Social Media as a learning strategy has always been a topic of debate among educators and administrators. Social Media can definitely have its pros and cons for students, and some professionals fear the cons. I believe that the best method to teach students how to use social media appropriately is to give them the opportunity to utilize social media in a controlled setting such as a classroom. All too often you hear about young students who have social media accounts and there is no one guiding them along the way. Just like you would never place a small child in a big city by themselves, you should never allow a child on the Internet without supervision. Parents and teachers must be involved in this process. Therefore, it is imperative that we teach students how to use social media positively, using good digital citizenship, to help them achieve a positive digital footprint. But the question is “how to we teach digital citizenship?”
The best method of learning how to use social media is to actually have students use various social medias in schools. I teach fifth grade, so this seems like an impossible task. However, there are an abundance of sites created for elementary age students that are available for sharing work, collaborating globally, and publishing content. This week, in my EDTECH 543 class, I was asked to find at least 10 Social Media Classroom lessons/case studies that have had successful lessons utilizing social media as a tool for learning. This was not an easy task due to the age of my students. Not many teachers publish their lesson plans and experience with social media in an elementary school setting. I could locate lists and suggestions, but had a difficult time locating actual case studies. Therefore, curating resources took a great deal of searching and time. I am pleased with the end result of my curated lesson experiences, hence I am excited to incorporate social media within my fifth grade classroom.
Many of the lessons discussed blogging in the classroom. Blogging gives the students a chance to share their opinion or work and have others comment on their blog post. This provides the student with interaction and a chance to reflect on their learning. KidBlog is a safe place to start my students blogging, which can be a private account for my class or a public account for the world. I know this will benefit students’ writing, realizing their work will be showcased for others to view. Throughout the blogging lessons I found, teachers discussed how important it is to teach the proper method of blogging and develop policies for respectable online behavior. This is something I also feel strongly about, so I plan on incorporating these positive online experiences for the students.
My favorite lesson was Mystery Skype, where two classrooms in the world connect via a teacher account on Twitter. The students ask the other class questions about where they live. From these answers the students use Google Maps to find the exact area where the other class is located. Each student has an assigned task, and they are all involved in the project. This is great for cultural awareness, geography, collaborative learning, problem solving and social learning. Another wonderful lesson where students connect to another class around the world utilizes Epals for communication. Students create kites with a buddy from another country while converting measurements from metrics. Not only are the students learning a valuable math lesson, but they are engaged and excited to be part of this global project. All of the lessons were excellent methods of infusing social media within the elementary classroom and I plan on incorporating each and every one of them. The common theme among all of these lessons were positive student learning outcome, responsibility, reflection, collaboration, pride, and motivation to learn and participate.
I wish, as a child, I had the chance to have friends globally, and publish my work and have my voice heard. This is a wonderful opportunity for our students and we should not let fear hold us back from social media learning. With the guidance of a supportive teacher and administration, the students will be facilitated through the world of social media and be ready to face the Internet independently and successfully in the years to come. Without this guidance, mistakes can be made that could impact a student’s life forever. Digital Citizenship must be taught and practiced starting at an early age. I plan on blogging about my classroom experience using social media in elementary schools to help other elementary teachers see the impact that this method of learning can have on both the students and the teacher. It should be easier to find elementary experiences than it was for me during this project, and hopefully my stories will make a difference and others will join in on sharing their experiences as well.
Click on Social Media Projects to see the lessons and experiences that I have found along with my insights on how each lesson relates to my fifth grade classroom.