Social media—friend or foe? Since there’s no avoiding it, why not learn how to use social media in the classroom to help improve communication and maybe even infuse some creativity into your homework? Here we share five ideas to harness the power of social media.
1. Communicate with students and parents
First, teachers sent papers home. Then they sent emails. And now, it seems the best way to get ahold of parents and guardians is through social media. Teachers have found that posting events, links to important documents, and general announcements on social media is the best way for students and parents to get pertinent information they need.
2. Give your school or classroom an identity
One of the reasons social media has become so pervasive is because it allows people to create their own narrative and define themselves. One visit to your Facebook page or Twitter feed could inform your followers of your favorite hobbies, recent travels, and the joys (or frustrations) in your relationships.
So why not use this tool to give your classroom and school an identity? Classroom and school identity can be especially powerful with the school choice movement, as parents and students have more say in where they would like to receive their education. Use social media to get others excited about your creativity in the classroom, your school’s mission statement, and your students’ success. One principal connects with students by reading bedtime stories every Tuesday night in her pajamas for “Tucked-in Tuesdays.” What sets you and your students apart?
3. Teach about digital citizenship
There are proper ways to conduct ourselves on the internet, and like reading and writing, digital citizenship skills need to be taught. Just because a student is currently active on social media does not mean he conducts himself properly. And many destructive habits, such as cyberbullying, can be prevented by teaching children how to use the internet and what is (and is not) appropriate behavior.
Educators can use both positive and negative examples of interactions on social media to illustrate the power of words. Studies show that cyberbullying makes young people twice as likely to self-harm or attempt suicide, so middle- and high-school educators need to be especially vigilant. And as students learn how to use social media in the classroom, conversations about digital citizenship arise naturally.
4. How to use social media in your classroom as homework
Summarizing teaches students how to discern the most important information and express the central ideas coherently and concisely. So why not have students use the 240-character limit of a tweet to summarize a recent reading, describe a historical event, or explain a math lesson? An ELA class could even take their poetry lessons to the platform of choice with a haiku.
Researching political figures can also be an interesting social media assignment. Or, ask your students to create profiles for characters from literature or history and use their imagination to extrapolate more about their personalities. What would Abraham Lincoln tweet before the Gettysburg Address? What about Jay Gatsby or Nick Carraway? Have conversations about the student’s choices and imagine what the responses might be to help history come alive in the classroom.
5. Connect with other classes and students
Students and educators can find inspiration from others. Connect with another seventh-grade world history class to get ideas on how to cover a tricky topic, and students can get help from others from the comfort of their own home.
Social media platforms also bring pen pal relationships into the 21st century. Having a pen pal can help students develop compassion and understanding of other cultures and values, which may help them navigate the world easier. And what better way to connect with other students and classes than through a social media platform?
One note of caution, though: Make a class login and monitor it frequently to ensure the communications are appropriate.
Social media is powerful, so why not harness that power for good by learning how to use social media in the classroom? Students may find an assignment more engaging if they get to use their favorite social media platform while they work. Teachers get to bring more creativity into lessons, and try to ease communication issues with parents. And students can have fun while they learn digital citizenship!
Social media is powerful, so why not harness that power for good by learning how to use social media in the classroom?
Do you use social media in your classroom? Tweet us @EdgenuityInc to share your ideas!
Knapton, S. (2018, April 22). Cyberbullying makes young people twice as likely to self harm or attempt suicide. The Telegraph. Retrieved from https://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2018/04/22/cyberbullying-makes-young-people-twice-likely-self-harm-attempt/
Lynch, M. (2017, October 11). 22 ways to use social media in your classroom. The Edvocate. Retrieved from https://www.theedadvocate.org/22-ways-use-social-media-classroom/
Massaro, H. (2017, October 19). What is digital citizenship? [Infographic]. Where Learning Clicks. Retrieved from https://blog.edgenuity.com/what-is-digital-citizenship/
Pusey, S. (2019, June 5). Avoiding the pitfalls of social media in school. eSchool News. Retrieved from https://www.eschoolnews.com/2019/06/05/social-media-in-school/?all