Incorporating Social Media in Your Classroom

Recently, I blogged about why educators should incorporate social media into their classrooms in my post, “Social Media in the Classroom”. But how can educators incorporate these tools into daily classroom activities? It’s simple!

Using social media in the classroom isn’t a complex feat, even though it may seem that way. What I think is a great idea is to instill social media literacy in students by crafting assignments around Twitter, Pinterest or Tumblr, for example. I’ve compiled a list of four tips to help you do just that:

  1. Tweeting: Probably the best assignment I’ve ever received was picking a character from Merchant of Venice and live-tweeting a specific scene from that character’s point of view. The assignment gave a breath of fresh air to a very archaic book! It also had me thoroughly understand the character’s point of view as I essentially was the character. It made writing essays, tests, etc. on the book that much easier.
  2. Blogging: What’s more engaging: writing a blog or writing an essay? If you ask me, definitely blogging. Blogging undoubtedly allows students to practise their literacy skills in the same way an essay would, but it is more fun! A simple strategy to incorporate blogging into your classroom is to have students create a blog, using Blogger, WordPress, Tumblr, etc., and write a post on a predetermined topic each week. Say, I chose social media: each week I would write a piece on social media and by the end of the semester or year, I would have my Independent Study Unit completed! (Note: On most blogging platforms, you have the ability to password protect blogs to ensure student privacy.)
  3. Pinning: Pinterest is probably one of the most addictive and engaging social platforms I’ve ever been introduced to, and, no, it’s not just for weddings! Say the original assignment is to write a character analysis: instead, have students build boards for each characters including what they’d wear, symbols reflecting them, etc. Again, this is a much more engaging option than traditional writing, which of course, still remains extremely important.
  4. Facebooking: Rarely will I ever discourage the use of social media. Yet, when it comes to Facebook and education, I must. If you’re going to have students create a social stream for a character from a book/movie, for example, it’s best to use Twitter, as the actual profile is much easier to set up and populate. Also, for evaluation purposes, it’s easier to view Twitter accounts than Facebook accounts.

The whole purpose of incorporating social networking into school activities and assignments is to have students learn first-hand how to use social streams. Students will also learn the appropriate uses of social streams. In my opinion, teaching students social media literacy will decrease cases of cyberbullying and other inappropriate uses of social sites like Twitter, because students know how to effectively social network and also how to respond when they see an incident of cyberbullying.

Many times, people will claim that social media in schools is a mask for wasting time. To that point, I just have one thing to say: Don’t complain when millennials post inappropriate content because you can’t blame us for not knowing better.

Have you been successful in incorporating social media in your classroom? Or do you want to talk more about how you can? Tweet me: @PatrickMott.

Patrick Mott is a 16-year-old from Toronto who is dedicated to teaching his peers social media literacy. Along with contributing to Huffington Post Live, Patrick has appeared on many TV shows discussing the importance of being aware of your digital footprint and having a positive online presence. His goal is to teach everyone, particularly teens, that while social media provide great creative outlets, the content should always be appropriate. Combining passion and determination as his personal brand, Patrick encourages youth to be good digital citizens in everything they do online.