Category: Social media

How to incorporate podcasting into your curriculum this school year

How to incorporate podcasting into your curriculum this school year

School is almost back in session and educators are busy working on curriculum for the upcoming school year that will challenge students, improve their communication skills and provide a platform to express their thoughts and interests. If you haven’t created a podcasting unit before, there are plenty of platforms that will help you get started with low or no start-up costs.

My son and I started The Middle School Mind podcast last fall as a way to give him a platform  to express his, sometimes random, 6th grade thoughts. We had so much fun making the podcast that we’ve created a tutorial to encourage students to plan, produce and publish their own podcasts and hope educators will incorporate podcasts into their curriculum.

Why podcasting?

According to a recent survey published by Kids Listen, an organization of advocates for high-quality audio content for children, nearly two-thirds of the respondents have been listening to podcasts for more than one year.

Respondents cited that podcasts are fun and offer entertainment value while some offer educational value through current events, history or science and nature-themed shows as primary reasons for listening to podcasts. Many families like podcasts as a way to keep kids engaged and off screens and something the entire family can listen to in the car.

Meet The Middle School Mind

We started The Middle School Mind because we also love listening to podcasts. We started the show when my son started 6th grade and wanted his own YouTube or Twitch channel to stream video games like Minecraft and Fortnite.

My wife and I had strong reservations with him posting online content that would include his name or image. People can be cruel on the internet and online message boards and comments sections can be places that are detrimental to a middle schooler’s ego and view of self-worth.

We go by Father and Son on our show to maintain a level of anonymity and privacy. This allows my son to speak freely and openly on the show without fear of being judged, identified or bullied online. During our first season, we covered a wide variety of topics ranging from school resource officers, video games and even a two part episode where we interviewed middle school teachers (who also happen to be close family members).


Is it Time for a Social Media Awareness Class?

Christian Miraglia, Ask a Tech Teacher contributor, has some great ideas on teaching kids about Social Media Awareness:

Over the last decade, there has been pressure in the K-12 learning environment to create classes that address everything from managing your money to various efforts to address cultural inequalities. The problem with including these classes, which all have good intentions, is that there is not enough time to address these subjects without taking away from core subjects. However, with the continued issue of social media’s influence on our teens, I think it is time to address this, especially in light of the recent massacre in Uvalde. The shooter was a user of Yubo and had posted threatening messages on the platform. I am sure that many teachers and parents have never heard of Yubo, which creates a problem in itself. Since the problem is complex, there are no simple solutions, but in light of what we see as educators, it is time to address the problem of social media use by our children in an educational setting.

Teachers understand the influence social media has had on students. In a recent article in the publication EdSurge, teacher Tyler Rablin lamented on losing battle with students’ cellphone use in schools. He conveyed his frustration with having students distracted by social media alerts and viewing videos as he tried to teach. I experienced the same in my years in the classroom. Whether it was text messages or videos, I encountered daily disruptions to my teaching, no matter what measure I took. Rabin’s solution was to ban cell phone usage. I applaud him in this endeavor, but I also think that students must be made formally aware of the influence of social media. 


Social Media or COVID: Which is more dangerous to students?

Not a surprise that student use of social media is way up since remote learning became de rigeur in learning. Social media limits users to 13+ but doesn’t monitor that. What could sober education’s on-going concern about the dangers of COVID is the booming number of arrests of students for misuse of social media. My conclusion: We aren’t teaching enough about the proper use of social media platforms and the danger of cyberbullying.

Read this article from DA District Administration and see if you agree:

Student behavior on social media is now a bigger threat than COVID

by Matt Zalaznick

Though the threats appear unfounded, they are closing classrooms and raising anxiety as schools are trying to find some send of normalcy.

Read More>>

More from Ask a Tech Teacher on social media:


Instagram: A Student Vehicle for Social Change

From Ask a Tech Teacher contributor, retired teacher and education consultant, Christian Miraglia:

Instagram: A Student Vehicle for Social Change

In my last post, I wrote about using Twitter for classroom instruction. Here, the focus is how students use social media to advance their causes and concerns. As a history teacher, I emphasized the concept of taking action on social issues to affect change. Having grown up in the sixties and seventies, I saw the civil rights movements and the anti-war movement at their height. These social movements involved a network of people intent on making a change in a world that was deaf to their concerns. The organizing of the various marches was primarily done by word of mouth and using the latest technology; the phone. Tracing back centuries, we see information being transferred by horse and by foot, which could take days, weeks, and even months. 

Entering the third year of the pandemic, we see students marching out from schools in frustration with the inconsistent policies and the lack of voice in decisions affecting their education.  As these became more prevalent over the last month, I was intrigued by how the students organized their walkouts. The method they used their phones was reminiscent of the Arab Spring in the early 2010s. 

From the Wired feed from January 17, 2022, the headline reads Inside the Student-Led Covid Walkouts US high school students are demanding safer classrooms, and they’re mobilizing through group chats, Google Docs, and homespun social media campaigns. In Oakland, students used a shared Google document to start a petition as a vehicle to address inequities and health concerns of their education. Not only did the students use the document, but they also had to manage the settings to assure that it would extend beyond a few students so they could demonstrate a united front. 

Because the students also are pretty adept at using social media, platforms such as Instagram were an easy go-to.  What seemed to be a local movement soon spread across the nation to Boston, New York, and Denver. Just glancing at the Instagram feed organized by New York students, one can see over 4800 followers, some of which were parents. This feed is unique because it has an update button, essential links, Q&A, and a thank you button, all of which are part of the Instagram story feature. Even more remarkable in the nycstudentwalkout2022 feed is how the students organized their resources to make an understandable and navigable platform to spread the word about the walkouts. As a history teacher who demanded the sourcing of claims made in classwork, I felt the nycstudentwalkout2022 group put together an exemplary of sources related to their health concerns. 


Classroom Travels with Twitter: An Evolution

Most teachers I know have used Twitter in their classes either to communicate with parents, share homework with students, for group study, to research on a topic, crowd source ideas with colleagues, or a myriad of other purposes (click here for more ideas). Ask a Tech Teacher contributor Christian Miraglia, Educational Consultant for T4Edtech, reminds us that how we used it at first is probably not how we use it now:

I Need an Idea, and I Need it Now!

You may remember the JG Wentworth commercial in which frantic customers shout out, “ I need my money, and I need it now!”. I sometimes lacked a plan as a teacher due to an overloaded schedule or mental exhaustion.  “I need a lesson idea, and I need it now!”  Where did I turn? Twitter. The social media platform became a resource when I was running on empty. Twitter as a classroom resource, you ask? Over the past two decades, Twitter has been a mainstay in my instruction. 

How many followers do you have?

I began using Twitter in my classroom soon after its introduction in 2006. I found creative uses for it in my history teaching, even at that time. One group of students created a conversation between Andrew Jackson and the various Native American groups forcibly relocated to the Indian Territory. The discussion was based on the research of primary and secondary documents and was quite creative. Nowadays, there are so many social media platforms that it can be overwhelming to keep track of for teachers. When my students would ask me how many followers I had on my Facebook account and Twitter, I stated I did not know. “Two hundred, three hundred one thousand,” they probed. I would note I had no idea on my Facebook account, but maybe 500 on my Twitter account, and most of them are teachers. 


3 Ways To Foster Digital Citizenship in Schools

#ISTE had an interesting discussion on how to foster digital citizenship in schools. This is especially critical because students are spending so much more time than ever before online. Here’s a peak at their conversation and then a link to the rest:

3 Ways To Foster Digital Citizenship in Schools

For teachers, it can be difficult to know when and how to instill digital citizenship skills. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to weave digital citizenship into the school day and for parents to reinforce it at home. ISTE has a few suggestions:

Read on…

For more on Digital Citizenship, check our K-8 curriculum here and these additional articles:

Digital Citizenship Week–Here’s What You Need

Tech Ed Resources for your Class–Digital Citizenship

Digital Citizenship (Middle School)

Digital Citizenship (High School)


Tech Tip ##113: Backup Your Blog

tech tipsIn these 169 tech-centric situations, you get an overview of pedagogy—the tech topics most important to your teaching—as well as practical strategies to address most classroom tech situations, how to scaffold these to learning, and where they provide the subtext to daily tech-infused education.

Today’s tip: Backup Your Blog

Category: Maintenance, Social Media, Writing, Problem-solving

Q: I’m paranoid of losing my documents so I back them up to an external drive, a flash drive, and in the cloud. My blog–it’s become an important cog in my PLN. If it blew up, I’d be lost. What do I do about backing it up?

world backup dayA: If you use WordPress, it’s easy; they provide a native tool for that. Here’s what you do:

  • Go to Tools>Export.
  • Select the bubble for ‘all’.
  • It’ll back document files up as an XML file (you don’t have to understand what that is. Just know it’s the file that will save you if Wordpress crashes).
  • Save that backup file somewhere safe in case you need it. Preferably where your Cloud automatic backup will grab it (assuming you have one of those. If you use Carbonite, you do).
  • Do this once a month–or a week if you’re active.

This will backup posts, pages, comments, categories, and tags. For the entirety of the blog–similar to an image where you can restore the entire website–you’ll need an external service. My blog is hosted by GoDaddy. Part of that service is a backup of the blog. It’s worth it to me to pay a bit extra for that function.

World Backup Day just passed. Mark your calendar for next year, March 31st, and be sure to perform all backups–your blog and everything else–on that day.

Sign up for a new tip each week or buy the entire 169 Real-world Ways to Put Tech into Your Classroom.

What’s your favorite tech tip in your classroom? Share it in the comments below.


What’s all the buzz about Messenger Kids?

When preteen kids see parents and older siblings thumbing away at social media accounts, they want to do it. They don’t understand when told they are too young. There have been a few efforts to extend social communication tools to younger kids but mostly, kids don’t like them so end up on apps designed for teens or adults, like Snapchat or Instagram.

Until the iconic Facebook platform came up with what they call Messenger Kids.

What is Messenger Kids

Messenger Kids is a free video calling and messaging app designed for kids under thirteen to connect with others from their tablet or smartphone. These are the kids who love digitally chatting on parent cellphones (or other digital devices) but aren’t old enough for the nuances and maturity required of popular 13+ messaging platforms. Messenger Kids provides them with a safe, free environment to chat with friends who have moved away, stay in touch with family who doesn’t live nearby, and get questions answered by parents they aren’t with at the moment.

Here’s what it’s not. First and foremost:

Messenger Kids is not a social media app. It is a messaging app.

Here’s a peak into the app:


professional learning network

Social Media Trends you Need to Be Aware of this School Year

Have you heard of the wildly-popular Netflix series, 13 Reasons Why, dramatizing a teenager’s thirteen reasons for committing suicide? Though it warns watchers about what can cause teens to take their lives, to everyone’s surprise, suicides in that age group went up by 30% in the immediate months following the release.

No one knows why a movie dramatizing teen suicide increased them but it did shine a bright light on the problem of teenagers, gossip, culture, and ultimately social media. Here are two statistics that may shock you:

95% of teens have access to a smartphone

45% of teens say they are online “almost constantly”

Do they have time for anything else? And what are they doing with all that time?

I can’t help with the first question but the second one, I know. I dug into the research — anecdotal and statistical — to find out which social media platforms have so engrossed teens that they barely want to sleep, eat, or watch TV (too much TV — now there’s a quaint problem). Why the mix of anecdotal and statistics? Because teen interests change on a whim. What was hot (like Facebook and Twitter) one year is no more. As a result, I used quantitative data balanced against anecdotal experience.

Let me start by confirming: Yes, the news that kids are no longer in love with Facebook seems to be true. They still use it but precipitously less each year and the number of teen users is behind many other popular social media platforms (like YouTube, Instagram, and Snapchat). Kids have their own methods of chatting, staying up to date, and sharing media with friends, ones that their parents didn’t introduce them to.

Before I share what’s trending among teens, I need to remind readers that most require users to be 13+ to create an account (that’s High School age). But no one verifies that nor does it prevent adults from signing up and then turning access over to the child. It’s the honor system, which works or doesn’t.

Here are the top social media trends kids now use in alphabetic order: