Digital Writing: Tweet it from the Rooftops!

I’m loving the blogging. It is great. I feel like it really helps me think through ideas. However, I’m thinking that I would like to try responding a different way at some point before the end of the semester. If you have any suggestions, please let me know! I’m thinking about tweeting, posting a video response, a podcast, a prezee, or something like that (or something even cooler if you have any suggestions — I’m pretty open to trying anything new!). Thoughts?

Today, Dean gave us a quick glance at Twitter — pros and cons. I am officially hooked on Twitter. You can follow me @sarathibeault (no shameless endorsement there at all). I think I’ve finally come to terms with the vast resources available at my finger tips. With the right hashtag, all the information you could possibly want and more is available for the taking, all in under 140 characters. I like that. I may like to write a lot, but scouring through pages of reading for hours is not my cup of tea.

On Monday, we were blessed to have guest speaker, Bud Hunt, with us in class. However, before I get started on Bud, I have to pose a question that I mentioned in class. In what other classroom, besides Dean’s of course, would anyone let complete strangers come in and learn, participate, and add to the conversation? Dean used twitter to invite anyone wanting to hear Bud speak. He had a few takers, and it was awesome. If a stranger walked into my French class, for example, I’m pretty sure we would call security at the university.

Now back to Bud…

Bud used an interesting approach to his presentation. He spoke all about digital writing, and to highlight his point, he sed a google doc to discuss writing and how it will be used with us and our students. Everyone was invited to write on the document (and reminded to be careful when hovering around the delete button), which helped out the sharing of ideas greatly. This is something I will definitely take forward with me in my teaching. It was way easier than a brainstorm, and it is permanent, yet portable.

During his innovative presentation, Bud asked us what we thought digital writing actually was. Full disclosure: I had no clue. He asked if we were writers, and I said no. My, oh, my. I now know that I am. Aside from blogging, I like to post videos of ridiculous math raps (hey, they work!), I post facebook statuses, I tweet now, and so much more. I am leaving a little digital foot print wherever I go. To me, that defines digital writing–creating content in an accessible space.

Bud’s ideas got me thinking about how I could use digital writing in an English classroom. Here is my eutopian project idea. Bare in mind that this would take the cooperation of every teaching in the English Department at a high school, along with a commitment of four years, a very well thought-out set of rubrics, and probably a lot of other stuff that I can’t even think of right now. So how does this sound: a four-year research blog.

Now, hear me out: In grade nine, students could set up a blog or a wiki or some sort of digital space. They need to pick a somewhat broad topic (i.e. snowboards, Buddhism, twitter, The Olympics, etc.) and they could begin researching. This would entail short, well-written paragraphs with little snippets that they learned. They could also begin to comment on eachother’s posts to encourage deeper thought, questioning, and factual evidence/support/reasoning. They would have to learn how to cite and link things, as these posts would serve as the preliminary research for their grade twelve project.

In grade 10, the students could then look at the work they’ve compiled and begin to focus in on a topic of their choosing. This is where peer-editing could really come into play. They could do some more research, start writing multi-paragraph posts, respond to other posts, and continue to dive deeper into their topic.

In grade 11, the students could start writing up a full-on “research paper” within  blog. This could start with collecting some blog posts that help to pick their thesis. They could then compile an outline or paper proposal within a blog post. I’m thinking that the actual paper would need to serve as a page on their blog, however. This would be there first crack at a short research page (roughly 1000 words would be reasonable, I suppose).

Grade 12 would be all about fleshing it out: they would need to enhance, edit, revise, refine, and pretty-up their research page. This might include adding new information, drawing more insightful conclusions, fixing up grammar, adding content, or anything else they see to enhance their project. The final product could take on many forms, but I see it having links, videos, pictures, quotes (even tweets!), related podcasts, etc. Perhaps one way of keeping track of the links and the resources would be on delicious. Naturally, students do need to know how to use MLA formatting, but that could be saved for a paragraph or two in class.

I guess that idea needs some more work, but I’m definitely intersted in exploring it further. Let me know what you think. How can I make it better, or do you think it will be a total flop?



One thing that Bud reminded me of was the link between literacy and math skills. Most students who can’t read, can’t “do math” either. Why? Because half of math is reading the instructions and understanding the questions. While math might seem like a different language, there is a huge amount of reading involved. I wish I did more reading with my students during my internship. I think that writing within math is also very important. Daily or even weekly/”chapterly ” reflections can help students learn and ask questions. I’ve been toying with the idea of having “text-in” reflections at the end of class or have students post tweets about their thoughts after class. I’m thinking that this short, quick, and easy summary could help students focus on the important parts of their learning, as well as lead them to ask questions.


At the bottom of Bud’s Google Doc, he gave us a list of resources. I figure I might as well share them with you! They are all below. Thanks, Bud!

This is a short list of interesting and possibly relevant stuff.  If you don’t see something you’re wondering about, ask me.  I can point you to plenty more.

General Writing

Digital Writing

Connective Writing


Well, that’s all for now folks. Enjoy!


4 thoughts on “Digital Writing: Tweet it from the Rooftops!

  1. Sara, you are a very insightful teacher. I was interested in your course of action for students. I also enjoyed your rationale. I would like to say that if you were the English teacher in my school, you might not have to get everyone on board because you might be the grade 9/10 and the 11/12 teacher!

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