10 Tips for Engaging Students in Social Media Discussions

Part of my goal is being very transparent and open about sharing the work my learners do. I feel this is the best way to scale the types of learning experiences I feel make a real difference to my learners. Clearly, this is what works in my particular context, but I invite educators to hack and remix these practices to meet the needs of your learning landscape.

In an effort to collaborate, here is a KQED EdSpace blog post co-created by myself and some of my rockstar learners. Enjoy!


Twitter as a Connected Learning Tool

I believe in Social Media. I have borrowed some of my best ideas, have been inspired by some of the wonderings of others, and have been infuriated by the injustices shared on Twitter.

As the school year dives into its fourth week, I marvel at the careful implementation of Twitter in classrooms. I tried to understand why this is such a powerful tool in my current practice so I examined Twitter exchanges through a Connected Learning lens. (See previous post on Connected Learning. These principles supported by Twitter are bolded.)

My son’s teacher shares updates and snapshots of student work and activities. It’s a delight to receive snippets of Isaac’s progress. It gives me a better snapshot of his learning than the somewhat sketchy descriptions of a six-year-old. This social media share out makes their work more accessible to a wider audience. And even though I’m busily working at a high school a couple of streets down, I can discover how my child spends his day.

Sumrall's Class Twitter

Selfies with Six Year Olds

We have also restarted our KQED DoNow responses. What an incredible resource enabling our learners to connect to learners across the world. They are able to make their informed opinions transparent to the world. They can monitor how others view the event and take a pulse of which direction we are headed. They can see how their academic tasks can connect to platforms they use in other aspects of their lives. The first civic engagement topic was #DoNowFurguson asking how we could prevent future Michael Browns and the role of social media in activism. These boiled down thoughts are the result of revision of more extended responses to the questions. The effort entailed to crafting these tweets reflect the writing process to reach the wider audience of the Twittersphere. Plus, our learners are focused on the common goal of raising awareness and the importance of discussing such events with other youth on a wider scale.

#DoNowFurguson 1


This year has also been the year of using Twitter to form and shape community. The idea of having support from peers is key in any Connected Learning environment. As we publish our wonderings and Ah-Ha moments via Twitter, we see bonds of trust forming, further encouraging risk-taking and making learning transparent. Here is a Tweet from a couple of current sophomores appreciating work from our current Freshmen, or Rookies as we call them:

NTH@C Sophomores Give Props to Rookies

NTH@C Sophomores Give Props to Rookies

Knowing their work is being seen, knowing it is being retweeted, AND knowing that older learners appreciate their work is a critical piece to sustaining an ecosystem where learning is fostered across grade levels, where learning transcends traditional boundaries.

And we are only at the beginning of week 4. I look forward to seeing how my learners accept the challenge of publishing their media via Twitter. I’m anxious to see if they use it for real transformation as many of them cited this is social media’s potential.

Digital Literacy Team Homework…1

Okay, so who’s bright idea was this anyway? Okay, I’ve always wanted a personal learning network on campus where I could share some digital literacy ideas. Now, I have one, but of course, that means more work…more enjoyable work.

First, we were asked to pick our top 10 sites. This was difficult so here are some of mine in no particular order. They would change if asked again at this moment. 

Sorry…see doc.

Then, we were asked to find an article and app supporting iPads in the classroom. See my Scoop It: iPad=iLearn.

The app I chose was Toontastic. It allows users to drag, drop, animate, and narrate stories. The awesome part of it is that the story is developed using the Plot Diagram. Great for composing narratives.

Then we were charged with discussing possible publishing platforms to share our work. Of course, I chose Posterous. Just see here for help getting started with Posterous.