Linking again with 180 Days to Happy for this.
Ta-Da Tuesday: How I Connect
Today’s post is about tools teachers use to connect.
When I taught Spanish at the elementary school level I mostly used my Moodle page. Now that I’m at the middle school level I’m using email, Moodle and Google Apps for Education a lot.
Last year when my principal approached me about teaching a hybrid yearlong class combining global studies and the creative side of Odyssey of the Mind, I jumped at it and it’s been amazing. I wanted to push myself further with reaching out and being able to share the awesome things that we were doing in class and that my students were creating.
I love to look at pictures and see what others are doing to be inspired. I also knew my students have their phones and many of them have Instagram. So, a few days before school started last year I created a school-specific account. I also created a Twitter account. I find myself using the Instagram account more than the Twitter but I linked the Instagram to the Twitter account so that it’s shared in both locations. That way if a student, parent or someone out there in the worldwide audience happened to be following they would see the picture and info. (You should be able to click on some of these to enlarge if you would like to see a bigger version.)
I LOVE being able to share PICTURES of what we’re learning, what we did on a certain day, what students have created, projects, etc. It’s a great way to CONNECT with students outside the classroom, get them excited about something coming up and letting them know that what they’ve done in class is being SEEN and SHARED with the world. It’s also a great way to CONNECT with parents. I have a good number of parents who follow the account and it’s nice for them to see what their kids are up to, know what is being covered, see projects, etc.
A few tips and ideas:
- Keep your SCHOOL/CLASS related account SEPARATE from your PERSONAL account (just like anything else – email, Facebook/Facebook groups, Twitter, etc.). Sidebar: That picture is from one of the most fun units I’ve ever done with students. Absolutely hilarious but lots learned.
- Don’t post pictures of students (and if you do, block out faces somehow – protect their privacy). Cover names if it’s on paper.
- Likewise, don’t follow students while they’re your students. I am only following students with the school/class account once they’ve moved on to high school or beyond.
- DO post pictures of bulletin boards, completed projects, works in progress, part of a slideshow or presentation, etc.
- Follow other school/teacher/classroom accounts around the world as well as news agencies, global organizations, etc. (BBC World News, CNN, Kid President, World Bank, Global Post, etc.). These can offer great inspiration but also awesome pictures/accounts to share with students and encourage them to follow.
- Use pictures you find on Instagram for warm ups – where in the world a picture was taken, describing what students see (visual literacy), etc.
- Try to post at least one picture a week.
- Share some personal pictures – remind students you have a life too. I’ve posted a few #ThrowbackThursday pictures to give them a glimpse into more of who Ms. G is and what she’s like. Post only what you’re comfortable with.
- Hold contests or give out bonus points to students who read an early morning (before school) post. Example: During the Olympics this year we did a creative unit designing mascots for upcoming Olympic Games. One other thing we did was a Scavenger Hunt. Students had a paper they were given and they were filling it in throughout the Games with names of gold/silver/bronze winners in different sports, facts about the Olympics past or present, medal counts, etc. Every couple of nights I would post a picture of something we did in class or something from the Olympics that caught my eye and I’d add a hint for one of the scavenger hunt questions.
- Use the account to give a preview of upcoming lessons or units. Pique student interest with a picture!
- Use the account for reminders. I know some of my students are checking their Instagram before school (when they have to turn phones off and leave them in their locker) so this is a great use. Another example: Earlier this year I used mine before school to post a picture reminder for students to bring in clippings (pictures, magazines, etc.) that inspire them.