Saturday, February 8, 2014

Social Media: A Focus on Relationships and Communication

As teachers, we all have to find tasks and objectives that deserve our attention and others that are okay to leave behind. We cannot do it all. I started doing this after receiving good advice at a kindergarten conference about five years ago. The educator speaking (I wish I could remember her name) mentioned that we cannot devote our time to everything if we want to be an effective teacher. If there is an area that you do not find important and are only doing it because it is a routine, drop it. I have made choices over the years, dropping many items off my list of to-do's. One area I have given more attention is the use of social media to promote global relationships and communication.

Personally, this advice gave me permission to drop fancy bulletin boards and job charts. This is not to say that if a person uses these things they are making a bad choice; to each his/her own. These were just items that I chose to do without as I felt they were not important to the children. Rather than a pretty bulletin board full of posters and borders, I use year-long word walls and vocabulary walls. Instead of a job chart, volunteers take care of responsibilities in the classroom and we get to talk about how kind it is to offer your services freely. Now, my extra time is devoted to our classroom blog and social media pages.

The children started writing their own blogs this year. I tried many different platforms and finally decided on Kidblog for our class and individual student blogs. The main reason is that we have 1-1 iPads and the app for this site is very user friendly for young learners. I do pay the yearly fee (without it you are limited to 100 pictures and video). Children at this age prefer to post pictures with their text. This also makes for a valuable portfolio as the children can take pictures of their work and reflect. After the blogs were set-up, we made our first posts and shared them with our families. Most parents commented (for those that didn't/couldn't, I asked fellow teachers to comment on blogs). We also started participating in a blogging challenge with K-1 classrooms around the world. The children were excited to have comments and the chance to make comments on other blogs. There were some excellent conversations and we will have a great reflection platform for the remainder of the year.

Another way we have used social media was by posting to Twitter and Facebook. Twitter has been the best way to communicate with classrooms around the world, while Facebook is the best way for us to communicate with families. We have had several meaningful conversations and activities because of this communication. For instance, we had classrooms from Australia, Korea, and China comment on our Lego projects. This provided the children with feedback and more ideas for further exploration. We have viewed posts about good books to read, games to play, and differences in cultures around the world. This has given us a lot think about. Parents have also commented that they have a way to start a meaningful conversation about school when their children get home, as they have been informed of highlights from the day. These are great tools because I can post quickly from my phone no matter where we are, taking very little time.

The reasoning behind my choice to utilize social media in the classroom is simple: social media tools promote relationships and communication. The ability to communicate both in the classroom and globally relates to standards in every level of education, including kindergarten. There is also a lot of research promoting social media use in the classroom under the guidance of the teacher. For more information, feel free to check-out my social media site. I put it together for a presentation I gave at a local workshop.

We are always looking for more classrooms in which to follow/like/converse. Visit us on Twitter (@Mrslembke), Facebook (MrsLembke), or our blog (

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