Mini-Mini Epic on Twitter

I read a message on Twitter the other day asking whether anyone had examples of using Twitter to teach English. I’m not aware of such a thing but it did get me thinking. Let me explain. Twitter is a social networking service which allows friends, co-workers, like-minded people to stay connected in real time by posting regular updates in response to one simple question – What are you Doing? So it is a kind of micro-blogging (see Literacy Adviser on Twitter in the opposite column). The key element of the message is that it must be in fewer than 140 characters, which is where the art of precis or summary comes into play. Those of us who are old enough to remember will recall the days when summarising an extended piece of prose was a component of the  Higher English exam, and the act of summarising, condensing, reducing is an integral part of the reading – and writing – process.

It also reminded me of a mini-epic competition which was run by, I think, the Daily Telegraph a number of years ago, the idea of which was to write an epic story in exactly 50 words, not 49 or 51. It was great fun to use with students, and once they got the idea of an epic there was no stopping them. For once they were being asked to write a story in as few words as possible, and this had its own attractions!

Either, write a mini-epic in exactly 140 characters, post it on Twitter and share it with a wide network of people.


Signing up for Twitter is free

Twitter makes it easy to count the charaters as you write

Punctuation marks and spaces count as a character

Parodies and spoof classics are perfectly acceptable

OR, if you prefer, have a go at the original challenge of writing a mini-epic in 50 words, and submit it via the comments box below. Best entries will be widely circulated.


10 thoughts on “Mini-Mini Epic on Twitter

  1. I’ve got a list of 100 ideas for stories which I regularly get the pupils to write, the catch being that the stories have to be 100 words long.

    It is a bit ‘tricksy’ I know, but it’s also very effective in encouraging the kids to get writing. 100 words isn’t too intimidating for the poorer writers, and the better ones get a kick out of trying to be ‘clever’ given the limitations of the task.

    I’ll get busy on my own 50 word story and post it soon!

  2. Sounds like a variation on the theme Neil – I like it. Would be good if you were willing to post the 100 ideas on your blog and happy to make a link to it. Teachers often appreciate that kind of list which they can adapt/add to as they go. You’re absolutely right about it being less intimidating for weaker writers especially – don’t you think we are too desperate to have people writing a complete short story. How many of us could make a decent stab at it?

  3. There is an example of twitter being used to teach english – see twitter account “manyvoices” – looked like a nice simple project undertaken in twitter

  4. The Mini Saga competition is still being run every year – we entered again last time. We use the handouts to generate ideas from S1/S2 and it is also good for a quick starter or ten minute task in S3/4. Will grab a copy of the form and let you know who runs it – think the Telegraph stopped and someone else does it now. (Scholastic?)

  5. Much appreciated Dave. I think it encourages learners to think very carefully about narrative structure, word choice, economy of language, imagery, impact, point of view etc. And the beauty of it is they can have any number of tries!

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