Social media is a hook. And a tool.
In an essay titled From Connected Educator to Connected Classroom, Brianna Crowley describes her journey using social media tools at a personal level to using them in her classroom. It’s a good read with practical suggestions and links to a variety of social media tools and strategies. Brianna also makes a statement that I like:
“Rather than using social media like the irresistible “hook” that draws the reader into the body of an essay, or the “bait” the lures students to the learning, I began to see social media as natural part of the lessons I taught. Learning its nuances, its potential, its drawbacks–these are part of my curriculum. Students need to understand that with each tweet, they have an audience. That within the confines of 140 characters and a hashtag, they can either reach that audience with their message or have their message go largely unnoticed.
This is my curriculum: understanding your audience, understanding your purpose, crafting an effective message, choosing the best form for that message, and growing your influence. I can teach these skills using articles, narratives, poems, blogs, videos, and social media. These are the messages and forms dominating my students’ world. I want them to understand how to both interpret and create messages in all their various forms to reach as many audiences as possible.”
I don’t disagree at all – we need to move away from using tech simply as a shiny object that we hope will suck students into our content. But I still like the idea of using social media tools to take kids down certain lines of thinking at the beginning of lessons and activities. This can then lead into using those tools as things useful for creating student products. It’s both / and.
An example would be using Twitter hashtags as as if they’ve always been around and a part of history. This idea of hooking kids into thinking about hashtags and history popped up about a year ago when Michelle Obama and Malala joined the #bringourgirlsback hashtag campaign.
Buzzfeed published an article that suggested ways that other First Families might have used Twitter to raise public awareness.
So I think we can use social media tools as a way to hook kids into a specific unit of study and to ask them to think about events in a way that connects with practices they’re familiar with. It’s also a way to connect with prior knowledge and as great writing prompts.
But Brianna is right. We can go beyond simply using this sort of image activity as a hook. We can now ask our students to create their own hashtags, their own backstories, their own products such as blog posts and Instagram images.
It’s also a great way to connect the past with contemporary events.
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