My friend Beth Holland is part of the Top 12 Global Teacher Bloggers series, hosted by CM Rubin World, and she passed this month’s post on to me. I’m excited to share my answers to the question “What are the best examples you have seen of teachers using social media to enhance learning?”
Social media has evolved to be an integral part of today’s education. Teachers can connect with others around the globe, but shouldn’t stop there. When teachers are connected through social media, it fosters collaboration and connections for students too. Having a class Twitter account opens a whole new world of connectivity. Using social media to engage students in globally connected learning is just one way you can get started.
Pernille Ripp’s Global Read Aloud is an incredible project that connects classes through social media. When a class participates (all grade levels are included through different text selections) they are invited to read books on a schedule, tweet their thinking, and even participate in slow chats on Twitter. Designated hashtags are an amazing way to facilitate this. Check out last year’s tag of #GRAAmy to see examples. Young readers connect with authors, share their perspectives, projects and more. The result is a magical deepening of interest and a feeling of connectedness. Using the hashtag you’ll discover projects and thoughts from others to inspire your work. This year my students also had a Global Read Aloud Twitter buddy. We had great conversations about the books we read, as well as learned about their class culture. I highly recommend this project!
Kristen Wideen hosts a great project called the Primary Blogging Community. While this project doesn’t start with social media for the student, it stems from being shared on social media, and ends up creating connections that will jump to social media. Kristen facilitates connections between classes that would like to be blogging buddies and creates groups, which take turns writing comments on each of the class and student blogs. My classes have made some great “Twitter Friends” through this process. Our blog posts and Twitter conversations have led to learning about the size and attractions of the cities we live in, holiday traditions and celebrations, and even the natural wildlife around us. My students love to Tweet our friends and we especially love to deepen this connection through Google Hangout calls. When we get to “see” our friends it makes the connection even stronger. The phrase “Can I share this with our Twitter friends?” becomes a common occurrence! I love how connecting through projects like this one gives my students an authentic audience outside our room.
Participating in globally connected projects supported by social media can be one of the most rewarding endeavors in a classroom. It definitely takes a little effort to organize, and to purposefully insert into your days, but watching students expand their horizons and connect with others to enhance their learning is worth all the effort!