15 Creative Ways to Use Social Media in the Classroom

15 Creative Ways to Use Social Media in the Classroom
15 Creative Ways to Use Social Media in the Classroom

It’s not a secret that today’s students are enamored with social media. Because of the explosive popularity of social media platforms such as Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, many teachers are incorporating these apps into their curriculum. From bulletin boards to fake Facebook profiles for historical figures, teachers are turning what students post on social media into classroom assignments. 

When using any social media platform in school, there are a few things a teacher should consider. First and foremost, it is important to know and follow your district’s policy when it comes to social media. In order for teachers to see social media content that students post, they may have to become virtual friends with or follow that student on social media. 

Transparency is also of the utmost importance – parents and guardians should have the opportunity to follow along with and see what students and teachers are posting. Often, this just means making sure social media accounts are public, or, if the accounts are private, making sure parents and guardians are invited to join classroom groups. 

Teachers should also be aware that not all students have access to smartphone technology or social media, so differentiated instructions must be available for these students so they, too, can join in the fun. Because of the privacy issues involved with social media, many teachers opt to have students fill out paper templates that look like social media platforms rather than actually having students post content online.

Finally, teachers should understand that social media accounts are personal, meaning that school assignments shouldn’t monopolize a student’s social media feeds. Some teachers ask students to create separate classroom accounts, meaning that a primary account can be for friends and family while a secondary account is where a student posts classroom content. 

The ways to incorporate social media in the classroom are ever-growing. Here are some of the most innovative ideas out there!

1. Bulletin boards

Creative teachers are using social media platforms as a springboard to inspire their bulletin boards, too. Some teachers design their bulletin boards to look like a Facebook profile, for example. This works particularly well for a back-to-school bulletin board because it introduces students to their teacher’s personality. Another way to let social media inspire bulletin boards is to makeover your bulletin board like an Instagram profile. Select one student per week or month to post their pictures on the IG bulletin board as a way for students to get to know each other better.

2. Organize student groups with classroom social media account

Facebook groups can be created that allow the group admin (the teacher) to carefully control privacy settings. Here, teachers can post reminders, homework, field trip pictures, help videos, interesting articles, discussion questions and more. Both parents and students can join groups, meaning communication with home gets a whole lot easier. Teacher Twitter accounts can be used in much the same way, albeit in fewer characters. Likewise, teachers can create professional Instagram accounts where they can post show and tell items like pictures of classroom decor, standout student work, field trip highlights and more.

Some teachers organize student “takeovers” of classroom social media accounts, meaning one student is allowed to post content for the next day or week. This can be a reward for good behavior or an assignment to practice storytelling or summarizing skills. 

3. Social media profiles for historical figures

So many possibilities here. Using Facebook, Twitter or Instagram as your starting place, assign your students to select a historical figure or literary character. After researching their assigned person, students then create a fake account (a Fakebook, if you will) for this character. The teacher sets the parameters and then the sky’s the limit. On Twitter, students will have to write so many tweets as their alter ego, on Instagram students will curate photos and write captions and hashtags as their persona. On Facebook, students create and fill out profile details in character.

For teachers wishing to do this assignment using paper, digital templates abound that allow students to fill in blank boxes and print out a final product that looks like a social media page. 

4. Creatively use hashtags

Hashtags allow users to organize and categorize content so that it is searchable later. Hashtags can be included in virtually all social media posts and stories (a notable exception to this is Snapchat, which does not allow users to organize content using hashtags). A social media savvy teacher can use hashtags in a number of different ways. 

A teacher might come up with a classroom hashtag (this might change each year). All posts from a specific school year can be tagged with the same hashtag. Students can submit content to their teachers using the hashtag so that teachers can easily find (and grade) required content. 

5. Tweet summaries

The ultimate test of summarizing skills is writing a summary in the 280 characters allowed by Twitter. 

Students can summarize almost anything, from the day’s lesson to last night’s reading homework to the plot of a book or movie. They then tweet it out with a corresponding hashtag (or write it on a piece of paper) and voila!

6. Classroom book talks on Instagram

Teachers can use the story feature on Instagram to record short videos of themselves giving book talks, and students can be assigned to do the same. A book talk contains a bit of a plot summary, a teaser and a reason or two why somebody should read the book. Book talks do not spoil the ending for readers. This strategy can be used in literature classrooms, of course, but it also applies to reading across the curriculum.

7. Creating a character/historical figure Pinterest board

A riff on the imagined Facebook page of a historical figure assignment is a similar assignment utilizing Pinterest as the social media platform of choice. Students again select and research their book character or assigned historical figure. This time, they create a Pinterest board where they pin images that capture their character’s aesthetic. This is similar to a vision board, in which a variety of related images are pinned together to give an overall feel for a person. This is a great assignment that works digitally, but it can also be turned into a 3-D art project in which students actually pin images to a poster or to a bulletin board. 

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One of my current intention boards!! I feel that you can never have too many but once you feel that one isn’t resonating with you anymore, it’s time to make a new one. OR once a bunch of things happen on your board (as mine did, yay) it’s also time to make a new one, or change out some of the images and words. Sometimes our goals and dreams change, and that’s okay! We are meant to evolve. This world is full of unlimited opportunities and potential for EVERYONE. If you don’t have a board I encourage you to make one. I’ll be hosting a fun workshop soon in LA- teaching law of attraction and how to manifest your dreams by making intentional decisions and intention boards to help manifest those decisions. Details coming soon! #wealldeservetohaveitall #lifelessonswithlins #llwl #intentionboard #visionboard #workshop #la #intentions #intentionsetting #goals #happiness #podcast

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8. Imagined text conversations

In this activity, students imagine a text conversation between two people. These might be characters from a book or historical figures. The scope can be expanded even further, to imagine a conversation between the 13 colonies and England at the time of the revolution, for example. Teachers can use text message templates, or students can create short videos showing the texts in “real” time on their phones.

9. Use story feature to teach journalistic skills

Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook all have a story feature which allows pictures and videos to be displayed for 24 hours before they disappear. This means these compilations do not become part of a permanent social media profile, making them the perfect place to practice event coverage for budding journalists or for a current events assignment in a social studies or writing class. 

Teachers define the parameters of the assignment, and then students set off to cover an event (a sporting event, an assembly, a fire drill) in the same way that a broadcast journalist would. Students may want to interview event participants and then add some video of themselves reporting the news. Photos with captions, hashtags and location markers can be added, too.

10. Use story feature for how-to/step-by-step videos

Students can post how-to or step-by-step videos of themselves explaining a science experiment or proper free-throw form by using the stories feature, too. The video can be one continuous shot or can be photos with text posted back-to-back on their story. This has countless applications, and teachers can use it, too, to help students understand how to solve a math problem, for example.

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Wanna see my party trick? ? literally… ??

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11. Hashtag scavenger hunts

Some teachers take their hashtag game a step further and come up with assignment-specific hashtags (#showandtellSaturday, #metaphorsonmondays, etc.). Students must go out into the world and find examples of a concept being taught in class. In language arts, this might be a sign with a grammatical error, and in science it might be a video recording the doppler effect. A teacher might make this an assignment or it could be extra credit.  

Instagram allows users to post hashtags on their stories and to tag other users in stories, so a unique hashtag helps simplify this assignment. 

12. Spoken word poetry/poetry

Instagram is a great place to share poetry, whether it is in a written form or in spoken word form. Instagram’s interface allows users to post photos of poems they’ve written, and students can attach hashtags to their writing to increase the size of their readership.

13. Create a Bitmoji and use it

Bitmoji is an app that works in conjunction with Snapchat. In it, users get to create and customize a cartoon avatar that looks just like them. This avatar can then be inserted into snaps users send each other. But that’s not all. Teachers use their Bitmojis to add all sorts of personal, pop culture touches to their classroom. Bitmojis can be used to make rules posters or be customized into stickers for those A+ assignments. A full rundown on classroom Bitmoji uses can be found here

14. Use stories feature to tell a story

A picture is worth a thousand words, right? The handy-dandy stories feature on Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat are all the perfect platform for students to practice their storytelling skills. A language arts teacher who has just gone over the parts of a plot (exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution) might ask students to make up a complete story in five pictures (one corresponding to each part of the plot). Their stories might be just pictures, or students can use hashtags or captions to further develop their stories. 

15. Tweet an exit slip

Some creative teachers are using Twitter to check for understanding at the beginning or end of a period. Teachers ask students to tweet out a quick summary of the day’s activities or to tweet any questions they may have. 

15 Creative Ways to Use Social Media in the Classroom

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Veteran Legend

I am an unrepentant lover of words - and lucky me, I spend all day, every day immersed in them. When I'm not teaching, I'm reading. Or writing. Or teaching eager (and sometimes not-so-eager) adolescents about the power of the written word. I live on the scenic Oregon Coast with my dog, two cats, and five-year-old son.

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