So the kids are technology pros. We get that. They know all kinds of Internet-y type stuff before I do, and I'm pretty tech-savvy myself. The kids have a billion different types of online accounts and are on them ALL. THE. TIME.
Do I believe that 5th graders should be using all this technology? That's not the point. The point is - they are using it. So, I figured, I should too.
How'd this all begin? We were getting ready for our big end-of-unit assessment on the 1920s/1930s. There's a lot in this unit; I try to make the teaching fun and interactive, but there's a lot to remember. I'm sitting in class, talking with the kids, and BOOM. It hit me. And it rolled right out of my mouth.
"Hey, I'm gonna create a class Instagram account. Yeah. Hang on..." [creating account while they are sitting there] "Okay, here's what it is..." [pause to write it on the board] "If you're on Instagram, log on when you get home. I'm going to post some review questions there. Go through and see which questions you can answer."
Student: "What if I don't have Instagram?"
Me: "That's okay. I'll post it on my blog, and you can come in and look at it first thing in the morning." (This also applies to anyone who doesn't have Internet at home. The kids know that all online opportunities can also be done in class. That's only fair.)
Another student: "But what if I go on and answer, but my answer is wrong?"
Me: "Who cares! You are actively trying and working on your learning outside of class! Give it your best shot! I will be proud of you for trying!"
Another student: "Could I use my notes to answer your questions?"
Me: "Absolutely! That's why you take these notes every day - so you can use them! Go for it!" (I use a lot of exclamation marks when I write because I use them when I speak - ha!)
Another student: "Could I look up the answer on my computer?"
Me: "You mean research? At home? About a school topic? Absolutely! I love that!"
Another student, hesitantly: "What if... I post the answer... and then someone, you know... copies off of me?"
Me: "Great question. So if you know the answer, and you post it, you are sharing your knowledge with someone else, right? I kind of see that as helping someone learn. Do you? I mean, it's not on the actual test. It's like you're helping them study, but you're at home on your phone, and they're at home on theirs."
Another student: "So... it's like we're having a study group, but we're not together, and it's more fun, because we're on Instagram?"
That conversation right there proves to me that it was worth doing. The kids GOT IT. They understood why this teacher stopped what she was doing to create a new account on social media at the end of class. Maybe that sounds like a no-no, but to me, the positive effects far outweigh any no-no others might see.
So let me walk you through how I use it. (I'm a visual learner, so there are going to be lots of pictures.)
I use it to review content:
I use it to send out notifications. (I also sent through email and Remind101 to parents, but this was just for the kiddos.)
We had several days out because of snow and ice, so I updated them daily about whether or not we had school. Also, if you look at the comments, we had a new teacher coming in. The kids were excited to get to meet her! One of our colleagues retired in December to move with her husband for a new job hours away.
Over breaks, I use it to keep in contact with them and to share some fun!
I found this online and thought it might be fun to share it with the kids. You can't tell from the picture, but the guessing kept going!
I use it to share books about topics we've studied in class that we're interested in.
We had been talking about the crisis in Sudan, and I discovered these books and loved them. The kids ended up loving them too!
I use it to encourage the students - with memes, no less!
Standardized testing isn't fun - let's be real. So I used this opportunity to share a little meme with them each morning before the test! It was actually pretty fun :)
I use it to share books - in general.
In Georgia, we have a Reading Bowl competition. The books are selected as part of the Georgia Book Award winners for the year. When I'm excited about books, the kids get excited about books.
I shared this to-be-read (TBR) stack over Christmas break. The kids posted their TBR stacks and tagged me in their pictures :) LOVE!!!!!
I use it to prepare them for big projects.
We went screen-free for a week in our class! Most of the students participated - some for just a day or two, but most for the whole week! This was a fun picture to get us pumped up!
One of the kids asked me to post pictures of my career project sample. I took pictures of every part of the poster and posted it on our account. The kids commented on all the pictures saying they were glad I had posted it! Wish it had been my own idea, but glad that one of the kids thought of it!
I used it to say goodbye :(
The kids had a lot of sweet responses to this. I'll miss them!
Over the summer, I have continued to use our Instagram account to connect with my students. Even some 4th graders coming up into 5th grade have started following the account. I'm hoping it's getting them excited about coming to 5th!
My family and I went to Fort Sumter on vacation, and I posted some pictures since Fort Sumter is part of our social studies standards. I love that one student's response - "Respect." Indeed!
My students loved them some writing contests this year! I didn't want it to stop just because we weren't in school.
Important events or remembrances happen outside of our school year. I don't want them to lose the relevance of the important events we studied.
So, a few tips.
1) Make it private. If you're posting any pictures of the kids, then you need to know the people who are joining your account. Give your kids the name to follow and let them ask to follow you. You don't want any ol' creep coming on your account just to look at your kiddos. *shudder*
2) Be appropriate. I don't think I need to say much about this. There's a fine line when it comes to using social media, I think. Be yourself. Share enough so the kids feel like they know you and can trust you. But don't overshare, y'know?
3) You need to think about whether or not you're going to follow your students in return. I choose NOT to follow my students. The main reason is that some of them post things that bother me. I tell their parents, then I let their parents deal with it. The purpose of me having a class Instagram account is not to police them, but to share educational opportunities with them. And I choose to leave it at that. What you do is up to you.
If you have any other questions about how I use Instagram, please let me know in the comments! I did see the following on Twitter and thought it applied to this post, so I'm going to share it with you as my final comment.
@fuse711 on Twitter
I love this idea!! I'm now thinking about doing the same thing with my students -- I have a personal instagram + would be interesting if I could get my students interested in it. Will have to ask them in the fall.ReplyDelete
I separated my personal account from my school account. I like to keep a little separation. I don't post anything that's questionable, but it's my preference :) I do love me some Instagram, though. I even made my new kitten an account! Can't help myself!Delete
Every year we have lawyers come speak to us about social media and the dangers. Any schmoozing ideas before I present it to my admin?ReplyDelete
I think the biggie is to keep it private. You don't want creepy people looking at your students. As a momma, that would creep me out. I only let students, their parents, and other teachers follow my account. I can control it much better that way.Delete
Hi there! Thanks for all the fun ideas! Can you tell me how to manage both my personal Instagram account and school account from my phone? Can it be done? Or would I have to scrape personal account? Thanks for any tips!ReplyDelete
I am a TERRIBLE blogger! So hard for me to blog and teach at the same time. I can switch between my personal and teaching account, I just have to log out of one. I click the gear in the top right corner on the profile section. So sorry to answer you almost a full year later! GOOD GRAVY!Delete
Do you create a new account for the next year's class then? You wouldn't want last year's parents creeping on this year's students...ReplyDelete
I honestly have very few parents that follow, and so far they have all had siblings in my classes the next year, so it wasn't a big deal. (yet)Delete
I have the same question as Ms. Sutton. And to make a private account if I already have a personal one do I need a new name?ReplyDelete
If you want a separate, private account from your current one, then I'd definitely recommend a new name.Delete
I have been thinking about doing this with my 8th graders as they are obsessed with social media. I ran it by administration and they seem on board. My team is very excited about this! I feel as though it is a great way to communicate with parents as well. I know many of them comment that they try to talk to their child about their day and they don't get much in return. I plan on just blocking the parents/students at the end of the year and begin fresh next year.ReplyDelete
I'm so glad your administration was on board! It's so helpful when they are supportive of new and seemingly out there ideas! Hope it went well for you this past school year.Delete
I am a student at University and I am doing my dissertation about using Instagram in classroom, I'd like to do an interview about this topic by email, do you mind?
I had a crazy year and didn't blog at all after a while, so I totally missed all these comments. It's probably too late for you, and I'm SO SORRY! Thanks for stopping by to read... promise I'm going to try to do better. :)Delete
Hi Dallas! I've been wondering about doing this with my class and you've provided me with the inspiration to 'just do it'. (Very supportive leadership.) Thank you!ReplyDelete
Thank you so much! Some of my best ideas come from just winging something. Makes me wonder about all that time I spend agonizing over things ;)Delete
This blog post is awesome. I teach high school and I recently created an Instagram account for my English and Writing classes. It's been great so far! I also choose not to follow my students. I think Instagram is a great way to get them thinking and learning outside of the classroom.ReplyDelete
I have had the best interaction from students since I started using Instagram! If I tell them I'm going to post something, I have kids on as soon as I post something. Super fun! Over the summer, too :)Delete
I am taking the leap and using Instagram in my classroom this year. Did you set any ground rules for the students prior to letting them use it?ReplyDelete
Ground rules really about bullying. The biggest instance I saw was when a student corrected another student's spelling (in kind of a rude way), I told them it was my job to correct students, not theirs. That's now an expectation I verbalize to the students. I haven't had one problem since. Thanks for asking!Delete
Hey Dallas! I love how you use Instagram in your classroom. I am a sixth grade teacher, and I'm concerned about facing any legal issues that could come my way since kids legally under the age of 13 cannot have an account (even though they all already do). Do you have to give any consent forms to the parents letting them know that you have this account? Also, do you have to get parent to sign any forms for agreeing to put pictures of their kids doing classroom work? Thanks for your help!ReplyDelete
I have the same concerns as Chancey! Most of my 5th graders are on Instagram, especially by the end of the year. Sometimes their parents aren't even aware they have an account. We have problems at my school where students are feel bullied on Instagram or create fake accounts. I'm worried it will leak over to the classroom Instagram.Delete
Mostly, students used their parents' accounts. I had a few who used it on their own accounts, but most of them were using their parents' with their permisison. We have a school form that includes use of photos on websites and other forms of media. Depending on your school or your area, you may want to do a permission form. I personally have not run into any issues with it yet. I am moving up to teach 7th graders, so I'm even less worried about it this go 'round. I only post pictures of students' faces if I have spoken with their parents about it. The parents that have asked have all been satisfied when they know the account is private. I know this option isn't going to be great for every teacher, classroom, or school district, but so far, it has been great for me!Delete
I started a class Instagram in May. May! What was I thinking? The students asked, no begged me to post the pictures I was taking of all our end of the year festivities. So there I stood at field day loading the Instagram app, downloading pics, and tagging kids. This summer I have stayed connected, picked up some parents, and 4th graders coming up to 5th grade, as well as teachers from around the country as followers. I am definitely hooked. I can't wait to see how the kids respond to it this year.ReplyDelete
PS I thought I was the only one who still had the Christmas Carroll puzzle page above. I use it every year!Delete
Isn't it great to stay connected over the summer? Research shows that one thing that really helps kids be successful is having an adult (other than a parent) who stays connected with them. I think that's great!Delete
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This is such a great resource for me as I am getting ready to set up a class instagram account for my 5th grade classroom. I am looking for a 5th grade classroom to partner with. I have multiple ideas and would love to chat. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks so much!ReplyDelete
Hi Dallas, I am a 4th grade teacher working at a international school, I've been doing some research on how to use instagram as a learning tool in my classroom.My question is: how often do you post? weekly? daily?ReplyDelete
I teach 6th grade geography and have 5 classes. What are your thoughts on making a different account for each class compared to just having one for say 'Western Geography'?ReplyDelete