Social media can be a powerful teaching tool for fostering civic engagement, argumentation skills, and digital literacy — but it requires active teacher involvement to really work. KQED’s Do Now discussions—weekly social media-driven activities for students– have become a pivotal part of my practice. I have seen my students gain skills in making claims, defending them, questioning other ideas, and discussing topics of tension with respect.
It has taken years to understand what works best in my context, and I continue to tweak how this valuable tool fits into my teaching. Here are some important lessons I have learned along the way. Try them out. Make any changes for your own students, and please share your own helpful tips! (These relate specifically to Do Now, but can be applied to any student activity you are conducting on social media).
10. Don’t waste precious time and attention on negative or obscene posts. You can flag them or send them on to the KQED folks, but stay grounded in the positive experience that is Do Now. When the authors recognize such posts are disregarded, this tends to limit these minimal contributions. Plus, it reinforces norms of having productive, inclusive civic discourse.
9. Don’t try to reply to EVERY student post. Choosing perhaps the top 10 every week will not only alleviate the pressure on you but also give learners something else to strive for every week. Plus, it boosts the quality of your interaction to your students.
8. Respond to learners in the media of their post. This helps keep you vigilant of how to use new media tools and lets you have a perspective on possible struggles learners may experience with the particular app or tool. Additionally, learners respect your effort on remaining a media producer like them.