Social media is a big part of our student’s lives. They want to feel connected with the world and share everything that they are doing. So why don’t teachers utilize social media in the classroom? If this is central to our student’s lives outside of schools, it would be easy for them to transfer these skills to the classroom. I have to admit, I was hesitant to incorporate social media and networking tools into my classroom. I felt like it was a big responsibility as a new teacher to take this on and ensure student safety. But incorporating digital citizenship lessons, encouraging internet safety, and modeling proper social media use, I am now more confident in integrating these tools into my classroom. I have started with blogs and Diigo, but through my research in this project I can see the power of Twitter, Facebook, Padlet, Skype, and more. I also have found even more ideas for tools I am already using.
I used PearlTrees to curate and annotate my materials, and separated my findings under their specific tool.
Social Media Tools for the History Classroom – Key Learnings
BackChannels or chat rooms to use during a lecture, video, or discussion give voice to students. I can see how backchannels can enhance a movie shown in class. Students can carry on a student led discussion while watching a movie. For example, students watch Cinderella Man to learn more about the Great Depression, they could discuss the historical elements they find using something like Today’s Meet.
Twitter is a great tool for the classroom that many students are already using outside the classroom. I really like the idea of a Twitter essay. This will force students to find the most central idea of a topic to share with their classmates. I also think it is great that there is a “peer review” concept to this. It not only gets the students sharing, but also using social media to collaborate and give feedback.
I found a variety of ways to use Facebook in the classroom. The use of fan pages and event pages is a great interactive activity for students. Using Facebook as a timeline and place to collaborate with experts and other schools is something that is interesting and exciting for students. I also think creating fan pages and having a “virtual salon” is a great way for students to uses 21st century skills and immerse themselves in the content area.
Diigo has been a huge addition to my classroom. I have had my students share articles and comment on each others annotations, starting discussions that dive deeper into the article and content. What I learned from the article on found on Diigo, is the use of the forum within Diigo groups. This is a feature I have not tried yet, but can see how students can start a discussion, share a thought, ask a question and more.
Skype is a tool I have not used in my two years of teaching, but would like to begin using more. Skype allows for conversations with experts, students, authors, survivors, all over the world. It provides students to connect and ask questions they would normally have left unanswered. The articles I clipped on Skype explain the power connecting, once with a survivor of the Holocaust, and once with a similar class in a different country. Both experiences offered different perspectives for the students, beyond the classroom walls.
Blogging is an important piece of digital literacy, which also allows for student connections and sharing. The projects I found helped students connect with authors, teachers, parents, and classmates. The authentic audience, beyond the teacher, motivated the students to write more effectively and ask deeper questions. I also see blogging as a way for students who may be timid or nervous to share in class, to voice their ideas and ask questions.
All of these tools can have immediate impact in the classroom. Viewing all of these great ideas has helped me plan my lessons for this week using blogs and Twitter. It is important to make sure the tool is being used to enhance and optimize the classroom experience and motivate students to grow as learners, preparing them as 21st century learners.