Social Media Opens Conversations
I met Sharon Davison a couple of years ago when she came to Harvest for a school visit before the America Achieves conference. Her passion for connecting with others was evident within the first minutes I met her and comes through clearly in this blog post. She leverages her decades of experience and value for new media to support deep learning and connection. Her work inspires and challenges me to think about how I am connecting in helpful ways with students, their families, and my colleagues. I hope it does the same for you. Regardless of how you feel after reading, be sure to connect via the comments or on Twitter. - JRTM
Why use social media? I say why not!
Social media has been instrumental in keeping my students and their families connected throughout the day. As an educator of young children, I want parents—who are important stakeholders—to be involved, have opportunities to connect with what their child is exploring, and understand how the learning happens. Social media offers invitations for conversations to emerge.
Recently I was away from my kindergarten classroom for professional development. When I am out of my classroom I am always trying to think of ways that I can still connect and have conversations with my students. While in Washington DC I was able to take photographs of the Peruvian Embassy and some other interesting activities that I was involved in. When I shared these photos on Twitter my students were able to see what I was seeing, and have opportunities to ask questions and share what they notice. We are exploring Peru, so Twitter was a great way to share the authentic learning experiences I was having with my students! This helps us learn together about a new culture.
Twitter has given me, my students, and their families opportunities to share and engage with ideas and make connections with things we are exploring. Twitter also lets my students and their families say hello during the school day, and ask questions about what we are exploring in class. This platform is an easy and fun way for students and parents to see how social media can be used safely to not only have conversations, but also to learn.
Families begin to use Twitter when they understand its value and the opportunities it offers. For example, in kindergarten this month, we are exploring where maple syrup comes from. Recently a family tweeted me a photo of their children exploring this lesson at home. One of my students made a connection to what we learned in class and what was learned at home, and then shared using social media. This is both enriching and powerful.
When one of my students is home ill they send our class a tweet saying they miss us and want to know what we are doing in kindergarten. I think about how wonderful it is that a five-year-old knows how to reach us and connect—and even more importantly wants to know what she/he is missing. When my students and I explore and scan our class Twitter feed we are strengthening our literacy skills and making connections with other young learners we follow. We are beginning to connect and have conversations about what we are learning.
I teach my kindergarteners to use Twitter because:
Social media gives me opportunities to model how to be safe, kind and responsible when online.
I am able to connect and have conversations alongside families and students when not in the classroom.
Learning is enriched because my classroom is open to the world.
We are able to explore the world because of how we are sharing and able to make connections.
Creating a map displays the richness, tools and platforms we use when having conversations globally.
Social media is everywhere and it is a part of our culture. I am thinking about ways to use platforms like Twitter to model explicitly alongside my students and their families how it can be used to enhance, engage, and enrich not only learning, but our conversations and our relationships. As a nation we know in the future that we are going to need to collaborate globally, use digital tools, and think critically to solve world problems. Why not begin in kindergarten?