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Sunday, April 10, 2011

Guided Social Media

I've been using a social network with my class for three years now.  It's an effective teaching practice. Next year, colleagues have decided to do the same.  I believe that "guided social media" is the way to go in fourth and fifth grade classrooms for many reasons.

Rationale
  1. Students will use social media in a safe, productive way with family member/teacher oversight.
  2. Teachers and family members will help to guide a child's language, decisions, and postings.
  3. Mistakes in judgement will become teaching points as we help students navigate this medium.
  4. Students will learn about social media etiquette and cyberbullying.
  5. Students will better understand the vocabulary and processes related to social media.
  6. Similar to Facebook, each student/family will manage their own page.
Guided Social Media Fosters Academic Growth
  1. Students write often thus developing writing ease and fluency.
  2. Students read each others' posts and links.
  3. Selected student work will be posted for all to view and share.
  4. There will be 24-7 access to students and teachers for clarification and conversation.
  5. Teachers will have the ability to broadcast messages to all students and families.
  6. Exchange of classroom content opinions, facts and ideas.
  7. Students and families who speak English as a second language will be able to access translation tools if necessary and/or view projects and student work multiple times if needed.
  8. Students who are absent or away will have ready access to classroom events and learning.
Project Implementation
  1. Organize and distribute links related to social network use in schools to all interested teachers.
  2. Review selected social network (NING).  
  3. Devise standard features for each social network including protocols, links to other important sites (learning platform, class websites, school website), blog process, forum process, photo albums, and video.
  4. Discuss social network integration with school system's learning platform (It's Learning), Google Tools, class websites, school website, and other online tools.
  5. Share thoughts about family/student invitation - sent out with move-up letters in the Spring.
  6. Discuss staff safety protocols: every site should have two or more educator members (checks and balance) and appropriate postings, language and use.
  7. Sign up on the NING site and design our sites.
  8. Allow students/families to sign up over the summer months.
  9. Email with each other as we refine the process over the summer and throughout the school year.
  10. Meet in early fall to discuss how it's going and what everyone is doing with their networks.
     Let me know if you have further rationale, thoughts, suggestions, ideas or questions regarding "guided social media" efforts for upper elementary and early middle school students.  I'm sure that we'll continue to revise and refine this effort as we move along.  Thanks for your support.