Social Media & The Common Core: Address the Standards by Teaching with Social Media

Social Media & The Common Core: Address the Standards by Teaching with Social Media

How does this lesson or activity meet the standards? It’s a common question in today’s schools, whether it’s for lesson planning, observations, or curriculum design. There are so many standards educators need to address in their classrooms: the Common Core, content-based standards, professional organizations, and local or district guidelines.

The magical art of teaching is to meet the standards while really teaching our students; we teach young people, not content or standards. Still, meeting your respective standards is a concern, especially when incorporating technology or innovation into the classroom.

How can we balance standards, content, student needs, technology and all of the other responsibilities of our classroom? The common concern is something like this: I don’t have time to worry about social media or technology when I don’t have enough time to teach my content area. Social media isn’t on the test.

While the pressure of time and testing is real, it’s not--and never should be--about content vs. tech. Instead of competing interests and strategies, let’s combine them purposefully and meaningfully to help our students do more.

So when I’m questioned about technology or social media, I argue that it doesn’t compete with standards or content, it supports it. I want my students using social media to connect, share, grow, and reflect; I’ve explored that sentiment at length in the Why I Want My Students Using Social Media series.

I understand that sometimes teachers need to justify their choices and defend their practices, and I know that innovation and change is messy. Luckily all of our standards, starting with the Common Core State Standards can help to do just that by supporting the use of social media by and for our students.

Infographic courtesy of Mashable with research from the Pew Research Center

Social Media & The Common Core

Since the CCSS seem never ending, I’ll focus this exploration on the Common Core ELA 9-10Standards for Writing. I chose ELA because most of my classroom exploration with social media has been as an English teacher and Writing simply because there’s too many connections to write about them all and keep your attention. I’m confident you can make the same connections between your content, professional, or school standards, too.

Developing Claims

Activity: Tweet out drafts of claims or feedback

Have students Tweet their claims, or working drafts of research questions and then quote Tweet them with feedback. This evaluation allows students to share their ideas with a global audience and to collaborate in their learning and the feedback process.

Standard: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.9-10.1.B
Develop claim(s) and counterclaims fairly, supplying evidence for each while pointing out the strengths and limitations of both in a manner that anticipates the audience's knowledge level and concerns.

Check for Understanding

Activity: Closure / Exit Ticket

Add a social spin to the standard exit ticket for closure by having students use Twitter to answer a question or reflect on the lesson. What did you learn today? Make learning global and break down classroom walls with this easy closure activity. Use a class hashtag to easily curate responses for feedback.

Standard: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.9-10.1.E and 9-10.2.F
Provide a concluding statement or section that follows from and supports the argument presented.
Provide a concluding statement or section that follows from and supports the information or explanation presented (e.g., articulating implications or the significance of the topic).

Word Choice & Brevity

Activity: Six Word Stories

Update Hemmingway’s 6 Word Story to 140-characters, and again share it with the world. I often remind students to write more about less; focusing and developing shorter pieces--even a handful of words--teaches students about diction, brevity, and syntax.

Standard: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.9-10.3.D
Use precise words and phrases, telling details, and sensory language to convey a vivid picture of the experiences, events, setting, and/or characters.

Authentic Audiences

Activity: Any and every: All of our standards push for sharing with authentic audiences, so give student writing a real audience. Encourage your students to share with the world and help them understand the value of the global audience.

Standard: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.9-10.6
Use technology, including the Internet, to produce, publish, and update individual or shared writing products, taking advantage of technology's capacity to link to other information and to display information flexibly and dynamically.


Activity: Research Skills

All of our students, big and small, need to learn to conduct research. What better way to pose a research question than to an audience that can help answer it? The power of Twitter comes from it’s ability to amplify student voice and curiosity, to connect learners, and to find information quickly from so many different sources. Use these strengths for short bursts of research to build the skills for deeper investigation.

Standard: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.9-10.7 and W.9-10.8
Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects to answer a question (including a self-generated question) or solve a problem; narrow or broaden the inquiry when appropriate; synthesize multiple sources on the subject, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.
Gather relevant information from multiple authoritative print and digital sources, using advanced searches effectively; assess the usefulness of each source in answering the research question; integrate information into the text selectively to maintain the flow of ideas, avoiding plagiarism and following a standard format for citation.

Beyond the Core

The 2016 ISTE Standards for Students are professional standards for students that support the power of social media. In particular, the tenant of digital citizenship asks students to “recognize the rights, responsibilities and opportunities of living, learning and working in an interconnected digital world, and they act and model in ways that are safe, legal and ethical.”

It’s all of our responsibilities as educators to help students navigate the world of today and to prepare for the world of tomorrow. We can meet--and exceed--our standards while using technology, social media, and innovation to prepare students for more than just the test, but for their futures.

What questions do you have about the use of social media in schools? How is (or isn’t?) social media supported by your professional standards? Share your ideas in the comments or on Twitter @MrSchoenbart.

ASCD Infographic

cross posted at

Adam Schoenbart is a high school English teacher, Google Education Trainer, and EdD candidate in Educational Leadership. He teaches grades 10-12 in a 1:1 Chromebook classroom at Ossining High School in Westchester County, NY and received the 2014 LHRIC Teacher Pioneer Award for innovative uses of technology that change teaching and learning. Read more at The SchoenBlog and connect on Twitter @MrSchoenbart.