• February 13, 2018

Using social media in the classroom

Performance Learning blog (photo by Angela Franklin)

Using social media in the classroom

By Sarah Clarke. 4 minute read.

Depending on the age group you work with, many of your students will have an array of social media accounts already, and will certainly be very familiar with the latest channels and trends. 

By showing your students that you use social media and by demonstrating all the ways they can use it in interesting ways to supplement their lessons, you are also guiding them to use social media responsibly and modelling safe use of what is shared online. You can also create a more open and supportive teaching environment, school community and learn more about how your students interact with each other and like to learn.

Twitter

Talk to other teachers, heads of departments to create a strategy to share one account or, if you think you will have enough content, set up separate accounts for each year group etc. Make sure you are all following each other so that you can share posts.

  1. Create specific hashtags for your class or projects to enable students within your school to identify key information, as well as allowing other Twitter users to find and share your content.
  2. Follow a range of other experts in your subject matter (accounts such as National Geographic, museums and news outlets can offer great supplementary material to compliment your digital posts). You can also make sure your students are keeping up with the latest news and articles about your chosen topic by retweeting and posing topical items.
  3. Use it as a reflection tool at the end of the lesson where students summarise what they have learnt in one tweet.
  4. Get students to get into a character and tweet as though they are that character – they can even get in pairs or groups and have group conversions.

Facebook

Creating a secure Facebook group that is invitation only lets a group of students share ideas and links safely. Facebook has created the Facebook Guide for Educators, which offers more information on ways to use the platform for teaching and learning.

  1. Encourage students to share material they think would be useful to various projects or assignments.
  2. They may also find it easier to ask for help from each other.
  3. Use polls to stimulate debate on key topics.
  4. Get feedback and increase student engagement by presenting several options for a new project and each student votes to determine which gets chosen.
  5. Keep parents updated by sending out notices of deadlines; documents that need to be completed, such as permissions slips, and post photos or videos of class projects or trips (Facebook allows you to instantly email all the members of a group, which offers an easy way to contact parents or guardians related to the same year group).

Instagram

Instagram is perfect for class projects and showing off amazing visuals.

  1. Create a portfolio or online exhibition for an art project or to showcase student science models.
  2. Explore the problems associated with using archival material in history by getting students to collect images/ articles on a recent event that has happened.
  3. Make the most of trips out by getting students to take one picture of an artefact or piece that they most liked.
  4. Nominate an ambassador everyday to post motivational, funny, or inspiring images to help show what a positive space social media can be.

Snapchat

  1. Record steps in a science experiment or a cooking process.
  2. Create a 1 minute step-by-step tutorial on how to solve a maths problem.
  3. Create a school Snapchat account and create highlights of school events and performances.

Blogs

A blog is also a great way to let students share written (and visual) content, comment and give feedback on each other’s work. All within a monitored and secure environment.

  1. Ensure that students are engaged in the lesson by nominating someone new every lesson to write up a reflection journal afterwards explaining what they did, what they learnt, and what they know now that they didn’t before.
  2. Encourage students to get creative for a food tech class by posting the recipe of their favourite meal. Or get them to explore and do research on a favourite artist or writer and submit a blog post about them.
  3. Create an online student paper and encourage each class to write a post every week on news that has taken place within their class or class discussions on events taking place within the news.

Social media may not be for everyone, but can be a useful and relevant teaching tool. Just be aware of what will be personal and what will be public when setting up or adding to accounts, across all social media channels. Although it’s not necessary to be ‘friends’ with your students to interact with them on social media, your students may still find you.

Check whether your school has social media guidelines already in place so that both you and your students adhere to them. Be aware of the age restrictions for each social media channel. It’s also vital to be aware of not posting photos or content about students or their work without their permission. For more guidance on appropriate use of social media when it comes to children and students, the NSPCC’s Share Aware has information on helping children stay safe on social networks, apps and games.

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