Extending on our post last month about why Instagram can have a place in the classroom, “Using Instagram in an Educational Context“, this week we delve into some specific approaches to leveraging this popular photo sharing app (or similar ones) in educational applications.
Instagram seems to be appropriately named since it has been an almost instant success since its debut in 2010. According to the company, 90 million people now use Instagram to upload 40 million photos a day.
The appeal of the mobile app — and its corresponding website — is twofold. Not only does Instagram make it easy to share photos, it also comes with a bevy of effects that can be used to transform images.
Today, teachers are starting to harness the versatility and popularity of Instagram by bringing it to the classroom. Here are five ways the app can be integrated into lesson plans and classroom life.
1. Assign photo essays and photojournalism
Spice up your homework assignments by asking students to complete a photo essay or engage in a little photojournalism. Photo essays can be tied into virtually every subject from health to math to social studies.
Ask your students to snap photos and add captions based upon these or other themes:
- A day in the life
- Geometric shapes
- Geographic features
- Locations tied to local history
- Daily meals
- Weather patterns
- A local current event
When assigning a project, keep in mind that not all students may have access to Instagram at home and other arrangements should be made for those students.
2. Create writing prompts with photos
Daily journal writing is an excellent way for students to practice their English and composition skills. However, it can be difficult to come up with fresh topics, and students can become bored writing on the same subject day after day.
Instagram photo effects offer an easy way to create a variety of visual images that can be used as writing prompts. Try close-ups or different angles of common objects. You can ask students to free write on the image or use a caption to ask a question or offer a fill-in-the-blank sentence.
Photo prompts can also be used for poetry and fiction assignments as well as an interesting lead-in to essays in other subjects. For example, distribute photos of landforms to students for them to identify before writing a geography paper.
3. Document science experiments and art projects
Any class activity that uses a step-by-step process could benefit from being documented via Instagram. For example, take a photo of each step of a science experiment or an art project and add a caption with instructions for that step. Then, upload to the class page so students can reference the instructions from anywhere.
As a bonus, Instagram store photos indefinitely so you can use the visual instructions for years to come. To categorize photos on Instagram, use hashtags or consider pinning them to boards on Pinterest where they can be grouped by subject.
4. Raise funds for your classroom or school
One thing many schools is need is money. Rather than selling kitschy items or over-priced cookie dough, you could use your students' one-of-a-kind images as a fundraiser.
There are a number of online services that will print products ranging from magnets to stickers to photo books from Instagram photos. Popular printing services include CanvasPop and Printstagram but you might get a better deal if you approach local printers to see what they offer.
Encourage your students to create unique images that represent your school or classroom. Then, items can be printed and sold at a modest mark-up. Another option may be to create collages or photo books that can be auctioned off at school events.
5. Showcase class activities and student progress
Instagram offers an easy way to share classroom progress and activities with parents. Snap photos of projects, class outings or other milestones to share them on a class page.
There are, of course, a couple important points to consider before posting classroom photos online. First, Instagram limits accounts only to those age 13 or older so don't encourage your kindergartners to sign up. In addition, if you are planning to post any photos of students, be sure to get permission from parents first. Then, set your privacy settings so the whole world isn't able to access your class photos.
There is no reason for classroom technology integration to be costly or complicated. The use of Instagram by teachers is demonstrating how emerging tech can be an easy and inexpensive way to supplement education.