Social Media for every Class and Subject (pt. 1 – Instagram!)

Social Media can be SO scary, as kids are posting anything and everything now on the internet. Whether it is scary or not, they LOVE it, so as teachers we need to start using what they love to get them hooked on learning.

Mrs. Tyler’s Class Instagram 

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Simple: Create a class Instagram. Tell your students your account information at the beginning of the year, and have them follow you. You can choose to follow them back, but you don’t have to (you don’t actually need to see what they post.)

Why would you want a class Instagram? Here are the main reasons I use it…

  1. Reminding kids of BIG assignments due.updates

I have over 50 students following me on my class Instagram. Every one of these kids checks their Instagram like 40 times a night, and I just reminded each and every one of them that their Lost Colony comic was due tomorrow! I even got to show them an example of one. Basically, you are taking over their social media with reminders of homework, WOOHOO!

2. Getting students excited about class activities and showing parents what we do. 

Junior highers, and all kids actually, like getting noticed. With my class instagram I can take pictures of the student of the month, a sports game, a super wonderful rally, or the latest field trip to the capitol. Students can login and reminisce on such a wonderful experience they had at school (positive campus culture??) AND parents can follow the instagram as well. Short, concise, and easy for teachers – NO NEED FOR A PARENT NEWSLETTER! In a few characters and a couple pictures, look at how sweet our field trip was!

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3. Communication with students: Quick and easy!

Depending on the age of your students, students don’t really like to email. My junior highers especially, and I’ve heard the same thing from highschoolers. They just don’t want to email their teacher at 9pm about a question with homework, it’s scary to them. What isn’t scary to the is direct messaging their teacher on Instagram. Now because this isn’t your personal Instagram and is the class Instagram students feel more comfortable asking questions. Let me show you how to do this (the students probably know already but you can remind them..)


If a student messages you it will be right in that top hand corner. You can respond by clicking the message and writing them back. Students can send you pictures or questions! I’ve had students send me field trip pictures and questions the day before. Take a look at my inbox right now from students..

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I’ve got a question about water bottles on the field trip and a picture from the field trip I can print and put in class! How easy is that. Make students feel comfortable and reach them on their level! Have tons of fun.

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Letting students CHAT online and on purpose!

REALLY! It is so, so, so necessary to teach our kids how to have conversations academically and socially using the computer. I’m not saying it won’t be frustrating, because it will be extremely frustrating because kids will write just like they do on Facebook until you teach them that this is different (and that maybe they should step up their Facebook game a bit as well.) 

The two BEST ways I have found to use chat in the class is by doing this…

  1. Google Classroom Questions

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This looks just like a NORMAL question you would ask your students to answer until you give them the capability to respond to each other’s posts and edit their own. In my class I have students answer the question and then click REPLY to at least 3 other people. Here is an example below..

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The best part is that I can chat with them too (see me up there!) Another student asked the original author: Did they try to escape? Now, I’m not an English teacher so I’m not grading for spelling or grammar or anything, but I had to have a talking to with my students about capitalizing and punctuation because that is just out of control. But, they can ask each other questions, and really get into a debate on tough topics.

I teach my students when replying to either:

  1. Ask a question.
  2. State whether you agree or disagree and why.
  3. 3. Clarify something they said.

Now, in the beginning I got a lot of yeah, cool, lol, xD. But now, I am beginning to get real questions, responses, and conversation (with some added internet fun.)

2. Google Docs/Slides/Draw Chat Feature

When students have shared a document, slide, or draw with one another they then are able to use the Google Chat feature available next to the share button.

Students could use comments to chat, but it would be much faster and easier to have students work together by clicking the chat feature and opening up the chat. Students can work together without talking in class, or be chatting with a student who is on home study or at home sick on their assignment real time LIVE!

Don’t be AFRAID of letting kiddos chat in the classroom, make them SHARE that document with you and you can be in on their chat as well. Giving them advice, making sure nothing inappropriate is said, and checking in on how they are working as a group. Kids gotta chat to collaborate, these are just some easy ways to let them talk without having a noisy crazy classroom.

Let’s Podcast!

1. Let your students listen to Podcasts on the standards.

There are SO many websites with amazing podcasts for any subject matter that students can listen to on any device. You do NOT need an Apple product to listen to podcasts, you can go straight to the website or YouTube to listen to Podcasts. The podcasts below are listed with some examples of podcasts and appropriate subjects.

  •  Radiolab: Eye in the Sky (5th Amendment rights: US History), Musical Language            (Music), The Rhino Hunter (Environmental Science), Antibodies (Science), and MANY  more.
  • This American Life: Human Spectacle (World History), Wait, do you have a map? (Geography)
  • Stuff You Missed in History Class: Boston Tea Party, American Revolution, and MORE!

2. Let your students listen to fictional podcasts or “stories” in order to encourage creativity and enhance listening skills.

This could go along with a writing activity or an introduction to a creative writing unit.

  • Lime Town: A seven part podcast of a fictional story where three hundred men, women, and children disappeared from a small research driven town.
  • Serial: Serial isn’t fictional BUT is a collection of stories, accounts, and data from a young Muslim teen accused of murdering his high school ex girlfriend. This podcast could be taught as a modern day Romeo and Juliet and allows students to examine all the facts presented.

3. Let your students create their own podcasts!

After listening to a few podcasts students will get the idea of what it would be like to create their own. You can have students work in groups of 3-5 to go through all of the steps of creating a podcast to show their knowledge of whatever standard you are teaching in class. In my 8th Grade History class students created a podcast on the American Revolutionary War and followed these steps…

  1. In a group of four students began by researching the American Revolutionary War by using a Hyperdoc given to them by ME! [a hyperdoc is fancy word for a Google Doc or Google Draw that has a bunch of links, videos, and information for them to explore independently – talk about differentiated!]
  2. Next, students shared a Google Doc with each other and wrote a script for their podcast (modeling what they had heard before). This script looked something like this..

Emily: Thanks for tuning in to our podcast. Today we will bring you an extraordinary          account of the American Revolutionary War from Mrs. Tyler’s classroom.

Jose: You betcha Emily. This will be a rivoting time where we discuss how in the world our country ever beat the British!

     3. Finally after the podcast was written and checked off by Mrs. T, students were given an                iPad or a Chromebook and recorded their podcast! The application I chose to use was                  Voice Record.

                                   You can download Voice Record at the App Store for Free! 

4. Podcast RECORDED, if using Voice Record just click Send to Google Drive, and the podcast          will go right into the student’s account. Viola!

Now who said you can’t use a podcast in the classroom? 🙂