By Sheri Watkins
In the summer, most students and parents are thinking of camps, vacation and fun in the sun. While teachers enjoy some relaxation time, many spend the summer months preparing for the coming school year to ensure the best education for their students. One topic many teachers want to learn more about is digital and social media training. As social media educators and digital citizenship experts, we are sharing our best tips and resources for educators.
Join a Chat or Webinar
For teachers, one way to build a digital skill set and take advantage of the resources available is to join an online chat or webinar. Many educators host #edchats on Twitter. These online conversations allow teachers to exchange ideas and share information, advice and resources. Some of these chats are specific to locations, such as #MIYouth, a Detroit-area tweet chat for educators, while others are specific to a topic or learning community. For example #PTChat takes place at 9 p.m. EST on Wednesdays. It’s an interactive dialogue for parents and teachers across the globe.
There are other great resources available, including webinars by SimpleK12 Learning Community and Skype in the Classroom, a free global community of teachers and corporate partners providing lessons.
Compass Learning provides professional development digitally through their Impact Teacher Academy Online.
Hay There Social Media plans to provide a free presentation for teachers who want to implement home-to-school communication through social media. Stay tuned for details. Our experts can also customize a training webinar for your school. Visit our Saving Face program for more details.
Create a Twitter Account
Twitter is one of the best social media networks for teachers looking for resources and advice. It is easy to set up an account at https://twitter.com/. Once you create an account, you can follow other educators around the globe. It is easy to do a Twitter search for any topic or expert. Again, this is where #edchat comes in handy for finding like-minded teachers!
Develop a PLN
Twitter can help you build a Personal Learning Network, or PLN. Educators are now connecting and networking digitally with others who share their passion for teaching. You can create your network through Twitter, Pinterest and other social networks. Creating your own PLN allows you to customize your network based on expertise, grade level, subject matter, strategies or any other topic you desire.
Follow an Education Blog
Fortunately, there are a variety of educational blogs covering a range of topics and concepts for today’s teachers.
Hay There Social Media has a blog section titled For Parents and Tweens. It provides information for teachers searching for ways to educate parents and students about digital citizenship.
Compass Learning’s blog, Navigator, is a helpful resource for teachers to connect on ideas and technology.
Edutopia is a product of the George Lucas Educational Foundation and has a wealth of free material. The blog provides advice and ideas shared by teachers and can be searched based on topic of interest such as Assessment, Educational Trends, Game-Based Learning and New Teacher Support.
Create a Plan for Home/School Communication through Social Media
Staying in touch with parents can be a tough task for teachers. One way to make communication easy, quick and effective is to use social media!
Facebook can be a great resource for communicating with families and building your school community. A classroom Facebook page can be a great place to post homework assignments, upcoming school and class events or just a quick note about something funny or a student success from the day. If you are concerned about public access to a class Facebook page, you can always create a closed or secret group. This way, you can invite families and parents to join and only members would have access.
A classroom Twitter account is another option. The 140 character limit of Twitter makes it perfect for sending out quick reminders about field trips, due dates and permission slips.
Prepare Digital Citizenship Lessons for Students
Do your students know how to stay safe online? Do they mind their social media manners? As teachers, you know the best way to help students navigate the pitfalls of our digital era is to prepare them and provide knowledge. This is why it is so important to add digital citizenship to your classroom curriculum.
Common Sense Media has a comprehensive program for digital citizenship that includes lessons and their new Digital Passport program. Digital Passport is an online game for grades 3-5 that teaches kids the basics of online life.
Saving Face is also a resource for digital citizenship training for teachers and schools. Videos and lessons plans are available, as well as customized training. Keep watching for more details on a special Twitter chat for teachers!