Today’s students are growing up in a world that is becoming increasingly digital. The Internet revolution is connecting people from across the world in new and meaningful ways, and even young elementary school students can benefit from exposure to social media platforms. Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram can all be very powerful educational resources if used in the right way. Not only can students use social media to develop their own critical thinking skills, educators can also benefit from sharing teaching tips with one another and having a centralized method of reaching all their students at once. Here are a few easy ways to integrate social media platforms into your daily instruction.

Create a Classroom Twitter Account

Young students who are unable to maintain a Twitter account of their own should be given access to a class account from a school computer. Share the login information with your students and carve out time to have students tweet their observations of various projects or their reactions to readings you do in class. The 140-character limit that Twitter enforces can be a good way for students to develop their communication skills. It forces them to use an economy of words, thereby making them think of the most precise way of expressing their thoughts and opinions.

In addition to having your students tweet from the class account, be sure to follow individuals or organizations that are either relevant to the class lesson or of particular interest to your students. Imagine the excitement your students will feel when they see that one of the authors they are reading in class has tweeted them an answer to one of their questions. Popular children’s authors with Twitter accounts include Anne Mazer, Anastasia Suen, Carin Berger, and Karma Wilson.

Add Visual Interest with YouTube

YouTube and other video-sharing sites like Vimeo can be great for showing students short videos related to your curriculum. However, you will want to be careful, as YouTube allows anyone from around the world to upload a video of whatever they want. There is a limited amount of content policing that goes on, but not nearly enough to ensure that everything is school-appropriate. As such, when using YouTube in the classroom, always be sure to queue up the video before broadcasting it to students. Some good YouTube channels to subscribe to are National Geographic, NASA, the History Channel, and the Museum of Modern Art. Of course, there are a number of strictly educational videos, such as those by Khan Academy, that offer great tutorials on a variety of educational topics. However, YouTube is a great resource not only for tutorials but also for videos about how what students are learning in the classroom can be applied to the outside world.

Picture-Sharing to Tear Down Boundaries

Picture-sharing sites such as Pinterest and Instagram allow you to tear down the boundaries of the classroom. Older students with their own Instagram accounts can take pictures of real-world examples of class lessons and share them with the class. In addition, younger students can manage a classroom account that shares photos with sister classrooms around the world. Connect students to different cultures by reaching out through Instagram to classrooms in different cultures. This can be a good way to not only familiarize students with global cultures and practices, but also facilitate elementary language learning.

Social media permeates daily life in the digital age. Integrating more social media platforms into your classroom can be very beneficial. Doing so allows you to connect with other teachers while at the same time connecting your students to the world.