I remember "back in the day" when social media was the last thing you'd see in the classroom. I remember before Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and even the infamous MySpace existed. I remember when Xanga was what we all flocked to after school in junior high while chatting on AIM. But, as times have changed, so has the rest of the world, education included.
Just like my 7th graders, I was lazily scrolling through Facebook while was working on something that should have had my whole attention. Among the political posts, adorable baby pictures, and pet videos, this article title from nprEd caught my attention: 10 Seconds At A Time, A Teacher Tries Snapchat To Engage Students. My initial reaction was, "There is NO way that's ever happening." Against my reaction, I click on the article are read on. The more I read, the more I liked what I was reading, and I thought it could actually be something I could successfully utilize in my classroom.
I already have a Twitter account I use for professional and classroom/school reminder reasons. Early this year, I added an Instagram account to my arsenal of school social media accounts because my students were more into Instagram than Twitter. What's one more account, right? So to Snapchat I went.
I've been lightly using Snapchat in class for about two weeks now. I was unsure of it at first, but I really think my students are liking it. It allows me to post any class announcements and reminders to something that they already use multiple times a day. They don't have to look in a different place, which is very convenient for them. There is no way they can honestly tell me they didn't look at Snapchat for over 24 hours. I post most information directly to My Story so everyone can see what I've posted, which can be replayed and lasts for 24 hours. Last week, my students were working on their Build Your Own Utopia projects projects. Snapchat allowed me to send reminders and answer questions while they were at home. Since they're in 7th grade, they're still not completely into using their district email yet, so using Snapchat has been beneficial to them. I get the notification right to my phone, and get them an answer almost instantly. I do have boundaries, though. I don't answer them after a certain time at night, but it did cut down on the "I didn't know, so I just didn't work in it last night" excuse they've used earlier this school year.
I do think this is something I will continue using. However, I don't want to rely too heavily on it, because as all trends do, it will eventually die, or just not be cool anymore, and what's worse than being uncool in junior high, right? The screenshot to the right is what I posted the Sunday night before their presentations were due. This is just an example of something I would ordinarily post to My Story.
Something else I did was document our high school's 11th Mini-THON for our junior high students to watch. This was the first year our junior high had a club, and they were allowed to attend from 6pm to 11pm the night of, while the high school students stayed 6pm - 6am. Some of our students were sad they didn't get to stay all night, so I took pictures and videos every so often and time stamped them to show what went on. I ended up with an 8:10 video that students could see what goes on all night and can get more excited for next year's club and eventually getting to stay all night.
In this case, I'm glad I ignored my gut reaction for once.