Using Social Media Tools in the Classroom

Over the past few years, Social Media has become less of an edgy new technology for geeks and more of an important information tool. For example, in our recent spate of bad weather here in Pennsylvania, the “early bird” parents would make sure the others knew about school closures, road closures, and even power outages on Facebook as soon as it happened, helping spread the information before the official email or calls started to come in.

When it comes to the classroom, many teachers and parents are a little nervous about social media. Some worry it is a distraction, or can’t be used for serious learning. Other parents are worried that projects, such as having a student create a Facebook-like page for a historical figure, are encouraging kids to use social media, which they may not fully approve of in their home, or that it is somehow trivialising more traditional academic learning.

social mediaMany schools block social media sites, and with access restricted, it’s more difficult to use social media as a learning tool within the classroom. Yet with many kids having smart phones, they can usually get around wifi restrictions to access the same sites independently. Is this restriction helpful to try to keep students focused on task, or merely a nuisance that is largely ineffectual in practice? Are we closing the door after the horse has already left the barn?

Ideally, I think schools should not only teach students about digital citizenship and appropriate use of social media, but help them learn and model good behavior by integrating social media into the learning process where appropriate. For example:

Could you help students facilitate study groups via skype or google hangouts?

Could you have virtual office hours for students to ask questions online, via Facebook, Twitter, Google Hangouts or Skype?

Could you have students share pictures of projects via Instagram, and set up a classroom page?

A classroom blog might be a way to help students communicate their learning (like a classroom newspaper) to the outside world, and even open their writing to a wider audience.

Some english classrooms in our District use Goodreads to share book recommendations and critiques.

How do you look at social media as a learning tool both inside and outside the classroom? What have you found most valuable? What hasn’t worked out well?

Click here to find resources on how to se social media in the classroom:

Source: Edutopia

10 Social Media Tips for Reaching World Language Learners

Feeling outdated, not connected, or even totally lost in the digital age? Well, let me assure you, droning on and on about grammatical structures is a surefire way to quickly lose student interest in the world language classroom. Instead, embrace something which truly interests the millennial student: social media. Utilizing it in the classroom will give your students practical, engaging ways to communicate in the language you teach. The 21st century learner is not wired to memorize; instead, her or she is inclined to create, connect and collaborate. Social media is the perfect medium for us, their teachers, to reach them.

Here are ten ideas to get you started on your journey toward not becoming the classroom dinosaur you have always feared becoming.

1. Blogging

Blogging is a wonderful way to keep your students connected, even when they are no longer in class. There are a plethora of ways to use blogs in education, but the simplest way to get started is by posting a weekly question and having students respond — once to your question by Wednesday, and once to someone else’s response by Friday. You might even consider allowing students to provide the weekly questions. This is the perfect example of interpersonal writing practice.

2. Twitter

Micro-blogging via Twitter is another way to link students outside of class. Let’s be honest — there are not many young people out there who do not already tweet. You can use Twitter in class in a similar fashion to blogging. If you do, I strongly suggest that you use TweetDeck to efficiently manage your students’ tweets. I also love having students tweet a story. You start by tweeting the first line of the story based on the unit you are studying. As students participate at different times during the day, they will need to read all the previous tweets before adding to the story. Require them to add to the narrative more than once. I can assure you that reading them the next day in class will be a riot! This is another great example of interpersonal writing practice.

3. Instagram

Photo sharing a Spanish word of the day via Instagram has become an activity that my students truly enjoy. First, require that they “follow” you on Instagram. Each school day, take a picture of something that would never likely appear on a unit vocabulary list, and try to include a student in the photo for fun. I use the app Aviary to add the vocabulary word in the form of a meme. Require that they turn in sentences using these words at the end of each week.

4. Video

Video sharing via YouTube and Vimeo allows students to publish their work. The actual creation of a movie or video motivates students to learn how to plan, organize, analyze, edit, write and present. Once they finish their masterpieces, encourage them to share their work with the world via a site such as YouTube. Also, make time to watch them in class.

5. SlideShare

Presentation sharing via SlideShare is a great mode for having students search, create, modify and share presentations with the world. It’s like YouTube except that you’re sharing and viewing presentations instead of videos.

6. Google Drive

Requiring collaborative work through Google Drive, a file-sharing and editing site, makes group work simple. The site allows students to work on an assignment together outside of school. A “revision history” tab even allows you to see who contributed what. At the start of a unit, have students create the vocabulary list by sharing a document with them that includes the unit theme and related topics. Then ask them to contribute a certain number of words to the list. Google Drive makes this process a cinch!

7. Collaborative Editing

The use of collaborative editing via Google Drive makes peer and teacher revisions incredibly easy. The comments feature on any shared document allows you and your students to point out errors and make suggestions in an uncomplicated fashion.

8. Facebook

Social networking via Facebook is always a fan favorite. It’s as simple as creating a group page for your class, having them “like” it, and posting questions for them to answer and debate. This is also usually the easiest way to get in touch with them outside of class.

9. Duolingo

It is time to officially gamify education. If we make it fun through gaming, our students will be engaged. For language teachers, Duolingo is the route to student involvement when it comes to reviewing grammatical structures. Available in many languages, this app allows students to compete with one another and “level up.”

10. Polling

Polling via popular “free” sites such as Poll EverywhereSurveyMonkey andStrutta can make your class interactive. Choose one of the sites mentioned, make a survey around a theme you are studying, and then allow students to text in their answers. It’s a great way to create spontaneous interpersonal speaking practice in class, especially if you include fun images in the survey.

How have you engaged your world language classes through social media? Please share your stories in the comments section below.


Source: Edutopia

What happens when language becomes “Facebook official”?

It’s hard to imagine that just 10 years ago, few of us had even heard of Facebook. What initially started out as a social network for students of Harvard University has grown into one of the most frequented (and valuable) domains in all of the vast space of the Internet. As quickly as the now ubiquitous images of the thumbs-up icon and white ‘f’ on a blue background have pervaded our online culture, so has the adoption of the Facebook vernacular. Co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg must have learned early on that sometimes the best words to use are the easiest to understand.

New meanings from real use

Part of the rationale for adding new social media contexts to the Oxford Dictionaries definitions of like, poke, and status was discovering an impressive amount of evidence of Facebook’s influence on everyday usage. The corpus-collected sentences below are just a sampling of the many that aided in the lexicographical development of these new senses:

like – (verb) indicate one’s liking or approval of (a web page or posting on a social media website) by activating a particular icon or link; (noun) an instance of indicating one’s liking or approval of a web page or posting on a social media website

 And I don’t care if a million people “liked” your article, it was still wrong.
– If your spouse is on [F]acebook, do you have to “like” everything they say and do?
– He has 530,000 “likes”.

poke (verb) – (on the social networking site Facebook) attract the attention of (another member of the site) by using the ‘poke’ facility

– She has been arrested for Facebook “poking” a woman who had filed a legal order of protection against her.
– They report that the new Facebook application will offer deeper integration with your phone for better all-around poking.

status (noun) – a posting on a social networking website that indicates a user’s current situation, state of mind, or opinion about something

– If any of you follow me on Facebook and saw my status update late last night, I would like to vent my reason for it.
– You use the example of posting a status update that you’re going for a shower.

Where language goes to die and be reborn

When your idea of a friend goes from being ‘a person with whom one has a bond of mutual affection’ to ‘a contact on a social networking website’, it’s easy to argue that technological appropriation of common words dilutes the potency of the language. However, we’re also able to see this same appropriation result in a resurrection, albeit unintentional, of rare English words that have now been put to productive use. Such is the case with unfriend (which as we’ve discussed before, existed in its noun form as early as the 13th century, fell out of use, and then had a revival in the wake of Facebook social dynamics), evolving from the noun: ‘one who is not a friend or on friendly terms; an enemy’ to the verb: ‘remove (someone) from a list of friends or contacts on a social networking website’.

Evolving technology, evolving language

Even Facebook language changes over time. With the deactivation of not-so-popular or outdated features comes the phasing out of use in this context of words that were assigned to the now-obsolete technology. For example, once the single profile page expanded to a multi-level personal hub, the static Facebook wall—on which one’s friends could post messages for all in one’s preferred network to see—became the Facebook timeline, a space that allows people to curate the material on their own profiles to spotlight significant events, posts, and other activity.

On being complicated, making it official, and the art of stalking

Relationships in the real world are not always simple, and the Facebook language we use to discuss, characterize, and even define them is no different. A long-endured, often-mocked option for the status of a relationship people can choose to proclaim on their profiles is “It’s complicated.” As one might imagine, a relationship classified “complicated” can mean several things, and few of them, if any, are ever good.

The use of official (adj.) became an unofficial barometer in recent years used to validate the status of a romantic relationship. If you’re “Facebook official,” you and your partner have both confirmed on the site to your entire network of friends that you are either 1) in a relationship; 2) engaged; or 3) married. Typically asked in jest, the question “But are you Facebook official?”implies that the asker won’t believe your new romantic situation is real until your online relationship status says so.

Stalking is never a laughing matter, IRL or online—unless you’re talking about how many people spend (or waste) their time on Facebook, in which case the action is commonly understood as ‘frequently visiting and thoroughly perusing someone’s Facebook profile’. Although I can’t provide anyempirical evidence, I think it’s fairly sound to say that “Facebook stalking” one’s ex can prove irresistible for the recently dumped.

Source: Oxford Dictionaries’ Blog