Instahistory* #odetotheearlyrepublic

Instahistory 14

I know I have blogged a lot this week, so forgive me for one more post.  I wanted to share with you something that I think could be used in a variety of subject areas and in many different ways.

Facebook and Twitter are losing out big time among middle and high school students to Instagram, tumblr, and Snapchat.  While creating a “Fakebook” page used to be a “cool” activity, this isn’t the case anymore.  As I was told by one of my junior students on Friday, most students don’t even have Facebook accounts anymore.  So what’s a teacher who wants to stay “with it” to do?

I ran across a blog post recently in which an Honors English teacher created an Instagram scavenger hunt for a field trip to Chinatown after having her students read The Joy Luck Club.  I immediately began to think about how I could harness the popularity of Instagram in history class.  The result: “Instahistory: #odetotheearlyrepublic.”

Students in my AP U.S. history course took on the roles of famous historical people from the early American Republic and created a free Instagram account.  They followed one another and tagged all their photos with #odetotheearlyrepublic so we could all keep track of one another’s work.  Their task was to post a series of photos and caption them accordingly from the perspective of their historical person.  So they needed to know something about their person in order to do this effectively.  They also had to comment on one another’s photos, again from the perspective of their role.  It turned out to be a joyful, engaging activity with which both my students and myself had a great deal of fun.  Although you can’t see all the comments in the photos below, I hope you can get the gist of the activity.

Instagram could be used in many different classes.  In math class, students could take photos of the world around them and make up word problems based on their photographs.  In science class, students could take photos of labs or natural phenomena.  In English, students could take on the role of a character from a book or use Instagram photos as prompts for writing assignments.  These ideas are only the tip of the iceberg.  Try it out for yourself.

Instahistory 1Instahistory 3Instahistory 4 Instahistory 13 Instahistory 12 Instahistory 11 Instahistory 10 Instahistory 9Instahistory 7

*Thanks to Lucy for giving me the name “Instahistory.”



    • Leah, even my AP students want/need the grade for motivation. So yes, I am grading this. Here’s how I chose to grade it. Since I’m in the process of this activity, I’ll know more about how the grading scheme worked in a week. I may have to adjust some things. But they really did a great job with this one, so I think it worked out okay. Numbers 4 & 5 were the biggies and the ones I tried to stress.

      1. Followed all directions.
      2. 1 photo posted per day, a minimum of 8 total, including 1 “selfie.”
      3. Each picture captioned and tagged.
      4. Creativity as seen through photos, captions, and comments.
      5. Clear understanding of historical person as seen through photos, captions, and comments.
      6. Commented on a minimum of 7 other photos.

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