A recent Harris poll found that 86% of American teachers were not using social media in the classroom, and 62% have no plans to do so. Although many schools and teachers are hesitant to bring Facebook, Instagram and the latest social sites to their students, others are finding ways to use them to engage classes, enhance learning and build critical thinking skills. Here are some ideas you may want to try:
1. Get the Scoop on the Latest News
Follow current news stories with a scoop.it account. Start a class page, open an educator account, and assign students to post articles and comments to the page.
2. Create Student Bloggers
You might inspire the next Hemingway or Angelou by having your students create their own blogs. This will give them the opportunity to write for each other, and make comments that show critical thinking. Free sites such as Edublogs are helpful for getting started, and offer features such as customized themes, full privacy options and global projects.
3. Create Education-centric Pinterest Boards
Fashion and cooking is just one side of Pinterest. You can establish a classroom Pinterest page and have students pin photos, artwork and links about any subject. The possibilities are endless—you can set up pages for healthy eating, study tips, supplementary learning material and more. Here’s a Pinterest page that explains the phases of the moon using Oreo cookies!
4. Propel Learning Into the Twittersphere
Twitter isn’t only for personal use. Encourage your students to create an academic Twitter account and create a class hashtag. Then ask students to find a picture or article that supports a specific topic, or retweet a relevant post from someone they don’t know. For younger students, you can set up a class Twitter account for them. Have a class-versus-class tweet-off to see who gets the most followers, and award a prize.
5. Engage Students With Instagram
Along with teacher’s helper and official whiteboard cleaner, you can add a new classroom job for younger students—Instagram photographer. Designate a specially-decorated tablet for this purpose, and have a student take pictures of key events from each day. They’ll be thrilled to be selected for this role, especially during field trips.
6. Connect With Facebook
While some schools block Facebook and consider it a distraction, others have successfully established closed Facebook groups where students can connect with each other online for class projects, clubs, athletic teams and alumni events.
Remember, before you get started with social media, you’ll need to review your school’s guidelines. Once approved, you’ll also want to teach the concept of good digital citizenship, and have your students take a safety pledge that can set a foundation for responsible social media use. Additionally, make sure to delete your classroom accounts at the end of each year.