Last night I moderated a panel discussion about Instagram in the classroom. It was my first time doing anything that cognitively demanding in 3 months. There were a few guffaws (for example you will need fast forward 3 minutes because I didn’t realize we were live), and I was not able to moderate the Twitter or Youtube live chat. Nonetheless, it was a really good conversation and the panelists, Kayla Delzer, Aviva Dunsiger and Jam Gamble were awesome.
The Tweet & Talk focused on these big ideas for using Instagram:
- be thoughtful of the audience (public) whether you are posting as yourself or as a class
- bring parents on board by communicating with them but also by helping them to understand how Instagram works
- ensure that you only take pictures of students for whom Freedom of Information forms are completed (just hands & feet & work for the others–or give them the camera) until parents are comfortable
- include students as part of the process (Instagrammer of the Day, create a collage, students choose what is posted)
- embed explicit Digital Citizenship lessons (how to block, how to compose a message using the correct tone, how to check privacy settings, how to follow and unfollow)
- emphasize followers as “connections” so that the emphasis moves away from quantity of followers (not a popularity contest) to the quality of connections to another class; this will serve students well as they get older.
Kayla referenced this sketchnote which she includes as rules in her classroom. I love that it is written from a student perspective!
I realized when I got off-air that I had so much more to say. Specifically, how can Instagram be used to enrich literacy?
A few teachers I know have their students post a meme (a picture with accompanying text) based on a work of literature or a concept being covered. This is a good form of assessment as it gives the teacher insight as to what students understand.
Unlike Twitter, there is no character limit on Instagram. When students respond to each other’s posts, they are engaging in writing for an authentic audience. In class, the teacher would show students how to comment effectively and extend conversations (like they would for any other writing form). Check out this great post by Rusul Alrubail, Storytelling with Instagram
For a Provocation
I follow the National Geographic account (@NatGeo ) and I am amazed by the beautiful and unique photographs they post. Having students choose a photo about which to write or as a provocation for further inquiry would be a literacy-rich activity that would be engaging.
Pop Culture & “News”
Instagram has an Explore feature (click the magnifying glass to access) and truthfully, I’d love to say that my teens watch traditional news, but they don’t–they get their news and stay up to date using their social media feeds. A teacher can pull out so many great springboards for teaching and learning by “Exploring” as well. Something on “Buzzfeed” which is found on Instagram can be compared to the same news topic in The Guardian, or The New York Times for a great media literacy or current events/fake news lesson. It’s also a great way to see what is trendy in the world of students
How does Instagram work? How do the sponsored ads work? What makes posting on Instagram different that posting on Twitter or a blog? When is this tool preferable? What are some of the “unwritten rules” of Instagram? Knowing how a tool functions and the context in which the tool can best be used is a part of digital literacy.
Who to Follow
We ran out of time…I had suggested that the class follow a few inspirational kids: @kingnahh @khloekares and @joshuasheart but I’m sure there are other students who are using Instagram to be a positive influence on others: for Digital Leadership. I’m sure there are lots of teachers using Instagram in interesting ways! Would love to learn more about who your class follows in the comments.
Watch the full Tweet & Talk panel discussion here
How do you use Instagram in the classroom?