Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard of the term “hashtag” being used on social media. For those unfamiliar with the term, a hashtag is just the pound sign that precedes a word or phrase that relates to a certain topic.
Teachers in Great Bend USD 428 have been using social media to get positive messages out to the community. Specifically, Jefferson Elementary has been using two new hashtags to encourage students. #GoodNewsCallOfTheDay and #HardworkSelfie are two hashtags that mean just what they say.
According to Kip Wilson, Jefferson Elementary School principal, the Good News Call of the Day is when students are sent to the principal’s office to call a parent with some good news. They use it to recognize student achievement and to reinforce positive behaviors.
Tarra Foster, second grade teacher at Jefferson Elementary, explained, “My students love Good News Call of the Day. We made a goal for everyone to get to call home this year. It is a great motivator for my kids and they love being able to share how great they are doing!”
Additionally, Wilson noted, “A lot of our students love the idea of sharing their good news and it definitely aids us in establishing productive relationships with our families.”
As social media become more and more prevalent, the schools and our district have been utilizing it through different channels.
“The social media presence has been awesome. We had a particular Good News Call last year that reached over 2,000 people online,” Wilson said.
He elaborated on another tool that his building has been utilizing, the #HardWorkSelfie.
“The hard work selfie is a similar initiative where students are recognized for work ethic, attitude, perseverance, etc. and not necessarily academic achievement.”
With this tool, students are given the opportunity to take a picture with the teacher or staff member who recognized them and have it posted with a summary of what they have accomplished.
Foster likes being able to reinforce such a variety of achievements with #HardWorkSelfie.
“I have used this for students explaining a math answer well, good behavior, or even focusing on directions during keyboarding time,” she said. “I think hard work selfies are a good motivator because students don’t have to get a perfect score or reach a certain goal. They just have to try their best.”
The good feelings seem to resonate with both the teachers and the students, Wilson said.
“We had a situation recently where a student was shaking, she was so excited about getting to do a #HardWorkSelfie. Her excitement made her teacher tear up a little bit, so we’ve seen that our kids aren’t the only ones benefiting.”
One of the teachers who has utilized #HardWorkSelfie with her students, Natalie DeForest, English language arts (ELA) coach, said, “The hard work selfies are very “kid-friendly” because of how popular selfies are in today’s social media. Kiddos are very excited to be acknowledged on Facebook for their hard work, and what better way to do that than to take a selfie! I really hope parents share the pictures and descriptions with their child so we can get the full benefit from these!”
Great things are happening
Another social media tool the USD 428 office of public information has been using is a video power-point presentation titled, “Great Things are Happening.” This is posted twice a month on Facebook and highlights activities and events happening at each of the buildings in our district.
If you happened to catch the most recent post, you may have been introduced to the Pride Level program at Great Bend Middle School.
Michelle Barber, in-school suspension (ISS) supervisor at GBHS, shared some information about this program. From what she understands, this is the fifth year for this program sponsored by the GBMS Booster Club, and was the product of an idea from a site council meeting.
Here’s how it works: To make one of the three pride levels, students must have three or fewer tardies during the nine weeks; no unexcused absences; and no suspensions. Gold Level students are those students who have a 4.0 grade point average (GPA) and no teacher referrals. The Silver Level requires students to have a 3.0. to 3.99 GPA, no unexcused absences, three or fewer tardies and no teacher referrals. The final level is the Bronze Level. This level requires students to have a 2.0 to 2.99 GPA, no D’s or F’s, no unexcused absences, three or fewer tardies and no more than one teacher referral. At the end of the first nine weeks, a social was organized. GBMS Student Council helped distribute candy and soda and cleaned up afterward. All of the soda cans were collected and given to Cans for Kids after the event.
Social media is buzzing with great things happening. Feel free to like the district Facebook page “USD 428” and check out all of the buildings’ pages.