Your students are already caught in social media – so how do you compete for their attention? You don’t – just find them there.
Social media is an area where I recognize myself as a learner. With so many new tools and trends coming out, I realize I might be behind the newest and latest, and even neglecting many amazing resources that have been out there for a while. That said, here are some ideas:
Flip you classroom with YouTube. I designed social studies projects that could be completed almost independently by my 7th to 9th graders, produced videos with the content that I would have otherwise taught at school, uploaded them to YouTube, and searched for resources already in the web that I could use. I created documents in which I described each assignment and rubrics. Then I organized everything neatly on my school’s website (you could use your own blog as well).
At first, it was a lot of work. Producing and posting videos and lessons on top of my regular teaching schedule was tough. Then I made it part of their projects to have students actually do some of the teaching. Either individually or in teams, they produced and published videos as well. My workload decreased somehow, but most importantly, their learning increased substantially!
Now, the kids do a lot of video producing, -not just for my own classes anymore. And some students even have their own YouTube channels.
Facebook as a collaboration tool. I wanted a place where I could virtually and safely interact with my students, and where we could keep our conversations organized. Because I had made my flipped classrooms open to anyone, I created a Facebook page for content sharing, but also a closed Facebook group for our class. My students were already in Facebook on a daily basis, so our learning integrated with their lives seamlessly.
Tweet to reflect on learning. “The most important thing I learned today was…” Answer that in 140 characters. This is what I asked my students to do after each class. Their answers could be related to actual subject content, new or revised abilities, and personal insights. Use a classroom #hashtag to easily find what everyone else is saying and to engage in conversations.
Skype your music to the world. One of the most ambitious media projects I have ever embarked on was #ConcertIn2Countries, for which I teamed up with Melissa Morris, a music teacher in New York, The plan was to have our elementary school violin ensemble perform alongside Melissa’s high school musicians.
After many rehearsals and substantial challenges, we held our two concerts miles away from each other. Then, at a set time, we used Skype, FaceTime and LiveStream to connect live – and the magic began. Our Concert was far from perfect, but our audiences exploded in applause.
Social media will not teach your lesson – it will enhance it. It will not change your curriculum or even make your subject more interesting (that’s our job, isn’t it?) But, it will bring content closer to your learners and make it easier and more appealing for them to engage.
And of course, we all want engaged learners, don’t we?