How often do we say to children, “I am talking to you. Why are you not listening to me yet you continue to check messages on WhatsApp or pictures on Instagram?”
“But, I am listening!” is the distracted response of a child who hardly looks up from what they are doing. Having realised this, creative educators have decided to embrace social media as an engaging method through which students can be kept mesmerised and on task.
Of course there is the risk of being distracted with media but let us face it, there will always be distractions. What you want to consider is; do the benefits outweigh the disadvantages? Consider the following outputs and then make your informed decision.
Instagram can be a great inspiration for writing. Descriptive writing is a highly developed skill that does not necessarily come naturally to every student. The plethora of vivid images that are available on this social media platform can be the key to unlocking the creative writing juices of any student. Take for instance a subject like sociology; homework or a project can involve comparing lifestyles of different people but of the same age across the globe. Art students would be more than happy to trace the versatile images of the same person, perhaps a celebrity or an infamous person as their bodies and faces show the advance of the years. Controversial topics that can hone the much-needed argumentative skills of different students could be derived basing on the image. If you are teaching another subject, you just need ‘quick think’ and you have a whole lesson plan.
Twitter is also loaded media with so many options. Take for instance vocabulary development; if students have to follow various tweets that contain a given word and work out how a certain word is used in different contexts to portray various meanings, they are more likely to understand what connotations of words are. Following the tweets of an assigned personality and discussing them based on a given theme would be an exciting on going monthly or termly project that could work extremely well with different subject areas such as the arts as well as the sciences.
Additionally, blogs can be dynamic tools for teaching students how to share their work, critique and encourage each other on, and in the process, become true lifelong learners. So, which one do you want to try in your class?