Teaching and Twitter

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.


  1. I think Twitter worked with your teaching. I made an account during your class so that I could try and follow one of the chats. I am excited for #engchat on Monday! I will definitely be chiming in. (I am @careohlion for those who don’t know.)

  2. Great blog on Twitter for teachers and YA, especially for a newbie! You’ve inspired me to consider how I might use this with my sixth graders. And, I am very interested in the chat sessions so will definitely be checking that out as well. Thanks.

    • Mrs. Andersen says:

      Awesome! Let me know if you need any help getting started 🙂 I follow some GREAT middle school teachers!

  3. When you told me that I should join Twitter just a few months ago, I had no idea things would be going this great! I have been able to connect with so many amazing people. I have had great Twitter conversations (mostly goofy ones but who really cares) with authors and book bloggers. Not only have I been able to share my blog with others but I have been able to find so many great sites. So thank you for convincing me to join!
    Katelyn (ktorrey1)

  4. Like you, I started using Twitter thinking it would work well for tweeting homework assignments for students and parents to see, but I’m not sure that’s working out so well because I don’t think as many students use it, so I’m phasing that out and moving into a wiki for that.

    I have evolved into seeing that Twitter is a more useful tool for networking professionally with teachers, education professionals, and authors. It’s nice to be able to be so accessible to authors and then to be able to go back to my 8th graders and share some of the things the authors have said. Also, since I’ve started blogging book reviews for my students, I’m able to share those with more people through Twitter. It’s all about building engagement and excitement about reading and books.

    So…although my students may not use Twitter so much, I can use it to improve my teaching and keep up to date professionally. It can also be a time-suck, so I have to be careful to stay balanced with my time spent there!


    • Mrs. Andersen says:

      Thank you for such a great comment/reply to my post 🙂 I’ve been thinking about starting a wiki, but I’m not familiar with it at all.

      You’re right about Twitter becoming a time-suck. I have to be really careful about spending too much time on there!

  5. Oooo, I just found your blog and JUST missed the #engchat, but these are great tips and I’ve written the hashtags down. I’m trying to read the archive from tonite, but my brain is not up for it at the moment (but will save for later). Anyway, thanks for this post!

    • Mrs. Andersen says:

      I’m glad you found my blog, and it’s too bad you missed the #engchat tonight! We’re thinking of having it again in hopes that it doesn’t mess up again. I’m happy this post was helpful 🙂

      • Mrs. Andersen says:

        Also Kathy, I just checked your website and saw that you’re a 2011 debut author 🙂 I started a feature here called Students Want to Know which involves my students interviewing debut authors. Would you like to participate? Email me if you’re interested 🙂

        lovingyalit [at] gmail [dot] com

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