The Power of Social Media in an Elementary classroom

imageedit_11_7645903214Recently I was asked by Evin from the EdChange Global Classrooms team to blog on a topic related to global learning, virtual or social media connections, or any topic related to their past events. So here I am again after my disappearing act once I had submitted my COETAIL final project. This post is mostly for EdChange Global Classrooms, so those of you who have already been on this roller-coaster ride, please bear with me.

Social media in schools

So before we talk about how social media has impacted all segments of our lives and we just cannot avoid it even if we wanted to, let’s ask the bigger question “WHY should we be using social media in schools???”

SMAt the beginning of this school year, I had asked my fourth graders how they learn best. Of course I got 15 different answers but the common thread in all the responses was that they learn best when they were working together…learning with and from each other. I introduced the concept of being a digital citizen to them. Some of the parents disagreed that kids these days are already spending too much time on the screen-they need to be focusing on personal communications, it is too soon to introduce these youngsters to social media-the internet being a scary place. But my response to those is, did you stop your child from riding a bicycle, swimming in the pool, playing in the park, swinging from trees? Because they pose a danger as well, right?! Of course you didn’t! You taught them how to be safe! And that is what I am doing, teaching my students to be safe online!

Learning and growing

My class has a blog on Seesaw and they have collaborated with classes in Qatar and UK through blogging and quadblogging. They have Skyped with experts, and now use Twitter regularly to post what they’re doing or to ask questions. We’ve been six months into the school year, my students are being very respectful when writing pieces, reflecting and giving feedback. They have created digital stories and shared across borders. All this purposeful inquiry has taught them the value of using social media in a constructive manner. The learning that is taking place in my class is authentic because of this experience. They are not just learning through books, but they are now diving into various sources for gaining knowledge. They have taken their learning into their own hands and are more actively engaged than ever. They are communicating and collaborating and thus becoming empowered learners – which has been my goal all along.

I can clearly see the benefits of using social media in my classroom. Not just have the students improved their literacy skills but the more important skills which are not being assessed – those of motivation, enthusiasm, courage to post and be ready for feedback, compassion to motivate others, civic-minded and self-disciplined to be authentic in their approach. These are the skills which I see being honed in my students.

Taking the plunge…with a little fear of the unknown

A couple of years back when I was asked to teach 3 year olds in Pre-K, I had no clue as I had never taught that age group before. What did I do? The summer of 2015, I took part in EdCamp Global for the first time by facilitating a chat on play-based learning focused on early childhood.

I walked away from that one hour of PD in PJs a different person, all because I made use of social media to empower myself.

Plans, plans, and more plans…

I am planning to do the same this year as well by taking part in EdChange Global Classrooms in February. For this purpose, I presented a small workshop at my school to get teachers on-board.

How many accompany me on this learning journey remains to be seen…I am also planning to facilitate a session on using social media to collaborate and communicate across borders to create classrooms without walls.

Connect – Collaborate – Create

To all teachers out there, I urge you to give social media a try. Use a platform you are comfortable with, but also be a risk-taker. After all, communication and creation through collaboration are the much needed skills of the future. Build and grow with your PLN! Oh and while you’re at it, register for #ECGC17 at  tiny.cc/ecgc17

 

SM tree

How do you plan to empower yourself and your students?

 

Published by Rahila Mukaddam

A daughter, sister, wife, mom, teacher and a LEARNER!

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6 Comments

  1. Hi Rahila,
    Excellent point about teaching kids to be safe online, rather than keeping them away from technology. Social media is an effective tool to engage students. Students who hardly raise their hands in class may feel more comfortable using Facebook or twitter. Such mediums also provide platform to communicate, exchange ideas, and expand their PLN. I found another excellent resource that has many ideas for using social media in classroom http://www.edudemic.com/how-to-use-social-media-as-a-learning-tool-in-the-classroom/. Thanks for the thought provoking blog.

  2. Hi Rahila,
    Excellent point about teaching kids to be safe online, rather than keeping them away from technology. Social media is an effective tool to engage students. Students who hardly raise their hands in class may feel more comfortable using Facebook or twitter. Such mediums also provide platform to communicate, exchange ideas, and expand their PLN. I found another excellent resource that has many ideas for using social media in classroom http://www.edudemic.com/how-to-use-social-media-as-a-learning-tool-in-the-classroom/. Thanks for the thought provoking blog.

  3. Hi Rahila, So you are having 4th graders (9 year olds) create Facebook and Twitter accounts even though the age set by those platforms is 13? Was it a closed group? Did the parents have to consent to their child’s participation?

    1. Hi, We did not have an account on Facebook. We only had a class account on Twitter. Yes, parents’ consent was taken before we started using social media. Also, we used Common Sense Media lessons for learning about offline and online responsibilities. Sessions were also held for parents to understand these responsibilities. Similarly, the students were using Seesaw. Initially they were only maintaining digital portfolios online. But gradually they started using the blog to collaborate with other classes around the world.
      Finally, technology is not being used as a stand-alone. Pedagogy always comes first. Parents are aware of this.
      I hope this provides you with some clarity.

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