Social Media and Opinions

Third graders on social media? In the classroom? Absolutely.

Now that we are working our way through second quarter and beginning our work with opinions and  persuasive essays I wanted to somehow incorporate some of the ideas that I’ve generated due to my Explorations of Literacy class.  We have been discussing ways that we as teachers can utilize social media to not only engage our students but to also extend their learning.  This got me thinking about what we do with our opinions in real life. We post them for the world to read!

As an adult with opinions it’s common for me to post them on social media.  I update my status, tweet, and even post them here on the blog; somehow I put them out there for others to read, comment, and discuss.  I wanted my students to have the same experience so I brainstormed some ways that they could take what they were writing and make them public.

Students began our unit by discussing what exactly an opinion is. After they wrote down the definition of “opinion” in their own words I chose one to post on our class blog.  That’s when the idea of student blogging came alive!

We continued by reading an issue of Time for Kids.  The cover story was about student dress codes.  The article did a great job of explaining what a dress code was and had support for uniforms and support opposing uniforms.  I gave students time to talk about what they thought and what their reactions were towards the article.  This talking time was super productive for students to really decide how they felt.

We put our personal opinions to the side and generated a plus delta list to show the positives and negatives of school uniforms based on the article that we read.  Then I chose one student to post their’s on the blog. The excitement grew!

Once students chose a stance for school uniforms I explained the importance of supporting their opinion.  We are using the foursquare method (link below for more information) to organize our reasoning and support in the brainstorming stage of the writing process. I chose a student to blog about their opinion of school uniforms and support it with at least one reason and example.

As we begin drafting I will continue to choose students to blog their work.  We will continue blogging throughout this unit. Students will be in various stages of the writing process, but they will each have an opportunity to write a post.

Once I realized that this was really going to happen I emailed everyone’s parents and shared the good news.  I asked them to leave comments and suggestions or to ask questions when students posted their opinions.  So far it has been amazing.  Even students are logging in with their parents and leaving comments for their peers.  Since our class webpage is a wordpress blog I can monitor the comments and approve or not allow comments before they show up which helps keep everyone safe.  I am very happy with how things are going so far!

Although I am thrilled, there are some things that I may tweak or do differently next time:
-I think I will look into kidblog or edmodo so that students each have their own individual log ins and won’t have to rely on their parents to leave comments.  This will also help with the logistics of posting.  Since students are posting on our class website I have to log into it each time and monitor where they post, etc. Kidblog may be more practical in our writing workshop setting.
-I also think that I will use blogging as part of our work on writing center and optional homework in the future.  Student can blog opinions or about the books that they are reading.

I am really thrilled with how our opinion unit is going so far.  I hope that our blogging continues with as much gusto as it has started with.  I get excited when we get new comments, so I know the students do too!  Have you ever blogged with students?  Do you have any tips or tricks to help improve our experience?  Finally, what’s your opinion on students using social media in the classroom?

(More on the foursquare method.)
(Even more on the foursquare method.)

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5 comments

  1. Jaymie, I am so proud of you and your kiddos for starting this endeavor! I loved sneaking a peek at the posts in class and I love hearing how your entire “classroom family” is involved. I would be curious to see how students’ writing progresses as the year goes on. I also wonder how autonomous students can/will get with the project. Erin wrote a cool blog post on scaffolding the Edmodo blog process for her kids…maybe you can incorporate some of that into your class? I can’t wait to hear more updates on your process!

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  2. Yay for using social media in the classroom, Jayme! And, with third graders! That’s certainly a challenge. I bet you were super excited to see your kids go home and talk about the blogging with their parents, and to see them commenting from home. Their level of engagement certainly shows the power of the practice you’ve implemented.

    I have two questions for you:

    1.) How did you decide to choose the article on school uniforms? Obviously, it’s super applicable to a classroom conversation, and all students definitely have an opinion on it. Do you think you might let students take charge in bringing up a text or a topic for conversation and argumentative writing during this unit? It could be really neat to see what they come up with.

    2.) How do you decide which student(s) gets to be published?

    I can’t wait to hear more updates about this!

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    1. Hey Jaymie,

      I loved reading about the blogging project you are working on with their students. I really liked how you all read an article on school uniforms and had them share and write about their opinions. Even if your current school does not have uniforms at all, it is still an issue that students could have an opinion on. Maybe some students who don’t wear uniforms would want to wear one and maybe some students who have to at school would rather not. It is an interesting topic to address with them.

      Are you planning on picking out more articles to read for the next unit to blog about? Have you read any other articles about school uniforms? It would be really neat to show them another article on the same topic that takes a different opinion or that presents the information in a different way.

      I also really like all the writing stages you are incorporating into this unit. It is really giving them a lot of practice with the brainstorming, planning, writing, and editing stages. I can’t wait to hear more about how it goes! Thanks for sharing the links to the foursquare method!

      -Christina

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  3. That you’re blogging with third graders incredible; I feel really inspired to get this into my high school classroom now! I love that you had the students explore multiple perspectives on the topic of school uniforms in addition to thinking and creating their own opinions. I think that is a key understanding students need to develop about social media; it’s not just about getting your own voice out there; it’s about listening to what others have to say and critically examining your own opinion in light of the thoughts of others. Social media is about sharing, building community, and having a space for multiple voices. I can’t wait to hear more about the topics you choose and the evolution of blogging in your classroom. Could you have your students choose the topics for the opinion unit or have them suggest ones they might be interested in on the blog?

    I have never blogged with students, but my school has an e-learning platform where I post discussion forums. Sometimes for a warm-up I will have students examine a series of online photographs, images, or works of art that I post to the discussion, and then I will have them submit one public post (usually one paragraph) and reply to another student’s public post (usually one paragraph). This gets them writing and helps to get a conversation flowing more easily, as I use the images as launching point to discuss particular themes or issues in a novel.

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