When you think of your kids that are in middle school/high school, and what they love to do best, there is probably one resounding answer: go on social media. It seems like everyone is glued to their smartphones these days, and teenagers are most definitely not the exception! What most teachers are failing to realize, however, is that social media can actually be used to their advantage in the classroom. Social media isn't only about singing goats, cats falling off things, or duck-face selfies.
The Social Media Myth
Of course, there is valid concern that if you're using social media in the classroom, kids might be more easily distracted by News Feed posts or wander off and respond to their latest direct message from someone on the other side of the planet while you're trying to use social media in the classroom. But if you're doing something engaging on social media, then they will be following your lead. If you were reading out of a textbook, they would physically pull out their phone to check notifications, which is far more distracting than having the notifications come up anyway. Besides, this is their version of passing notes now... it's just not what we're used to!
7 WAYS TO USE SM IN THE CLASSROOM
1) Document science and art projects on Instagram
2) Have your students use Twitter to ask questions on specific classroom topics and search information on them using the hashtag function (this works great for Politics/Journalism/Current Affairs)
3) Use Facebook to bring literature to life
Get your students to create Pages on characters in books. You could even ask them to create entire profiles, add photos, interests, and 'add friend' people they would in real life! You can get the whole clas involved.
4) Encourage students in geography using Google Earth/Street View
Get students to walk around cities or navigate through countries with this tool (giving directions project, or a Geography project)
5) Use social media to hold parent conferences/Live Classroom Views
Definitely NOT recommended for daily use but for a fun activity or small classroom performance, you can use this to involve parents.
6) Use Pinterest for Classroom Activities
Pinterest is great for collecting photos/data/ideas. Pick a topic and see what students can find! You'd be surprised the array of topics available!
7) Teach Netiquette and Effective Communication Skills Using Emojis
This probably sounds weird, but Netiquette should be a class taught in schools now. At Horizons21 we encourage our parents to get their kids to sign a Netiquette Agreement that they read through and adhere to! Then of course, the emoji! Encourage students to have a discussion through emoji and see how far they come! You'll be surprised at how good they are!