I, Joy Kirr, am a middle school teacher, author, and speaker. My 7th grade ELA (English Language Arts) classes are working to improve their lives through student-directed learning - without marks throughout the year. This is a log of my learning experiences... Want to have me speak with your staff or facilitate a workshop? Here is my PORTFOLIO.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Sharing Through Instagram

So many thoughts ran through my mind...

Erin Olson always inspires me. This tweet inspired a bit of action on my part. I wanted to know what my students thought...

     I am on Instagram.
     More than 75% of my followers consist of my students.
     I follow my students (when they let me).

Yes. How daring! Not really.

I am a role model for my students. I do not use any vulgar language, and I post about what makes me feel blessed. Parents know I'm on Instagram, and are glad I'm being a positive role model for their children. I decided to post this tweet to my account, and asked students to respond.

Here are their comments (without any edits):

  • It's fun to share your experiences and different things you are trying to other people/friends.
  • I like to share what I'm doing to all of my followers
  • It's fun to know what your friends are doing in their life. It awesome to see the pictures and its a way to communicate with your friends that live far away or are on vacation. I like to use it to show everyone what has/is happening in my life.
  • I like keeping in touch with my friends in other states, and communicating with my friends here.
  • I think it's cool to see what your friends are doing and you can share what you are doing with your friends
  • It's fun to share and relate with everyone.
  • Everyone has one and its less complicated then any other social media.

Sharing. Learning. Communicating. Relating to each other. And, yes, it's about sharing our stories.

Another thing I've noticed that is prevalent - birthday greetings, FULL of memories they've shared! I try not to read these, as sometimes they throw in a teacher's name, or class, and I feel like I'm intruding. They will compose a collage of photos of the birthday person and then write huge paragraphs with rambles about memories together! Instant writing prompt photos? Sign me up!!

I currently follow Humans of New York, and learn about many people's stories - their successes and their struggles. I just found Ugaaso Abukar Boocow's Instagram account. She posts beauty from war-torn Somalia. I have so much more to learn...

Many teachers are using Instagram to share what they're doing in the classroom, and at home. Some have classroom Instagram accounts. (I might, but it's blocked at our school.)

Like most social media, it is what you make it.

I know some of us on Twitter get frustrated by those teachers who are not on Twitter... yet.

Do you remember your misconceptions about Twitter? (Or do you still have some??) I remember thinking it was for celebrities. I thought it was people tweeting out pictures of what they're eating. It wasn't until I was at a workshop when the leader suggested we continue sharing our ideas on a certain hash tag. That's when I started learning more...

I get frustrated, too. I like to think of Vygotsky, however, when I get frustrated. Remember the "Zone of Proximal Development" (ZPD)? According to Vygotsky, the zone of proximal development is
"the distance between the actual developmental level as determined by independent problem solving and the level of potential development as determined through problem solving under adult guidance, or in collaboration with more capable peers"
We joined Twitter when we were ready. Someone guided us when we had a reason to ask. If it's meant to be, and teachers want to learn more, they will find their way. They know they can count on us to be there to help guide them once they are ready.

When I share on Twitter & on Instagram, I always have my students and transparency in mind. I want to share questions, concerns, celebrations, and blessings. What about you? Are you "self-absorbed" enough to join?
Instagram - @joykirr1
Twitter - @JoyKirr

UPDATE 4/1/15...
I thought I'd spin a bit of #TLAP (Teach Like a Pirate) last night... I received a $50 gift card from a business, and since my 5/6 block helped me receive it, I thought I'd let them "spend" it. When I asked what they wanted, they had many ideas, all CLASS PETS! Yikes... After sharing this idea at home, Hubby suggested an ant farm. I did the research - no thank you. Brought that idea back to school, and 5/6 suggested sea monkeys... Ugh. No thank you. Finally, at lunch one day, one student suggested a robotic fish. Now THAT I can get into!

I received three in the mail (one for each class = $45 = perfect). I decided block 5/6 should be the ones to see this gift first, so I had to hide it. I got the excitement going in class yesterday, letting them know I'd have something for them - and no, it wasn't an April Fool's joke. I had one student on my mind that I wanted to come back to school. This student misses school quite a bit. I think this student has a lot of sway with the parents. This particular student also follows me on Instagram, so I posted this photo and comment:

With that, I had my fingers crossed this student would return... I did not expect all the comments from students! One was heartbreaking, and it was from a student who is almost always at school: 
Only reason to look forward to schhool (sic)
This particular student came to school, and was excited to see the RoboFish. :) What's more - the student who'd been absent came back, too!! I said, "I was hoping that picture on Instagram would get you back here - welcome back! It's so good to see you! How was your break?..."

Instagram, Twitter, "social media" in general... 
We've found uses for it that show it's not just about being "self absorbed."

Other teachers blogging about Instagram:
Mrs. Callahan - 7th and 8th grade

Other interesting posts regarding Instagram...

Sunday, March 15, 2015

The Phantom Tollbooth - Quotes

I've had it on my list for years... then good ol' fate stepped in!

I checked out three books from my local library, and two were semi-random. One of these was The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. It's been on my list, and I remember Paul Solarz saying he loved reading it with his kids. It was also on our "BOB" (Battle of the Books) list for our local library, so I grabbed it... not really wanting to read it, but feeling like I should.

As fate would have it, I was able to visit Paul's classroom this past Friday after a doctor's appointment! (Yes, he's local - in my district! How is it that I only see him at EdCamps?!?!) I could write all about all I noticed in his classroom, but that's for another post. Of course, I had to look at his fabulous library along one wall of his room, but then he showed me all the other books he had stashed away... Literature circle books for the year, and whole-class read alouds (and "read alongs," because he had enough copies). One of these, of course, was . When I got home, I began the journey that is called The Phantom Tollbooth.

Two days later, I've got my favorite quotes to share with everyone who hasn't yet read this one:

"...the way you see things depends a great deal on where you look at them from." p108

"...there's always something to do to keep you from what you really should be doing." p213

"It certainly pays to have a good look at things." p217

"you must never feel badly about making mistakes, as long as you take the trouble to learn from them." p233

"What you can do is often simply a matter of what you will do." p247

My favorite, that last one, is going up on our ceiling in room 239 where we tape quality quotes from books we've read. My next step? Finding a photo I have taken (or take one!) that helps emphasize that quote. After that? Remembering that it truly IS a matter of what we WILL do...