Where can I go? Online Resources that can help you in the class

I recently had the opportunity to speak at the Area E and F conferences on social networking.  Social networking is one of those weird internet animals that started coming into prominence when I first started teaching.  My students would come into class talking about MySpace and how they have hundreds of friends online.  When I was growing up, AOL instant messenger was the big deal.  The whole concept of being able to talk to someone online and carry on a conversation was huge for a high school student who didn’t have access to a phone, or who had limited phone privileges.  However, as time marches on with technology, the internet and communication are more about instant communication, instant access, and instant resources for those that surf the web.  There are just three principles to remember when utilizing social networks for your school: make it interesting, make it relevant, and occasionally, make it funny.

One of my favorite questions when I am presenting has to do with Twitter.  What is Twitter?  I always try to explain Twitter this way: it’s like having a conversation on line with multiple people.  Here is a visual:

Person 1: Hi, how are you doing?

Person 2: I’m good, how are you?

Person 1: great, just had a wonderful breakfast of eggs and bacon, gearing up for all of my holiday shopping.

Person 2: Oh, I love eggs, especially scrambled with cheese and a little hot sauce.

This conversation could easily be viewed as running dialogue on a person’s Twitter page.  Or, elevate the conversation and make it more specific to school.

Person 1: We are going to have Midnight in Paris as our theme, anyone have any decoration ideas?

Person 2: We had the art students cut an Eiffel Tower out of black foam and dot it with lights.

Person 3: We used bistro tables instead of large round tables so it was like a french cafe.

Now, you have a running conversation with multiple people who are all able to give feed back on a specific topic; and, it is saved online, so you can go back and search the thread any time you want for information or references.

There are many other uses for Twitter.  A school in England is using Twitter to announce their daily lunch menu.  A school in Sacramento is using Twitter much a like a pen-pal as one second grade class is writing to another second grade class while they are being graded on their coherency, punctuation, and spelling.  There are still other teachers who are using Twitter to post announcements for their class, copies of HW handouts, and HW assignments where the students need to answer a question in 140 characters or less.  This lesson idea works as every student has a chance to respond, and we know as teachers that not every student will speak up in class for any number of reasons, but this is a great chance to hear from each student in class.

Facebook is another resource, especially a fan page for your school.  There is nothing wrong with promoting the good things your school does on a daily basis.  In this budget crisis it is easy to ignore the great things teachers and students are doing in schools across the state.  So, with that in mind, get the word out to your public.  While many schools have websites with features like a parent link where parents can log in and view his or her child’s grades, not many parents will take the time to go online and check announcements or calendars.  Same for students, not many students will go online to check out what is happening at school.  However, almost every day, thousands of people go onto their MySpace and Facebook accounts to see what their friends are doing.  This is a great chance to reinforce what is going to happen at school by reminding students via social networking sites.

My last piece for this blog, are social networking sites just for school announcements?  Absolutely not!  Most students I speak to mention using these sites just for announcments, but there is so much more that can be done with social networks.  What if, after a rally, you put up pictures on the site of the rally that kids can go and view.  At the same time, real time updates on sporting events, or, at the end of a game, post the score and a few pictures of the game. Sure, announcements need to be made, but every kid likes to see him or herself online, which promotes the good things going on at your school.  Another option, put up a post that the first fifty kids who bring a can of food to the main office get a free piece of spirit ware or a hot chocolate.  Similarly, you can run scavenger hunts or set up clues to find the mascot who is hiding on campus.  The first three people who find the mascot get into the dance for free.

There are many options for using social networks to promote what your school is doing, and I”m sure you and your students can come up with many more options than what I have mentioned.  In the end, remember these three phrases: make it interesting, make it relevant, and every once in a while, make it funny.  Facebook, Myspace, and Twitter are all great resources to keep your parents, students, alumni and community members informed as to the great events going on at your school site.


~ by cadaleaders on November 28, 2009.

One Response to “Where can I go? Online Resources that can help you in the class”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Julie Koleszar, Matthew Soeth. Matthew Soeth said: New Blog Post on Social Networks: http://bit.ly/8jerPf […]

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