Tag Archives: Social Media

Social Media Projects for 7th Grade ELA

I recently curated several resources for projects that use social media in the classroom. It can be found here. This project took me several hours longer than I thought it might. While there are several resources out there with ideas for how to use social media in the classroom, there are surprisingly few blogs or websites that discuss teachers’ actual experiences with it. I managed to find 10 good resources that I could modify for my classroom. 

The main applications I discovered for Language Arts involved writing. Students could use Twitter to practice summarizing, or writing concisely. They could use blogs and Instagram to write essays or stories (or photo essays) in this way they could explore themes and plot structures. Students could also use Instagram to share examples of poor grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Pinterest can be used to curate articles or photos related to novels we read in class. 

My favorite use of Twitter was having students participate in class discussion through Twitter in addition to speaking their thoughts aloud. The professor projected these Tweets during the discussion and was able to engage 10 times the students who would normally be able to participate. I like this idea because so many 7th graders want their ideas heard, but they are afraid to speak up in class. 

I also liked the idea of using Snapchat to send students examples of concepts outside of class. This makes the ideas more accessible and reminds students of the topic at a time when their minds may be more relaxed and receptive.


A Social Media Policy

Even though we have talked about the importance of teaching students to be careful with their social media use, my district has no social media policies except one that is listed under unacceptable uses in our Acceptable Use Policy: Using the District Network, which includes applications like Google Apps, for personal communications and social networking. This is number three in a list of 10 unacceptable uses. Because of this, I have chosen to revamp the policy with the terms I would like to see included. Then, I will have to become more proactive than simply speaking up in our tech team meetings. If we are truly going to prepare students for the world outside of school, then we need to arm them with social media skills that will benefit them, not just put our heads in the sand and ignore the fact that our students are using social media.

Here is my district’s Acceptable Use Policy, and here is our Bring Your Own Device Policy. Finally, here is our staff Acceptable Use Policy.

Here are my proposals for social media to be included in the student Acceptable Use Policy in lieu of the statement that using district accounts for social networking is an unacceptable use. In a previous class, I had the chance to study the NYC’s Department of Education’s Social Media policy. I was impressed by their approach then, and I have drawn largely from their policy


Social Media Definition

Social Media is any online publication, or presence, that allow interactive communication between users, including blogs, social networks, photo sharing sites, curation sites, website, forums, and wikis. Some platforms include Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Edmodo, Instagram, YouTube, Google+, Flickr, etc.

Create a Positive Online Reputation

1. Align your online image with your goals.

  • Think before you post, share, or comment. Once you post something, there is a permanent digital record of it, even if you delete it. Before you post, decide how your post would come across to family members, friends, colleges, and future employers.
  • Begin to create a reputation for yourself. For example, comment thoughtfully and knowledgeably on articles. Or, share inspiration memes with your own commentary.

2. Take responsibility for your posts.

  • Create an appropriate user name that reflects who you are.
  • Use your account, not a fake account for all online interactions. If you are going to engage in online interactions, you need to be accountable for your words. Remember that fake accounts can be traced back to their creators.

3. Assume that everything you post online is open to the general public.

  • It doesn’t matter what your privacy settings are, anyone can take a screenshot of your post, or share it. Any information or images you share online are accessible to the public. You lose control once you post, so be sure that what you post is something you wouldn’t mind everyone seeing.

4. Ask your parents, or teachers,  what is appropriate to share.

  • While you are a minor, your parents are ultimately responsible for you. They should have a good idea of what information to keep private for your safety or simply for good sense. Ask them before posting, especially if you are not sure how the post will affect your reputation.
  • If posting at school, ask your teacher what is appropriate to share.

Be Responsible

5. When using social media for school, behave as you would in school.

  • Treat your classmates, and their ideas, with respect.
  • If you wouldn’t say something in person, don’t say it online.

6. Don’t tag without permission.

  • Tagging posts, people, or photos, opens them up to a broader audience. Respect your classmates’ privacy and don’t tag them in school related posts. You don’t know who you could endanger.
  • Ask friends before posting photos of them, or before tagging them, in non-school related posts. They should be allowed to control their online reputation, not you.

7. Protect yourself from predators and other ill-intentioned people.

  • Only accept friend requests from people you actually know, and check before accepting requests from someone with whom you are already friends.  There are people who clone or hack people’s accounts with the intention of imitating them online so they can take advantage of people.
  • Never share personal information like your address, phone number, or school.
  • Do not share your current location (by “checking in”) and be sure location is turned off before taking photos that you will share online. You don’t want to give someone the exact GPS location of your bedroom.

8. Protect Passwords

  • Do not share any of your passwords with friends, family, etc.
  • Create appropriate passwords (that are complex and can’t be easily guessed/hacked), and if you must write them down, keep them in a secure place.

Consider the Consequences of Your Online Interactions

9. Remember that your online interactions, even if you only participate from home, can have consequences at school.

  • If your posts, emails, comments, etc. could be considered bullying, threatening, or disruptive at school, then you will face consequences at school. Be sure to keep your online interactions with fellow students, teachers, administrators, and other school staff positive and appropriate.

10. Report inappropriate online interactions to the proper authorities.

  • Inappropriate interactions include, but are not limited to:
  • Offensive text messages or emails.
  • Posting or sharing untrue statements that create rumors.
  • Sharing embarrassing images of classmates.
  • Sharing images that could be considered pornographic.

11. Take appropriate steps if you witness inappropriate posts, etc.

  • Do not retaliate.
  • “Unfriend”, block, or remove who post, share, or send inappropriate content.
  • Save messages, posts, etc. that could provide evidence of inappropriate online interactions so that the proper authorities can deal with the behavior.

Plans for Sharing and Receiving Feedback

Because my district currently blocks almost all social media use on our network, and informs students that they may not use school email accounts for social media, a policy involving the responsible use of social networking FOR school may be a hard sell. My first step will probably be a survey of my students asking them which social media platforms they use and for which purposes. Then I will share my policy with them and ask for input. The second step will be to determine how my colleagues use social media and which platforms they use. I will probably ask the tech team and the leadership team for feedback before taking my policy ideas to the entire staff. If I see s consensus that teachers and students see the value of social media in education, I will take my ideas to the district tech team, because they write the policies for technology use. Before the policy can be made official, the district attorney’s will need to review the policy and the school board will need to approve it.

Making the policy official is a long and involved process. Before presenting information at the district level, it is important that I have a team, and statistics, on my side. For this reason, I plan to start by surveying students, staff, and probably parents. I will also need to find a team willing to see the possibilities of social media in learning. I am willing to do the work if I can establish a need.


Content Curation

This week my mini PLN group worked on creating a content curation checklist. Content curation is the process of gathering content related to one topic, annotating it, organizing it, and sharing it. I’m glad this sign,net was completed as a group, because I have been on a road trip in the UK for the past week and a half. One group member left on vacation after setting up a Google doc and proposing some questions we could choose for or checklist and choosing some of the sources. Another group member fleshed out some of the questions and created the resource list for most of the sources. When I was at a stable place in my travels, and had Wifi, I was able to read through the sources, flesh out several of the questions, and add a couple of sources to the resource list. Our 4th member finished fleshing out the questions and we all looked over the final product. One member went back and reorganized the list and added check boxes. It was great to be able to work on this assignment from various places and find unity in our work. It seemed as though most of our group was on vacation, or preparing to leave, yet we were all able to contribute.

Here is our checklist. I will try to embed it directly on here when I have access to my computer. I can’t get an embed code from the iPad app.

Living in a Digital World

Living in a digital world can be exciting as well as intimidating. It is exciting because everything is literally at our fingertips. However it is intimidating because it feels like corporations are “Big Brother” and they are watching. For example, when I purchase something from Amazon or any other online shop, I immediately see advertisements for similar items or for these same stores or brands in my Facebook feed. It can also be intimidating because anyone can find your address or your phone number through a simple google search. Our digital footprint is also important in our professional lives. In recent years teachers have been fired for things they post in social media about their personal lives or their jobs. Professionals have to be careful about what they post on their social media accounts. 

I recently checked my digital footprint and found that it is clean and semi-professional. When you search my name, most of the results are for class and school websites I have created. My Google+ posts are all related to my EdTech Masters; my Facebook posts are almost entirely personal, but nothing to be ashamed of. My Twitter account was almost unused until I began my EdTech social networking class, so it is mostly professional. I have a LinkedIn account, but other than creating my profile and endorsing people for skills or jobs, it is unused. As far as being confused with other people as sometimes happens on social media, I am the only Kjersti Withers I can find in the world. This is most likely due to my Swedish first name and my English surname. I could probably make it more professional, but I would have to consider how to do that. At least it is reputable. 

Social Media as a Teacher

For this summer’s EdTech course, I am taking EdTech 543, Social Network Learning. For our first assignment, we had to create a Facebook account using our BSU emails, tweet using the class hashtag, #EdTechSN, add our favorite website to the BSU EdTech Diigo group, and write this blog post. When I am finished, I will share a link to this post in the Facebook group. At first, I was annoyed that I had to create a new Facebook account. This would require signing out of my personal account, which I use regularly. However, once I did it, I realized that it wasn’t that big of a deal. I will just leave my phone signed in to my personal account, and have the new account in my tablet. I was a little concerned about Twitter, because I couldn’t remember my password, but it was easy to retrieve. As I checked over Twitter for the first time in 3+ years, I realized that I have tweeted in the past, but not anything very interesting. I also noticed that one of my students is following me…and thought, “maybe I should actually tweet.” 

One of the questions I was asked was what experience I have had with using social media for my own professional development. Over the past couple of years, I have used Google+and Diigo in various EdTech classes. However, I have primarily used Pinterest and Facebook. Many of my friends are teachers, and I have discovered several great websites, blogs and news articles relevant to my teaching in their posts. I have also used Pinterest. One of the reasons I love Pinterest is the pictures. I generally go to Pinterest when I am looking for visual teaching tools, like anchor charts.

While I have used social media somewhat as a tool for my own use, I have not used it very well as a strategy in my classroom. In the past, I hosted a class website for communicating with parents and students. After site traffic nearly disappeared, I stopped using the site. In the past couple of years, I have tried Edmodo, MyHaikuClass, and Google Classroom. I have chosen to stick with Google Classroom. It allows my students to collaborate on projects and submit assignments without a lot of extra effort on my part. 

This summer, I hope to learn strategies for using social media in my teaching. Currently, almost all social media is blocked by my district, but I have begun testing Slack With several other teachers at my school. It will be interesting to see what strategies I discover.