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Tik Tok Teaching Hacks for Middle School Classrooms

TikTok started as a haven for creativity and humor, but it took strange new turns along the way. Depending on who you ask, TikTok has been labeled a distraction, a waste of time, and even a toxic platform. While such designations might seem a bit judgmental, TikTok has become a social media phenomenon with extensive impacts on daily life for teens and adults alike.

There are two sides to every story, and some innovative educators have discovered new uses for the online forum in classrooms. In a classic case of "If you can't beat them, join them," TikTok is now being used as a constructive tool for teaching curriculum. 

Let's take a look at some fantastic teaching hacks that can make TikTok a staple for middle school classrooms.

Turn TikTok Into a Substitute For Textbooks

While it's not yet time to ditch your textbook, TikTok is a reliable substitute as an interactive instructional tool. A study by Microsoft found that because of increased digitization, we lose attention after eight seconds. For learners, reduced focus translates to lower levels of comprehension. 

When course concepts are complex to absorb, students can grasp them faster with short and straight-to-the-point videos. For those with trouble understanding the content, videos allow the option to rewatch the content multiple times, ensuring a complete understanding.

TikTok videos can be helpful in the classroom as students can reference course content at their convenience. Students can focus their attention on instruction rather than get distracted by reading the textbook or jotting down notes in class. With TikTok videos remaining accessible throughout the learning duration, students will always have digestible content at their fingertips.

TikTok as a Creative Teaching Tool 

Browsing TikTok in class seems like a risky venture, but it becomes a strategic tool when it's grounded in the lesson plan. TikTok can be useful for creating engagement with students both inside and outside the classroom. Teachers can use it to provide relevant examples. In traditional classrooms, teachers ask students to highlight what they have learned, and with TikTok, the same concept can be used in a digital classroom.

Since students are comfortable interacting with the app, students can create new learning content. Such approaches improve the student's ability to retain what they have learned. Better yet, once content is created on TikTok, it can be shared with others and archived for future use. 

Integrate TikTok as a Collaborative Tool for Student Projects

Remember when hand-written and power-point presentations were all the rage? While presentations provided learners the opportunity to discover valuable skills, they had some limitations. TikTok addresses these gaps in ways that PowerPoints never could while teaching tech-related skills.

The future workplace is digital and virtual, and with TikTok in the classroom, students can learn how to collaborate. TikTok's duet format allows collaboration with followers who can put a spin on original content with their own perspectives.

With the app, constant engagement becomes a reality, transforming learning into a powerful interaction. With such capabilities, learners can collaborate with students in other classes and or even other countries. This is a huge step forward with great potential for improving learner goal attainment.

TikTok Can Turn Best Performers Into Class 'Influencers'

The 'influencer' concept drives social media, and the classroom can tap into similar benefits. Every class has its best performers, and with TikTok, the making of class-wide engagement becomes possible. The best performers can inspire others by posting their achievements and engaging with silent or struggling students. Such an initiative can help narrow the gaps between students by addressing inequities head-on.

For example, the best math performer can be accessible to any student and assist them based on their particular needs. Unlike the traditional group-study sessions, a top performer can have a group session with several students remotely, helping peers realize grade-level learning goals. The influencer concept can help the classroom build healthy connections and competition among peers.

TikTok Can Improve Classroom Dynamics

Beyond other direct applications of TikTok in the classroom environment, the app can build interpersonal dynamics. Within the classroom, power structures can be top-down, with students distancing themselves from educators. In some cases, students themselves can feel ostracized as cliques are formed among peers. With TikTok, all classroom participants can interact on a platform where social distance is reduced.

For instance, TikTok can 'humanize' the teacher who demonstrates their sense of humor while teaching. This reality manifests across TikTok, with many educators showcasing their creative sides. By following hashtags for learning such as #mathematics, #poetry, and #creativity, it's evident that content creates connections. Likewise, the dynamics between educators and students within the classroom can become more at par as they engage and interact.

Beware The Pitfalls of TikTok In The Classroom

While TikTok can find multiple applications in the classroom environment, it's also vital to recognize that it poses multiple risks. For both learners and educators, failure to adhere to privacy guidelines can lead to adverse effects.

Before starting lessons on TikTok, consider the rules of the app, particularly the privacy settings. Teachers can turn off options such as the "duet" function to avoid unnecessary bullying on the platform.

Final Thoughts

Despite the risks of TikTok to classroom dynamics, the tool has great potential. On all accounts, the application can be constructive for teaching and learning. While naysayers might warn against the dangers of using TikTok, the reality is that even without adding it in the classroom, kids will still use it. 

Integrating social media apps in the classroom is one way of adding a positive spin to lessons. In the future, TikTok might even become as integral to learning as YouTube videos have been. As always, remember that the key to utility lies with proper implementation.

Written by Simon Riitho

Education World Contributor

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