Social Media In The Classroom: How To Make Them Work

How To Use Social Media In The Classroom 

Today’s classrooms are full of digital natives — kids who have grown up uber-connected through technology. At times, this can be frustrating to educators who have to deal with shortened attention spans and distracting electronics like smartphones and tablets. Teachers want their students involved in the classroom process and not pulled away by apps like Instagram and Facebook. While the first inclination is to keep students completely away from social media, the reality is that technology is a huge part of their future. But how to use social media in the classroom? Take a look at some suggestions for using three of the biggest social media in the classroom to aid in the learning process (the platforms below are appropriate for ages 13 and up).

Facebook

This is a social network that both teachers and students can comprehend and one they both know how to use quite well. Facebook gets a lot of criticism as a spot for wasting time, but there are some pretty significant ways to use it for good, especially when it comes to learning pursuits. Take a look at some educational uses for Facebook:

  • Create a classroom group page.
    Make sure the settings are on “private” and use this page for class prompts, reminders, and discussions. Encourage students to respond to each other and collaborate on ideas for classwork. If you want help moderating the page, assign one or two students as administrators.
  • Develop fictitious Facebook pages.
    While Facebook discourages the creation of fictional pages, there is a tool called Fakebook that offers Facebook templates for educational purposes. Pick a person from history or a fake persona, and work as a class to create a Fakebook page for that person. What would he or she say, or post? This is a fun way to apply contemporary life to a person from the past or to come up with ways to think like another when it comes to social media sharing.
  • Make it a lesson.
    Facebook is actually a great place to learn new things - from life hacks to insight into current news stories. Have students list a new thing each day that they learn from perusing Facebook and hand it in once a week.

Instagram

A picture really does say a thousand words (or more) so tap into your students’ attraction to visuals with this popular social media app. Consider these classroom-friendly Instagram uses:

  • Assignment resources.
    When students have an assignment due that involves a local resource, encourage them to physically go to that resource and see/experience it for themselves. If the student has access to a smartphone, have them upload an Instagram photo of that trip and tag it with an assigned project hashtag so that you and the other students can access it.
  • Redo famous images.
    Assign a historic image project where each student picks a famous image -either a photo or illustration- to recreate in his or her own way. Encourage students not to simply copy the original images but to interpret them in their own way, whether by taking photos or using Instagram features. Group students into pairs for this assignment to ensure that everyone has access to a smartphone.
  • Each week, showcase a student who excels by taking a photo of a “Student of the Week” or simply photographing student projects to post on Instagram.
    Always get students’ and parents’ permission, of course, and ensure that you also have permission to post the photos online. (Usually parents will sign permission forms that the school keeps on file.)

Pinterest

The idea of “pinning” things to a board is nothing new in classroom settings. Teachers have asked students to create posters, corkboards, and other physical collections of themed ideas for decades. Pinterest simply expands the reach of what students can pin and makes it electronic. Here are a few specific ways to use this platform of social media in the classroom:

  • Group work.
    Have students share a Pinterest board to collaborate on upcoming projects. When they are ready to sit down and actually create an essay, poster, or presentation, all of their ideas are located in a central spot.
  • Encourage students to scan images of their strongest work for an online board portfolio.
    They can add to it throughout the year and even add more segmented options.
  • Brag boards.
    Create a board and pin the best work of your students for all to see. This is an easy way to encourage students and allow their peers to see their hard work. You can even invite parents to join the board to see the students’ handiwork.

Technology is ingrained in high school students today, so why fight that inclination? Social media is a part of students’ lives, and teachers can use that to their advantage in the classroom. Find ways to connect with students through social media in the classroom, and it will lead to a more streamlined experience for you and all of the kids.

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