Most social media platforms rightfully do not let children under the age of 13 have accounts, but what about older kids? Almost every student has some sort of social media profile these days, and teachers are wondering how they can incorporate it into their lessons.
If students have social media anyway, it’s an opportune way to bring a little fun into the classroom, as well as connect students with each other and with their teachers. While you should never post a picture of anyone on social media without their consent, teachers can leverage social media platforms like Instagram and Twitter for a variety of educational purposes. Here are a few ideas:
Social media can provide a centralized place to share updates and information that students will never miss. Writing upcoming events and assignments on whiteboards and trusting students to copy details into physical planners is a classic method, but this is the 21st century! Many schools are using new technological platforms to communicate with students, but kids are less likely to miss something if they see notifications on the platforms and apps they use in their own time.
Learn from other teachers
Lots of teachers share what they are doing in their classrooms — just look at the hashtag #teacherideas on Instagram! Social media provides teachers around the world with collaborative means of communication to share teaching techniques, classroom activities, and more. With social media, you can talk with other teachers about how they handle certain issues, both inside and outside the classroom (teacher support groups are necessary; it’s a stressful job). Connect with fellow educators for inspiration and new ideas.
Show off your student’s work
Are you proud of your students’ work and what more than just the people who go in and out of your classroom to see it? Post it on a classroom social media account (with students’ permission, of course). You may decide not to use social media as a “prize” for good work — you don’t want any of your pupils to feel left out or unvalidated — so make sure everyone is featured fairly. Post their poems, art projects, lab assignments, and anything else that provides positive affirmation for all.
Posting your students’ work on social media also enables family members to see what they are up to beyond parent-teacher conferences. Parents love knowing what goes on in their children’s classrooms, and they use social media too, so they can better understand what their kids are doing in school from the comfort of their homes. If you and your students want more people than just family members to see what they create, you can use a buy Instagram followers app to boost your audience (but remember, this is your class’s account, not yours alone — if they don’t want people seeing what they do, respect their desires).
Post fun facts
Your students will undoubtedly follow your classroom social media accounts, so you can use it for more than housekeeping reasons: use it for education itself! Share fun science, literature, history, and other facts. Re-share videos and photos from other accounts like National Geographic so that students are exposed to multiple sources of learning. Post cool experiments, interviews, presentations, and anything else that will capture your student’s attention that you may or may not have time for in the classroom.
Use it to assign projects
You can communicate assignments through social media, but you can also use social media for assignments. Maybe you can have students create posts as if they were historical figures, or compose photo essays, write blogs, live-Tweet lectures and events they attend, critically analyze online news for bias, study echo chambers, share information they find interesting with their classmates, write book reviews, or something else students are excited about (but keep in mind students who want to minimize their online presences).
Host online office hours
Open office hours are useful for students who need to ask questions outside of class time, or clarification on an assignment. You can always host office hours in-person, but your life and your students’ lives are busy, so it’s possible that the students who need assistance cannot make it.
Hold online office hours through social media. Email can become too jumbled and slow, but direct messaging through Facebook and Twitter is a great way to communicate with your students directly. Tell them that you’ll be online between the hours of 5 to 6, for instance, if they need to ask you anything.
Most of your students already use social media, so there are plenty of ways to incorporate it into education. How will you use social media with your middle and high school students?