Teacher Resources: Using Social
Media in the Classroom
Do you ever feel frustrated with our student’s love of social media? On occasion, many of us have those
days when everyone is covertly playing a game or reading Instagrams under their desks.
There they are, blazingly attempting to act like they are engaged, but their bent heads and moving thumbs give their actions away.
In many schools, educators are losing the battle against smartphones and social media, but this might be the perfect time to adjust our ban on social media and include it in our lessons.
Building the Case for Social Media
Social media has the power to link and enhance connections to overcome diversity by creating a neutral area where students can interact.
In 2010, researchers noticed that there were stronger emotional ties with peers
when students used social media. The children admitted that they felt less intimidated, and this connection to their peers resulted in higher levels of class participation.
Social media is an area that promotes collaboration, active engagement, and increases learning by building on existing connections outside of the classroom.
We know that a high percentage of our students are media literate and visual learners. In one aspect, we are lucky as educators to be able to experience this digital environment and take advantage of the rich resources available to us now.
The following is a list of 10 ways educators can provide some amazing learning opportunities using social media:
10 Ways to Use Social Media in the Classroom
1. Create concept maps for topics using Pinterest.
This popular site has wonderful resources and images to help students flesh out concepts. This would be a great way to incorporate science objectives, history lessons, and more.
2. Create Facebook profiles for key people from your lessons.
Assign students the
task for developing a page for people from history, characters from books, or famous scientists and artists. This is a lot more fun than writing another report.
3. Use hashtags to sort information or track topics.
This is a great way to stay informed on current topics or developing stories. It also allows students to witness first hand how information can go viral.
4. Develop texts or tweets between historical figures.
Assign identities and have students interact with each other. What would FDR and Winston Churchill have messaged each other? How about Napoleon and the Duke of Wellington? Save these interactions using screenshots or something similar.
5. Post assignments, lectures, and supplemental sources on a class social media site.
This will allow students and parents access to the materials and updates.
6. Forget journaling--create blogs.
Let students hone their writing skills by having a real purpose and audience. Students will edit their materials, find supplemental images, and receive feedback.
7. Use Twitter to follow influential people like the President, scientists, and journalists.
8. Use Instagram to discover objects that demonstrate certain lesson concepts.
Snap photos of real life examples of Newton’s
Second Law of Motion or parts of the water cycle. Let students be creative and explore their environment.
9. Create social media quizzes for class topics.
This will allow you to check for understanding and let the children review knowledge in a new way. Look for some simple templates on Facebook or use Kahoot!
10. Create “round robin” stories using Twitter.
Take turns adding to the story, one at a time, using the 140 characters for each tweet.
Protecting Yourself in the Social Media Age
Social media is a great resource for education and creating lifelong learners. However, social media also has a negative side that teachers need to be aware of--especially when it can impact your future.
Before you invite social media into your classroom, here are a few safety tips to consider:
- Create a professional or class page. By doing this, you can use these profiles in class and keep your personal accounts separate. It will protect your privacy and allow you to maintain professionalism with your students.
- Use a classroom contract that outlines expectations about how social media is to be used in the classroom. This can prevent a few misguided attempts at cyberbullying or embarrassing photos from class popping up on social media.
- Be aware that students might be filming. Many educators have banned cameras in the classroom to protect their intellectual property (lessons, ideas, etc.), but it is always a great idea to behave like someone is filming you.
Vengeful students love to poke and prod teachers into saying something offensive and record it to share to the masses.
- Comply with district policies. Some school districts require teachers to obtain parent permission signatures for any images of their children that will be placed online. Check with your administrators to see if there is such a policy, and be sure to comply with its dictates.
We are educating digital natives and it is important to teach them appropriate skills for them to become media literate
Whether we include social media in our lessons or not, our youth is embracing technology and creating a digital footprint. Without proper guidance, children often encounter serious roadblocks like cyberbullying
, online predators, sexting, oversharing, and exposure to inappropriate materials.
As teachers, we need to help our students learn social media etiquette and prepare them for their personal and professional lives in the 21st century.
About the Author
Amy Williams is a free-lance journalist based in Southern California and mother of two.
As a parent, she enjoys spreading the word on positive parenting techniques in the digital age and raising awareness on issues like cyberbullying and online safety.
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