Do you tweet? Do you create Pinterest-worthy projects for your classroom or home?
Being involved in social media communities can be beneficial for K-12 educators. From participating in like-minded learning groups, to using social media for research and additional education, to getting ideas for classroom activities, these channels offer new sources of information to make teaching—and learning—fun.
So where do you start? Hashtags (a phrase or word preceded by the ‘#’ symbol on social media sites) are a great way to sort information, search for certain topics, or participate in discussions. Hashtags can be found on many different social media sites. Here are some ideas K-12 educators can use to get started using hashtags on Pinterest and Twitter.
Teachers are using Pinterest to gather and share ideas for science experiments, classroom seating arrangements, and spelling games. On this visual social media channel, you can set up boards where you “pin” (or mark) ideas that fit into specific categories. The sky’s the limit, but some ideas for boards to set up include:
- Classroom ideas
- Education apps
- Reading games
- Science experiments
- Math ideas
- Inspirational quotes
How to Be Effective on Pinterest
With all of the ideas on Pinterest, it can be easy to get sucked in. Think about ways to use your time effectively in order to make Pinterest work for you. Hashtags are key. Think of them as keywords or index words. You can use them on your board or pin descriptions to help others find content you’ve pinned. And, if you find a pin that you like that includes a hashtag, clicking on it will pull up additional resources and ideas from others who have used the same hashtag.
Be sure to use the search function to look up keywords such as “K12,” “elementary,” or “education” to narrow your query. You can also add a pin plug-in to your web browser to make virtually everything you find online “pinnable.” Follow Pinterest boards that are already set up and re-pin ideas from there. You can also follow individuals on Pinterest. Here are some education-related boards to get you started:
- Education Technology Group: pins related to education technology.
- Edutopia: online community for K-12 education.
- Education World: free, independent resource for educators.
- WeAreTeachers: collaborative community of blog posts, creative ideas, and forums.
- Erin Klein: blogger at Kleinspiration.com and second-grade teacher in Michigan.
- Charity Preston: founder of Preston Education Network.
Amy Erin Borovay provides a quick tutorial for teachers interested in using Pinterest. As a user, you can also invite others (students, parents, colleagues) to view your Pinterest boards for information, worksheets, or general ideas. This is yet another way to use social media as an extension of the classroom.
Twitter is a microblogging platform that allows users to tweet updates to followers in 140 characters or less. Twitter also allows for direct messaging and connecting with key thought leaders and events throughout the world from your computer or mobile device. Hashtags play a key role on this platform and can be a great way to get involved in the K-12 community online.
For example, Twitter chats are an excellent way to be a part of regular conversations on Twitter. They can move fast, but reading and not responding is perfectly acceptable. Here is a short list of Twitter chats for K-12 educators:
- #edchat: weekly general education chat.
- #edtechchat: education technology chat.
- #admin2b: aspiring education administrators chat.
- #ntchat: new teacher chat.
- #elemchat: elementary (or primary) school educators chat.
News on Twitter
Twitter chats are not the only way K-12 educators can use Twitter. Twitter can be a great source of quick news and information. Follow news outlets or your favorite education publications or associations for up-to-the-minute commentary. Additional ideas for using Twitter include:
- Offer parent/teacher discussions through your Twitter account.
- Remind students/parents of upcoming events and assignments.
- Conduct after-class discussions (if your students fit the age requirements for social media use).
- Search for and chat with other educators.
- Set up lists or follow pre-established lists. Twitter lists are great for categorizing specific users, accounts, or resources in one place.
- Follow conference hashtags. Even if you can’t be at the live event, following along can provide you with information on breakout sessions or additional ideas for your classroom or school.
- Follow key players in the education field such as edutopia, K12 Academics, or Steven Anderson (founder of #edchat).
How to Be Effective on Twitter
Don’t be afraid to share your accomplishments. If you have a great idea or blog post people should read, tweet it! Self-promotion is okay, and it could result in new connections.
While there seems to be an unlimited supply of hashtags at your disposal, use them wisely—2 or 3 at a time, max. Also, just because you can add a hashtag doesn’t mean you should. If what you’re tweeting has nothing to do with a popular hashtag, don’t stick it on for the sake of getting more people to see your message. Authenticity is key when using any social media channel.
If you’re going to use Twitter as a means of communication, whether with your students, parents, or peers, set time aside each day to check in and respond to tweets. Using software such as TweetDeck or Hootsuite can also help you monitor hashtags, participate easily in Twitter chats, or learn about trending topics. Also, be sure to follow others back. Social media is a two-way conversation and it’s important to reciprocate the discussion by following those who are following you.
Social media is an easy, fun way for K-12 educators to gain insight for their classrooms and beyond.
Twitter and Pinterest provide a great introduction to K-12 education technology tools, ideas, and information.
Want to take that interest further? Capella University’s online education programs includes certificates, master’s, and doctoral programs in digital transformation, personalized learning, and instruction in the 1:1 environment, as well as professional development for teachers.