George Lucas Educational Foundation

How to Use Social Media to Strengthen Student Writing

How to Use Social Media to Strengthen Student Writing

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When Advanced Placement and The National Writing Project surveyed teachers regarding social media use in the classroom, they found that 78% agree (26% strongly agree) that digital technologies “encourage student creativity and personal expression”. Digital tools of course give access to social media, which is a powerful outlet in and of itself to be able to harness in the classroom as a tool for communication. Which then begs the question, why can’t we leverage the power of social media outlets to help strengthen student writing?

Many of us know that with practice comes perfection, especially when it comes to writing. The more we write, the better we become as writers. Social media can be a tool where students are encouraged to use their creativity combined with personal expression to improve and strengthen their writing.

Blogging has become one of the primary platforms for teachers to use to help advance student communication. Blogging can be used as a tool to strengthen student writing through time. Some educators may, at first, be hesitant to accept blogging as a “formal” mode of writing. This is probably due to many years of teaching writing and academic essays. However, they will soon witness the benefits of blogging for students are so invaluable as a tool for communication.

Using Twitter as a mode of communication to improve writing has its benefits. Twitter as a platform inherently requires users to be short and brief, 140 characters brief. This mode of communication allows students to practice brevity and clarity. Using twitter can help them get to the point directly without using needless jargon in their writing. Twitter can also push them to not only be brief but also kind, empathetic and mindful when choosing their words.

Instagram as a platform is about the visual aspect. However, the caption component allows students to provide a brief description, outline, or a story to the visual they share. If you’re curious about how to use instagram in the classroom, check out my post Storytelling with Instagram,

How can these outlets strengthen student writing:

Consistency: Teachers need to work out a plan with students to make writing on social media platforms a consistent practice in the classroom. Working with the students’ needs, skills and abilities would help the teacher and the student figure out a goal of how much writing needs to be done per week to improve on a specific set of writing skills.

Feedback: The power of peer feedback undeniably helps students to improve their writing. However, it also helps to foster a culture of writing accountability amongst peers. Peers now feel the need to write, comment and improve in order for them to share their work with their peers.

Confidence: Publishing work publicly is often a very nerve wracking and a scary experience for many students. Though with practice, encouragement, and positive feedback, students are able to gain confidence in themselves to be able to write and share more of their work in the digital world. This confidence doesn’t necessarily translate to stronger writing; however, the more confidence students have when it comes to writing, the more it’s an enjoyable task that they’re engaged with and actually look forward to doing.

Collaboration: When students are exposed to writing from their peers by way of feedback and collaboration, especially when it’s live collaboration (Google doc/Twitter), students are able to develop stronger ideas, find convincing evidence and be creative in composition generally.

In the same study above, 50% of teachers say today’s digital technologies make it EASIER for them to shape or improve student writing. There are so many reasons to incorporate the use of social media in the classroom, but one of the most important reasons is to help strengthen student writing.

This post was created by a member of Edutopia's community. If you have your own #eduawesome tips, strategies, and ideas for improving education, share them with us.

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Gaetan Pappalardo's picture
Gaetan Pappalardo
Teacher, Author, Guitar––Word.

There's a potential for deep thought in social media comments and posts. I know that when I'm reading comments on social media, especially on a hot topic, I'm thinking deeply and critically about each sentence, word, phrase--so I can respond respectfully and succinctly---something that will move the conversation along, not hold it up with a long clumsy comment. This is good for kids and adults too.

Jamea Al Kauthar's picture

This is a very interesting post that captures the necessity to Use Social Media to Strengthen Student Writing. Thanks for sharing.

SarahBellum's picture

Disappointed. The article should be called "Why Use Social Media..." not "How to..." Nothing but justifications here. No practical strategies. No tips on how to actually set the profiles up, or monitor, or discourage cyber bullying, or how much extra time it requires, or whether there's a way to set up a master teacher page that lets you monitor all students at once, or what the ramifications are for yourself or your school if students are caught bullying, or how to keep them safe from predators, etc. I love the idea. I use technology as often as possible in the classroom (Khan Academy, Code Studio, Pixie, BrainPop, TypeToLearn, Accelerated Reader, YouTube, etc). Don't need to be convinced of its merit. Would love to use it to strengthen their writing. I was just hoping for some actual useable strategies based on that title. :(

Rusul Alrubail's picture
Rusul Alrubail
Edutopia Community Facilitator/ Student Voice & Literacy at The Writing Project

Hi SarahBellum, the intent of the article was not to discuss setting up profiles, or cyberbullying, or any of the other aforementioned issues. As those topics do not relate to strengthening student writing. This post sets up a few strategies to use consistently with students combined with the use of social media in order to strengthen their use & writing. Thanks for commenting.

SarahBellum's picture

Then (as stated previously) using the words "How to" in the title is misleading. :)

Rusul Alrubail's picture
Rusul Alrubail
Edutopia Community Facilitator/ Student Voice & Literacy at The Writing Project

I'll take it in under advisement and appreciate the feedback. Thanks.

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