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Social media inside, outside of the classroom

4 min read

Voice of the Educator

Thinking about social media and how it works in regards to learning inside and outside of classrooms is endless and inspiring. Just by tweeting an idea, you can spark a connection and invite your students to experience the value of social media.

As I began to dabble with this idea, I was immediately struck by how other educators were using this tool as a way to connect, engage and enhance learning.

In the beginning, it was important to think about how I was going to model this tool and how I could relate it to something with which my students already had experience. So I took my students outside with my laptop and asked them to listen quietly to what they heard as we sat under a tree. After a moment, my students shared a variety of sounds, one of which was a bird’s chirping. I highlighted this and noted that birds have calls and tweets that they use to say hello and communicate. I then explained how we were going to use Twitter as our platform to create tweets, just like how birds use a tree as their platform when making calls and communicating with others. This was how I started to model how we were going to use Twitter on a daily basis.

Young children need lots of opportunities to have conversations about their ideas and thoughts. This is where they get time to reflect and rethink what they understand. Twitter is a nice way to bring face-to-face conversations to a global level where young children can experience what it means to share globally.

Social media allows me to connect my students to a global platform where they can share their ideas and discoveries. It’s an easy way for my students to begin to experience what it means to be a safe, kind and responsible digital citizen.

Some important things to think about:

  1. Model safe, responsible and positive discoveries that you wish to share with others in regards to learning.
  2. Follow people who are sharing professional work and tips to enhance learning.
  3. Secure permission from parents of the children you work with if you will be sharing photographs and video.
  4. When you tweet photographs and video leave off names or any identifying information about your students.  This way your students will know and understand that when you use video, names are omitted. This is a nice way to model being a safe digital user for this age.
  5. Follow  classrooms that are using Twitter with their students. This is where you’re able to tweet with other classrooms about your daily discoveries and what you find interesting.
  6. Model correct spelling — no text typing here. As educators, we should model the correct use of language for our students.
  7. Encourage parents of your students to join Twitter to follow along! Parents can follow tweets without joining Twitter.

When using social media as a tool to enrich learning, you really want to have permission from your students’ parents ahead of time as well as model alongside them how you will be using social media. I post photographs, but I never use a child’s name or any personal identifying information. Also decide if you want to have your tweets public or private. This helps you decide who and what audience will see your live feed. I have my account set as public and — with parental permission — my students and their families are experiencing how social media can be used in a safe, kind and responsible way.

Tweeting in kindergarten has helped my students become aware of a larger audience outside of our classroom walls. My students understand that by tweeting they are “talking” to others about something important to them. We share our understandings and ideas by tweeting. This experience supports my students in making connections with other kindergarten classes all over the world.

As an educator, I have had endless opportunities to engage with social media alongside my students, their families and others. Through our collaboration, we can share what inspires us, spark connections with others and learn from different perspectives. Social media is a wonderful way to experience new ideas.

Sharon E. Davison teaches kindergarten at Allen Brook School in Williston, Vt. She recently was recognized as a VT IGNITED Teacher, an award given to teachers who are transformative and innovative. Read her blog and follow her on Twitter @kkidsinvt.

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