Sunday, May 21, 2017

Letting your students take the lead: an lesson via Instagram

I like to experiment. A lot. And my guinea pigs are my students. During one of my experiments this year (using WhatsApp to teach) a few of my students said: "We want to use Instagram!"

"OK," I said. "Not this time, but I promise you, we will."

When it came around to Independence Day, I asked if any of them had an idea how to utilize Instagram to do a lesson using Instagram. 

Jennifer popped up: "I do! Leave it up to me!"

And I did!

The morning of the lesson, she sent me 4 groups of photographs that she had curated from the Internet; one for each group of students in the class:

Her plan was for me to send it out to our class in our WhatsApp broadcast group, and for us to do an Instagram Live while they were working. 

At this point I realized that HER idea of an English lesson using Instagram, and MY idea, were not exactly the same. 

So I added to her idea: I asked each member of each group to write a reaction to one of the four pictures they would be receiving, and then to write a Birthday Wish for Israel for her 69th birthday. Then they were asked to tag it with the hashtag: #Israel2017NHS

What I did NOT take into account was that since they actually USE Instagram, some of them felt it would not look "cool" if they posted a school assignment on their accounts. So I compromised: those who did not feel comfortable posting it could send it to me via Whatsapp and I would post with the hashtag. 

During the activity, we were live on Instagram Live, as they had wanted (warning: unedited, uncensored, unflipped footage of part of the lesson filmed by one of my students). 

Here are some pics that I took of the kids in action: 

This is what was posted on Instagram from a group that DID feel ok with it:

The others can be seen (if you wish) by doing a hashtag search on Instagram! :-)

And here are the responses of one of the other groups:

So what did I learn from this experiment?

1) When your students offer to take the helm, let them! (And if they don't offer, YOU suggest it!)
2) Keep in mind that THEIR idea of an acceptable EFL activity may not be the same as YOURS (so you might have to "improvise" and "embellish"). 
3) Even though (2) .... it's ok! Because the motivation and the fun they have doing, together with the feeling of pride and empowerment that the students, themselves, feel when they take the lead, is worth it! 

My creative Jennifer: the student who enabled all of us to have an interesting learning experience!

Thanks sweetie!

Have YOU every done an activity with your students on Instagram or any other Social Media? Please share in the comments, below!

Digitally yours,