Thanks to its partnership with publisher Eye on Education, EducationWorld is pleased to present this tip from 'Tween Crayons and Curfews: Tips for Middle School Teachers, by Heather Wolpert-Gawron. This article provides teachers with five ways they can teach social media skills without going online or accessing a computer.
Let’s face it: you may not have the computers or the district approval to allow online resources to be used in your classroom. In fact, some of us are not yet comfortable with our own interactions in the online pool, much less comfortable with teaching others to swim. But that doesn’t make social media any less important to teach.
In fact, I would recommend teaching social media offline before even jumping into an online network with your students. It allows you to model the standard you need to see in their entries and level of participation. It will also help to relieve any fear you might have of jumping in, because it’s all done in the classroom using the supplies and tools that you would normally use to teach collaborative work.
Despite your possible discomfort, lack of equipment, or district short-sightedness, it is still your job to prepare these students for their future; and communicating and collaborating online using social media is here to stay. Maybe it will look different 10 years from now, but you need to be able to give your students the tools they will need to conduct themselves online. You need to be their voice of maturity, guiding them to make good decisions.
So dip your toe into the social media pool, and reap the benefits of developing engaging lessons by recreating simulations of online environments. This gives you the opportunity to begin speaking the language of responsible social media interaction, even if you lack the equipment. All it takes is a little offline role-playing of online skills.
Here are just some examples:
If someone told me that social media tools were created by tweens, I would totally believe them. As we all know, the creators of Facebook itself were mere college students at the time of its inception, and the tools themselves are in still their infancy. However, just as with any tool, the ability to use it alone does not guarantee its proper use. So it is with social media. In fact, because of education’s silence on the subject, the one guarantee is that our students do not know how to use it appropriately. However, use it they do, and education must become a voice in the standard of its use. There is a conversation in the bandwidth that surrounds us, and we must be a part of it.
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