TikTok: A Tool For Teachers

TikTokFacebook. Twitter. Instagram. SnapChat. Is anyone else guilty of doing a repeat of logging in, scrolling through the next app and moving on? Well let me first say, I DID NOT need another social media platform to scroll through, but here I am writing a blog post about how TikTok has quickly become my go-to scroll for my quick teacher resources and a little bit of fun.

When I was a kid and people were dreaming about future careers, a common response was “NBA player,” “Doctor,” or “Rock Star”. When I ask students today, “Youtuber” has taken over that top dreamer spot. With an app like TikTok, that has over 62 million downloads with their greatest user group being the 13-19-year-old crowd it’s easy to see why. The videos are short, engaging, and relevant to their audience and help them connect with others who have this same interest.

Don’t worry, TikTok is not just for teenagers and you don’t have to be willing to learn the latest dance to join. The app can be an incredibly beneficial Professional Learning Network for teachers. In contrast to platforms like Twitter and Facebook, TikTok is where you can watch short videos (60 seconds or less) that could show a quick tech tip, an engagement technique or give you an idea that will launch tomorrow’s lesson. I have found TikTok to be more consumption-based rather than a place where I directly interact with other users with comments and feedback. You can show your love for the content by clicking the ♥. By quickly favoriting these videos and users, you’ve created your own library of resources to refer back to.

TikTok teacher hashtagsThere are a few different ways to find content on TikTok. When you log in to your app every user has a For You Page (FYP). This is where TikTok recommends videos for you based upon content you have previously favorited. You can also be more focused in your search. If you are solely looking for teacher content use hashtags to refine your search. You will find some teachers create great content consistently, and you’ll want to come back to them. You can “Follow” a user and then you can click on your “Following” page to get the latest videos from your preferred users in one spot.

So how does TikTok fit into a classroom? Well, as with all social media, I would not use TikTok directly with my students or encourage them to use it. TikTok is a social media platform that falls under the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) which prohibits use for students under 13. That being said, I definitely would channel the feel, idea, and vibe behind TikTok into my classroom as much as I could. What does that mean exactly? Learn from TikTok! Allow students to be creative when they are showing content knowledge or mastery, encourage creativity (Goodbye, watching 100 Powerpoints!). Allow students to have fun and collaborate.

Reasons for teachers to use TikTok

  • You can create your Professional Learning Community
  • Get real content from sources you trust, like Keep Indiana Learning
  • Get short, practical tips that you can take and use right away
  • Stay relevant to build relationships
  • It’s fun!
  • You can linger and not create!

One of the best things about TikTok is that there are trends among users that you see repeatedly. Whether it’s a song, an effect, or a transition, people watch and rewatch different users to see how they put their own perspective into it. Check out some current trends and ideas for how they can transition into the classroom the ideas below!

Keep IN Learning Tik Tok profile page

Duets are a popular feature of TikTok where two users talk back and forth with timed responses recorded totally separate. This would be a great way for students to engage in some deep learning activities through the planning and execution and can be completed without utilizing TikTok directly. Students could use programs such as Flipgrid or WeVideo to create back and forth conversations with effects that mimic what they are seeing on TikTok

Tell me you’re a….In this video trend, the first person starts a conversation by saying, “Tell me you’re a teacher, without TELLING ME you’re a teacher.” And the person responds with something like, “I have 43 coffee mugs and all of them have apples on them.”  I could see this strategy working very well in the classroom. As the teacher, you could assign each student a person to study. You could ask them to “Tell me who you are, without telling me who you are,” and the student gives a defining characteristic of that persons life. This would also work great for vocabulary practice, number talks, character traits, and more! This again could be used with FlipGrid, a shared Google Slide Deck, or even a game played live via Video Conference.

It’s all about the Song – Finally, if we know students are engaged with this content, why not play into it? Choose a short music clip and ask them to create with that sound. Could students model solving a math problem creatively with that track behind it? YES. Could students video themselves through all steps of the scientific process in the one minute that the track plays? YES. Will students surprise us with what is possible if we give them the freedom? YES.

Additional Ways to Use TikTok in the classroom:

  • Create short intro videos to your content
  • Provide announcements on student’s level
  • Create “TikTok-like” experiences for students (without the app) in your classroom. If they can recreate a dance with transitions and effects, they can use the same techniques to share content knowledge. Check out Matt Miller’s great post and resources here!

So if you’ve been on the fence about TikTok or think you’re “too old” for this app. I encourage you to give it a scroll. It’s fun. It’s fast. It’s relevant.  But please don’t blame me when you find yourself saying, “Just one more video.”