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Curriculum focuses on social media

Corona del Mar High teacher shows his students how Facebook and other sites can make a positive impact.

May 07, 2012|By Britney Barnes

The majority of high school students use at least one social media site. And not just on a computer, but on smartphones that allow them to upload photos or update their statuses all day, every day.

Students are spending all this time using social media, but is anyone teaching them how to use it for more than just checking out party pictures?

For one class of Corona del Mar High School sophomores, that answer was no — until now.

"There is no education on social media in the education system," said teacher Brandon Sowers. "It's still the old-school method of technology is in the library."

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Sowers, a substitute teacher, is educating his students how to use social media — outlets like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram — to make a positive impact with just a few clicks.

"This is one thing I'm teaching: You can be broke, and you can change the world," he said.

Sowers uses the curriculum, like the Civil Rights Movement, to show students the impact social media can have.

"Back in the day, in order to make a movement it was a big deal ... nowadays, do you know how quick it is to make a movement? Just like that," Sowers said, snapping his fingers.

He also uses his own nonprofit BAMGAM, or Buy A Meal Give A Meal, which he co-founded, to show the students how easy it is to make a difference for a nonprofit.

For Dylan Gronendyke, 17, the lessons have reinforced that there are real problems out there.

"We're not just in this Newport bubble," he said.

Fellow junior Weston Wright, 16, said the idea of using social media for good opened his eyes. He wants to keep doing it — it's an easy solution, he said.

Sowers also warns students to watch what they share.

Every picture, every document, every comment is recorded, he said.

"That's all going online and staying online forever — that's a big deal," Sowers said. "I'm just saying: Try to keep your private life private. It's hard to do these days."

britney.barnes@latimes.com

Twitter: @britneyjbarnes

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