Part I: Instagram
How many times has someone suggested that you should post your classroom doings via social media?
The fact is, most elementary school educators use social media for personal reasons—but they often have qualms about online social interactions at the office or in the classroom.
Some worry about too much screen time in class. Then, there are privacy concerns to consider. Plus, some educators don’t feel that they know enough about social media to use it effectively.
Regardless of how you feel about social media at school, you may benefit from learning how other educators use social networks. In this blog series, we’ll focus on the most popular social media platforms: Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.
To begin, we’ll learn how Instagram works and why some educators use it at school.
Instagram is popular partly because of how easy it is to use. Users take photographs and share them with other “followers,” much in the way Facebook users might share items with friends. Instagram is also convenient because it’s exclusive to mobile users (at least, for now).
Of course, before you join Instagram, it helps to have some idea of what you want to do with it.
Some teachers take close-up shots of various objects and ask students to guess the identities of those objects. Others post photos of anything from science experiments to big group projects. Still other teachers ask students to write short responses or essays on Instagram photos under a particular category (e.g., #dinosaurs or #buildings).
Parents and other teachers can also follow the Instagram account and comment on photos teachers post. It might be fun to feature photos of kids’ drawings, and then have followers vote on their top three. Winning artworks can be showcased on calendars, magnets, or other unique fund-raisers.
How to Create Your Instagram Account
- To create an account, download the Instagram app on your mobile device (via the App Store or Google Play).
- Next, enter your user name (consider using the same name, or “handle,” for both Instagram and Twitter) and choose a password.
- That’s it! Now you’re ready to post some engaging photos and follow users whose photos interest you.
NOTE: Instagram—like Twitter—uses hashtags (aka, the pound sign: #) to precede the name of a photo subject or category. Explore some of the most popular hashtags on Instagram so you have a better idea how to use them. Need help understanding hashtags? Read more here.
It also pays to use good “Instaquette” when you’re liking photos or leaving comments.
For example, if you reply to another comment, always include the other person’s @username so they will see your comment. Also, don’t ask others to follow you (tacky) or overwhelm the Instagram feed with too many photos at one time. One or two photos per day is adequate. Try to use good quality shots.
If in doubt about Instagram—or any other social media platform—consult your school’s digital citizenship policy or create an updated policy as fellow teachers and administrators. Once everyone agrees with the policy, put it into motion.
Now that you know more about Instagram, get ready to read about Twitter in our next blog post!