Social Networking in the Middle School Classroom

Social networking is a big part of students' lives. How are teachers harnessing the good in social media to leverage learning (while still protecting students under the age of 13)?


  1. Digital story telling allows students to publish their work for a public (or semi-public) audience. In the lesson suggesstion from Caitlyn Tucker, students published their learning in the form a digital story allowing other to comment, offer feedback, and ask questions. A social studies classroom can use this approach in a variety of ways to showcase learning on a particilar unit or to address a central question. The ability to publish a digital story to a public audience can raise the bar for social studies students!
  2. Students can be podcasters, too! With just a few simple tools, students in this class recorded podcasts about the heroes who inspire them. In social studies classrooms, there is so much potential for podcasting. While classes could record information about their historic heroes, it may be more exciting to take something like this to the next level with student created interviews of historical figures.
  3. Voicethread is a favorite social media tool. With this voicethread presentation, a classroom of 5th grade students shared their learning about the Underground Railroad in a class presentation. The beauty of VoiceThread is that it allows for students to add comments and pose questions to the presenter and/or other commenters. While teachers can set privacy settings to protect students, it possible to share presentations like this with other classes. Imagine the rich discussions that can occur when sharing information in a format like this with other classes around the country or the world!
  4. Collaborize Classroom is a powerful tool to encourage discussion, engage students, and connect students with one another outside of the classroom walls. With a teacher's ability to set discussion parameters and expectations, social studies classroom discussions are no longer limited to the 50 minute class period. With the above classrom description of Collaborize Classroom, student discussions contain feedback on classmates' ideas, suggestions to improve, and questions to further discussion. With this tool is a social studies classroom, the power of time and a safe space offers even the quietest students a voice. Imagining this tool as a way to pose alternative perspectives about historical events is exciting!
  5. This is a creative use of VoiceThread! While many teachers may think VoiceThread is a tool for students presentations (which it is!), this teacher used it to have his students do audio blogging. Reflections on learning can be shared on a variety of topics with an opportunity for audio feedback. In social studies classrooms, students can engage in blogging in a variety of ways with this tool.
  6. Kevin Jarrett, a NY teacher, encourages his students to blog about their learning in a weekly learning update. Even thought his students are young, they are encouraged to share their learning experiences with their parents who post comments and ask questions.
  7. Using Social Media in the Classroom
  8. Although this video is focused on a primary teacher's use of blogs and Twitter, it speaks to the fact that event students who are too young to have a social media account can benefit from social media. This teacher tweets questions to other teachers on behalf of her students. Teachers who feel that their students can't benefit from teachers using social media should watch this video for ideas about connecting to other classrooms around the world.
  9. The idea of an "online penpal" in a social studies classroom is so exciting! With just a few tweaks to what the teachers did in the Flat Connections project, students in social studies classes can communicate with one another using Edmodo to connect in a powerful way. I would love to see these pen pals take on the role of people who lived in a particular historical era who held opposing views (i.e. Patriots and Loyalists) to communicate about the events of the time.
  10. Edmodo for Social Studies
  11. With the idea in the video above, students take on the role of historical figures during the writing of the Declaration of Independence. This use of role-playing is a creative way to engage students in understanding perspective in historical events. Given the fact that so many historical events involve multiple perspectives, this idea can be used throughout the year.
  12. This teacher seems to be an expert at using Mystery Skype in his classrooms. It appears as though he has engaged in dozens of Mystery Skype sessions around the globe, and offers teachers a step by step "how-to" guide. With the importance of geographical awareness in social studies classrooms, this is a great way to connect with other classrooms around the globe while developing a better understanding of geography. It would be great to start a new unit by beginning the unit with a Mystery Skype session with a glass from the part of the globe and/or country that will be studied.
  13. What an incredible way to share and build upon one another's experiences! In this Instagram Scavenger hunt, this teacher used Instagram with an assigned hashtag to encourage her students to find specific images that aligned to her teaching unit- genius! While some schools may not have the option of going on field trips, a social studies teacher could use this idea in a variety of ways- images of text, images of students posing to represent an event, etc. With just a little creativity, this idea has tremendous potential!
  14. This teacher's use of classroom blogging with his students have proven to be a huge success. Students in his classes blog about their learning- something that students in every grade and every class can benefit from!