Last year when teaching my students about social media, I had them complete a poll: what social media applications did they use the most? We were in the midst of studying social media applications, their power and influence but I had an ulterior motive: I wanted to find out their digital patterns to use as engagement pieces for future activities. Mwaaaaahhhahah! I’m such a crafty teacher.
The results were intriguing. I assumed (like me) they used Facebook, Twitter at times and Instagram or Pinterest on occasion. WRONG. My students never or rarely used Facebook and informed me that it was for ‘old people’. Few had Twitter accounts. Pinterest got the biggest laugh of all, which they labeled “an app. for bored moms”. What were they using? Instagram and Snapchat almost exclusively. If I wanted in their digitals worlds, I’d have to use these social media platforms to reach them.
I was left with a question to ponder: how could I use Instagram or Snapchat to engage my students in classroom activities? Since I really didn’t understand Snapchat, and had an Instagram account already, my options narrowed. Then a student asked me to send them a picture of a book cover so they wouldn’t forget what they wanted to read next, and lightbulb went off. I could use Instagram as a digital engagement tool for my independent reading program! And just like that, @ldssreaders was born. Currently, I’m moving into my second school year with the concept and am working on expanding it school wide.
Intrigued? Read on for 5 easy steps on how to use Instagram to create a culture of reading in your classroom or at your school.
Step 1: Create an Instagram Account
This step is pretty self explanatory. Go to www.instagram.com and create an account. Think of a name that reflects your school and the goal of your account (i.e. reading, book sharing). DO NOT use your personal account for this activity.
Step 2: Get Followers (i.e. your students)
Share your name i.e. (@ldssreaders) with your students and ask them to follow you on Instagram. If a few don’t have accounts, allow them some time to make one. DO NOT follow your students back, unless you want to end up in the blue pages – lol.
Step 3: Start Posting
Start by sharing images of books in your reading library or books you’d like to highlight to your students. Add a short caption of what the book is about and what type of reader would be interested in it. Don’t share too many posts each day or you’ll annoy your followers! See example below:
Step 4: Ask your Students to Post and Tag
Next, engage your students in the book sharing. Ask them to post images of a book they’re reading or have completed to their Instagram page and tag your account. This will allow their post to appear in your feed. If students don’t want pictures of books on their feed, simply log in on their phone and let them post directly from your account. Don’t forget to log out when they’re done! Their posts will look quite similar to yours, see example below:
Step 5: Build your Online Community of Readers
Now that you and your students have got the basics down, you can grow your community of readers! Ask other teachers and students to follow and share their great reads. I also asked parents to follow but NOT share on the feed; my goal was to give them a list of ideas of books to buy their kids:) I also like challenging my students, so I created a ‘Reading Hall of Fame’ whereby when students finish a book they post their name and get a treat before they share their book to @ldssreaders. Really, the sky’s the limit here in terms of how you’d like your community of readers to grow. The best part of it is that even once the semester is over your students will continue to be engaged in an online forum about reading.
The Final Word
I thought I was pretty cutting edge when I started using this idea in my classroom until I happened upon the following article: “Can Instagram Keep People Reading Books”, written by Jo Piazza. Clearly the idea of creating reading communities via Instagram is a growing trend outside of the classroom as well.
Engaging students is tough these days, but using social media applications such as Instagram certainly spice things up. Try out using Instagram to generate a culture of reading at your school; I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the results.
Now all I need to do is figure out how I’m going to use Snapchat as an engagement piece…………stay tuned!