Guest Post: Producing Engaging Lesson Plans via Social Media Trends by Albert Roberts

Hello readers! We have a special guest post by Albert Roberts that we thought you might like! Our students are always on social media, so why not use social media in the classroom for educational purposes?  Read on to find out how!

What are some of the ways in which we can make use of social media in the classroom? When used properly, social media can allow us to engage students with topical discussions, while getting a perspective on issues like bias and how to use different sources. One way in which we might try to use social media in productive ways for lesson planning is to look at social media trending tools that allow you to put together a lot of different responses to a subject.

Perhaps the main challenge for using social media with Middle Schoolers and other age ranges is that they’re usually already familiar with social networks, but don’t always know how to use them as part of their assignments; there’s often just too much content to sift through. Which makes social trending sites like so useful, as they provide a search engine where you can bring together all the times that keywords are mentioned on different social networks.

For example, run a search on World War II, and you get Twitter messages linking to recent news stories about memorials and veterans; you can also find Pinterest links to World War II books, and Twitter and other social network links to photographs. You can take a similar approach to searches on Barack Obama, or on controversial debates (although you may want to be careful not to end up with offensive material). What you have, then, is a lot of content that can be filtered and turned into examples that can be shown to students.

Bringing all the content you can find on social media together into something tangible and relevant can engage students. Social network trend searches can make older subjects more relevant, or can put current debates into a real-world context; this kind of access to debates can then be combined with other uses of social media for students, from carrying out Twitter polls to writing blogs and posting class photos.

If you’re putting together lesson plans, selecting sources from a social media trend search can lead to a series of questions and projects for students. Some areas that you might focus on include:

Debating Bias – show students examples of how a topic they’re looking at in class is being debated – what are the key arguments that are coming out, and do they reinforce or contradict what they might already know?

Relevance – discuss with your students why some social media sources are more useful than others: why is a well-researched blog better than someone making their case on Twitter? Similarly, question how far we can trust commentators’ reliability, and what sources they use to back up their arguments.

At the same time, social media trend searches can be discussed more directly with students as a way for them to carry out work in their own time. Look at what results they would receive if they searched on keywords when in class, and why what they find could be seen as useful or not for assignments.

Social media trends can be an excellent way to identify relevant and topical debates beyond your usual sources, and can make students more aware of how they can improve their knowledge online. However, a big part of using these resources should be about instructing students on bias, and how far they can trust different sources.

Author Bio:  Albert Roberts is a teacher in the UK and loves thinking of ways to improve student engagement via social media and technology.  He would love to see more inspirational teachers signing up for English teacher jobs in London and improve engagement with this vital subject. He’s an advocate of sharing information amongst teacher communities.



Guest Post: Concepts About Print

Today we have our first guest post on!

The following post is written by Reena Kumar, a phenomenal teacher who specializes in primary education and has spent the last few years teaching grade 1 and a grade 1/2 split!  She brings her expertise in primary education with this post on “Concepts  About Print”, which includes a sample “Morning Message” routine!  Thanks so much, Reena!

Concepts about print

  • Concepts about print are the conventions used in reading and written language, they are conventions ‘about’ the written language, not the language itself.
  • Concepts of print (for English) include such things as :
    • Knowing that letters make words and words make sentences.
    • Spatial and visual items such as spaces between letters symbolize separate words.
    • Directional knowledge such as how to hold a book, which way to turn the pages, moving from left to right, sweeping down and back to the next line.
    • Understanding beginning/middle/ first/last kinds of words and how they relate to reading.

For Junior/Senior Kindergarten (Children ages 3-5)

Routine daily activity: Morning message

  • The morning message is a routine activity built into the daily schedule that gives children an opportunity to practice various concepts of print (as well as communicating a special message to the children). Since this activity would be done daily, it would allow for a gradual shift from teacher modeling towards student practice.
  • The teacher should start off by writing simple daily messages that follow a predictable pattern. This predictability will also strengthen sight word acquisition and the understanding that print carries a message.
  • The teacher should use a pointer/magic wand to clearly point to each word as it is being read, and encourage the children to read along.
  • Before reading the teacher should ask and model where to start reading, which way to move, how to move to the next line etc. Introducing and practicing directional words on a daily basis.
  • After the message has been read the students can be asked to do various activities with the message that reinforce the teaching point of the day.
    • For example :
      • Who can put a green dot in the place where we start reading from ? Circle a word, circle a letter, circle the letter ‘b’ etc..
      • The questions can gradually increase in complexity as the students master certain concepts of print.