October 6, 2016
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Social Media apps for teaching

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Social media can prove to be a detriment to classroom learning when students are using it inappropriately to communicate during a lesson.  However, it no longer has to be this way.

There are numerous teachers that resent the fact their students are obsessed with social media. When students constantly text and post comments and pins during class time, studies have proven this has a negative impact on classroom learning.  At the same token, teachers constantly feel like they are fighting a never ending losing battle to maintain student attentiveness in class.

By changing the approach to learning using social media, you can stop fighting an uphill battle and get students excited about learning using interactive classroom activities. As a teacher, social media also allows you to continue to do what you love…. which is to teach.

Here are 20 different ways to use social media as an educational tool to prevent the distraction of mobile devices in your classroom while enhancing classroom learning.

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1. Document art projects and science experiments using Instagram.

The social media platform, Instagram, is a great way to document classroom activities that involve a step-by-step procedure. Students can use mobile devices to capture an image of each step of a science experiment or art project.

You can then setup a classroom page on Instagram for students to upload their photo documentation.  The Instagram page can be accessed from anywhere and used as a reference for homework assignments, reports, and more.

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twitter logos2. Have your students use Twitter to ask questions on specific classroom topics.

If your students could use some inspiration on how to approach a classroom activity related to a specific topic, encourage them to ask questions on Twitter. This will help them gather information and ideas from knowledgeable people.

Your students can also request their questions to be re-tweeted by other Twitter users to receive additional help from more people. You will find that most Twitter users enjoy helping others with many different topics.

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3. Use Instagram to display your student’s work on classroom activities.

Students tend to put forth more effort when they are receiving compliments and feedback. Set up a classroom page on Instagram to showcase their work and allow parents to see their child’s progress.  You can also share other classroom activities on the page to keep parents up to speed on their child’s classroom achievements.

Keep in mind, you should remember to follow both school and Instagram policies in addition to requesting permission from the parents to photograph your students. Then make sure you configure the privacy settings to ensure the safety of your students. If you teach at the elementary level, Instagram has an age limit of 13 years or older.

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4. Use social media to help your students acquire real-world data.

The use of social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest can help your students gather information and data from the real world. Students can communicate with other students around the world to gather specific information about current events in the country where they live.

This is especially useful when writing a report or essay on a specific current event.  By acquiring firsthand information, it adds substance to classroom assignments.

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5. Use Facebook to bring literature to life.

Facebook is a great tool for keeping your students engaged in learning literature.  Students can create a page on Facebook for a specific character in a novel you may be covering. Then they can fill the page with information regarding the character.

As students create the character, you can ask them to make a Friend Request to allow you to see how they are bringing the character to life. Students can make Friend Requests to fellow classmates which links the entire classroom together for collaboration on a literature project.

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6. Engage students in learning geography using Twitter and Google Earth.

Students can use Twitter and Google Earth to enhance their study of geography by using a combination of these platforms. Teachers have used their network of followers on Twitter to create interesting and engaging geography lessons using networking in real-time.

One teacher listed under the above link, requested his Twitter network to challenge his students to locate each follower using Google Earth.  This was achieved by using small snippets of information provided by each network member. This helped students to learn geography while having fun trying to determine the location of each follower.

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7. Use Skype to organise a virtual field trip.

If you are studying a specific topic that makes it difficult for students to learn more on a traditional field trip, you can set up classroom field trips using the videoconferencing service, Skype. Students can take an all-day field trip without leaving the classroom.

If the location you want to take your students to has the Skype videoconferencing system, you simply connect to the location using an Internet connection and the Skype app.  This is a great way for students to engage in learning on various topics including Earth Science, Art, Social Studies, Language Arts, and much more.  The field trips can also be tailored to meet specific learning objectives in the core curriculum.

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8. Use Twitter to Teach Probability.

Twitter is a great educational tool for helping your students learn probability. Many teachers use their network of Twitter followers to create math lessons on probability. For example, you can use your network of followers to ask the students to determine what the probability of snow may be for their specific location.

Prior to the classroom lesson, you can send a message to your Twitter network so the questions are ready when students come to class.  The questions will keep coming in during class time to continue to challenge students throughout the math lesson.

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9. Use social media to hold parent conferences.

Social media platforms such as Skype and Classroom 2.0 can help you to easily keep parents up to date on their child’s progress.  This saves you a great deal of time because you can easily stream virtual conferences between yourself and an entire community of parents.

Platforms such as Classroom 2.0 are also useful for setting up collaborative groups.  This can be for parent activities or student project collaboration and brainstorming sessions.

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10. Use Pinterest for Classroom Activities.

Recently, EducatorsTechnology.com published a series of useful ideas on using Pinterest for classroom learning. Pinterest is filled with great ideas associated with pinning data and photos on specific project topics, creating project boards, and pinning ideas for various topics.

Teaching students how to pin ideas can also prove to be a powerful educational tool. Pinning ideas on Pinterest can help them learn and remember key points in a lesson and increase their understanding of a succession of events in the progress of the lesson.

11. Convert group work into a visual project with Pinterest.

Pinterest offers a variety of tools that are perfect for creating group projects that are visual.  You can use Pinterest to help students create fun and interactive group projects.

The tools are also designed to provide a way for students to collaborate as well as share presentations and photos. Additionally, students can help one another by sharing links to helpful project research sources, essays, and papers.

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12. Teach Netiquette and Effective Communication Skills Using Emojis.

When students communicate online there are often no visual cues to illustrate thoughts and emotions. This can lead to poor communication, inadvertent misunderstandings, and other mishaps.

By using Emojis which are also known as ideograms, students learn how to communicate effectively using visual designs.  Emojis allow students to express emotions as well as describe the perspectives of key figures in many classroom topics such as history, science, and language arts and how these figures would communicate in modern day if they had access to Emojis.

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philosoraptor logo13. Use memes to teach students how to provide feedback on any specific topic.

Teaching with memes helps your students learn how to analyze and interpret information on any given classroom topic.  Students can develop intellectual skills by viewing and responding to what a meme is trying to communicate.

One example of a meme is the Philosoraptor, which is a dinosaur that uses animated gestures to decipher meanings within various topics. An example given is a Philosorapter that ponders the question, “What if your math teacher is in reality, a pirate who wants you to determine the value of X to enable them to locate hidden treasures?” 

This requires a sound understanding of algebra in addition to interpretation of the dinosaur’s gestures and demeanor.  In this example, students are using two different skillsets which include intellectual skills and comprehension of the subject being taught.

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14. Create a class Wiki to reinforce student’s understanding of specific subjects being taught.

Your students are likely familiar with Wikipedia when they search online for information on a certain subject.  Many teachers create a class Wiki which places students on the other side of the screen writing articles and essays on what they have learned on a particular topic.

You can choose a topic and then create a class Wiki where students can post what they know about the topic. Have your students write additional articles as they learn more about the topic.  This highlights their knowledge, demonstrates progress, and facilitates group collaboration. There is a host of free Wiki software available online.

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15. Unify your classroom by connecting students on Facebook.

You can create a closed group on Facebook that consists of all students in your classroom.  The group allows them to connect with one another, ask questions, help one another, and collaborate.

A closed Facebook group is also a great place for students to find homework assignments, acquire classroom notes, and catch up on material that was missed during an absence.  As the teacher, you can moderate the group and step in whenever someone needs assistance beyond what the other students are capable of providing.

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16. Encourage brainstorming with Pinterest.

Many students find communicating their ideas very challenging.  This often makes a group project and collaboration difficult.

To improve collaboration among your students, teach them how to create a board on Pinterest that will help them to gather ideas.  This way all the students in a group can visually see others ideas which makes collaboration on a group project much easier.

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17. Use blogs to encourage students to create their best work.

When students know that you will be the only one viewing their work, they may perform differently than when they have an audience.  Creating a blog encourages students to put out their best work since they know an entire audience will be reviewing it and providing feedback.

Instead of assigning mundane pen and paper projects, ask your students to create a blog article on a particular topic. There are a variety of platforms such as WordPress that allow you to create a blog and control who sees it.  This allows students to receive constructive feedback from you as well as their peers.

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edmodo logo18. Create a social classroom on Edmodo.

Edmodo is a classroom social media platform that allows you to easily create a digital classroom. Edmodo is comprised of millions of users and provides many educational tools for creating a complete social classroom.

Using Edmodo, students can receive feedback in real-time and take quizzes on the platform. There are also tools that allow you to create a calendar of due dates for assignments, create a survey on various topics, upload messages and images, post new assignments, and much more. Your students can also get help with assignments by posting questions to the classroom community.

Additionally, Edmodo offers a Global Read Aloud program to help students improve their reading and public speaking skills.  As a teacher, you can use the platform to collaborate with other educators as well as share ideas and lesson plans for new inspirations.

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storify logo19. Use Storify to improve writing skills, foster creativity, and facilitate critical thinking.

Storify is a free social media tool that provides different ways for your students to tell a story. Once you assign a topic, students can organize an engaging and interactive storyline using a collection of images, tweets from Twitter, and videos.

Storify is a great tool for creating a story about a recent current event or a concept related to a scientific topic.  Many teachers also use Storify to help students organize a book report, essay, and more.

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google drive logo20. Use Google Drive to help students work together on assignments in and out of school.

Google Drive is a free tool that provides additional ways for students to participate and work together.  Google Drive is a editing and file sharing site that simplifies group work and collaboration.  Because Google Drive is a cloud application, it can be accessed from anywhere which allows students to work together on assignments after school hours.

Included with Google Drive is an area that shows the history of group collaboration.  This feature provides a way for you to see who contributed what and when.  Projects can be set up in Google Drive before you ask students to contribute.

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If you enjoyed this blog post then please share it with others!

Thanks very much for taking the time to read our blog post. If you enjoyed reading it and found the content to be a useful resource then we’d really appreciate you sharing it on social media.  We’d also love to hear your thoughts about this subject, including any further suggestions in the comments section below.

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