Monday, June 5, 2017

Google Classroom as a Social Network

Social networks are a great way for students to connect with others. With guidance, it can be used as an educational tool in the classroom. A social site allows users to post their thoughts, reply to others, and access resources on a topic of interest. You can use Google Classroom to create your own social network by having multiple classes across the district join the class.  This will simulate a social networking site and allow students to access content, engage in discussions and feedback with their peers on a focused topic, and submit their own ides. It is also easy for teachers to collaborate together and moderate as needed.

In action
Using a STEAM lesson from FrontRow, you'll see how to integrate the idea of social media. Many districts do not allow social media sites to be used with students due to privacy laws. Our students are in 3rd grade and do not have access, or the meet the requirements, for a social media account. We can simulate a social media experience by using Google Classroom for this STEAM unit by having students from 3rd grade classes across the district joining the class.

Prepare Students
With that in mind, before using Google Classroom as a social network, teachers will need to discuss with students how to appropriately engage in online discussions with others. Essentially, they will not know any of the other students in the Classroom because they will be at different schools. Students, especially at a primary level, will need to know how to go about posting their ideas and replying to others. 

Below is a quick video that can help explain netiquette.

Activity 1
In this example, we are using the first activity from the FrontRow unit, "STEAM Introduction Gallery Walk." The goal is for students to be introduced to STEAM and reflect on the impact of the examples shown. The objective is for them to read about various examples, discuss the impacts with their peers, and put their thoughts about the examples into words.

Copies of the examples can be posted around the room as "stations", or they can be attached to the Classroom stream as a digital copy. Each post in Classroom will focus on a discussion question and allow students to add their own thoughts and reply to others in the group.

Students will begin by choosing an example to read learn about. They will consider what they know about STEAM and it it's important or not. They will also decide how the example has affected the world. 

Students will get approximately 10-15 minutes for each example. Allow an enough time for them to read the information, examine the images, and discuss and record questions. 

Bring the class back together, and end with a short class discussion on the overarching questions: ⁃ What is STEAM? ⁃ Is STEAM important? Why or why not? ⁃ How has STEAM affected our world?

In Classroom, students post their responses to one or two different discussion questions, which can then be evaluated for content. Because  a focus in this activity is to have students interact on a social networking platform, their responses to other students will be evaluated. They can be expected to reply to at least two other students, include a citation from the original post, and give their opinion in a complete thought. 

Using Google Forms, teachers can gain a full picture of a student's understanding of the activity and STEAM. The Form would have all of the discussion questions on a different STEAM example.


Additionally, a discussion about the experience of creating posts and replying to classmates can be very beneficial. Often, students don't know who the sister schools are, let alone students from those schools. Using Google Classroom as a social networking site, can be a great introduction for students while still allowing teachers to be the moderator.

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