8 year old Keagan loves The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt. He kept the book at his desk for days until finally, just recently, he told me about a book he wrote.
"I was inspired by Drew Daywalt," he announced. "I wrote a book just like the Crayons book. Wanna see?"
Of course I did. The book is called "Highlighters," and it was organized in letter-format, just as Crayons is. The highlighters in his book are hilarious and obnoxious.
Later that night, I realized that I am connected to Drew Daywalt on Twitter. I reached out and told him about Keagan's book, hoping for a response.
Here is the communication that followed:
And here was his response:
The next day, I shared these two tweets with our class.
Here were some of their responses:
"OMG! HE WROTE US BACK!"
"THAT AUTHOR IS TALKING TO US!"
"KEAGAN, THAT IS SO AWESOME!"
(And keep in mind, this isn't the first time we've communicated with an author.)
Keagan was highly impacted by this. He walked around for days holding both his book and Daywalt's book, telling anyone who would listen that he was inspired by an author, and that the author responded to his idea for a book.
My students were previously strong writers. However, their writing identities and stamina for writing are stronger since using Twitter to connect with authors from around the globe.
Connecting on Twitter helps my students see authors as real people, instead of magical beings who have talents beyond what children can possess. For example:
- Drew Daywalt tweets about how he sits at hotels and thinks and writes. (We sit and think and write!)
- Mo Willems tweets doodles he makes while sitting at a restaurant for dinner. (Hey, some of us doodle all the time!)
- Jon Klassen shares pictures on Instagram of animals and landscapes and parts of his artwork. (Some of us love taking pictures of and drawing animals!)
- Linda Urban tweets about having to cut hundreds of words from her draft. (Hey, we are always making revisions to our writing too!)
Alas, I am not a perfect connected educator. I know I don't follow as many people on Twitter as I should. I don't participate in as many chats as I should. There are always so many more ways for me to be connected. I'm working on it! (And yes, I may get a bit starstruck when authors tweet us back, but that's beside the point.)
In the end, I wonder if it's my students who eventually benefit as much, if not more, than I do.
So thanks, Twitter. And thanks, Mr. Daywalt.