If you are anything like me, and our students, then you probably have TikTok downloaded on your phone or at the very least have been sent one by a friend. Maybe you spend too much time aimlessly scrolling or get the trending sounds and songs stuck in your head on an endless loop.
For many Americans, during the start of the pandemic, we turned to social media to find connection and comic relief. Enter TikTok. The app exploded in popularity at the beginning of quarantine, especially amongst high school students.
According to Statista.com, “TikTok saw a significant increase in popularity during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in the United States, with a growth of 180 percent among 15-25-year-old users after the pandemic broke out and people started working and studying primarily from home.” In those early days of quarantine, our days were filled with learning to make whipped coffee, jokes about Tiger King, and watching everyone from toddlers to grandparents participate in the “Savage” dance challenge.
Although things have changed so much over the past two years, one thing has not, and that is TikTok’s popularity and presence in society. So, as we have with Twitter and Instagram, why not use TikTok to our advantage in our classroom? I’m excited to share 4 ways to do just that.
But first, let’s first talk about why TikTok is so useful, especially to our students.
So, Why TikTok?
With countless other social media platforms out there, why take the time to use this in my classroom? With short videos ranging from 10 seconds to 3 minutes, TikTok videos are presented in small chunks that are perfect for the attention span of our students.
Additionally, TikTok has become a place for teachers to gather, create content, share ideas, and inspire one another. I always appreciate ideas that come from fellow educators because they are in the classroom every day just like me, sharing content that is useful and valuable to our students.
So what can I use these viral videos for?
A New Information Source & Background Knowledge
Much like its social media siblings, Facebook and Twitter, TikTok is becoming a place where students are likely to “get their news.” Major news outlets, like The Washington Post, have accounts that post about the daily news and ongoing global events.
A few years ago, my seniors wrote weekly constructed responses based on current events. I often paired the news article with a TikTok video to further their understanding or hook their interest. Videos were easy to download to my device and embed into my slideshows.
TikTok videos are also a great way to build background knowledge throughout a unit. With limited time, creators condense information into easily understandable content. Most recently, I included several TikTok videos that detailed the various aspects of the Iranian Revolution when teaching about Persepolis.
Many edu-creators specialize in historical content. There are countless accounts whose content I have incorporated into my units to enrich students understanding of historical events and references in the literature that we are reading.
Try searching for a topic that you’re interested in and searching for different accounts that fit your classroom needs!
Classroom Culture Building
Do you ever feel like you are playing the same games in class? Looking to spice up your morning meeting with inspirational videos or meditations? Feel like taking a 3-minute brain break? TikTok has you covered!
Coming back to school in person, I felt like I needed to step my game up and bring some new ideas into my classroom. Having exhausted Google searches for ideas, I turned to TikTok and was introduced to so many games from community builders to review games. These videos are almost always created by fellow educators and fill you in with all you need to know to play, prepare, and be forewarned of.
When I was teaching 5th grade, especially during virtual learning, morning meetings became even more special. During this time I incorporated motivational, inspiring, funny, thought-provoking TikTok videos to anchor our meeting.
Lastly, there are always new dance challenges posted to TikTok (you probably see your students practicing them all of the time). Pick one that you think fits your classroom best and learn it together! I have failed miserably at learning almost all of these dances, but it has been a great chance to bond with my students and ultimately make them laugh.
Another thing that I love about TikTok’s platform is that it allows students to film and edit videos without actually posting them. They can be downloaded and then uploaded to their Google Drive. This makes the platform perfect for projects! My Speech and Debate students are currently writing and recording motivational speeches using TikTok. You can search your subject area/novel + final project and be met with so many ideas.
Interested in learning more ways students can publish their work and share it with their peers? Check out my colleague Amber Meares-Howard’s article 50+ Tools for Remote and Distance Learning for lots of great ideas.
An ironic fact about me is that, although an English teacher, my weakness (nemesis) has always been teaching grammar. So, when it is time to teach grammar, I look to my friend @iamthatenglishteacher for help! Her videos are informative and allow students to practice. When I taught 5th grade and needed to correct common grammar mistakes the kids were making, I’d find one of her videos and we would all learn from her.
I assure you, if there is something that you want to teach, there is a video there to help you!
Make Every Second Count
TikTok is a platform that has so much to offer you and your students. I can honestly say that TikTok has provided me with endless inspiration and my students a more engaging and fruitful learning experience. When talking to my student today about writing this article, my student Austin Milbeck said, “TikTok. Learn it. Live it. Love it.” So, what are you waiting for? Get out there and get inspired!
If you’d like a follow-up article featuring some incredible teacher creators and a breakdown of their content, leave a comment below!