Wednesday, February 4, 2015



I start each reading class the same way, with a quick write. Sometimes I share poems, sometimes picture books, sometimes videos. Whatever I share, the next step is to write our reaction to that item for two minutes. Occasionally I have the kids share their quick write with each other. More often I have them keep it just for them.

Today’s quick write was a bit unusual. I projected my iPhone up on our whiteboard using the Reflector app. The kids cheered as I opened Instagram. I told them that our share today would be to look through my own pictures that I have shared. We scrolled through the top twenty or thirty, and I gave a comment or two to let the kids know what they were looking at. Many of the kids follow me, and I follow them. And that was the impetus for this lesson.

After scrolling through Instagram this past weekend, I noticed an inordinate amount of selfies. Some kids posting upwards of fifteen in a twenty-four hour period. Looking at their feed I wondered, how was this feeding them? What image did they think they were projecting?

So, I shared my photos. After looking through the past month, I stopped and looked at my students. I asked them to be honest. If all they knew about me were the photos I posted on Instagram, what would they think about me? Their replies were:

·      You like Starbucks, books, reading.
·      Your family is important.
·      You go to a lot of basketball games.
·      You like nature – specifically sunrises and sunsets.
·      You have two sons.
·      You have a dog.
·      You seem nice.
·      You seem happy.

The last two really got me. All three classes said a version of that. Each time I asked, what about the pictures made you think that. The answers varied, but a lot of it centered around a positive feeling they had when looking at my feed.

I then scrolled through again and asked them to look for pictures of me. They found three – all with a friend or loved one. No selfies.

I asked them to pause for a moment and think – if they had Instagram, ponder what their feed would say to someone else. And whether they had Instagram or not, to think about what message they are putting out there to others? Would they be willing to stand in front of their class and ask what the others thought about them? Were they afraid of what would be said? If so, why?

And then, they wrote.

I watched each class for those two minutes. They were focused. Some, a little emotional. Two minutes was over and many continued to write. I brought them back and asked them to look over what they wrote and think, were they happy with what they believed to be others’ perception of them? If so, awesome. If not, how could they change it.

We looked back at my feed and I reminded them, what I put out there online, I am proud of. I don’t post a status that I will regret later. I don’t post photos I am ashamed of. I’m well aware of who I am, and I absolutely like that person. I smiled and looked at these beautiful kids. I want them to like themselves. Selfies won’t necessarily get them there. They aren’t all bad; we found one on my feed – when I got coffee. We looked at it and talked about why I took one that day. I asked them if they use Instagram; use it to share, to inspire, to teach us about who they are. Not to look at it to fill themselves up, but to fill up others. In doing so, they will be happier too.

I don’t think you’ll find today’s quick write tied to any Common Core State Standard. I’m also 100% certain there is nothing else I should have been doing.