High school students are obsessed with social media, there is no denying their fascination with Snapchat and Instagram. Believe it or not, there are ways that a teacher can use social media in a classroom without allowing the students free range on their cellphones or other smart devices in class. Here’s a few ways to use social media in the classroom without always having the students go online.

1. Fakebook: An Exercise in Characterization

Fakebook is a classroom tool that can be used to explore literary or historical characters and people in a modern way. Using this website you can create a Facebook profile for anyone you want, without the audience of Facebook. You can add pictures, friends, and statuses to the profile to chart a character’s arc in a book to check for students’ understanding. The profiles can be saved and shared, so it can be used as an evaluative tool for students.

2. A Little Birdy Told Me

Tweets can only be 140 characters. That limitation can be a great exercise in eliminating unnecessary information. You can have students describe events, plot development, or any other topic in less than 140 characters to gauge their understanding of the important tenets. Similarly, you can have the students tweet about the same event from different perspectives or characters in order to demonstrate the importance of vantage.

3. Instagram

A photo is worth a thousand words...plus the caption. You could have students create a photo essay (using Instagram photos) as a creative project that could introduce themselves to the class, or as a lesson in symbolism for a text in an ELA classroom. You can allow the students to input emoji or hashtags in their descriptions in order to further illustrate their points.

4. Connecting with Parents and Students Outside of Class

By creating a classroom blog, twitter account, or Facebook group, you can create a dialogue with students outside of class in case they have any questions, and to keep them updated about what is going on in school. Another great way to use these features is to update the group feed with pertinent news stories or updates that may go along with what you are learning at the time.  Online platforms (think Moodle or Edmodo) are a central location for collaborating with groups, so more class or group projects could be remotely held online if groups could not meet in person. Starting in high school, most nights I would be chatting with my friends online about assignments and things that we didn’t understand. If there was an official place for these discussions that a teacher could monitor, miscommunication could be avoided.