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8th Graders Examine Social Media’s Role on Culture 01/26/2024

8th grade ELA classes across the district are taking a closer look at the impact social media has on our lives.  At the start of the semester, students began a research unit that allowed them to study in-depth how social media has influenced the culture. Topics include privacy, mental and physical health, addiction, politics, commerce, bullying, beauty, and relationships, to name a few. 


FSMS ELA teacher Molly Dugan said, “We all loved the idea because our students are growing up in the age of technology and social media is becoming deeply embedded in our culture. We saw this as an opportunity for our students to take some ownership over becoming more informed about a topic that directly impacts their daily lives.”


Kelly Hanna, who teaches ELA at Spring Hill Middle, added, “Social media presents challenges for parents and students alike, so it's important that students see both sides where they can be educated and make the best choices. Most of our students use technology, specifically social media, daily, and we wanted them to see both the positive and negative sides to social media use.”


After selecting a topic, students visited the library for classes that reviewed the use of databases available from the Kansas State Library, website evaluation, creating in-text citations, and developing the Works Cited page for their paper. Frequent snow days have had the librarians and teachers alike scrambling to reschedule classes, often shuffling library days with other grade levels so that the librarians are available to teach research skills. In preparation for high school, 8th graders are expected to incorporate in-text citations in their work. And many are discovering that - due to the fact that social media is a fairly new research field - sources are limited, and the best sources are peer-reviewed academic journal articles, a resource typically written at a higher reading level.


The project is slated to wrap up in the first week of February. Student response has been good. WSMS ELA teacher, Stacy Floyd said, “They like the topic and are enjoying understanding how [their topic] ties into social media, but they are feeling that it is challenging to write.”