Using Instagram in the Classroom

I like to pretend I'm knowledgable about social media, and I try to stay up-to-date. When I started teaching, I found out very quickly that was not the case. Kids these days are using social media in different ways than we could possibly imagine, and the trends are rapidly changing. My second year teaching, my students told me I had to get an Instagram account, so I did. They had to show me how to use it, what to do, how to comment, and all the other quirks of the app. It wasn't long though and I had it mostly figured out. The majority of my students use apps like Instagram (not Facebook like us old folk), so I decided to use it to reach them where they were. Here are quite a few examples of how to use Instagram in your classroom! They're band-focused, but you can use them in any subject area easily.

Before we go much further, I do want to advise you to check with your disctrict on their social media policies. You'll need to check to see what the rules are for posting students' pictures, names, and information. At my last district, I could post pictures and names, but my current district has a few more regulations. Consider making a classroom account separate from your personal account, and I highly advise that you DON'T follow students. You don't want to be responsible for seeing what they may choose to post.

1. Real-World Application

My husband traveled to England last year, and I used his remaining change to show kids the "When am I ever going to use this?" of math, even though music is my main subject. The kid who guessed first got one of our leftover pence. You could use this for all sorts of real-world applications for your subject!

2. Reminders

Remind your students when they need to bring supplies for a project or papers that had to be signed. Nintendo trash talk is optional.

3. Bragging on Accomplishments!

 

When your club, team, or class does something awesome, brag on them! This could be groups or individuals. You can highlight projects, student work, or if your district allows, pictures of the students themselves!

4. Further Education

Keep kids interested by showing them how your subject is being explored in the real world. While I was gone to the TMEA convention, I posted frequently about the musical experiences I was having. This would work especially well for science teachers going on nature walks, coaches traveling to professional games, reading teachers at a bookstore, etc.

5. Humor and Hashtags

Take advantage of #mcm (Man Crush Monday) or #tbt (Throwback Thursday) to highlight famous characters and people from history in your subject. I did a string of composers for #mcm, but you could show historical figures or even book characters. Don't forget about silly memes you may come across. Don't be afraid to post silly things!

6. Upcoming Events

Advertise for camps, concerts, shows, and other events that may pertain to your subject area. I've posted things like concert posters, band camp flyers, and commercials from TV to tell my students what's going on in the community related to music.

7. Practical Applications

Reinforce what you've taught in class with summaries or reminders. I focused on "CNAP" with my beginners, and after a rigorous week, I reminded them how to prepare for their test. The second picture is pretty disgusting, but it was posted the day after an off-topic lecture on why you shouldn't eat right before or while you're playing. A little shock-value made it's point very quickly, and many kids washed their mouthpieces after seeing the picture!!

 

A few more, though I don't have examples...

  • Create a hashtag for your class or your topic. Let students post progress pictures of any projects they are working on. Create a hashtag specifically for homework help so that you can see what your students may be struggling on.
  • Encourage students to post pictures of ways they can use your subject in real-world applications (Geometry: Take a picture of something you had to measure. Reading: What is your favorite book at home?)
  • Show students that you are a teacher, but also a person. Post occasional fun pictures (within school guidelines) to help relate with students. I post pictures of my hobbies (crocheting) and my dog. It's a great conversation starter to connect with kids.
  • Take pictures of the behind-the-scenes prep work you do for your classes. It shows them how much you care about them and gives them some insight into the teaching professsion. I'll be posting from our EdCamp this weekend.

If you have any great examples, please share them!