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Marija Petreska: Swaying Tweets

by Marija Petreska
Expert Educator Columnist, Republic of Macedonia

So that your classroom is fully twitterized and your tweets are Swayed into a story, make sure all your students create twitter accounts. Be careful twitter is not for students under 13, so I suggest informing parents and school authorities before you start and an official consent on both sides is advisable.

I’m an English language teacher so my ideas will go in that direction, but I’m sure you can all find something interesting, or that my ideas might grow into new ones you can use.

1. This first idea comes from a book called Meet the Marks

MARKS_PG_1.jpg.opt820x410o0,0s820x410 MARKS_PG_3.jpg.opt820x409o0,0s820x409

This is an amazing way to teach punctuation. Encourage students to become any punctuation mark for a moment. They are to write short 140 character stories about who they are and what they do. Make sure you think of a hashtag name like #wethemarks and use it in every tweet. That will help you search the short stories in Sway and put them chronologically on your We the Marks Sway story. If you want to keep track of what every student has shared on the lesson use Tweetdeck. You just write the hashtag’s name in the search box and you get a live feed of all your students’ tweets. To make your Sway story even better have students make a drawing of the punctuation marks and humanize them. Another variation of this game is for revising tenses. This is from a page called The Verby Gang . Instead of encouraging your students to be punctuation marks encourage them to be a tense for a moment and write about what they are doing. Let’s say if they are Present Continuous they’ll be talking about how they live for the moment, if they are Present simple they’ll write about being constant and their routines. If they are Past tenses they’ll be nostalgic most of the time… Don’t forget to use a hashtag.

2. A Day in a Life of..

This is an idea from my blog about teaching Present Simple tense and I thought why not Sway it. Ask the students about their favourite object. It could be anything favourite hat, book, bag, shoes, their phone… It’s a good idea to name them and assign gender. Make them think of the daily routines of their object. Write short 140 character story for every part of the day of your favourite object.  They can all use the same hashtag and arrange their stories in Sway according to parts of the day or everyone can use a different hashtag and make his own Sway tweet story.Here is an example Mr. Warmtoes is nowhere to be found in the mornings. He is always stuck on to the drawer and not willing to go to school. His twin brother Mr. Noheel, on the other hand, is somewhere hugging the neighbors’ little sock. It takes me time to find them and get them into the shoes.I never could tell if Mr. Warmtoes is right and Mr. Noheel is left or the other way around. Another variation of this would be practicing the stative verbs. Make a list of some of students’ personal belongings, and write a thing or two using the stative verbs. Here is how:


3. The students are about to create a fictional world for their book. First they need to watch a ted-ed video and find out what are the things they should think about.

Next they have to create their world and the rules in it. They need to think of the shape of their world. If there is a sun or not, and if not how does it get sunlight. If there is there a moon or how many are there. Where do the suns and moons rise? Name the sides of your world. What’s the weather like? How many seasons are there? Name your seasons. What are the people like? What do they eat or drink? Are there any plants or animals? What are they like? Every student tweets an answer to every question and later on they sway their tweets in a story of fictional worlds with unique rules.

4. My Hero


Students will create a character and decide on his/her age, hobbies, habits, occupation, family… They will tweet what they think their fictional character would most likely tweet. To make it a complete Sway story use FaceinHole to make a profile photos of the characters

5. Colourful Poem

The students are about to write a poem about colours and I think it’s a good idea to first visit the Color in Motion site and watch the videos. That will give them ideas what to write about. Tell the students to choose a color. Now you can also learn how to name different shades. Look here. Once they have decided on a colour they are going to tweet about, tell them that they should think about what this colour feels like, sounds like, smells like, tastes like and looks like. This is the outline of the poem


________ feels like_________

________ sounds like________

_______ smells like ________

_______tastes like _________

_______ looks like________

Except for swaying tweets you can also put an audio of the poem


6. Most Wanted

Create a Most Wanted Sway with names and photos of the students and what they are wanted for. My idea is not to upload photos but rather create avatars. I think picasohead would be great for this activity. Once they created their most wanted picaso heads they can tweet them and tweet why would they be most wanted in an English language class. The idea is to be most wanted for an amazing thing you did in your class. Here is an example:


For swallowing down the past simple forms of all the irregular verbs and producing an irregular verb everytime he/she speaks

7. Observation Journals

The idea comes from an amazing app that I found a unique way to use it. It’s called Jelly and it is about asking questions with your camera. Just what I need for an observation journal but then again the questions and answers stay in your twitter or Facebook community. But if you do the same using twitter and sway not only will your students learn new words and share their knowledge but they will also have a whole book of photos of unfamiliar words and answers to the questions and they can add audio of using the word in a new sentence or video miming the activity of the word.

8. Sticky Notes

qcodeSticky notes can be replaced with tweeted QR codes and the classroom walls with Sway. And the sticky note can be anything text (the word, the collocations,a sentence, text, extract from a book, bookmark on a website…), audio (pronunciation, their soundclouds), video (their vine videos, animated stories, office mix video flashcards), their journals, their word walls… And use Unitag QR code generator to make custom QR codes, and you’ll know whose sticky note it is.

9. One word stories

This is a great activity I have used years ago. The idea comes from a website called OneWord. A fun site that says “You’ll see one word at the top of the following screen. You have sixty seconds to write about it. Click go and the page will load with the cursor in place. Don’t think. Just write.” But my activity is a bit different. My OneWord stories are for learning new vocabulary. We’ve used Storybird but if you tweet the short 140 character stories and encourage students to make them artful you’ll have Sway picture books. Once upon a time there was this family The Worms. (one students can tweet this and another can make a drawing) Mr. and Mrs. Worm were proud parents of four. They all lived in a small apple (make a drawing of an apple house). Each had a hole to small to fit. They had little food to share. They were PENNILESS.

10. Twitter is perfect for writing dialogues. Have students find their own partner (if you organize with another teacher from another school anywhere in the world students can have virtual partners and have a dialogue without knowing the person they are writing with). Use tweetdeck to track their chats. If you use one hashtag you’ll have chronologically the questions an answers of all the students. If each pair uses a different hashtag you can have different Sway dialogues.

11. Folding stories

This is an old game for group storytelling. It’s played with a piece of paper that you write on fold it and pass it on for others to write. There is a website for creating Folding stories but if you tweeted in your classroom you’d keep your stories more private. And you don’t have to finish the story in one lesson it can go on forever.

12. I almost forgot a very nice twitter tool called What you can do with is create your own newspaper out of tweets. You can adjust whose tweets you’d want in your newspaper and if you used a hashtag in all the previous activities you can use those hashtags and you’ll instantly have a classroom newspaper . Put the tweets in a sway and you can create a digital portfolio showing of your school work.

13. Twitter and Sway are perfect for brainstorming. You just ask your students to tweet whatever comes to their minds and put all those tweets in a Sway. And when you have a virtual brainstorm you can not only use words, but also images, videos, audios. And when you add all those tweets in a Sway you’ll get a real multimedia brainstorming showcase.

14. I’ll finish with a little task for you. Use the twitter hashtag #teachermarija and tweet the answers to the following questions -What have I learnt? -What I want to know more about? – How can I use this in my classroom? – How I felt? that is right tweeter and Sway are perfect for exit notes. Have fun swaying and tweet on!

BONUS: How was the Sway graphic created?



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