Saturday, February 27, 2016

Instagram Experience, Oops and New Rules

There are so many Instagram classrooms now!  I learn from these kids all the time.   If you're thinking of starting an Instagram profile for your elementary classroom, I say, "Jump in!"  Follow some other classes and read their posts.  Talk to the parents of your students to be sure it's okay for you to post photos.  We have a school-wide permission form that I'll share another time.  We have been Instagramming for three weeks now and I need to share my experiences, some mistakes and our new rules.

I sent out a note to parents of my students asking for donations of old mobile devices.  I had one family give us an old android device that became our Instagram device.  I made a calendar with a student name marked on each day and hung it on our white board.  The device is stored and charged each night on my classroom computer and the Instagrammer of the Day is responsible to grab it in the morning.  That person takes up to 10 pictures throughout the day, at Specialists, during Daily 5 Stations, Science and Math rotations, or any time learning is taking place.

When we began, I had students just post photos of what was going on in our classrooms.  We talked about photo composition, how to edit photos and the technical part of just posting the picture to the world on Instagram.  Then we learned about hashtags: what's okay to use and what should be skipped.  We looked at some of my mentor Instagramming classrooms' posts.  I wrote one hashtag, our school, on the board for students to include and now require that they add a hashtag or two of their own.  That's been going just fine.

One of my students didn't like a post by one of my mentors (@hellojenjones) and commented that it was "dumb"....ON HER POST...WITH MY NAME ON THE ACCOUNT!  I didn't catch it until the end of the day and I was furious!  I did not want my first interaction with this incredible teacher to be like this.  I deleted his post and sent her a direct message with my apologies.  Arrrrgh!  It was my mistake that I hadn't told them about positive comments.  It was my fault that I hadn't checked it throughout the day.  We had a discussion and determined that for now I would be the only one commenting on others' posts.  That solved that mistake.
This week, the third week of Instagramming, I started requiring that students write an informative, reflective sentence.  We discussed what's appropriate in their sentence and what to omit.  I love our Instagrammer of the Day postings.  Tell me about your mistakes and experiences.  I look forward to hearing from you!

Ketchup and Pickles

This image is a freebie from Teach-a-Roo.  Click HERE to go to her store.

On Friday afternoons, some students have to attend 30 minutes of Ketchup, where they get caught up on schoolwork because they were absent or didn’t complete it.  Usually this work is Math, so our Math Teacher holds Ketchup in his room.  Students who are caught up, get to participate in 30 minutes of Pickles.  For Pickles, they have two choices.  They can work on Miller’s Multi-Media Masters challenges or they can go outside to play with our most fun 5th grade teacher.  They run, play, and experiment with our SEAMM (Science, Engineering, Art, Music and Math) Activities.

If you click the link, you’ll see another blog post about Miller’s Multi-Media Masters. The students choose a challenge and complete it. Maybe they will independently study planets and make a video about them or maybe they will record an interview of an adult in our school telling all about how they use Math in their everyday life.

Instagrammer of the Day

I was talking to my fifth graders about social media one day and they told me that many of them are using Instagram.  We talked about keeping their accounts private and only allowing people they know and trust to follow them.  Since it’s outside of the terms of use for 10 and 11 year olds to use Instagram, I made sure that students were talking with their parents about their social media use and I sent an email to a few parents who may not have known about their child’s online presence.  

I had decided to make a class Instagram profile and I asked my students to help me name it.
One of my students made a big square on the whiteboard and they filled it with their ideas for the name.  Mrs.Miller.Rocks was one.  Another wrote 5th.Grade.Miller.  I liked this one the best:  Miraculous Journey of Mrs. Miller.  We had just finished reading The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo. It’s one of our Book Tournament Books.  So, MiraculousJourneyofMrs.Miller Instagram Profile was born.  Check us out!



Poetry Podcast

April is National Poetry Month, so we do lots of things with poetry:


  • The Best Part of Me
  • Poem in your Pocket
  • Poetry Podcast


We read The Best Part of Me by Wendy Ewald.  It’s a collection of poems and photographs of the best parts of each of the individual authors.  One boy has a picture of his eyes and all the things he sees and appreciated with his eyes. Someone else tells of long legs that run and play and get mosquito bites and feet with cut and painted toenails.  I bought this book at Amazon with a gift card I had received from a student teacher.  Thanks, Cody!


We read the book together and I use it in our Daily 5 Read with a Partner Station for a week.  The next week, the students choose the best part of themselves and write poems in Google Docs.   I let them choose the type of poetry and length of the poem they like.  The poems they write are amazing!  They have great insight on their best parts.  We take a photo of their best parts and they include them on their poem page.  I made a web page for their Best Part of Me Poems and have them posted there for the world to see.  They like being able to share their work with parents and friends.  


National Poem in your Pocket Day is lots of fun.  My students write short poems or they choose one from a book or website and rewrite it on a yellow paper with a listening log on the back.  On the designated day, they carry their poem with them wherever they go - playground, soccer practice, whatever - and they have to read their poem to at least 10 people using inflection and expression.  I challenge them to read their poem to 30 people and have them sign their listening log.  Maybe you’ve read about our Classroom Economy.  I give a $50 bonus to anyone who meets my 30-listener challenge.  It’s so much fun to hear poetry being recited all day long.  Parents have commented about how much they love this day, as well.  My Poem in your Pocket Day project is available HERE.  

My favorite part of April is when we make our Poetry Podcasts.  The kids love it and the parents love to hear their kids online.  Students choose a poem from a book or write their own.  We have a set of Chromebooks that we use for recording.  We use an app called Twisted Wave and save the recordings into Google Drive.  Twisted Wave can be used as a website and saved into your Documents Folder on a Desktop Computer, too, if you use a microphone.  I give them a script for introducing their poem and citing the source.  Even your most introverted students can shine in this project because they record all alone.  After everyone has recorded, I add their podcasts to a web page on my classroom site.  You can hear some of their podcasts HERE. We can tweet and share on Facebook, increasing our audience base, and they are shared on our Cougar News Broadcast.  In class, we listen to each one and use a rubric and accountable talk to give feedback to each student.  The directions, scripts, and rubrics are available HERE.