#Sprinting in Digital Footprints: Using Social Networking Sites and Social Media to Promote Critical Thinking and Engagement in a Middle School Classroom Setting




Ferreira, Leigh D.

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In consideration of the lack of engagement that currently affects the middle school learning environment as a result of the changing technological society, this Master of Education project focuses on using social media networks and applications to teach critical literacy and critical thinking skills in order to be support students to become responsible contributors and members of society. The project is divided into four main sections: introduction, literature review, unit plan and reflection. The review of the literature resulted in the identification of three main implications for instruction and practice: 1) online literacy must take into consideration students' personal interests and beliefs; 2) it is the role of the teacher to educate themselves in order to scaffold and facilitate learning in new literacy forums; and 3) digital literacy must become a regular part of the school curriculum. The implications resulted in the development of a course and unit plan with the goal of having students learn valuable 21st century skills through project- and inquiry-based learning situations, and to gain a stronger sense of self, as well as a sense of community, both local and global through the focus of digital citizenship and media literacy, focusing specifically of social media. The unit plan includes detailed instructions, print outs, and assessment for instruction in digital literacy. In the fourth chapter I detail the process, based on implications from the literature review, of creating the course and its challenges, and highlight both the personal and professional lessons learned, as well as recommendations for future research.



digital literacy, engagement, critical thinking, middle school