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Social Media in the Classroom

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Arroyo High School is located in El Monte, California, and has an impressive roster of notable alumni such as fashion designer Bob Mackie, and multiple Olympics gold medal winner Kimberly Rhode. Every Friday we meet with a bright group of young journalists from Arroyo High, and together we implement traditional journalism skills, deploy digital media literacy pedagogy, and explore creative ways to instill the importance of being civically engaged.

As educators we always try to find creative ways to infuse current skills practiced by journalists in news rooms. Participatory social media is a critical part of today's journalism landscape, and in some cases personal accounts in social media platforms have become critical components' in today's news.

The use of social media in a class curriculum is nothing new. The practice helps bridge the misconception of high school students being tech-savvy and knowing how to be digitally literate, according to Mathew Williams, Educational Technologist at KQED in San Francisco, California. "We as educators really have an opportunity and a need to fill that whole of critical thinking and becoming more digital literate," he said in his teacher training video. The students at Arroyo High School are part of our Millennial Generation -- individuals in tune to current technology and the ability to harness immense social media traction.

How can students learn to tap into their social media networks to explore civic engagement?

Youth participants are required to write a series of articles throughout the Youth Voices program. The first article is about an object that has a personal connection to their neighborhood or a community in the City of El Monte. Students at Arroyo High School identified an array of objects, such as a parents' wedding band, a photograph of themselves as a child in a local park, and a religious statue. Once the articles were published, the students were instructed to craft an engaging social media campaign to promote their own articles, using Twitter and Facebook and the hashtag #kcetyv -- bridging their work to their existing social media platforms.

Students were given two options in writing their social media posts:

1. Propose a question to your audience. Stephanie Tang, senior, crafted this twitter post engaging her online community with a question:

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2. Provide your audience with clear directions of where to go and what to do. Justine Martinez, sophomore, wrote this post on her Facebook wall where she used humor to engage her audience:

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How can educators make the connection between social media and digital media literacy?

Digital media literacy is a 21st century approach to education, which the Center for Media Literacy defines as: "a framework to access, analyze, evaluate, create and participate with messages in a variety of forms -- from print to video to the Internet. Media literacy builds an understanding of the role of media in society as well as essential skills of inquiry and self-expression necessary for citizens of a democracy."

California school districts, like most districts across the United States, adopted the K-12 Common Core State Standards Initiative in 2009. The Common Core is a set of high-quality academic standards in mathematics and English language arts and literacy. These learning goals outline what a student should know and be able to do at the end of each grade. The standards were created to ensure that all students graduate from high school with the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in college, career, and life, regardless of where they live.

Writing standards for literacy in grades 6 to 12 are clearly laid out in Standard 8 of the Common Core Standards. It proposes that students learn to gather relevant information from multiple authoritative print and digital sources, and use advanced searches to assess the strengths and limitations of each source so that students can integrate information into the text and ultimately avoiding plagiarism.

The Departures: Youth Voices curriculum examines how multimedia theory and application can link students to their personal, cultural, and community history while also offering an opportunity to envision and advocate for a neighborhood that better serves the needs of all its residents. To see more of the student's progress and future social media posts please follow our projects social media hashtag #kcetyv on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

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