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Integrating Social Media and History Lessons

Putting Ed Tech Into Practice


Integrating Social Media and History Lessons

As part of my duties as a social studies teacher, I am teaching Government for the next 12 weeks. 


We started our investigation into the Constitution, and for one of the assignments I had my students take the Preamble of the Constitution and mix in some social media by having them transform it into a SMS, Tweet, and Facebook Status.

Assignment Structure for SMS/Texts
For the SMS/text assignment, I found an image of a SMS bubble that you normally see on an iPhone.  Students were required to change the text of the Preamble as if they were to text it to friends and as if texting existed during the Constitutional Conventions.

Assignment Structure for Tweets

For the Tweet,  I created my own Twitter update box.  Students had to try and shrink the text to 140 characters.  Surprisingly, students struggled trying to do this and keep it in the 140 characters limit.  I also explained and had them include hashtags that would have been used if Twitter existed. 

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Assignment Structure for Facebook
For the Facebook status, I cut and pasted a Facebook status update.  Students had to act as if they were participating in the Constitutional Convention and update their friends on what was happening with the Constitution and their thoughts on how it would impact/change the United States.  Some students got really creative with their Facebook statuses and even included the "location" for where they were.

What I Learned from This Assignment

Surprisingly, the assignment was not as I expected.  I am coming to the realization that my students have not been exposed completely to using technology outside of the classroom and it is a tough adjustment for them.  The interaction online with the classroom blog and Facebook is not nearly the percentage that I thought it would be, and I think a lot of that has to do with students not being comfortable with it and not having exposure to it.  I think it also has to do with the fact that I teach freshman.  I feel that upperclassmen would probably have more experience and be more open to using it in and outside the classroom.

I am realizing that the concept of "Digital Natives" might not be as broad as some people might say.  I also know that it is on me as well to figure out how to adjust and encourage use by my students. This is something that I know I need to work on and will figure out as time goes on.

Anyone else integrating social media for the first time and experiencing struggles?  Anyone having great success?  If so, what are you doing that is working for you?  Share in the comments section!