I’m not a teacher, and I’ll probably never be one. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from being a TK (“Teacher’s Kid”), it’s I have no desire to be an educator of any kind. I’ve witnessed the struggles my mother has gone through as a teacher, and because of that, I don’t have the urge to work in the education field. However, I do admire teachers, and I truly believe that they’re some of the strongest, bravest individuals who walk our planet.
Every so often I get lesson plans ideas, even though I know I’ll never use them firsthand. Now that I’ve been through umpteen years of schooling and have two degrees, I can look back and think about what I would have changed during my years and years of education. Of course, teaching eighth grade in 2015 is a complete different ballgame than teaching eighth grade in 2005. The world is changing, and teachers need to evolve with it or they’ll be missing some great opportunities to prepare their students for the world they live in.
Social media is evolving rapidly with the current generation. While many educators have jumped on the social media bandwagon, others haven’t, and the ones who have aren’t using it to its full potential.
How can you use social media to its full potential? Well, here are some social media “lesson plans” that I would implement if I were a teacher. I recommend these “lessons” for any teacher who teaches eighth grade on up, since these sites all require that persons be at least thirteen years old to join.
- During the first week of class, regardless of the subject I taught, I would have all my students create Pinterest accounts. Pinterest.com allows users to create boards and then repin a variety of topics based on their interests. I would ask my students to fill their boards based on their favorites. I would then have my students follow all of their classmates and repin the pins that their classmates have pinned that interest them. I would use this data for two reasons: One, to plan my lessons according to my students’ interests, and two, to pair students together with shared interests for group work. It’s likely students will discover they have more in common with some of their classmates than they were initially aware. Therefore, new friendships may be formed.
- If I were an English or Reading teacher, I would have all my students create a GoodReads account. GoodReads.com is database of basically every book that exists. It’s free to join, and you can login with your Facebook account or register using an email address. I use it personally to keep track of books I want to read and books I have read. GoodReads also allows you to befriend other users and track what books they are reading. GoodReads also has a feature that allows you to update your progress as you’re reading a book. You can update your status, mark the page you’re on, and write what your thoughts or reactions to the book. I would have every student create a GoodReads account specifically for my class and as we read books, I would require them to update their progress as they read and write a sentence or two reaction to what they read that evening.
- This lesson can be applied to any subject. I would have every student create a Twitter account specifically for my class. Most kids have multiple Twitter accounts anyway, so they won’t mind creating a new account. I would require that they use a pseudonym and then follow all of their classmates. As a teacher, I would have a list of all the students’ pseudonyms and they would not have to reveal their pseudonym to anyone else. The reason I would require pseudonyms is because many students, especially quieter students, may be afraid of their classmates judging them. Pseudonyms would allow for quieter students to speak up when they might otherwise not. For homework, I would assign discussions based on the topics we’re talking about in class to be played out on Twitter using hashtags. I would also choose specific nights of the week where I would be available online to answer questions, and I would always make sure I’m available the night before a test. Students could choose to @ me, allowing everyone to see their message, or they could direct message me for a one-on-one session. This method would allow me to reach multiple students at once.
- You could also do something similar on Facebook by creating a group for your class. However, it’s easier to manage multiple accounts on Twitter for students who are regular Twitter users than it is Facebook. I wouldn’t want kids using their personal accounts, since that seems like too much of an invasion of privacy and I don’t think teachers should befriend their students on social media while they’re still their teachers. I think the pseudonyms and anonymity is of utmost importance for this social medium between classmates and teachers to be a success.
I think it’s important for all teachers, whether they’re tech savvy or not, to start applying social media to their lesson plans. Kids rely on social media for their day-to-day lives. The world is changing, and we can either choose to change with it or be left behind.
All of these tools are readily available and free of charge, so there aren’t legitimate excuses to not benefit from them. This is, after all, the world students today live in.
If you use or have used any of these tips, let me know! I’d love to hear what worked and what didn’t work.