As summer comes to an end, it’s time to switch gears and jump back into the daily grind of girl drama, hormone overload, fidget spinners, Axe Colonge, and all the joys that come with the classroom. The start of a new school year also brings with it the opportunity to create connections with your students that can help keep them engaged all year.
What better way to do this than by using a language most students already understand: Social Media!
As you know, many middle and high schoolers measure success on a social media scale. They count Instagram friends and Twitter followers as well as Snap Chat streaks.
While you may or may not want to create a social media profile for your classroom, you can absolutely speak their language when face to face. Below are a few ideas to get you started:
Whiteboard Profile - Many teachers write their names and class details on the board on the first day of school. Why not have fun with it and create a social media "profile" on the board instead. For example, instead of simply writing your name, add a hashtag at the end such as #coolmathdude. Use the entire whiteboard to mimic a Facebook page or twitter account that is complete with a news feed. Use the status area to introduce the class rules. For example, one post might ask, "Why is #coolmathdude so obsessed about gum-chewing?" Follow that post with an explanation such as, "Because chewing gum is #uncool and #nasty." Include fun facts, polls and poll results, and anything else that represents your class’s subject matter and expectations.
Thumbs Up- Blow up an image of Facebook’s thumbs up icon or Instagram heart (or draw your own) and make enough copies for the entire class. Glue the thumbs up image to craft sticks and give one to each student. Encourage students to "like" various classroom interactions at will. You can bet they’ll "like" it when you tell them that there’s no homework on the first day of class.
Sharing- Social media is all about sharing so why not encourage your students to "share" frequently in class. In this case, you want to encourage the exchange of knowledge. Consider an ongoing sharing assignment where students must find and share something meaningful that they learned with the class. Depending on the skills you want them to develop, you might have them share orally or post their insights on the "Facebook/Twitter bulletin board.
School’s nearly here. To create a few connections on day one, incorporate popular social media concepts, sites, hashtags, and acronyms into your lesson plan.
Ian Humphrey is a Youth Motivational Speaker living in Colorado with his wife and four children. Contact him today for your next professional development event.