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It seems like you can never find a pre-teen/tween/teen without a smart phone, iPad, e-reader or some other electronic device instantaneously connecting them to their friends via the world of social media. Often preferring to text, tweet, Instagram, pin, post, and +1 instead of seeing a friend in person, most kids are growing up connected to the Internet in a way we never even dreamed of when we were kids. With all this attention focused on gadgets and online interaction, it’s only logical that students are turning to social media to help them with their homework. Here are 5 ways kids are using social media to find the “right” answers.
- Real-time current events: Ever notice an abundance of tweets with the signature Twitter hashtag (#) using the same wording? That’s what we like to call a Twitter trend. For Twitter newbies, trending events are literally real-time happenings in which a large number of people are promoting a specific topic. Trends can be local, national or even international in scale, so when Sally’s history teacher asks the class to write about a current event and Sally can’t think of anything to write about, all she has to do is search in Twitter for something that’s trending and voila! A current event is born.
- Hang out and study in a Google+ hangout: Google+ may not replace Facebook as the de facto social network anytime soon. But their engineers definitely got one thing right: hangouts. From the studiousness of their own homes, kids can create hangouts on Google+ where they can quiz each other, talk through difficult concepts, and share screens as they collaborate on a project. How neat is that?
- Watch the famous Khan Academy videos on YouTube: Khan Academy may not be a panacea for all the world’s educational challenges, but for the student who left his algebra textbook at school and can’t quite recall how to find the slope of a line, Khan Academy is like an instant tutor. With thousands of videos for K-12 in topics including chemistry, mathematics, physics, biology, finance, history, and more, all a student has to do is go to YouTube and search for “How to Find Slope Khan Academy” and a step-by-step video begins to play. Best of all, mom doesn’t need to drive Johnny all the way back to school to retrieve his textbook form his locker. If only YouTube were around when we forgot our textbooks at school…
- Interview sources: Time to write a research paper and need to find credible sources? Facebook and Twitter to the rescue! Thousands of authors, historians, professors and experts have social profiles or company/brand/book pages these days. When it’s time to dig into and dissect the famous King and the Duke scene in Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, who better to ask than an English professor? Or for the author that is still alive and kicking (and has a Twitter or Facebook profile), why not approach the actual author of the book being studied in class? All it takes a simple tweet to Claire Cameron, author of The Line Painter, to find arguably the most credible source. Now, figuring out how to cite a tweet from a famous author in ALA format , that’s another story. ☺
- Conduct online polls: Need your students to find statistics for a class project? Encourage them to create a poll on Poll Everywhere! All your students have to do is type in either a multiple choice or an open-ended question and then distribute it to their community via e-mail, text, social channels, or however they see fit. Respondents can text-in their answer or vote via URL. Poll Everywhere automatically calculates the totals and percentages for each response, allowing students to extrapolate their sample audience to a larger population, just like the big-time pollsters.
Social media doesn’t have to be used solely for entertainment purposes outside of school. Hopefully, there is a spot in your lesson plans for some of these tools!