Here are some great starter questions that will likely open your eyes to the centrality that the internet – and social networks – play in student life. Plus, I guarantee that once you know how vital and important these vehicles are, you will be more likely to incorporate them into your lessons and learn them yourself.
1 What is your Twitter handle? Who are your favourite accounts to follow? Why? Interesting people and interesting content captivate many of our students on a daily basis. They seek out learning opportunities and chances to socially network – while staying on top of the pulse of the web and its hottest personalities.
2 What content do you create boards for on Pinterest? There is so much great content posted on the web by the students we teach. They are finding ways to express themselves and channel their creativity within their online world.
3 Which are the most popular Tumblr tags for you to search? Artistic impressions are shared in sketches, paintings and photography here. Our students are driven to appreciate the shared content and often inspired to join in themselves.
4 Which interests do you flag to “StumbleUpon? Your students are already filtering their online content through categories, relevance and importance. You could be pleasantly surprised by some of the interests they hold and want to learn more about.
5 How many pages do you “like” in a day? Not only are students sharing their interests by participating in this activity – they are also endorsing these things as personally meaningful to them. Their “likes” become part of their online profile and shared with their web community.
What can you do with the results?
Planning literacy activities around the features and requirements of these social networking programs is a great way to build on your students’ background knowledge and skill set. In fact, why not have your students design some activities for their peers? It can be an exciting and invigorating experience to shift your practice into new directions that capitalize on the talents and ambitions of your “wired” class. By taking advantage of the personal devices, smartphones and school technology all around you in your school, it might be the right time to choose new mediums and avenues in which to deliver literacy learning. By acknowledging those things that already “hook” them into participating and collaborating with their social network, we, as teachers, can bring 21st century learning potential forward.
Do you have some great questions to ask students about their online and social networking behaviours? Share them with our community and let’s get this conversation going today!
During Neilʼs 10 years of teaching experience, he has taught in London, England; Ontario; public and private schools; elementary and secondary; junior; intermediate; core french; developmental skills; and junior gifted (grades 4,5,6). He is a Reading Specialist that has been incorporating technology in his practice consistently throughout his career. Neil has recently published his first book entitled “Ignite. Incite. Inspire.” – Examining 21st Century Issues in Education, which is a collection of teaching articles and posts written from January to December 2011.