Educational technology tips for teachers, librarians and schools.

4 Ways to Use Instagram in the Classroom

4 Ways to Use Instagram in the Classroom

By Nicole Long

A picture is worth a thousand words, and a tweet is worth… 140 characters? If one of the main incentives for Twitter in education was tapping into a student-centered resource, then the newest trend for 2015 should be Instagram for education.

Where Twitter has seen a rise in popularity for the adult community, educators in particular, Instagram has found its way into the tween circle. In today’s classroom, it’s likely that more of your students are using Instagram than Twitter. Why? Because photos are everything.

Everywhere they go, everything they do, students are capturing the moment with seflies, group shots and filters—friends, hobbies, food, pets, memes, video clips; you name it, your students are sharing it.

It’s time to take a foray into Instagram for educational opportunities. Our students are out there, and we have an opportunity to infiltrate their newsfeed with classroom-related resources that can reiterate the link between learning and the real world.

Here’s what I’ve learned from using Instagram with my students; see how you can break into this social platform too.

Follow Nicole: @MrsLongFCPS

My First Post

I started using Instagram in my classroom after I transitioned from high school to middle school. Early in the year, one of my new colleagues had mentioned using Instagram rather than Twitter. While I was familiar with the social context of Instagram, I had personally never considered the educational benefits.

Not one to ignore a possible avenue to connect with my students, I polled my classes for their thoughts on using Instagram in the classroom. I don’t know if it comes from the appeal and ease of snapping a picture as opposed to carefully crafted characters, or if it’s just that the Twitter fad has become too encumbered by adults, but by far more of my students were actively pursuing Instagram over Twitter.

Not to be outdone by my social-media savvy students, I adopted my Twitter handle to Instagram and began snapping away. I admit, I noticed right away that it’s a lot easier to click and post without the burden of 140 characters. With or without a description, often the photograph serves justice enough for the message.

I started using the tool IF, which allows me to set up a trigger—anything I post to Instagram automatically posts to my Twitter account as well—and I was sold. Not only could I foray into the student-populated world of Instagram, but I could also do so seamlessly, without adding a moment of extra time or attention.

Soon I discovered the benefits of using this classroom as a teacher are many.

More: My Love-Hate Relationship With Technology in the Classroom

The Benefits of Instagram for Teachers

Stay in Touch With Educational Figures

While Twitter offers a glimpse into the written world of pop culture icons, Instagram paints a more vivid picture. I carefully selected authors, publishers and foodies to follow with a simple Google search, “writers to follow on Instagram.” (How I came about the foodies, I can’t recall, but it’s been well worth it to follow popular chefs; they post the most amazing videos and images.)

I eventually added a few photographers and artists, most notably Morguefile. Re-sharing and favoriting isn’t as common for me on Instagram, but it still gives me something beautiful, creative and fun to share with students.

Share Pictures of Notes and Work

I started by sharing a few simple pictures of things like the homework board, reminders and long term assignments. I would post the homework board, vocabulary unit and writer’s notebook at the beginning of the week, and students would favorite (to save) or share the post as a reminder. Note how easy it is for the students to see the picture then to open a separate file and read a reminder.

Simply put, Instagram has become a faster, more efficient method of getting work out to students, with an added perk that photos are time stamped so they stay organized for me.

Post Photos of Student Work and Accolades 

I started getting creative and began using our Instagram to share activities, accomplishments, and student work. I would snap a picture of a really great student segment and share it with my followers (who are mostly my students, I might add), or take a picture of student activities and projects during class time.

When students started using Mystery Skype, I began sharing collages of the events through Instagram and Twitter. If I find a student sentence I love, or a great term for the week, I can snap a picture and share it on my account. The sharing and acknowledgement of student achievement is one of the greatest benefits of transitioning into Instagram in your classroom, especially when your audience will be primarily student-centered.

More: Read About Long’s Experience With Mystery Skype

Make Connections

My last and most exhilarating leap into the land of Instagram has been sharing and making personal connections with my students. For the same reason we follow writers and celebrities, students follow their teachers for that small glimpse into their real world, in real time.

In particular, I like to share photo challenges. For example, I might post a picture of the snow outside my house on a snow day and challenge my students to take a photo of their own “snow.”

“When you intertwine what they do for fun, with what you do in the classroom, it perpetuates that idea that learning is fun and creativity is an integral part of that journey.”

I share pictures of student and school events, like basketball games or school dances. I even like to snap a few pictures of my dogs and sneak in a reminder about their upcoming homework at the same time.

Living in a digital society, there are so many ways to make connections with your students, while simultaneously reiterating your curriculum. When you intertwine what they do for fun, with what you do in the classroom, it perpetuates that idea that learning is fun and creativity is an integral part of that journey. If you are looking for a way to capture student interest and connect that to the learning process, then a picture really might just be worth a thousand words.

Use Instagram to share your experience with an online read-a-thon with Learn2Earn.

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  1. Pingback: 8 Ways to Use Social Media for Homework | eNotes Blog

  2. Pingback: 20 Tools to Improve Classroom OrganizationLearn2Earn Blog

  3. Pingback: It’s Over Already!? – bettaeducator

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