Teaching with Instagram: 20+ Ideas & Resources

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In the Mobile Learning category

The heart and mind are the true lens of the camera. – Yousuf Karsh

Every day people share the stories of their lives through images and short video clips on Instagram. We heart them and comment on them. Instagram is the social network for us to visually share what is important to us and many of our students and their parents visit Instagram daily. We can use this popular free mobile app and social network to engage our students and get them to connect with our subject matter. With Instagram you can have unlimited image and video uploads, edit and filter images and videos, create 15 second videos, and also use it with your Android or IOS devices. You can tag others, use hashtags, geotag your uploads, and post to other social networks. Your students can also turn in images to you via direct upload. Find out more in my recorded webinar and the slide presentation below. I have also listed resources to help you teach with Instagram. Remember, your students need to be 13 years-old and up to have an account.

20+ Resources & Ideas

  • Set-up a class account that you can make private for parents and students. You can post their class work, homework, assignments, important announcements, images from their games/ events/ ceremonies, and more.
  • Post regular challenges for each unit or chapter. Students can upload  images that meet those challenges. A few ideas are listed in the slide presentation.
  • You can post image challenges for students to show you they understand the material. For example, math students can post an image showing a fraction then create a word problem inspired by the image.
  • You can post video challenges. For example, for science, students can post a video example of a substance changing states of matter like water boiling or fog. In the video, students narrate what is taking place.
  • Post an image and have students create poetry or haikus inspired by the image.
  • You can use images as writing prompts for your students.
  • Post an image. Have students participate in a chain story inspired by the image. The first student begins in the comment section, then the next student continues in the next comment and so forth.
  • InstaCC is a free app that shares Instagram challenges and you can create calendars with your images. You can grab challenge ideas from this app.
  • Integrate other apps with Instagram to make it do more. With PicCollage IOS/Android App, Image Chef IOS App, and the  You Doodle IOS app you can add text to images, create collages, add word clouds, and much more.
  • Post a collage and have students create a 6 word, 10 word, or 20 word story.
  • Post a collage about the topic you are studying and have students make guesses about the subject matter.
  • Post a collage of images from the chapter or sections of text from the chapter and have students find these images within the chapter and describe what information they discovered.
  • If you are studying a country, post a collage of various characteristics of that place then have students guess what this country could be and add a fact or image about that place.
  • If you do Mystery Skypes or Hangouts, post clues via a collage versus just text. This way students can engage visually with the location.
  • Post a collage of a guest speaker’s background and have each student add a question inspired by these images.
  • Have students post their own collages of what they observe. They can take several photos of an animal in its habitat then post the collage with their observations.
  • Students can post a collage of various close-up pieces of an image. Their friends try to figure out what the image is and post a fact or question about it.
  • Have students act like photojournalists where they observe an event and describe it in a series of images within their collages.
  • Post clues to a mystery or post clues to a scavenger hunt.
  • Get students interested in your topic by doing a video as one of the characters that introduces the topic.
  • Have students role-play a character from their readings.
  • Students can do video commentaries.
  • Students can do book trailers. Here are examples from Larry Ferlazzo’s students.
  • Students can host a regular video cast with class announcements. Assign different students to do the video cast each day. Parents and students can tune in for 15 seconds.
  • If you post Word Clouds on Instagram, then here are 50 other ideas  http://www.slideshare.net/ShellTerrell/teaching-with-word-cloud-tools

Other Resources


Try Instagram to engage learners and their parents and let us know how they respond.

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Colorful Learning with 20+ Web Tools & Apps

Screen Shot 2014-02-07 at 4.56.09 PMIncluded in the Effective Technology Integration category

Drawing and coloring are great ways to get students to brainstorm about a topic, organize a group project, or contribute scenes to a digital story. For young learners, drawing and coloring offers them a way to learn patterns, symmetry, and develop motor skills. Below is my recent slide presentation with lesson ideas, free web tools and apps. After the presentation, you’ll see the bookmarks. Just click on the title to visit that link. There are over 25 links! Keep scrolling. Here’s a recent article I did on the topic, 25+ Ways to Create Colorful Learning Experiences for Kids.

Drawing & coloring webtools & apps


Try one of these resources with your learners.

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Fostering Meaningful Peer Collaboration with Digital Tools

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It is literally true that you can succeed best and quickest by helping others to succeed. —Napoleon Hill

We believe in students learning from and with each other, but effective collaboration rarely takes place in most schools. Students rarely want to share their work and have peers critique it. They don’t tend to get excited about peer editing or group work.

Outside of school, the scenario is quite different. Everyday, millions share the narratives of their lives through written words, images, music, audio, and video they post on various social networks. They eagerly crave  feedback in the form of likes, retweets, mentions, reblogs, and tags. The trend is to be more social and participatory and the web is evolving swiftly with new technologies, apps, tools, and trends to enhance these experiences. It’s time we tapped into the potential of these developments to engage our students in meaningful collaboration, research, and writing.

Collaboratively Creating eTextbooks

This year, I co-developed the Crafting the ePerfect eTextbook EVO Session. This is a 5 week free course for teachers that is taking place NOW till February 16th. Participants create the beginnings of a digital textbook that meets their students’ needs. They receive feedback, tips, and support from over 400 teachers worldwide as well as our 15 moderators- Lindsay Clandfield, Chuck Sandy, Özge Karaoglu, Jason Levine (Fluency MC), Jennifer Verschoor, Janet Bianchini, Sylvia Guinan, Debora Tebovich, André J. Spang, Jackie Gerstein, Terry Freedman, Jake Duncan, Dave Guymon, and Rubena St. Louis. Find out more by joining the Google Community,  http://gplus.to/eTextbookEVO. This is only the first week so you can still participate and receive a certificate.

Fostering Effective Peer Feedback and Collaboration

We are using Google tools and apps to foster meaningful collaboration and peer feedback. Teachers can use the same process to engage students in meaningful collaboration, research, and writing. The video below demonstrates our peer feedback and collaboration process using Google tools.

Recommended Google Tools and Apps

Google tools and apps are incredibly useful for improving students’ writing, research, and collaboration. These are a few shown in the video.

  • Google Communities- Participants can share videos, images, links, & more. They can edit their posts and include hashtags to organize information. You can create threads to categorize posts.
  • Google HangOuts- Up to 10 can collaborate through voice and video. They can screen share and create/edit documents, presentations, audio, and so much more. If you choose, record the meeting. When you end the broadcast, the video automatically goes to your Youtube channel. Students will love the fun features, such as making themselves into a meme or dressing themselves in virtual hats, ties, crowns, and other accessories. 
  • Google Drive- 15 gb free, create documents, presentations, spreadsheets, and forms. Integrate apps and scripts that allow you to do so much more like grade with a rubric, add voice feedback, draw, or calculate grades quickly.
  • Kaizena app- leave voice feedback
  • Goobric- a script that allows you to grade essays quickly with a rubric.
  • Research- this feature is located in your Google Doc under Tools. Find creative common resources to use, research scholarly articles, and cite in MLA/APA/Chicago style.

Our participants have been separated into peer groups. Each peer group has Peer Group Leaders. They are encouraged to meet up and critique their work weekly through Google HangOuts on Air sessions. This is the document we have provided them.

I invite you to participate in our session and experience the process. Even if you do not want to create a digital textbook, you could learn how to use various powerful tools to engage your learners in meaningful collaboration and peer editing.


Try one of these tools this year to foster peer collaboration and feedback.

If you enjoyed these ideas, you may want to get your copy of The 30 Goals for Teachers or my $5.99 ebook, Learning to Go, which has digital/mobile activities for any device and editable/printable handouts and rubrics. Subscribe for FREE to receive regular updates!

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15+ Resources to Inspire Writing with Digital Prompts

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Included in the Digital Tips Advent Calendar and part of the Effective Technology Integration category

“The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink and clamoring to become visible.” ~ Vladimir Nabakov

One of my favorite activities with my students was having them keep daily journals. Each day, they knew the routine. Grab their journals, grab a pillow, sit where they want and spend 5 minutes responding to the prompt on the board. Nowadays, technology provides us more engaging ways to encourage writing. Students can journal online with blogs or use mobile technologies to capture images, record videos, and post podcasts. They can make their voices more engaging, spread their ideas, and  receive comments from around the world. Below are a few ideas and resources.

  • Vary the types of writing students do! They can create comics, digital stories, dialogues, emails, etc.
  •  Corn Dog Art features many video and writing prompts.
  •  John Spencer’s Photoprompts Tumblr has tons of writing prompts accompanied by images. They spark imagination and encourage various types of writing.
  • Luke Neff’s Image Writing Prompts are aligned with the common core and have incredible visuals.
  • Make Beliefs Comix has over 350 free printables for teachers. These can easily be shown on a projector and used as writing prompts. They are sorted by topic, event, and holidays. Students can create their own comic with this tool in multiple languages.
  • Create a digital calendar similar to this one with a writing prompt a day. Here’s a post on how to create a digital calendar.
  • Have students create their own writing prompts and integrate a few throughout the year. You could have them add their prompts to the digital calendar, which frees up your time! Assign each student a day to be in charge of creating a visual prompt. You can give them a rubric or checklist to follow.
  • If your students blog, then they could exchange their writing prompts with their peers and each respond. It’s a writing prompt exchange. Each could embed the prompt on their blogs.
  • Students like memes. They respond to them on social networks like Facebook. Use memes as writing prompts. I provide resources and instructions in this presentation, Let’s Go Viral!.
  • Write About This- a free IOS app with prompts to inspire writing and students can create their own.
  • Journal Jar- free web and phone app that when shaken comes up with a question to write about.
  • PicLits- choose an image and your students drag and drop words onto the image to create a story.
  • Scholastic Story Starters- this is an interactive website where students write their names and fill out questions.
  • Plinky- a question appears and below the question students write their opinion.
  • StoryIt- print out a picture that has the first paragraph of a story.
  • Boggles World Creative Writing- several creative writing prompts to print that were especially designed for English language learners.
  • Five Card Flickr- 5 random pictures from Flickr are posted and students can write a story in the space provided or view several other pictures.
  • One Word- This excellent website posts one word and your students have 60 seconds to write on the website whatever comes to mind.
  • Writing Fix- hundreds of journal writing prompts, writing games, and more.
  • Lightning Bug- find a story idea or develop one.
  • 100 Word Story- an image is posted and you can submit a story that is only 100 words. This site doesn’t filter so you can use your own images and have the students create the stories in class.
  • The Storyteller Blog is full of writing prompts. Some are geared for older students. Here’s a monthly  calendar with various prompts.
  • Several visual prompts on the Teaching Ideas site.
  • Tell About This- Free iPad app for students to respond through their voice to picture prompts.


Try one of these resources for writing prompts.

31 Days of Digital Tech Integration Tips

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11 Random Facts

rosco me glasses

This post is different from my usual ones, because I’m participating in a blogging meme, in which you get to find out 11 facts about me. I think this meme would be a great way to motivate language learners to write and learn more about each other. It’s a great way to build a community, especially online.

The mission:

1. Acknowledge the nominating blogger(s).
2. Share 11 random facts about yourself.
3. Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you.
4. List 11 bloggers.
5. Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer, and let all the bloggers know they have been nominated. Don’t nominate a blogger who has nominated you.

I was tagged by Sandy Kendell, Adam Simpson, Kathy Fagan, Sarah Thomas, and Carol Goodey. I’d like to thank them for their thoughtful questions. I’ve chosen to answer their questions in this audio recording:

11 Random Facts About Me

  1. When I travel to a place with a beach, sea, or lake, I try to watch the sunrise or sunset, and listen to Maria Callas or Sarah Brightman. I’ve done this in at least 10 countries and possibly 50 cities.
  2. I often write messages in the sand hoping to inspire someone.
  3. My favorite artist is Marc Chagall and I’ve traveled throughout 3 countries to see his stain glass pieces and paintings.
  4. I love the 80s!
  5. I sometimes make Rosco dance with me and sometimes we make spoofs of songs.
  6. I was a traveling poet and a slam poet.
  7. I’ve lived in Greece, Germany, Oklahoma, and Texas.
  8. I used to collect hippos when I was younger and have over 100 hippo figurines, etc.
  9. One day I want to write a comic or children’s book about Rosco. I often create the comic of his antics in my head to amuse myself. There was a series in which he had an evil arch nemesis, Anna the Dotson.
  10. My dad was a championship bowler so I grew up in bowling alleys.
  11. I’ve written a Spanish poetry book with the artist, Ruben Luna, in 1999, entitled, “The Paintings on the Wall.” It was my first self-published book and I only have 2 copies.

My 11 Questions

The bloggers I’m tagging are Tyson Seburn, Fabiana Casella, Sylvia Guinan, Theodora Pap, Débora Tebovich, Hana Ticha, Maria Bossa, Georgia Psarra, Marijana Smolčec, Nikki Robertson, and Cristina Monteiro Silva. I’ve listed their Twitter accounts below in this listly.

  1. What is a goal you hope to accomplish from your bucket list?
  2. What is one goal you hope to accomplish in 2014?
  3. If you could host a reality TV show, what would it be about?
  4. How do you blow off steam?
  5. What is one of your personal theme songs?
  6. What are you incredibly proud of accomplishing?
  7. What was one of your favorite gifts?
  8. How have you dealt with a past failure?
  9. What is one piece of advice that has helped you throughout life?
  10. What was your favorite toy when you were a child?
  11. What’s your favorite piece of art?

The mission for these 11 bloggers:

1. On your own blog, create a post and mention I tagged you along with anyone else who did.
2. Share 11 random facts about yourself.
3. In addition, to these facts answer the 11 questions I created for you.
4. List or tag 11 additional bloggers, not me.
5. Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer, and let all the bloggers know they have been nominated.

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