Oh social media, that thing that just seems to suck away time (and our productivity). In fact, I’ve started this post almost three times now only to be distracted by Facebook. It also seems to have become this control factor in our lives, especially our teen’s lives. Is there a way to use it positively though? After spending an hour sifting through articles, and looking at different sites I think there is a way that we as teachers can have some good come from this. Some of our students’ favorite social media sites can actually be used to enhance their reading lives. I found some interesting things while digging around.
I started my digging on Goodreads because I figured that would be a good spot to start. I can see a lot of good coming out of introducing your students to Goodreads. First off you can use it to track what your students are reading, you can have them make a ‘to read’ list (as Kittle suggested), or they can get involved in conversations about their favorite books. They can leave their own book reviews or they can read other’s reviews. Reading the reviews allows them to see whether a book is something they would enjoy, or not. I also discovered the group settings on Goodreads. I found a teen board that is dedicated to discussing different books, characters, and so on. From what I understand it is also possible to create your own group which would allow your students to be able to discuss books in a sort of chat room type area that is still moderated fairly well.
Next up I started looking at blogs. There are actually several blogs out their for teen readers. Two that I really enjoyed looking at were Reading Rants and Teenreads. Teenreads is actually pretty cool because it is run mostly by a board of teens from all of the world. It is definitely an interesting site to check out. These two sites both provide a space to start conversations about books, and look for new books to check out. Having teens blog about books themselves also isn’t a bad idea. Blogging allows you to connect writing to reading, but also allows students to use their own voice to tell about the book that they have read.
Wattpad. I noticed a few other people have talked about it so I will just briefly touch on it. While Wattpad isn’t specifically teen writers and readers, it is targeted more toward that age group. It was something that I really loved in high school, and does have some good in allowing kids to access new books, different ideas, or even get suggestions for authors. While this site is great, there also is a question about quality. Often books remain unfinished, or authors take forever to post. This can lead to a lot of frustration, and cause problems.
Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc… I’m going to group these all together because I think they are pretty related. You could also probably through Snapchat into this mix as well. These apps are all great for networking with authors or looking into the lives of authors. You can follow many YA authors on all four of these platforms. You can also tweet at your favorite authors, and surprisingly enough sometimes they will answer you back. These are also places where students can share their reading experiences with the rest of the world.
The last place I want you all to look at is Skype. I know it seems an odd inclusion to this list, but I think it does have some merit. I’ve seen Skype used effectively in reading classrooms several times. One of the ways I’ve seen Skype used was book discussions. A group of teachers from several schools got together and had their students read different books. The teachers then organized a Skype call in which the different classes were able to share opinions and develop a discussion about the books. Also, you can organize Skype calls with librarians and even authors.
Social media may not be the greatest, but since we are stuck with it why not use it for some good. I’ve just touched on a few of the many ways you can use social media in your classroom. I suggest you look into it even more because I’m sure you’ll find an idea worth using.