Not to sound like the old guy that I am (I turn 40 in a month–jeez), but the times are a changin’. Today, you can access celebrities, authors, pundits, old friends, people you never liked–you can even troll webpages just to see if that old boyfriend or girlfriend of yours got what he or she deserved in life. Yep, social media has certainly changed how we communicate, for better or worse.

As I’ve shared (extensively, some have pointed out), I’m a big fan of all this. I think the ability to reach out through social media has created a voice for those who otherwise wouldn’t have one. If you don’t like want Sean Hannity or Chris Matthews has to say, then blog about it and tag him in a tweet that links your piece. Or simply keep within the 140 characters and send them a concisely written opinion. And if you don’t like twitter, you’ve got Redditt, Facebook, Tumblr, and many more that I’m not familiar with, I’m sure.

I no longer have to sit and stew in my own bitterness because someone is out there preaching things with which I don’t agree. When Roland Martin said something I didn’t like, I made sure he heard about it. When I felt Kate Gerson didn’t represent the research well in her presentation, I made sure she heard about it. And when I wanted Chris Crutcher to read the first few chapters of my novel, I made sure he had a copy. The best part: They all responded.

This is not something that we could have done 10 years ago, and I think it really changes how we approach reading and writing in the classroom. Having kids read books by authors who are accessible shows kids that not all books were written by dead people.  More important, it can instill a sense of purpose. Knowing that the author is available (or the pundit spewing views with which you disagree) means that the student has the chance to share his or her thoughts in writing.

This is where the magic happens. When I wrote to the pundit, the administrator, and the author, I wrote carefully and thoughtfully. I reread, revised, edited, and then put it away for some time and came back and did it again. I went through the entire writing process, sincerely and authentically–in my own, crazy way that includes reading it aloud, getting frustrated, and sometimes pacing was involved. (Writing is painstakingly slow for me.) The point is that I didn’t just heedlessly write them a letter. What I sent them was an extension of me, and I wanted it to represent me well. Given the same sense of purpose, kids will do the same thing.

So I encourage you to give it a try. Reach out to an author about a book you’ve read. It can be a quick tweet, or you can write a blog post and send it their way. It doesn’t matter to me; I just want to hear your story about how and why you reached out to an author, so come back to this blog and share your experience.


18 thoughts on “LET’S TWEET IT OUT

  1. I am REALLY grateful Twitter did not exist when my sons were teenagers ! We did not agree on much of anything back then and now I find myself agreeing quite a bit with them.

  2. I just made a Twitter account (it was quite a process) and sent a tweet to Sharon Draper. After I read Copper Sun, I began to look at more of her writing and stumbled upon her website. I found out that she was awarded National Teacher of the Year and that she is very active in visiting high schools. I thought it was interesting that her webpage had homework help links that gave study questions. It seems as if most of her books are being taught in classes. Because of everything that we have talked about in class, I was curious what her take was on YA literature in the classroom. However, I quickly realized that trying to ask her about this on twitter was a hassle. I really struggle making my thoughts more concise, so Twitter is honestly a nightmare for me. I just sent the tweet, so I have not received a response. However, she seems to be very active in responding to her messages. On her website she explains that she receives thousands of e-mails and gives instructions on what teachers should do to make sure that each class receives a response. It seems as if students are definitely taking advantage of being able to communicate with their favorite authors. For some reason, I did feel a little nervous sending her a Tweet. I am not sure if it was the fact that I was sending a message to someone very well-known or the fact that Twitter just makes me uncomfortable. I’m anxious to see if she responds.

  3. I sent a tweet to Ellen Hopkins:

    “@EllenHopkinsYA I love how you used word structure to help set the mood and pace in #Crank. Great book & its now making rounds in my office!
    1:47 PM – 26 Apr 2014”

    As of yet she has not responded or acknowledged my tweet…. do I sound bitter?
    I wasn’t sure what to say to her and now looking back, I feel like maybe my tweet was lame. And that is probably why she hasn’t responded. Or maybe she gets hundreds of tweets and I shouldn’t take it personal. I know she’s been on twitter since, because she put out a tweet about Sherman Alexie, which prompted me to look up Sherman Alexie on twitter, and I found him. I sent a tweet to him as well, I’ll keep you posted on the outcome of that tweet.

    Social media gives me anxiety and a tiny complex.

  4. To be honest, Twitter is my least favorite social media website. I think the format is confusing to figure out and character limit makes it difficult to write a thoughtful response or question. However, I tweeted Ellen Hopkins about my love for her novels as both an adult and teenager. I’ve read online that she’s notoriously bad at responding to fans (not only does she not usually respond to tweets, she rarely retweets her fans, and hasn’t responded to multiple AMA requests on Reddit). I really want an author to respond to me so I also tweeted Laurie Halse Anderson asking how she portrays her characters so realistically. I just tweeted her so she hasn’t responded yet, but I’m confident that she will respond with at least a retweet. I’m a much bigger fan of Reddit, which a lot of authors and celebrities use to openly talk to fans and promote new books or movies that they’re in. Laurie Halse Anderson recently did an AMA (Ask Me Anything) on Reddit where she responded to fan questions about her novels. Many teachers also asked her for tips on teaching her novels and she expressed how happy she is that *Speak* is being used in classrooms for kids who have given up on reading. You can check out her AMA here: http://www.reddit.com/r/tabled/comments/222nuj/table_iama_im_laurie_halse_anderson_new_york/. I think overall, being able to openly talk to authors about their work and characters creates a much more personal and enjoyable reading experience for people of all ages!

      • Ellen Hopkins just tweeted me back!
        From me: “@EllenHopkinsYA Your books spoke to me as a teen and continue to speak to me as an adult. Any tips for someone who is attempting #poetry?”

        From Ellen Hopkins: “@Maggie_May_12 Yep. Read a lot of poetry, classic to modern, sonnet to free verse, and everything in between.”

        So excited that she responded!

  5. I belong to a rare breed that does not participate in social media of any kind (gasp). So I chose another option, and I went to Ellen Hopkins website (seems she is a fan favorite in this class). I posted a message on her dedication wall. This is it…..
    —Hello, Ellen. I remember being in high school and going to Barnes and Noble all the time with my friends. We would see your book *Crank* on the bestsellers table, and we would always pick it up and read a few poems out of it. We would be spellbound. Well that was about ten years ago (depressing) and I am now in graduate school; and have finally read *Crank* for the first time, in full. I am very glad I did. I feel that you truly captured what it was like to suffer from addiction, how it pulls you in and down and keeps you there. A lot of authors attempt to do this and fail, but you nailed it. I am excited to see what becomes of Christina and read *Glass*. Thank you for the experience Ellen and I will definitely recommend your unique and beautiful style of writing to anyone, but especially to my future students. – See more at: http://ellenhopkins.com/YoungAdult/dedication-wall/#comment-44446—–
    I also sent the same thing to her email. Sorry for my social media ineptitude.

  6. Times are changing in the world of technology. It has become so insanely easy to get in touch with anyone or find out anything and everything on the internet. As a soon to be teacher, well that’s if the edTPA doesn’t kill me first, technology is becoming more and more prevalent in the classroom and it is something that students enjoy. This week’s assignment is reflective of that. It’s crazy to think that anyone can be reached through social media. Social media is changing the world and allowing access to individuals that we as ordinary people would never be able to gain access to. A tweet may be limited in characters, but you can say a lot in the little space you are given. Never before has being favorited been such a big deal. The downfall of this is the fact that you may reach out and you may not receive a response. I know that if I tweet someone, maybe even just a friend, and I don’t receive a favorite or retweet, I consider that a bad tweet. Society has placed such emphasis on social media that it has become the end all be all. I never thought I would care so heavily as to what tweet was most successful. As I digress, this week I chose to tweet Ellen Hopkins. And no I have not received any feedback yet. So as you can imagine, I feel like I should pull the tweet from my feed so no one can see that it has had no action at all. I guess you could say I am a little insecure when it comes to twitter, but I definitely feel that social media can be a nice supplement in the classroom. As a new teacher it is my job to adopt societal norms as a means of engaging my students. Twitter, blogging, Facebook, are all ways in which classes can engage with each other and make learning fun. Below is my tweet that I sent out to Ellen Hopkins.

    “@EllenHopkinsYA Ihave recently read #crank and thoroughly enjoyed the work. At what point in your life did you know you were meant to write?”

    I stressed out so much while trying to figure out what to write to her. There are so many things that you want to say, but you only have a certain amount of space. I am thinking that next time an email may be more beneficial so then I can ask more questions and give more of my thoughts on her writing as well.

  7. I decided to tweet Sherman Alexie for this assignment. I said I would be interested to hear how you defend The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.

    I caught myself reading a number of Sherman’s tweets because a majority of them are controversial! In one tweet, Sherman said “Idaho Parent called police on folks giving away my book in city park!”. The tweet included a link to anews article regarding the Idaho police being called which forced me to read it.

    I’m curious to see if Sherman will provide any type of response to me.

    • Did you ask it in a way that would make him defensive? Like, “how in the world can you defend this trash in a classroom?” If you did, I bet you would’ve gotten a response.

  8. I think it goes without saying that my choice was John Green. I follow Green on most of social media, so I feel like while I don’t always ask questions, I do hear from him often as more than an author. It’s really very nice to have social media allow an open platform of communication with authors. As teachers, students, and readers, it brings so much more to the reading experience.

    Green is active on Twitter, so I decided to tweet to him. As a backup plan, I asked another author whose work we did not read a question on tumblr, so I’m interested to see if either responds and if only one does, which platform the response was on. It is rather anxiety producing to put a question out there and worry that there won’t be a response, as Krixty mentioned. Now I’ll wait and freak out over Twitter notification.

  9. I’ve sent John Green a tweet circa the start of the semester. It had nothing to do with his books but rather that he is a huge fan of Pizza and I found a pizza clock at Bed Bath and Beyond took a picture of it and sent it to him and his wife saying: The Yeti should get this for your office.

    Also I sent a tweet to Sherman Alexie last night informing him that I used his movie Smoke Signals in conjunction to The Outsiders for a compare and contrast essay assignment during my last student teaching placement.

    No responses from either. Womp Womp.

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