Enter social media. Unlike a traditional brick and mortar school, social media spaces are free from the limitations of time and space. This becomes increasingly important as school schedules continue to be hijacked. While writing may be required from 8:25am until 9:15am in the physical classroom, writing can be taught 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year in the virtual classroom. Additionally, virtual social spaces provide the opportunity to archive and reflect upon conversations, and to share writing with not only classmates, but an even broader audience. I was geeked.
I started to consider all of the amazing ways social media could extend and enhance my writing instruction in ways that simply cannot be done in an analog paper and pencil notebook. Student writing could be immediately accessible to classmates, parents, and grandparents. Feedback could be given to and received from classmates hundreds of miles away, as well as in the classroom next door. Student writing could potentially be read around the world. Students could write and reflect outside of the classroom and school day. The options seemed endless.
This all sounded well and good to me, and I was convinced the opportunities afforded by social media would solve all of my problems. I knew the “why,” but the “how” was a whole other can of worms.
In my head I had this grandiose picture of students enthusiastically typing impressive works of writing and eagerly offering constructive feedback to peers. Then I realized, although the space has removed the time and spatial constraint, I still had several unresolved questions: What social media tool should I use? What permissions do I need to acquire from parents, my district, as well as in compliance with user agreements? How can I ensure consistent access to the Internet, especially since many of my students don’t have access at home?
While troubleshooting my way through the questions, I realized there was an even more important set of questions I hadn’t considered: How will my 8 year old students respond to composing digitally? How will a social media tool provide an authentic audience? How do I promote a community of effective peer feedback in a digital space when it was already challenging in the physical world? Clearly, there was much more I had left to consider.