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7 Ways Innovative Teachers Use Instagram


7 Ways Innovative Teachers Use Instagram

Why do innovative teachers embrace social media?

      Think about the qualities of an effective 21st century educator. You are probably picturing someone who is highly adaptable, constantly inspired, and strongly connected with both students and fellow educators. You can find many teachers with these qualities on social media platforms like Twitter and Pinterest, which are popular online communities that innovative educators use to build a personal learning network, share ideas, discover new technologies, and find inspiration.

      Hashtag-happy teachers who prefer verbal communication and seek social networking opportunities often turn to Twitter, where 4.2 million education-related tweets are shared every day, according to EdSurge. More visual-minded and crafty educators, seeking ideas and inspiration, use Pinterest to communicate through photographs and graphic designs. If you consider yourself to be an effective and innovative 21st century teacher, then you are likely a frequent user of one of these platforms and have benefited immensely from using them. Unfortunately, the pros of Twitter and Pinterest have a limited amount of overlap, which leads one to wonder where an educator can go to experience a combination of both.

How can innovative teachers use Instagram?

      Enter Instagram (or IG for short), which has over 300 million active users every month. You have probably heard your students talking about tagging, liking, and “Throwback Thursdays,” but you, like many teachers, may be unfamiliar with how powerful of a tool IG can actually be. You can think of the Facebook-owned platform like a constantly updating scrapbook of images portraying the experiences and interests of the people and groups that matter the most to you. IG combines the categorize-by-hashtag system used by Twitter with the image-driven nature of Pinterest to create a place where educators can come to network, share and discover new ideas, and interact with each other on a more personal level.

     Instagram's popularity is rapidly growing as the network continues to posture itself amongst the more established social media platforms. When Twitter first showed up, many educators were hesitant to use it for professional reasons. After all, Twitter was a place where people would go to get the latest juicy gossip on Justin Bieber and Kanye West or to follow their favorite professional athletes. But it was not long before educators realized that they could choose which accounts they followed and had control over the people or groups that they were networking with. The same realization is happening right now with Instagram. Yes, Justin Bieber is on there, but you don’t have to follow him or any other person or group that does not interest you.

      At this point, you may find yourself entertaining the tired thought that you simply do not have the time to learn how to use another social media platform. That reluctance is understandable, but it is important for effective 21st century teachers to be adaptable, especially in our ever-evolving educational landscape. The good news is that IG is one of the easiest social media platforms to learn—in fact, you will be able to use Instagram within moments of your first login, which is one of the reasons why it has become so popular. If you are looking for an explicit guide to getting started, this Instagram Cheat Sheet by Gear & Style will get you up and running in no time.

      Teachers utilize the power of social media in many different ways, but we are all driven by the goal of growing as educators. Here are 7 specific ways that you can use Instagram to make yourself a more effective teacher:

1.) Networking With Other Educators

     Innovative teachers want to build large and diverse personal learning networks and Instagram is a great place for you to find like-minded educators and groups to connect with. There are thousands of inspiring and insightful teachers on IG and using hashtags like #TeachersFollowTeachers or #TeachersOfInstagram will help you to find them. 

Check Out: @TeachingSpecialThinkers focuses exclusively on Special Education.

2.) Follow Education Groups

      Teachers can learn about new technologies, lesson ideas, and recent studies by following popular education groups on IG. Similar to Twitter, following the right accounts can expose you to all of the things going on in education. You can use #education for a general search, but you can also use something specific like #STEM or #edtech as well.

Check Out: @Edutopia focuses on general education tips and inspiration.

 3.) Learn More About Your Content Area

      Instagram is a great place to interact with content-area-specific pages. These pages share posts that follow a theme like @NatGeo for geography and world events, @ASAPscience for science, and @MashUpMath for mathematics education.

Check Out: @MashUpMath focuses on math tips, challenges, and insights. 

4.) Showcase Student Work

      Lets face it: you are an amazing and creative teacher. You put tons of effort into planning engaging activities for your students. Shouldn’t you be sharing your awesomeness with the world? Well, on Instagram you can—and this kind of sharing between teachers is nothing short of inspiring.

Check Out: @WhatTheTeacherWants focuses on showcasing student work.

5.) Express Yourself

      You are more than just a teacher. Instagram is fun because you can gain a closer and more personal look into the lives of the people that you care about. Go ahead and share some posts about you. What book are you currently reading? What restaurants do you love? What park did you jog through this morning? 

Check Out: @CC2theJ is run by Chris Johnson: a middle school math teacher by day and Spartan Ninja Warrior by night!

6.) Access Teacher Resources

      Many users with Teachers-Pay-Teachers (TPT) accounts utilize Instagram to share their lessons and activities. This is a great way to stay up to date with your favorite accounts and you can often access exclusive discount codes. 

Check Out: @TeachersPayTeachers currently has over one hundred thousand followers!

7.) Promote Your Club/Organization/School

      Innovative school's use Instagram to celebrate all of the wonderful things that their students are doing both in school and in the community. Instagram is a great way to promote fundraisers, field trips, and sporting events.

Check Out: Xavier High School in New York (@XavierHS) uses IG promote their students and their school.


by Anthony Persico

Anthony is the content crafter and head educator for MashUp Math. You can often find me happily developing animated math lessons to share on my YouTube channel. Or spending way too much time at the gym or playing on my phone.


How Can I Help My Child with Math at Home?

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How Can I Help My Child with Math at Home?

Many parents want to support their child's mathematical development, but simply do not know how.

Many parents want to support their child's mathematical development, but simply do not know how.

How Can I Help My Child with Math at Home?

Parents want the best for their children. They want them to experience a higher quality of life and increased access to greater career opportunities. Despite thoughtful intentions, many parents struggle to appropriately support their child’s academic development. If they push too hard, a child can become overstressed and overwhelmed, but if they choose to remain too hands-off, then he or she may never develop the skills required to be successful. In the midst of such uncertainty, we are seeing far too many students viewing math as a chore instead of an invaluable life skill.

     As a math teacher, I have worked with hundreds of parents who can’t seem to find a comfortable medium between providing too much or too little support. This problem is only compounded by the fact that many parents struggled with mathematics when they were students and do not know how to help their children overcome the same obstacles. My response to parents facing this situation is simple: the fact that you care enough about your child’s education is more important than anything else. I do not suggest that parents invest large amounts of time relearning operations with fractions or graphing quadratic equations, instead I share the following tips, which focus on developing a positive attitude for learning mathematics combined with a reliable support system to ensure that your child continues to pursue math education beyond the point where others often give up:

There is a growing body of research suggesting that playing games can support the development of mathematical thinking skills.

There is a growing body of research suggesting that playing games can support the development of mathematical thinking skills.

1.) Keep Your Cool

      There is a common misconception that only certain people are capable of learning math. The idea of being a “math person” has caused an extreme amount of damage to student attitudes and has given many of them an excuse to quit learning mathematics prematurely. This idea, however, is simply untrue. Just like it is completely reasonable to expect every student to become skilled in reading and writing, we can expect every student to be able to think and solve problems mathematically.

     It is true that you may have fallen victim to out-of-touch teaching practices that failed to meet your needs as student and, as a result, you have adopted this belief that you are simply not a "math person." Fortunately, the same fate is not reserved for your child and he or she can surely benefit from the act of separating your preconceived notions of learning from their academic development. A recent study showed that sharing these negative feelings with our children can severely increase anxiety and degrade their attitude towards learning math. Education has been continuously evolving over the past few decades and no longer resembles the environment that many parents were exposed to. Modern students think about and learn mathematics in very different ways. Parents do their children a disservice when they impart their negative experiences about math education onto them. If parents want to support their child's math education, then they need to start with an open mind.

2.) Understand the Purpose

     Just because you do not remember the ins-and-outs of algebra or geometry does not mean that you cannot support your child’s math education. It is, however, necessary that you reinforce why learning math is useful and advantageous. When parents say things like “you are never going to use this in life,” their children respond by devaluing the skills they are learning. As a math teacher, I can confidently say that your child will likely never have to simplify a square root in the real world. However, what I know for sure is that he or she will have to solve complex problems. We want our students to develop into creative problem solvers who can think critically and mathematically. Athletes perform the bench press not because they plan on being pinned down by a large amount of weight, but because they want to develop functional strength that can be applied in variety of ways. We need to start thinking of math in the same way—as a workout for our mental problem solving skills. If we want our children to stick with learning math, then we need to help them to understand why they are learning it in the first place.

3.) Hire a Tutor

     This tip for supporting your child’s math education may seem obvious, but I really want to emphasize the impact that a one-on-one tutor can have. NPR recently reported on a study that focused on the effect of one-to-one tutoring relationships on student anxiety and math test scores. The conclusion of the study was that students who had regular meetings with an individual tutor had significantly lower levels of academic anxiety than students who did not and were better able to get through areas of difficulty without becoming discouraged. I understand that hiring a private tutor is a luxury for most parents, which is why the next tip offers an effective and free alternative.

4.) Reach Out To The Teacher

A weekly phone call with your child's math teacher can keep you in tune with how well he or she is progressing.

A weekly phone call with your child's math teacher can keep you in tune with how well he or she is progressing.

     The number one thing that a parent can do to support their child’s education is to establish consistent and positive communication with their child's teacher. It is important to stay in tune with what your child is learning and to be aware of how he or she is responding to classroom instruction. Most teachers have regular after-school hours (which is basically private tutoring for free) for your child to gain extra help and small-group instruction. Additionally, I must confess that teachers tend to give more attention to students whose parents are more involved. This extra attention is not a matter of treating students unfairly, but when a teacher regularly communicates with one of his student’s parents, then, as a result, he starts to spend more time thinking about ways to better meet that student's individual needs. Parents should be aware that teachers have limited time and refrain from bombarding them with phone calls and emails. A weekly or bi-weekly conversation is perfectly sufficient, in most cases, for establishing regular and meaningful communication. 

Free online resources like  are a great way to help your child learn math in creative and visual ways.

Free online resources like are a great way to help your child learn math in creative and visual ways.

5.) Utilize the Internet

     What happens when your child’s teacher is not particularly helpful or when you just want to expose them to learning mathematics in a different way? There are a ton of free online resources for learning and practicing math, many of which are aligned with the common core learning standards. Digital content allows for difficult mathematical concepts and procedures to be taught in ways that classroom teachers used to think was impossible. About two years ago, I started using animation software to make video lessons to help my geometry students to gain a deeper understanding of working with three-dimensional figures. The use of those initial animated video lessons in my instruction led to a encouraging increase in exam scores and the to the founding of my YouTube channel MashUp Math, which now shares animated content for all levels of common core mathematics.  

6.) Gamify

     There is a growing movement in education for embracing the effectiveness of using games for learning. In fact, a $2 Million study  has just been put in place to further examine how video games can be used to engage students and enrich their understanding of computer science and math. Although I would not suggest that you encourage your child to play video games for hours every day, I would, however, encourage some kind of recreational activity that involves mathematical thinking--like playing with Legos or working on Sudoku puzzles. The cool thing about developing skills like problem solving, creative thinking, and spatial awareness through playing games is that the child has no idea that what they are doing is impacting their cognitive abilities—they’re just having fun! 

7.) Be The Student

     One of my favorite classroom practices is developing activities that allow students the opportunity to explain their understanding in their own words. It is an accepted truth in education that teaching others helps one to better understand what it is that they are teaching. This fact is often used to support the use of peer tutoring, where teachers group struggling students with higher performing classmates who can help them. When you have to teach something to someone else, then you have to stop and think about the best way to express your understanding, which ultimately strengthens your grasp of the material. As a parent, take advantage of these benefits by allowing your child to reteach to you what they have learned in school. Work through the examples together and ask them questions. Let your child be the authority on whatever the topic is. You may be surprised by how much of a difference such a simple practice can make on your child’s academic development. 


by Anthony Persico

Anthony Persico is the content crafter and head educator for MashUp Math. You can often find me happily developing animated math lessons to share on my YouTube channel . Or spending way too much time at the gym or playing on my phone. 

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