We should teach students how to Tweet.
A crucial skill in today’s fast-moving world is reducing the essence of an article (or even a paragraph) to its key elements.
What is the main idea here? Why should a busy reader care?
A good Tweet combines digital poetry and marketing.
I recently crafted this Tweet, which I think works quite well:
Here’s a 3-minute silent video that captures my thought process as I distilled a paragraph into a Tweet.
I intentionally made the video silent, so that a class might stop the video to discuss the various editing decisions I made along the way — without being distracted by my voice.
About two minutes into the process, I decided that the key to the Tweet was the phrase “instant individualized bike-share” — so I led with that. But the process of figuring out what I was Tweeting about took some time.
Students should realize that will usually be the case with their writing — it takes time to figure out what you’re
really trying to say.
[Note that there’s a 12-second portion of the video that may be difficult for students to watch — because nothing happens. That’s when I’m thinking. That’s worth teaching students as well — it takes time to craft your words just right.]
I love this page from William Zinsser’s classic book, On Writing Well, which shows how a professional writer goes through four or five revisions before publishing a manuscript:
To facilitate a conversation with students about how I made my Tweet about a new bike lock app, here’s the text of the paragraph that I reduced to a Tweet:
BitLock is a bike lock with a twist: It can be locked and unlocked by a smartphone, and not just the cyclist’s. Once other users have permission, they can use the app — which also provides the bike’s location — to grab the bike wherever it has been left. The result: instant individualized bike-share, without the costly and ubiquitous street racks. The locks should be available by fall.
Should students be curious, the paragraph comes from this article about new trends in bicycles in the New York Times.