I love Twitter. I love writing. I love teaching. Put them all together and what do you get? One freaking awesome Twitter chat between my class and a young published author. Oh, and you get one deliriously happy me.
Last week I launched a new project with year 10. Here’s the project outline:
After our insanely epic hook lesson (I’ll write a separate post about it), I came home and tweeted one of the coolest young writers I know, Will Kostakis, and asked him if he’d participate in a Twitter Q&A with my class. He said yes!! We arranged a time to chat – in real time – so the next step was questions. Before the next lesson with year 10, I quickly created a Google Doc with info about Will (nicked from his website) and added a table for each student’s name and question.
When I told my class that Will had agreed to answer their questions about writing, their response was magic – they were thrilled that a real writer would speak with them, with some excited because he’s ‘like a celebrity’. I shared the question GDoc with them (we have a Google Drive folder for this project, and everything I put in it automatically shares with them – thanks for the tip Ginger Lewman!) and off they went, adding questions. Now that I’ve set up sharing with students properly, I can see who is editing what, so it was easy to catch the silly boys adding ‘funny’ things after people’s name. We had a chat about being responsible and respectful online, and I threatened to put the silly ones on read only, and they got over it pretty quickly. By the end of the lesson we had 30 amazing questions, ready to ask Will the next day.
The beginning of the Twitter Q&A lesson was a little manic – I had to open to GDoc, open Twitter, get the students focused on a small side task to keep them working during anticipated delays in the chat, and then I had to start posting questions to Will. The first few questions Will actually answered in video form – my students were all ‘Vines be like’ haha. The videos were so cool, but unfortunately our WiFi is a bit sluggish so they took ages to load. We ended up asking Will to respond through text, not video, which worked much better but I think the kids really enjoyed the videos the most.
It was so sweet to see my students’ eyes light up when Will answered their question, and even sweeter to see how shy they were about posting a reply. Most were happy just to say thank you, with the obligatory winky face, of course. A couple asked follow-up questions, which Will answered with enthusiasm. During the chat I noticed one of my students was on his phone, and discovered that he had made a Twitter account there and then, just so he could ask his own questions of Will. Totally cool!
I spent most of the chat with my fingers attached to the keyboard – we used my Twitter account to ask Will the questions – so I can only imagine how intense the chat was on Will’s end as well. I was totally blown away by the quality of his answers – they were honest, insightful, humorous and really pitched perfectly to their audience. There’s not really enough praise that I can give to Will, a young writer who gave up his time to chat with students. Not just chat, but ENGAGE – he wasn’t arrogant, or superior, or critical, or dismissive. He was warm and inviting and genuine. Bloody brilliant.
By the time we were halfway through our chat, one of my students suggested that we should Skype next time – I think they really enjoyed watching Will talk, cos he’s a very funny, animated speaker. With trepidation, I asked Will if he was interested in a Skype chat next week, and guess what? He said yes! I suppose I should start thinking how to get connected to Skype at school now, huh?
Below is a series of screen shots of our #writerwill Twitter chat. I’m sharing these with my class via a GDoc – or maybe I could do a Storify? Either way, my class now has a wonderful resource to help them become better writers. If you haven’t done a Twitter chat yet, I really think you should soon!