Social media is a major part of our society today. Students of all ages are using Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, TikTok, etc. As teachers, we often try to incorporate the real world or real world scenarios into our lessons, and social media gives us some of the perfect platforms to do just that.
There are many benefits to using social media in the classroom, as it is an easy way to stay connected and share information in a direct and quick way. There are many learning opportunities on these sites as well with training to help students work remotely in a successful manner. Each different type of social media presents different ways to include students and parents in the daily life of your classroom.
Twitter is a site that allows you to “tweet” short posts, essentially microblogs, and you can hashtag and include links to other websites. You follow other users, and other users follow you. This allows you to see other users’ timelines. Many use this for personal reasons, such as following professional athletes, favorite singers and actors/actresses, etc., and for professional reasons such as following education gurus or real-estate moguls.
Twitter is a fantastic tool to use in the classroom. Keeping your Twitter page connected to your teacher webpage is a great way to motivate and involve students. Tweet about class happenings, field trips, and even homework or projects! Tweet about awesome projects that come into your classroom and make the students “famous”! If you teach students that are the appropriate age to have a Twitter account (13 or older), encourage your students to have an account and tweet you questions, comments, or their thoughts! You can keep a list and have talking points for class.
Blogging is a great way to show your students why writing is important! Oftentimes you come across two extremes in the classroom: students that love to write and students that hate to write. Having students create a blog (school appropriate) incorporates the real world into your classroom. There are many free blogging sites out there, such as edublogs.org, wix.com, and squarespace.com, which students can use to create a blog of their own. Students can be tasked to write a daily or weekly blog that is of a topic of their choosing. It can help students to develop a love of writing when the topics are of interest to them.
Creating a class Facebook page is an awesome idea! Using this page to keep parents involved in class happenings, due dates for assignments, needs for the classroom, spotlighting students, etc., is a great way to stay connected. Parents (and anyone at home) are such an important piece of the puzzle all the time, and especially now, with the hybrid and remote models of learning that are taking over many school districts. For teachers with high school students, you might use the Facebook page for the students and create class updates, etc. giving the students a platform to be involved and take more ownership of their learning experience.
Pinterest is a fun way to have students contribute to lesson ideas, not just now, but for the future. You can create boards on Pinterest and students can share with you ideas they find interesting that are relevant to the topic. It includes students in the learning process more and helps them to show ways and share ideas of how teachers can improve their lessons, rather than by just leaving feedback. Teachers are looking for relevant and honest feedback now more than ever, and this platform gives students the ability to share ideas easily.
You can also have students create Pinterest boards in order to save items that are helpful to them. They can save various learning resources that they come across throughout the year. This is a helpful tool for math as students can save helpful tools and anchor charts throughout lessons. This is also helpful for ELA in the same manner, as well as in science and social studies. This can help writing as students can save research to boards. This is more intriguing to the students as Pinterest is more “fun” than other ways of researching.
Students are currently crazed about YouTube! There are so many younger people making some serious money with their YouTube channels and these students look up to them! One way to utilize YouTube in the classroom is for character education. I have been utilizing videos for my morning meetings that deal with the character trait we are studying, and then having students answer extension questions about the videos. Students can see the others’ responses and respond to them in Google Classroom as if they were on a discussion board. It is a great interactive experience, and it helps bring multiple cohorts of students together.
You can also create a YouTube channel for educational purposes to teach content and create learning resources. Completing demonstrations of science experiments on the YouTube channel can help to provide students a “closer to real” experience in the science lab, or even provide supplemental materials that can be used at home.
You can also create a class YouTube channel where you store videos to help teach character education topics, content, or create songs or videos to help teach other students about topics. It is fun to get the students involved in the creation of YouTube videos and teach them how to navigate the website and how to stay safe while doing so.
Social media is no longer a faux pas in the classroom, but a tool that can be utilized to increase student engagement and achievement. As teachers, we need to address the needs of students in ways that interest them, and social media is certainly one of them. Mark Zuckerberg stated, “When you give everyone a voice and give people power, the system usually ends up in a really good place.” In this case, give the parents and students a voice and power over their educational experience through social media platforms, and see the benefit in your classroom culture and lessons each and every day.