In the last few years, social media has become a very popular way to communicate, connect with others, and share information. Social media is widely used among our students, the parents of our students and leaders in education. Why not use the power of social media to connect with our parents, students, and education leaders? The most difficult part is probably deciding where to start. I would like to focus on a few of the most popular; Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.
Twitter can be used for multiple things in your classroom. One of the best ways to use Twitter is to connect with other educators and develop a PLN. If you are interested in doing so, you can check out my ICATS post on developing a PLN from October during Connected Educator Month. That article goes into great detail of how to find, follow, and connect with leading educators around the world.
A second way you might use Twitter in your classroom is similar to a backchannel. You can create a hashtag and engage your students by having them highlight comments and important facts during a lesson or guest speaker. This could become a great source for information and the creation of a study guide for students before a quiz or test.
The creation of a twitter account is easy. Just go to twitter.com and sign up by putting in your email address with a password. You will be up in running in a matter of minutes. Search for people that you may be interested in following. Perhaps it is a keynote speaker from your last conference or an author of a great educational article or book that you have read. If you are on someones website, you may notice the Twitter logo or bird with the words “follow me.” Many times you can follow the person by clicking on that icon. You will then begin to see posts by the people you follow in your timeline. Many of these posts will lead you to great articles and resources that will be of interest to you.
As you read more articles posted by the people you follow, you might begin following the author of the article itself. Soon, people will begin following you. I began exploring hash tags and would read posts from educators within the hash tag. For example, #edchat or #edtech. A hashtag is the pound sign followed by a topic. While watching many of your favorite television shows you may have noticed a hashtag followed by the name of the show in the corner of the screen. You can now get on Twitter and type in that hashtag and read people’s comments as the show is broadcasting.
For a great list of hashtags and people to follow, here is a great resource created by my fellow ICAT and colleague Tim Wilhelmus: http://www.livebinders.com/play/play?id=207036
Pinterest is a little different. It is more like an digital bulletin board. It allows you to search topics that can lead to great lessons and resources that have been pinned by other educators. Members pin things they like and place them on a titled board that you create. It board could be the name of a novel or unit that you teach. All of the things that you pin on that board would be ideas and resources that you would use as you teach that topic. On Pinterest; a pin starts with an image, website link, or video that is added by you. You can add a pin from a website using the Pin It bookmarklet or upload an image from your computer. Any pin on Pinterest can be repinned, and all pins link back to their source. If you would like to learn more about Pinterest, check out Dee Higgs’s article from Connected Educator Month.
One that has been around for a quite a while is Facebook. Many schools in our district have Facebook pages that parents, teachers, and students can “like” and then announcements, photos, and information that is shared from each school shows up on your timeline. That is just one way that we are utilizing Facebook.
If you do not belong to any form of social media, then choose one of the above sites and create an account. Then share out how you, your school, or an educator that you know utilizes social media for education. If you do not know anyone and your school does not use it, then explain how you “believe that you could” utilize social media.