[Still] struggling to get our heads around social media in schools…

Dan Haesler has written an article titled [Still] struggling to get our head around social media in schools… about how social media is taught in schools – with a focus on what not to do. He describes how schools (and parents) focus on the negatives of social media without considering how students can use it to create a positive digital footprint. The point he makes is that avoiding a negative digital footprint does not mean avoiding a digital footprint altogether.

While accepting the need to help students navigate social media safely and responsibly he makes it clear that teaching young people how to develop a positive online presence is also critical. He frames this online presence specifically in relation to future employment.

If at some point every one of our students will experience and use social media what can we do to help them use it in a positive way?

The following video is Dan giving a talk on the subject in 2016 to a group of teachers.

Facebook for professional development

Social media is great for professional development. For me you can’t go past Twitter but my other two favourites are You Tube and more recently Facebook. With some time and effort, you can create a large network of educational professionals from around the world that constantly feed you information that can inspire you to try new things or challenge/reinforce your beliefs about teaching.

Social media is 24/7 so if you already use or are planning to use it then try not to read everything that comes your way, mainly because you can’t! View your professional social media stream when it suits you. If you find something you like and don’t have time to read or view it then favourite or like it so you can come back to it at another time.

Most recently I have discovered Facebook as a way to access information about teaching and learning. I have a Facebook account for school and follow a number of Groups and Pages:

  1. Share network for the Australian Curriculum, SA – SNAC SA
  2. TfEL Teachers Companion
  3. Digital Technologies and Computational Thinking
  4. Edutopia
  5. TED-Ed
  6. Mindshift

The TfEL Teachers Companion Group has been set up by the Learning to Learn team from DECD to support those who are using the TfEL Companion Diary. The diary sets a focus linked to TfEL each fortnight and the Facebook Group supports this by posting relevant information linked to the focus. It also promotes PD opportunities as well as providing the opportunity to pose questions around teaching and learning. The Group provides great information regardless of whether you have the diary or not.

So if you have a Facebook account why not add some of these Groups or Pages to your feed?

Social media in my classroom

The use of tools like Facebook and Edmodo (a closed social network) have helped me to improve the way that I interact and communicate with students and their parents. I have been using Facebook since 2013 and Edmodo from the start of this year in my classroom. Both have been valuable inclusions to the way I work and while Facebook and Edmodo have some striking similarities both play very different roles in my classes.


I use Edmodo to:

  1. provide a central location for uploading and downloading assessment tasks.
  2. provide a central location for resources (sorted into folders) including documents, weblinks and videos (there is no storage limit in Edmodo).
  3. provide a place for students to submit completed assessment tasks and for me to provide feedback.

Edmodo – Create folders to store unlimited resources for students and teacher to access

Screen Shot 2015-05-27 at 5.34.32 pm

Edmodo – Store, assess and feedback comments and grades to students

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Edmodo – Create posts, assignments, quizzes and polls

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I use Facebook to :

  1. create closed groups for my students and parents – Yr 12 PE (student group), Yr 11 PE (student group) and Year 7-10 HPE (parent and student group).
  2. provide parents with programs, assignments & content term by term (7-10 HPE group).
  3. provide parents with text, images or video of what is happening in lessons (7-10 HPE group).
  4. to remind students of upcoming class events and due dates (i.e. We are doing the beep test today don’t forget to bring a change of clothes).

Facebook – Sharing information with parents about what is happening in the classroom

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Facebook – Communication with Year 12 students

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Using social media in schools


Social media in schools provides a powerful tool for communicating with parents and students, supporting student learning in the classroom and opening up professional learning opportunities for teachers. From personal experience using social media platforms on a daily/weekly basis to do these things including Facebook, Twitter, Podcasts, You Tube, blogs and closed platforms like Edmodo support us to:

  • bring parents into our classrooms
  • help parents to support their children
  • engage students with content
  • provide reminders and homework tasks
  • answer questions students have when they are working from home
  • join learning networks with like minded people and find new ideas to trial in our classrooms
  • consider opinions of educators that have differing opinions making us think in different ways.

Listen to Professor Stephen Heppell discuss his views on social media in schools.

Professor Stephen Heppell – “One of the most influential academics in the field of technology and education globally”.

What’s the difference between empathy & sympathy?

Here is an interesting video on the difference between empathy and sympathy. I found this while scrolling through tweets by @SirKenRobinson.

I thought this could be useful if you were discussing emotions with students as part of Health or Pastoral Care.

On a side note if you go to the home page and scroll down to the bottom of the blog you can look through tweets by @SirKenRobinson @DylanWiliam @EMPIRIEDUCATOR and @aitsl.

PBAS 14 Day Twitter Challenge

Twitter app

Before starting this post I must thank Jarrod Robinson (@mrrobbo) who posted a PE teacher 14 Day Twitter Challenge on his website thepegeek.com. A perfect example of how Twitter directed me to something that then resulted in an idea that could be used to encourage staff at PBAS to learn a new skill that potentially could change the way they view professional development and teaching.

Thanks to all the staff willing to have a go a the 14 Day Twitter Challenge. I hope that everyone finds it worth while. Below are copies of the 14 Day Challenge graphic. I have also added a follow up video to the first session where we created our Twitter accounts in case anyone wanted to get a refresher on some of the things we talked about on Day 1 of the challenge.


Links to TfEL and The Australian Professional Standards for Teachers

TfEL 1.3 Participate in professional learning communities and networks.

TfEL 1.5 Discuss educational purpose and policy.

Australian Teacher Standards 6.2 Engage in professional learning and improve practice.

Australian Teacher Standards 6.3 Engage with colleagues and improve practice.


The 14 Day Twitter Challenge instructions

14 Day Twitter Challenge









PBAS Twitter Basics



If have you haven’t noticed I have been playing around with the format of the blog. As well as changing the format and colours I have added something new in the right hand side bar, my Twitter feed. Every now and then I tell someone how awesome Twitter is for professional development and I have posted about it before. The ideas and resources that I get on an ongoing basis are not possible through any other professional development format. The reason behind adding my Twitter feed to the blog is so that other teachers who may not see Twitter as a PD tool can get a sense of what it provides me. The Twitter feed on this blog only shows what I post to Twitter and what I ‘Favourite’ in terms of other teachers posts, it does not show every tweet that I see in my account. My intention is to try and ‘Favourite’ a range of tweets across subject areas and year levels. The Twitter feed only shows about four tweets but you can scroll through as many past tweets as you like by clicking and dragging using your mouse. My Twitter feed is obviously tailored to me but it should give you a sense of what Twitter might offer you if you were to create an account.

Please note almost every tweet will have a link in it to a resource or article of some sort. The link my not be obvious within the tweet i.e. it won’t be blue and underlined.

The reach of social media

Below are the visits our site has recieved broken down by country. This is the information gathered by the ClustrMaps map found at the bottom right of the blog page. It is based on a persons IP address. Each time an IP address visits the site it is logged as one visit. If an IP address visits more than once in a day it is still only recorded as one visit. This is different to the Page Hits counter (found above the ClustrMap on the blog) which counts every visit and page hit hence why it is a larger number.

So far since January this year to the writing of this post there have been 1622 visits from people around the world based on one visit per day per IP address while page hits are at 3859. The reason I wanted to bring this to your attention was 1. purely interests sake but 2. to point out what we write, either as a post or as a comment is not just read by staff at our school but by a world wide audience. This blog has relatively few visitors compared with others but it does show the reach you can have when you put your thoughts and ideas online.

As professional development tools blogs, wikis, Facebook and Twitter (among many other Web 2.0 tools) are almost unlimited in their ability to offer professional learning. If you haven’t considered using them for professional development before you may like to in the future. They have certainly contributed to my knowledge and directly to my teaching in the classroom.

The reach of social media is huge and linking to other teachers on it is easy. Here are some social media statistics to blow your mind:

Source http://thesocialskinny.com/100-social-media-statistics-for-2012/

  • There are 955 million active users on Facebook
  • Each day Facebook users spend 10.5 billion minutes (almost 20,000 years) online on the social network
  • On a busy day, twitter sees about 175 million tweets
  • One hour of video is uploaded to YouTube every second –  that’s 24 hours of video every 24 seconds
  • Instagram – more than 50 million users over past 2 years and 300 million pictures uploaded to Facebook a day (via Instagram)

PBAS R-12 Curriculum and Pedagogy – statistics

Sorry about the poor formating for the data below. Its the only way I could copy it from the ClustrMaps website.

The breakdown of the Australian numbers is SA 613, NSW 147, Vic 97, QLD 54, WA 46, Tas 10, ACT 8, NT 2, NA (unidentifiable IP address) 132.

                                                               Australia (AU)


                                                               United States (US)


                                                               France (FR)


                                                               United Kingdom (GB)


                                                               New Zealand (NZ)


                                                               Canada (CA)


                                                               India (IN)


                                                               Singapore (SG)


                                                               Europe (EU)


                                                               United Arab Emirates (AE)


                                                               Pakistan (PK)


                                                               Belgium (BE)






Responsible use of Social Media

The use of social media is wide spread and regardless of what we personally think of this medium it is here to stay and is the way that a large portion of the worlds population communicates. This includes our students. If our students are on Facebook then we should educate them about Facebook, if our students use mobile phones then we should educate them about the use of mobile phones. I use Facebook and mobile phones as examples because I would be surprised if their were more popular mediums among teenagers (and younger) for sharing comments and images.

When it all goes wrong and an image is posted which shames or embarrasses others or themselves our reactions as adults can be very condemning, “Why would you do that?” “Didn’t you realise the consequences?” I think it can be easy to sit back and think that the last couple of generations of kids are Internet savvy and automatically know what to do when using social networks because they have grown up with it. I also think this is an incorrect assumption. As parents and teachers we need to guide kids on how to use social media responsibly. Below are a couple of resources which could help teachers to do this. Do you have students in your class on Facebook and using mobile phones? If the answer is yes how do you help them use these tools responsibly?

I have collected a couple of resources for teaching digital literacy and citizenship and created links to them below.

The poster below is not easily readable in this post but you should get the idea. It would be a great starting point for discussion with students who post images and comments online. Common Sense Media – Digital Citizenship poster quality version – (click here to go to their site for a downloadable version of the poster).













Common Sense media digital literacy and citizenship curriculum K-5

Common Sense media digital literacy and citizenship curriculum 6-8

Common Sense media digital literacy and citizenship curriculum 9-12

The Value of Creative Play

I came across this video during the holidays which reminded me of how important play is for children. The video is about Caine a young boy in East L.A. who builds a cardboard amusement arcade at his fathers used car parts store. Credit to his father for encouraging Caine’s imagination, creativity and play. How do we foster creativity at P.B.A.S.?

This is a brilliant video, I guarantee it will make you smile!