Tips for Teaching Social Media Literacy

If your students are anything like mine, they are addicted to their phones and their social media accounts! It seems their need for more likes and more followers supersedes their need to pay attention in class sometimes.  I think I've managed to solve the "phone in class" problem and generally do not have an issue with phones being used inappropriately during class time (I confiscate the phone for the class if it's a distraction.). However, I do not want to dismiss their love for their phone and have decided to include aspects of social media into my classroom throughout the year.  It's a topic they are passionate about and I have no trouble engaging them in discussions and activities.

1.  Social Media Survey
One of the topics I love to explore at the start of the year is media literacy and with that I love to delve into my students' cell phone habits. I use this survey as a way to encourage group discussion around the topic of cell phone addiction and improper cell phone use.  I ask the students to complete a survey on their own and then give them an opportunity to share with their partners / table group.  We then share out as a class.  Grab this SOCIAL MEDIA SURVEY for FREE and start a discussion with your students about their social media use!

2. Persuasive Paragraph
After discussing their cell phone use on the quick personal survey we delve into the role of cell phones in their lives in greater detail.  I use my Social Media Literacy Resource to delve deeper into their habits and those of their friends / peers.  We discuss how students experience FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), feel like they need to keep up with their friends' social media posts, follow celebrities and stay on top of the latest trends and fads.  This resource is an excellent way to explore the deeper issues, challenges and impacts that come from using social media.  I use this resource to jump into a larger persuasive paragraph or essay pulling from the questions and discussion topics that most motivated my students.

Here are some topics I have used in the past -
  • I am not addicted to my cell phone.
  • Teen cell phone use does not need to be monitored.
  • Teens use cell phones appropriately. 
  • Social media has control over our lives.

3.  Analyze Social Media Addiction Cartoons
Cartoons can be a great way to incorporate visual literacy into you curriculum and a fabulous way to develop critical thinking skills. There are some fantastic cartoons that really take a hard look at society and their addiction to cell phones and I have found them to be a great resource to use in class.  A quick Google or Pinterest search will yield 100s of results for "Social media addiction cartoons" - grab this FREE graphic organizer to help students analyze and critique the cartoons you find online.

4.  Incorporate Social Media Into Your Lessons All Year
If you can't beat 'em, join 'em!  Why not incorporate social media into your lessons?  Here are some of my favorite and easy to implement ideas. Don't panic if you're not social media savvy - trust me, your students will easily be able to navigate these activities.
  • Have your students create a "text conversation" between two characters in a book. What would Romeo have texted to Juliet if he had been able to?  What would a text conversation look like between Jem and Scout? 
  • Create a social media profile for a famous author, scientist, historical figure or character from a book.  There a so many free templates available on download if you do a quick search.
  • Create an Instagram timeline for a book - students draw 4-6 important scenes from the book as if they were using Instagram, add text and appropriate hashtags.  Or have different students Instagram different chapters to create a giant timeline of events in a novel.
  • Students can write a blog post or create a pod cast to review a book they have just read.
  • Students can use their phones to create a video to advertise a book (book trailer) - play their videos for the class for a fun activity!
  • Students can use their phones to take a photo to represent a vocabulary word / literary term.  Have your students create visual idioms or visual similes!
For all of my Media Literacy Resources check out my BUNDLE HERE

For more Social Media Resources check out these fabulous activities from the ladies of the Secondary English Coffee Shop!

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