Teaching Profession CTQ Collaboratory

Connecting a Classroom: Reflections on Using Social Media With My Students

By Brianna Crowley — September 09, 2015 5 min read

Last fall, I took a leap by connecting my classroom.

Through Twitter, Instagram, Skype, Flickr, and blogging, my students published their projects and writing to an audience beyond their peers and me. Along the way, we reflected on what social media added to our classroom as well as what it required of us. I want to share some reflections as I enter a second year facilitating a connected high school classroom.

Why Connect?

Connected classrooms can reach beyond physical barriers to create conversations with people from other classrooms, cultures, and communities. Social media provides venues for students to share their stories both within and beyond the classroom. It also grants opportunities for them to hear stories from beyond their school. Finally, being connected helps students recognize the power of personal voice.

When I asked my students mid-year what they thought social media added to our classroom, they offered the following responses:

  • “Social media can expand our thoughts and ideas and connect us to what is going on in the rest of the world. It would be cool getting ideas that are actually present outside our community.” Michael A.
  • “We could use social media as a class to compare and contrast ideas on different projects…[it] could be used to begin discussions.” Mandy S.
  • “It is cool how we have posted pictures on Instagram of what we are doing in class...We should also look at other classes from other schools and see if they give us any good ideas about stuff we can do in class.” Daniel S.

Overwhelmingly, students agreed they liked expanding learning through social media platforms. They also understood the value of seeking out different perspectives, ideas, and feedback from a greater community.

I recently asked a parent her opinion of our connected classroom. She affirmed that she loved it: “My daughter tends to be quiet. Even when I would ask her about her day and what she learned, she often gave me short, concise answers. By following your classroom’s social media, I was able to get a window into her day--what she was learning and what she was working on.”

What is your purpose for connecting your classroom? Before you can think about how to connect, you need to understand why. Do you want to engage parents? Maybe connect with other classrooms? Teach your students important digital literacy skills? Perhaps all three. Once you establish the priorities and purpose of connecting your classroom, you are ready to tackle the “how.”

Choose a Platform

First, choose a platform that make sense. Here are some questions to guide you:

  • What platform(s) are you most comfortable with in your own personal or professional life? Starting from a place of some experience is always helpful when doing something new in your classroom.
  • What platform(s) will help you access your target audience? If your primary target is to connect with parents, find out what social media platform they are on. Choosing a platform parents are using will more likely encourage them to interact with your classroom feed.
  • What platform(s) will work best on the devices you have in class as well as your district’s policies? For example, posting to Instagram is limited to the mobile device app found on smartphones and tablets, but posting from Twitter is possible from both mobile devices and laptops. Some districts may block certain sites. Understand your technology parameters before choosing the tools.

Freshman student Meghan wrote in her mid-year reflection: “I like connecting to other classrooms, but I feel we should channel our energy into one or two platforms.” After trying to develop our Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Flickr, and blogging platforms simultaneously, I agree that starting with one or two platforms makes sense. However, if you know how to connect platforms, cross-posting can be as simple as one-click.

Communication Is Key

Once a platform(s) is chosen, contact your building administration for advice on following district policies and messaging your use of social media to the community. Find a way to communicate to parents your purpose and platform for connecting your classroom. For students under the age of 18, permission from parents is often needed to publish pictures, videos, and work of students. Be sure to consider family’s privacy and rights before sharing.

I found that for most parents, an email or letter was all that was needed to establish permission and trust. For the few parents who were hesitant, I reached out through a phone call to discuss their fears. Although this felt intimidating, I found these calls helpful in educating parents about the importance of modeling social media for learning in our classrooms. Many parents were thankful that another adult could help their son/daughter develop these skills, and all signed that their child could be involved if he/she chose.

The Importance of Co-Ownership

When introducing the platform in your classroom, ask students to help develop ways to use that platform to connect within and beyond your classroom. Co-create virtual community with students rather than for them. This obviously looks different for elementary classrooms than for secondary, but all students should feel a sense of ownership over the classroom accounts.

Last year, driven by a suggestion from a student, we created “social media teams” based on student preference. This year, I will again offer that option, but integrate class time for those teams to work. I also will not make it optional--each person has to commit to sharing through one of our classroom platforms.

In elementary classrooms, teachers may create “Tweet slips” for all students to practice sharing ideas in 140 characters. The class might vote on which tweet should be posted from the class account. Some elementary teachers reward students with the role of being the “Twitter reporter” for the period or day. That student asks peers for Tweetable quotes, takes pictures of class activities to summarize and tweet out, and engages other classrooms by tweeting out questions related to a current class discussion.

Build Connection Into Your Classroom Culture

Be intentional about communicating with your students about how social media or blogging enhances the learning already taking place in the classroom. Instead of an exit slip, ask students to tweet or post a summary from the day. To share out from small group work, ask students to post an image to the class Instagram with a caption explaining their work. Invite experts to chime in on class discussions by having a student post thoughtful questions through social media or blogs.

For additional resources, see these two presentations: Using Social Writing and Media in the Classroom and A Connected Classroom. These will provide more examples and ideas to help connect your classroom and expand the learning beyond your four walls. Connect with us and share your journey!


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
School & District Management Webinar
Making Digital Literacy a Priority: An Administrator’s Perspective
Join us as we delve into the efforts of our panelists and their initiatives to make digital skills a “must have” for their district. We’ll discuss with district leadership how they have kept digital literacy
Content provided by Learning.com
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
School & District Management Webinar
How Schools Can Implement Safe In-Person Learning
In order for in-person schooling to resume, it will be necessary to instill a sense of confidence that it is safe to return. BD is hosting a virtual panel discussing the benefits of asymptomatic screening
Content provided by BD
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Student Well-Being Webinar
How Districts Are Centering Relationships and Systemic SEL for Back to School 21-22
As educators and leaders consider how SEL fits into their reopening and back-to-school plans, it must go beyond an SEL curriculum. SEL is part of who we are as educators and students, as well as
Content provided by Panorama Education

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Teaching Profession Opinion What Can We Do to Help the Well-Being of Teachers?
A Seat at the Table focused on the social-emotional well-being of teachers during the pandemic. Here's what we learned from the guests.
1 min read
Sera   FCG
Teaching Profession Nearly 9 in 10 Teachers Willing to Work in Schools Once Vaccinated, Survey Finds
Nearly half of educators who belong to the National Education Association have gotten at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
4 min read
Nurse Sara Muela, left, administers the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to educator Rebecca Titus at a vaccination site setup for teachers and school staff at the Berks County Intermediate Unit in Reading, Pa., on March 15, 2021.
Nurse Sara Muela, left, administers the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to educator Rebecca Titus at a vaccination site set up for teachers and school staff in Reading, Pa., on March 15.
Matt Rourke/AP
Teaching Profession Q&A Nation's Top Teachers Discuss the Post-Pandemic Future of the Profession
Despite the difficulties this school year brought, the four finalists for the National Teacher of the Year award say they're hopeful.
11 min read
National Teacher of the Year Finalists (clockwise from top left): Alejandro Diasgranados, Juliana Urtubey, John Arthur, Maureen Stover
National Teacher of the Year Finalists (clockwise from top left): Alejandro Diasgranados, Juliana Urtubey, John Arthur, Maureen Stover
Courtesy of CCSSO
Teaching Profession Teachers Are Stressed Out, and It's Causing Some to Quit
Stress, more so than low pay, is the main reason public school teachers quit. And COVID-19 has increased the pressure.
7 min read
Image of exit doors.