Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Social Media for Young Learners?!

I know what thoughts are most likely running through your head right now...

  • These students are too young, they are still learning how to interact in person!
  • Social media could expose these students to a lot of unhealthy examples or predators!
  • What relevancy does social media have for students who can't type efficiently, let alone spell?
Am I right? Well, these were the thoughts rushing through my head when I discovered the power Twitter held for my own professional development and then had the crushing realization that this type of community was probably not a possibility for the young learners I teach! However, I am happy to say I have been proved wrong!
Specifically, the one article that grabbed my attention and showed me the potential of social media in the elementary classroom was "Connecting Your Students With Authors With Twitter!" by Billie Ann Blalock. Billie Ann outlines a well thought-out process for posting and maintaining the class Twitter account that allows for all students to participate as individuals, as well as collaboratively as a class. I love that her class was able to reach out to the author of one of their favorite books and that students were able to share their reactions with an authentic audience. 

I also found Chris Casal's blog posting, "My students do my tweeting...," provided another approach to using Twitter in the classroom on a more daily basis which he learned from a 2nd grade colleague. The home-school connection that could be strengthened and maintained by having a daily classroom tweet about a specific learning experience or special moment, as well as for recognizing class accomplishments, is extremely powerful. Chris also shares a to-the-point explanation for why he has harnessed the power of Twitter in his classes.

Aside from Twitter, the same potential exists through other social media outlets like Facebook, Edmodo, Instagram, Pinterest, wikis, and blogs. I have recently spent a lot of time for my graduate classes creating a units revolving around global collaboration and learning in a virtual school environment. Through these assignments, the power of the blog and/or wikis to reach multiple learning styles through the easy inclusion of photos, videos, and other embedded technology resources has been driven home repeatedly. There are some great tools out there for creating safe student blogs that can be easily monitored like Kidblog and Edublog

The bottom line is our students are growing up in a society filled with immediate communication and dominated by social media outlets. As early childhood educators, we set the foundation across the curriculum for student learning. So, it is in our power to teach students to provide students with a strong foundation in how to use ALL the resources available to them and how to interact appropriately with one another.

Some of the other unique ideas I have come across are...

Still not convinced? Check out some of these articles for some of the perspectives I am using as inspiration for the training course I am creating...
If you are a member of the Oak Harbor School District, you can expect to be hearing more about some social media in the classroom training opportunities this school year. For all my other blog followers, rest assured I will be sharing any presentations and materials we use with you, too! :)