While waiting for Dublin Leadership Academy to start, Tony Keefer and I were sharing thoughts about the upcoming school year. He shared with me that he's starting a class Instagram account. Honestly, my only experience with Instagram, in a school setting, has been negative. Last year, for me, Instagram was associated with bullying and girl drama. However, he got me thinking about ways I could make Instagram a positive tool for the classroom. I shared the idea of using a class Instagram account with my seventh grade team leaders, and they said that they are planning on using one for math class. At that point and time, I thought I would wait and let them work out all the kinks. Thankfully, I read Stacey Shubitz's post Instagram Can Help Treat Writer's Block and decided just to take the plunge. I shared this idea with the seventh grade language arts teachers, and all they agreed it would be a great idea.
Here are the basic rules of the account:
1. Only teachers can post pictures.
2. We only follow other classroom accounts.
3. Students can comment on any picture.
4. Comments MUST be school appropriate (even if they are posted at 1am).
5. Anyone can follow (parents, students and other classrooms).
6. We will post no required information to the account because not all students are going to have access to Instagram. However, I always mention to our classes what was posted, so all students have access to the same ideas.
I have tried to be creative in the ways that I am posting pictures. I want to make sure every picture that I post will relate back to reading or writing. I have also tried to incorporate some humor into some of the pictures, so that students can see that reading and writing isn't always serious.
1. Homework and Daily Reminders
I will take a picture of any homework or daily reminders, so that students who tend to forget their assignment notebooks will have another way to access the information. I also plan on taking pictures of any mini-lesson charts, so that students can access that information no matter where they are reading or writing.
2. Quotes and Random Pictures
As I was looking at student's writing territories on their notebooks, I was gathering multiple ideas for pictures. If I see a quote or picture, which I think the students will enjoy, I will take a picture and then write a caption about inspiring their reading or writing. The other day I took a picture of my bobble head collection, and asked the students if they have any odd collection that would inspire their writing. As students are writing throughout the year, I plan on having them look back at the Instagram pictures to see if they can find inspiration for a topic.
3. Book covers
I took a picture of Sidekicked by John David Anderson and asked the students, "Would anyone read this?". The comments that followed were great, and the students were excited to ask me for a copy the next day. Pictures of books covers are going to be great inspiration as an invitation to read. I also took a picture of my bookshelf and told the students that I will be updating my collection this weekend. I wanted to know books that they think I should have on my shelves. They named titles that I have never heard, and they were also able to get book recommendations from their peers through that conversation.
4. Word Study
To be honest, I'm not really sure how this will look, but I think it's worth a try. My original idea is to post a picture of something related to a word that was just discussed in class or maybe a word that will be introduced later in the week. I would invite students to use words to describe the picture, just to get their descriptive ideas flowing. Again, this is something I am still trying to figure out, so any ideas would be appreciated!
Overall, I think a class Instagram account is going to be a great way to inspire students to read and write. Students have been very receptive to the idea, and have participated more than I ever imagined would happen. As the school year continues, I plan on asking the students for suggestions on what they want posted. I think if they have a say in what is happening on the account, they will be more likely to utilize it in a positive way.