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A Teacher's Guidebook to Social Media, Technology in the Classroom

Janelle Cox

A Teacher's Guidebook to Social Media in the ClassroomTechnology in the classroom is fast-paced, and it seems as though something new is coming out every day. Ten years ago you were lucky if you could get one computer in your classroom. Today, teachers are hoping for an iPad, Smart board, or the ability to Skype. They are expected to be up-to-date on - and be proficient in - the newest technology in the classroom. It can be very intimidating for teachers to fully grasp all of the uses and benefits technology can have in our classrooms. This teacher's guide is designed to help you understand how you can incorporate a very popular tech trend - social media - into the classroom. Use this resource to gain some insight and learn some basic ideas.

Here are some ways teachers can incorporate social media into the classroom:

Facebook

When you think of Facebook you think of people posting what they ate for dinner, or showing off pictures of their kids. What you don't know is that Facebook can actually be a great tool of communication. If your district allows you to be in contact with you students, there are endless opportunities for using this popular social media platform. Here are a few:

  • Promote student work
  • Share a book review or class project
  • Message students and/or fellow teachers with questions
  • Schedule events
  • Post reminders
  • Tailor a newsfeed to follow people you are studying
  • Create a class Facebook page

Twitter

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Twitter is another popular social networking site that has an endless amount of opportunities. Imagine your third grade class is studying nutrition. All you have to do is tweet to your followers "What healthy lunch options are provided at your school?" In seconds you will receive an answer that you can use to further your discussion about nutrition with your students. You can also create polls and surveys and tweet them and provide your students with the data. Here are a few more ways you can use Twitter in your classroom:

  • Share ideas and collaborate with other schools
  • Schedule a "Twitter Chat" with other classrooms across the country
  • Follow an author, astronaut, political leader or organization the class is studying

Popular Hash tags for Educators

  • #elemchat - Elementary Grade Educators
  • #education - General Education
  • #midleveled - Middle Grades Education
  • #highered - High school Grades Education
  • #curriculum - Curriculum
  • #bullying - Bullying
  • #k12 - K12 Education

Twitter Alternatives

Edmondo

If you prefer not to use Twitter or your school district does not allow it, there are other alternatives. Edmondo is a safe alternative for educators and students, which is designed to provide students with secure classroom interactions. It also allows you to post classroom documents, events, homework, etc. There is even an app your students can get for their smartphone.

Twiducate

Twiducate is another appropriate alterative to Twitter. This social networking site allows teachers to monitor their students' interactions. To sign up, just create a class code and your students can upload videos, answer questions, and collaborate with other classrooms, all while you have full control of the network.

Classroom Blog

A classroom blog may someday soon replace the infamous weekly newsletter you send home. A class blog is an excellent way to quickly deliver information to students and parents. Ideally you can use the blog to post homework, class announcements, relay important information, and post a poll - basically anything you can imagine. These days it seems as if everyone has a smartphone, so creating a class blog will help you stay connected to your students and their parents. Some easy platforms to use are Wordpress, Kidblog, Edublogs, Classchatter.

Virtually Connected

The great thing about technology today is that it allows us to able to see the world, without actually having to physically be in the place you are studying. Imagine you are teaching your students about African customs. Instead of just showing your students photographs in a book, you can Skype, iChat, or Facetime a classroom in Africa. If you are reading a book series and your students are learning a lot about a particular author that lives across the country or in another country, you can virtually connect with them at the Skype an Author Network. Other sites, such as Skype in the Classroom, and ePals connect students and teachers from around the world. Students benefit from these virtually connections by learning about different customs, traditions, and habits. They learn that, just because other children may look different, or have different customs, they are connected in some way.

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Now you tell us: do you use social media in your classroom? Which sites do you use? How do you use them? Share your response in the comment section below.