12 social media-inspired hooks for class


Creativity | Wednesday, February 26, 2020

12 social media-inspired hooks for class

12 social media inspired hooks for class

Each social media platform grabs our attention in different ways. Here are some ways to use those hooks to engage students.

Social media is everywhere. Each social media platform has its own characteristics.

Images are the strength of Instagram and Pinterest.

Video is where TikTok and Twitch shine.

Quick, easy communication is what sets WhatsApp and Voxer apart -- both in different ways.

The dating app Tinder even has its strengths -- and (gasp!) we can play to them in class activities, too.

Each social media platform has something that makes it innately different. That uniqueness is what its fan base really loves about it. When social media platforms hang around, it's because something is working.

Let's use that.

We can put our finger on what makes these successful social media platforms unique. Let's call those their hooks. We don't need the social media app to create the unique experience. When we understand the hooks, we can use them to create unique activities that engage students in the same way their favorite social media platforms do.

In this post, we'll take a look at 12 social media platforms and what their hooks are -- what makes them unique. Then, we'll look at how we can use them in the classroom.

Have a suggestion for another hook -- or another way one of the hooks can be used? PLEASE leave it in a comment at the end of the post!

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Text message and WhatsApp

The hook: Instant communication

Adults and kids alike love text messaging -- and messaging tools like WhatsApp -- for instant connection. Want to ask a quick question and get a quick answer? Want to share what's going on in the moment? This is the medium you use. That real-time communication can be part of class, too.

  • Create a Google document (or online Microsoft Word document). Use "anyone with link can edit" settings. Collaborate in real time.
  • Drop a question into your Google Classroom classwork feed (or similar task in your learning management system). They can comment instantly OR asynchronously.


The hook: Communicate with images

Instagram set itself apart by doubling down on images. We love taking photographs. It's easier than ever as smartphone cameras get better and better. Students can use images to explore content and demonstrate what they learn. 

  • Use "Insert > Image > Camera" in Google Slides, Drawings or Docs. Add text, shapes and more with a "Caption This!"-style activity.
  • Use Adobe Spark Post or Canva to add text and other fun elements to student photos to show what they've learned.

Instagram Stories

The hook: Visual storytelling

Instagram Stories have gotten popular because they make visual storytelling quick and easy. They string images and quick videos together for a vivid recap of your day. Retelling a science lab, a group project, or a lesson from class through visual storytelling can be fun and powerful.


The hook: Tweet threads

Twitter is all about brevity. Tweets were once 140 characters. Even at 280 characters, you have to be concise. Unless you create a thread! Threads are a string of tweets (one tweet, reply to that tweet, reply to that tweet, etc.). They can combine text, images, links, etc., to get a bigger idea across.

  • The Add and Pass Activity plays off the same idea -- a collection of short messages. Students add a message (like a tweet) and pass to the next person.
  • Use this Twitter template to let students tweet for a character, someone with historical significance, etc.


The hook: Quick creative videos

The TikTok craze is spreading. Lots of the videos may be about fun viral dances. But the concept is bigger. Quick, creative videos in the moment -- and sharing them with others. THAT idea can help students explore, share and demonstrate learning.

  • Record quick videos with Flipgrid (flipgrid.com). Students will love the features on the camera (filters, emojis, text, etc.). They'll feel like TikTok AND help them share what they know.
  • This TikTok-inspired template for Google Slides (downloadable for PowerPoint) can give the feel of TikTok without using the app.
  • Use the TikTok app. (Gasp!) If students already have it, make it an option. They can record a video on the app and download it, then upload the video to Google Classroom, a slide presentation, etc.

Twitch, YouTube Live, Periscope

The hook: Live video

Twitch lets gamers (and others) watch each other and interact live and in the moment. If your students love this concept, you can cross live interactions over into the classroom with virtual field trips, virtual guest speakers and live classroom connections.


The hook: Nested conversations

Reddit is all about the replies. Someone will post a question or an idea. Then Reddit users will reply. The way the replies are organized -- in threads, or nested replies -- is what makes Reddit unique. It looks crazy and overwhelming at first, but the organization of the replies is very tightly organized -- and can lead to great discussion. Nested conversations can be pretty easy to create for the classroom.

  • Create a question on a slide in Google Slides or PowerPoint. Students add comments and can reply to each other's comments in threads or nested replies like Reddit.
  • Use Edji (edji.it) with an article online. Students can discuss any part of the article by highlighting and commenting on it. Here are some ideas for using it.


The hook: Judging good/bad

Yep. I just went there. "Match. Chat. Date." The underlying hook that makes Tinder unique: swipe right to like, swipe left to dislike. What makes it good? What makes it bad? Justifying those judgments is critical thinking at its core. Use this one at your own discretion! You know your students and if it'd be a good fit or not.

  • Using Google Slides, have students add images and text about something they've learned -- or a skill they're learning. Then draw an arrow shape pointing right (like) or left (dislike). Double-click the arrow to type text in it to justify the response. 


The hook: Connections

LinkedIn is the place to be in the business world. It's your online resume and a networking hub. LinkedIn thrives on connections. You have first-degree connections (contacts) and extended connections of people you know. Your students may not use LinkedIn yet, but they may in the future. Seeing how people and ideas connect is valuable.


The hook: Collections and curating

Lesson plans. House plans. Recipes. Costumes. Let's admit it. We have LOTS of reasons to be on Pinterest. It's popular because of the collections. We can collect ideas and keep them organized. The heart of that is curation. A museum curator picks the best alike pieces and shares why they made the collection. Sounds like a great approach for the classroom.

  • Wakelet (wakelet.com) lets students create collections with images, text, links, and more. They can collaborate on those collections and share them. It's like Pinterest made for learning in the classroom.


The hook: Quick audio collaboration

Voxer turns your cell phone into a smart digital walkie talkie. Connect with an individual person or a group. Record and listen to audio messages instantly or on your own time. Audio is great for multitasking -- listening while you're doing something else. Sharing ideas with audio may be the right fit for your class.

  • Synth (gosynth.com) was built for digital audio discussions. It's smart about organizing replies to make a digital conversation feel like face to face -- but happening from anywhere at any time.  
  • Kaizena (kaizena.com) creates audio discussions about student work. Share comments with students with your voice. 


The hook: Evidence-backed reviews

The heart of what makes Yelp great is critical thinking. We take in all the information and evidence we have about a location. Then we review it, including the good and the bad, and make a final judgment. Writing a Yelp-style review to share a critical thinking judgment could be a lot of fun.

  • Encourage students to write Yelp reviews to judge the quality of decisions made in history, artists' work, nutrition of meals, etc. Include star rating, description, pros and cons, images, etc.  
  • Use a shared Slides/PowerPoint presentation. Each student creates their reviews on their own slide. Then they can add comments to each others' slides afterward to agree or disagree with other students' reviews.

Looking for FREE Tech Like A PIRATE resources? 

You’ll find a treasure trove of additional ideas and activities related to t​​​​he book at TechLikeAPirate.com!

How have you used any of the hooks mentioned above in class? Are there others you would add? Please leave your ideas in a comment below!

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  • Herb Coleman says:

    This is a great tool to explain to educators or parents about the various social media platforms. Many people have no idea. I did a workshop for faculty on TikTok (just as our state banned it on state devices) and short-form video. It was surprising how most had not been on or even realized that they had seen a TikTok video. This will help men introduce other social media.

  • natalia says:

    good afternoon

  • natalia says:


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