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RIDE supports several blogs throughout our website where Rhode Islanders and RIDE staff share their thoughts.

On this page, we have collected all of the blogs on our site - many of which share posts from Rhode Island educators other than RIDE staff. Blogs are listed in alphabetical order:

  • Commissioner's Corner: Blog posts and messages from the Commissioner to the Rhode Island community.
  • District Teacher of the Year (DTOY): Posts from the Rhode Island District Teachers of the Year, past and present, who share about instructional successes and challenges they encounter in Rhode Island classrooms.
  • Equitable Access to Excellent Educators: Rhode Island educators and RIDE staff explore factors and perspectives on the importance of ensuring that all students are taught by high quality educators.
  • Leadership: Reflections and insights from RIDE’s Leadership Fellow and other district and school leaders on the challenges and opportunities of being a school leader.
  • Rhode Island Poet Laureate: Reflections and poetry focused on teaching, learning, and the experience of education from Tina Cane, Rhode Island Poet Laureate.
  • Rhode Island Science Education (R.I.S.E.): A communication blog to update stakeholders in education and in the community on important developments, events and accomplishments in science education in Rhode Island.
  • Student Voice: Because student voice is an essential component of our discussion on education, RIDE will post essays written by students from around Rhode Island.

Click on a category below to filter by a particular blog:

Making a Case for Learning with Social Media

Posted by: Kamlyn Keith on 5/31/2019
Jamie Miller
2019 Beacon Charter School District Teacher of the Year
Founders Academy
English and Language Arts Teacher

Like many other teachers (I’m sure), I sometimes find myself rolling my eyes at the latest trends in social media. Whether it be a brand new “challenge,” or a YouTuber who gets paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for “unboxing” the latest and greatest makeup, I usually don’t buy into it. My seventh graders will ask me if I know what a new acronym means or if I watch some famous YouTuber, and react in pure shock and laughter when I respond with, “what?” or “who?”

Students can use the internet for everything these days, and much of their time seems to be consumed by social media. They can text each other without phone numbers. They can meet people from all over the world while they play a video game as a miniature car that plays soccer. They can edit their pictures with apps to make their teeth whiter or give themselves dog ears. Their options for engaging online are endless.

It took me a while to feel comfortable with students using the internet in my classroom. I remember the cringe I felt when I finally told them they could use Wikipedia for research (“but only for the reading! You can’t cite it as evidence!”). I spent so much time teaching them to analyze whether or not a website was trustworthy or not, and became quite obsessed with them being able to determine what was fact and what was opinion or falsehood. Once I felt like I truly mastered Google Classroom or editing on Docs, I would be hit with a new update to the system or question from a student that made me go into panic mode. And the worst part of this is that I consider myself pretty tech-savvy!

I think underneath all of the anxiety is a fear of the unknown and of what students might be exposed to if we aren’t monitoring their computer use. While I grew up learning how to type words on a keyboard in middle school and doing research for school in real books from the actual library, many of our students were born into the age of playing with cell phones as babies and learning how to use touchscreens like they learned how to use a fork.

This reality truly hit me while my students were working on their midterm projects. The goal was for students to dive into researching a social issue that sparked their passions, and display their learning in some sort of visual that would make it easy for their peers to learn. One passionate student wanted to research an upsetting video she had seen on YouTube of a white woman who wanted to become black. My response, (very casually, as if she knew exactly what I was talking about) was, “oh, that’s cultural appropriation. I just read an article about this teenager who was a famous social media person who just got called out for culturally appropriating a person of color when she really was white.” The student immediately knew the social media star to whom I was referring.

Page from student project

For her project, this student created a “social media campaign” where she used Twitter as a platform to create a thread about her research on cultural appropriation, and what it meant to her and to society. She included pictures, hashtags, and abbreviations that her peers would understand, limiting the characters of each “tweet” to make this heavy subject accessible to students her age. It was fascinating. In her reflection, she explained how I had given her the words “cultural appropriation” and how she had used YouTube videos, social media hashtags, and social media posts to learn about the topic in a way that she could understand. Her research and presentation of her learning was so thorough, so detailed, and truly engaging. In her reflection, she shared that she used social media and YouTube to research because it is the easiest way for her to access information that makes sense to her. Once she had a base knowledge that she gained from using social media, she was able to read stories and examine articles that might previously have been challenging for her.

Page from student project

We have to be responsible in teaching our students the critical skills for smart internet use. We can only hope that when they leave our classrooms, they’re using these skills as critical consumers of information. As much as we can teach them, they have so much to teach us. We need to remember the huge role of social media and internet use in their lives, and that there can be good and learning that comes from it. This student taught me not to be afraid to let students use the resources they’re familiar with to learn. This takes practice, time, and teaching: teaching ourselves to become more familiar with and less afraid of the “World Wide Web,” and teaching our students how to analyze whether or not the information they’re accessing is trustworthy and factual.

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