Rami (@mrami2). Every Monday at 7pm EST Meenoo has a teacher scheduled to host this chat with a different teaching-related topic. I’ve had better PD experiences through this feed than I’ve had at work! Teachers using this feed LOVE to share writing and reading lessons. This Monday (Feb. 7th) I’m hosting #engchat and talking about how I started my Y.A. Lit class and what we do. A few of my former students will also be chiming in 🙂 On Twitter I’m @yaloveblog.
Twitter has turned into an invaluable resource for me as a teacher and blogger. It might seem overwhelming if you haven’t ventured into the land of Twitter, but there are plenty of reasons to try and plenty of people to help you out! If I haven’t provided enough information or you have questions/comments please email me or leave a comment 🙂 My email address is at the top of my sidebar. You can find me on Twitter directly by navigating all the way to the bottom of my blog. I hope to follow you soon!
P.S.- If we chat on Twitter, leave a comment with your name so others can follow you as well! 😀
P.P.S- I’ve set up Skype chats w/authors using Twitter as well.