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Learning Library Blog 6 ways to help students learn with social media
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6 ways to help students learn with social media

By Team ISTE
April 6, 2015
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It's been banned in the classroom for years, but like yesterday's copies of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Catcher in the Rye, social media is now making its way off the taboo charts and into students' hands.

Or, in this case, it's more like into the teachers' hands as adults begin to understand the benefits of mixing kids and Twitter, writes Patrick Larkin, one of three national Digital Principal Award winners, in the spring 2015 edition of entrsekt. A recent survey from the University of Phoenix College of Education reveals that 47 percent of all K-12 teachers believe participation in social media platforms could help enhance their students' education.

The tipping point is in sight. Even the National Council of Teachers of English 21st Centuries Literacy Framework and ISTE Standards for Students stress the ability to communicate effectively in today's world as a necessary skill.

But where to start? After all, social media platforms have been shunned for a reason: they distract and, well, they're social. If not addressed correctly, it's merely a modern form of talking in class and not paying attention.

Here are six projects to help you get your feet wet:


  • Start a closed, private classroom group where you can sum up homework assignments and students may collaborate on the material in the files section. There's also interactive polling tools to stimulate conversation.

    :  Facebook groups allow everyone to link as friends and have access to private posts and photos, but the Facebook interface creates a feeling of friendship among kids who may not be as chatty in real life.
  • Ask students to work in teams to set up Facebook pages on specific lessons (the Cold War, ways to use geometry in real life, grammar) and add relevant links, photos, videos.

    Lesson: What's fun for the student is a bonus for adults: You can see which students contributed material, so no one skirts their responsibility by hiding inside the group.


  • Bring in a guest speaker for career day and ask students to submit their questions via hashtags. Set it up so they tweet in waves and encourage them to build off what the speaker just said.

    Lesson: Teaches younger students how not to interrupt and allows everyone to participate, even if their question isn't chosen for an answer.
  • Ask students to pick a skill or personality strength and then demonstrate that quality via tweets. Or, in a twist, have them personify a literary character, writing tweets in that fictional person's style and viewpoint.

    Lesson: The classic " "explain what makes this character unique" " essay with some role playing built in. As a bonus, students learn how to shape how people see them online before they inadvertently give the wrong impressions.


  • Showcase students' work. This is the perfect platform to show off artwork and other special projects on a private Instagram account you establish only to families and others in your school community.

    Lesson: It's the parent-teacher night praise amplified.
  • Start a Student of the Week spotlight. Each student takes a turn at running the classroom Instagram account and sharing photos from their daily lives.

    Lesson: Beats the socks off the old autobiography assignment.