Thursday, June 25, 2015

Using Social Media in the Classroom

This is a topic that scares me.  Literally scares me.  There is so much that can go WRONG with using social media in the classroom that I have been so hesitant about using it in my room.

Until now.

I took the plunge.

#ifyoucantbeatthemjointhem is my motto.

A couple weeks ago, I polled my 5th grade class and asked how many of them had Instagram accounts.  I was surprised that nearly half raised their hands.  The other half said that their parents wouldn't let them, which I expected because they are only 5th graders.  Still, this was 50% of my classroom that is on Instagram allll the time!  I had to put this to good use!

I spent a lot of time on Pinterest, devouring posts and articles about how to properly use social media in the classroom.  There are teachers who use Facebook closed groups, Instagram, Twitter, and Remind101 (which I LOVE!! If you don't use that, at least start there! It's amazing, and easy!),  to communicate with their classes and parents.  I wasn't really ready for the FB or Twitter scene, so I thought that Instagram was a good starting point. 

I know many of you use it, but for those who don't, Instagram is a way to share photos with friends online.  People can comment and like your photos.  You can also direct message with students if you want. 

I want you to know that I really thought about this for a while... you hear so much about cyber bullying and I didn't want to add to this problem by creating a venue for it.  We had a class meeting on the rug and I told them my idea, and you could literally see the excitement in their eyes! They were sooo excited that a) their teacher knew what Instagram was and 
b) they could go on for school (take that mom and dad!).

I laid down some ground rules:
1) Be kind
2) Be appropriate
3) I have the right to delete any comment I find unacceptable or that doesn't relate to the post.
4) I will not "follow" them back - don't want to open that can of worms
5) Their parents are invited to follow me as well to follow classroom events

They agreed, and when that bell rang at the end of the day my instagram account blew up with all their comments and likes on my photo.  I made my account super easy to remember: mrs___teaches.

I found a bunch of ways to use it within the first few weeks, and the kids came up with ways to use it too. Here are some we tried:

1) taking pictures of daily learning
2) having a guest instagrammer add to the feed for a day (a student can be in charge for the day - ground rules have to be established for this as well!)
3) documenting a field trip
4) adding a hashtag to see what we're all reading
5) #TriviaTuesdays
6) taking pictures of important paper notices that go home to ensure that they don't get lost
7) posting pictures of our learning (ex, American Revolution) and asking a question for them to answer

Now, for those kiddos who don't have Instagram, we wanted it to be fair so they could be included too.  I set up the homepage on our shared classroom computer to the Instagram page, so they could scroll through in the am or pm and comment/like pictures too.  This seemed to work pretty well.

So how do I think it went?


I had about 12 student followers, and 5 parent followers.  I think the parents liked it because they could get a glimpse into their kid's day and ask them direct questions about their learning.  I received positive feedback from the kids, and they were bummed when I told them I'd be "kicking them off" at the end of summer to make room for my new kiddos!  Of course, I'll post all summer and keep in touch with them that way about trips they're taking or books they're reading.  It keeps them accountable that I'm "checking in with them" in a fun and meaningful way, and of course, they're on their phones and Ipods so it is even more enticing to them.

Have you jumped on the social media bandwagon?  I'd love to see how you're using it in the classroom or have you share about your experiences!!