Technology and Teens, Uncategorized

5 Reasons to Get Better Connected To Your Students Using Social Media

Gone are the days when the teacher-student connection happens for 45 minutes a day. Social media and apps have transformed the way that teachers interact with their students. Leveraging tools at our fingertips provide multiple avenues to provide reminders, present ideas, conduct online discussions outside of the classroom and most importantly, build relationships. As Sean Slade wrote at the Huffington Post, there are several critical reasons why relationships in school matter.

One of my favorite online courses I teach is titled “Social Media in the Classroom”. The course is designed to push educators to utilize social media to enhance learning, build professional learning communities, (PLN), and find endless educational resources that impact their teaching. The results of this four week long course is so interesting to me. I watch teachers go from “I have a Twitter account, but don’t really use it”, to “I can’t live without my PLN!” They become more connected to their students through the social media outlets as well. connected

Here are five reasons to be connected to your students on a deeper level through social media outlets.

Relationship Building. Making emotional connections to our students is critical to learning. Study after study has shown that when students feel safe and cared for they are more likely to master curricular content and enjoy the process of learning. Finding avenues on social media to connect with kids in a positive way will help build relationships outside of the classroom, helping them learn more when they are with you. Using Instagram to showcase student work and ideas is an excellent way to provide positive reinforcement to students. Using a classroom hashtag on Twitter can build a stronger community with your classes as well.

Understand their Sandbox. When teachers understand where students “hangout” it provides a context for what they are talking about at school. I am not suggesting that you start snap-chatting up all your students. Simply, understand the platforms they are using and how it is impacting their lives. Don’t turn a blind eye. One of the benefits of social media is that now everything becomes open and transparent. With a quick search of a hashtag or a user profile, the obvious becomes, well, obvious.  It is difficult to hide the bullies or inappropriate posts happening on social media with kids, presenting opportunities for mentoring or discussions on the appropriate ways to use social media.

Be Transparent. Many educators desire having two separate Twitter accounts.  When I hear this I often wonder, “Why? Who are you following and what are you posting?” Maybe you should just clean up your own online junk and try again. Share a little about your life in an appropriate manner so your students can learn about you as a human. What are you proud of? What motivates you to get up each day and teach your students? Who is your hero? Leverage things like Facebook and Twitter to showcase your own brand of yourself.

I love reading my daughter’s Instagram and Twitter feed because it reminds me how funny and clever she is. It should be the same with you. Who are you and what are you about? Students appreciate the human side of their teachers.

Be Available. Social media tools make you automatically available 24/7 if you choose to be. This can be good and bad all at the same time. Technology should always help you work smarter and not harder. Educators can now respond more quickly to issues and questions that arise each day. For that matter, I watch teenagers help each other out all the time with immediacy through Snapchat, texting, and Twitter. It takes a lot of pressure off kids by knowing that there is always someone available to help out when needed whether its a homework question or a scheduling question.

Learn from Them. Students these days are simply amazing. Because of the tools they have at their fingertips, they are able to create and publish like never before. If you are never in their sandbox, how will you truly understand what they are doing and in turn learn from them. Movements like the Maker Movement, Coding, and online publishing have created a generation of doers. What are your students doing outside of the classroom and how are they sharing? Maybe you could be the instigator needed to push them to share their genius and talents.

Whatever your excuse is to not touching social media as an educator, I urge you to reconsider how it could impact your life on a positive note. As one of my former students stated at the end of class, “I found out what Twitter was all about and enjoy viewing it every day. Thanks again for giving me a positive outlook on life!” Now that is a positive message!

How has Twitter enlightened you as an educator? Leave me a comment below and follow me Twitter @jennyktechin.

holidays, Technology and Teens

QR Codes for Stocking Stuffers

image created by me with SketchbookX


If you have tech savvy teens in your house and you need some stocking stuffer ideas then this post is for you!  As a mom and professional in the Ed Tech sphere my kids think I don’t know anything about apps and how kids use tech.  Don’t worry, I take no offense at this.  I just find ways to show them differently in a kind, motherly way.  This Christmas, my teens are getting QR codes in their stockings.  The codes link up to some new and very cool apps that most teens would enjoy.


Here are 4 of the apps that I am “giving” my kids as stocking stuffers.

Cam Me

This app lets a person take a selfie by waving their hand in front of their phone.  Cool right?

French Girls

It sounds creepy, but FrenchGirls crowd sources artists from across the globe.  You send a picture or selfie out through the app and someone creates a sketch of it and sends it back to you.


This will link your teen to dozens of music apps on the itunes store.  There is a Karaoke app with Smule, instrument apps and more.  


Tickle is a simple coding app that lets the user create directions that will control a drone.  We are linking it to the Parrot Drone.  


This is a 3D design and printing app that anybody can use.  You don’t even have to print it if you do not have access to a 3D printer.  Being able to design in 3D is becoming an essential skill for kids interested in STEAM.  


Feel free to download the document, print it and pop it in your kids stockings.  All your kids need is a mobile device and a scanning app like Inigma.  They might love them, already have them, or hate them.  Disclaimer, one of the apps is a coding app that then controls a Drone.  So if you aren’t buying a Drone for one of your kids, you might not want to share that app.

Here is the document I created and printed to use in their stockings.

If you’d like to see more amazing ed tech tools and resources click here.  

Do you have a techie thing you are doing with kids for the Holidays?


Technology and Teens

How to Snoop on Your Kids Online Behaviors Without Snooping

As a mom of three teenagers and a tech trainer who works with teachers, I am highly aware of the slippery slope that our kids can get into online.  I shy away from using the word “dangerous”, because it makes me sound like a fanatic.  If there is one thing I’m not it is a fanatic- about anything.  It is a fact that our kids are spending hours online.  Our job as parents is to monitor and discuss what they are doing online.  This isn’t as easy as it sounds since most of our kids have a computer in their hand in the form of an iPhone or devices.

Each of my kids use the internet differently.  I have one who can spend hours on Pinterest looking at nail art and decorating ideas.  I have another who will read all sorts of online articles on whatever topic she is into, and my son will spend hours watching Netflix, YouTube, Instagramming, or playing Minecraft.

I really try not to read their text messages, because I wouldn’t eavesdrop on their “real life” conversations.  I feel strongly that teenagers need to know they can be trusted until proven otherwise.  I will admit to looking over a shoulder every now and then, but hey, nobody is perfect.  I do know parents who actually have their kids text messages channel through them first.  This method isn’t for me- there is no way I could keep up with all of the text messages!

If you are concerned about how much your kid is sharing online here are five ways to facilitate online safety for your kids

1.  Keep family computers in a common area like the kitchen or family room.  There is no reason for any kid to have their own laptop in their bedroom or tucked away where there isn’t much house traffic.  It has been proven that kids using a computer where the screen can be seen are safer online.  It lets them know that you are monitoring their traffic and what they are up to.

2.   If you are really concerned about their online habits just check their browser history.  If your child continues to clear the browser history you probably have a problem.

3.  Talk with your kids about texting and social media behavior.  I always say, if you wouldn’t say it in person, you don’t say it online.  Social media exposure for teens creates an atmosphere of overexposure.  Our kids can choose to increase privacy by not posting too much information.  We have a rule at our house that no one can post anything about people in their family and definitely no posting when you are feeling emotional.

4.  Know who your kids are connecting with.  A person online that your child does not see in real life is a stranger.   We don’t think about the risks our kids could encounter.  For example, my son has been a Minecraft junkie.  One feature of Minecraft is the ability to chat with other players who are in your “world”.   My son has encountered predators in this situation and as soon as he became uncomfortable blocked that user.

5.  Follow your kids social media accounts online.  This is different than reading their text message conversations.  The problem is that once it has been posted online, it never goes away.  If your teenager has a Twitter, Vine, Instagram, or Facebook account follow their streams just to ensure they are being safe and wise about what they are sharing. They won’t like it, but don’t worry it won’t be the last thing they don’t like about you!



Click below for even more information about internet safety for kids.