Kaleigh Baker, OFLA Technology Integration Chair
Spanish Teacher, Butler High School
With so many schools making the decision to go remote, hybrid, or just hoping to stay open for a bit of time, it is necessary to find new and innovative ways to connect to our students. One such way is through the use of social media.
When we use social media in our daily lessons and make it a part of our units and curriculum, we are able to greatly enhance the teaching and learning that takes place while also building relationships with our students. We can streamline and facilitate the submission of assignments and assessments, and we are not wasting paper because it is all digital and we can grade it almost anywhere with internet access. We can also give immediate feedback via a video, tweet, or emoji. For assessments, a quick formative one is possible using Twitter for an exit ticket, or a summative one created around a fake Facebook profile. We can also keep in better touch with the parents & community of our district by posting weekly or daily updates on a professional account.
When we use social media, we are immediately engaging our students because they are already familiar with these platforms. Most, if not all, students have one form of social media or another – from Facebook to Twitter, to Instagram or a Tumblr blog. Students are already using these, so why not show them how to use them responsibly and to cater to a certain audience (like a more academic one!). We can have students quickly read tweets from Venezuela about their economic situation or Tweets from Barcelona about their political unrest. There are a ton of world language hashtags surrounding health that students can read and respond to. When we integrate social media, we are fostering students´ creativity and innovation and providing them a chance to collaborate with peers and others around the world. As language teachers, this is exactly what we want our students to be doing!
By using social media, it is also incredibly easy to differentiate instruction. Students that tend to be more shy/timid will greatly benefit because they can easily engage with their peers in a low risk manner. Students can use an avatar created using Voki to present to the class instead of standing up in front of the class themselves, or they can create a YouTube video and not have to show their face by doing a voice over. Students can make personal connections more easily and respond to their ability level.
There are a lot of options out there for social media types and ways to use them, and it can feel overwhelming at first. An important first step is to evaluate your current assignments and activities for their end goals and consider how you could enhance or work in social media. For example, Twitter works great for an exit ticket, and Facebook is great for viewing profiles of people and seeing information about restaurants in different countries/communities.
Integrating social media is pretty straight forward and will only get easier the more you become familiar with it and use it consistently.