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A Teacher's Guide to SnapChat


A Teacher's Guide to SnapChat

     SnapChat is the next big thing in social media. If you are a teacher, then you are probably aware that your students are regular users. And although the dynamic messaging app is most popular with teenagers, its adult user base continues to grow as more people become aware of the platform's potential for creative self-expression.

What is SnapChat?

      SnapChat is a mobile messaging app where users can share images and videos that will self delete after a few seconds of being viewed. Like a casual conversation, there is no lasting record of your interactions. The transient nature of what you share creates an experience that is more authentic and in the moment, which is a large reason why SnapChat has mass appeal.

How do people use SnapChat?

       Short-lived content is not the only feature that separates SnapChat from other social platforms. SnapChat has a "fun factor” that bolsters the user experience. You can add text captions to your photos and even doodle on images before sharing them with friends. Users can also broadcast their “story,” which is a compilation of photos and video clips, within a 24-hour period, that shares your experiences in a “day in the life” format.

Is SnapChat for me? 

      Remember when you first tried using Twitter? The hashtags and foreign lingo were probably quite intimidating. But after a trial period, you gained a feel for its interface and unique style of communication, which led you to becoming a regular user. 

      SnapChat has its own learning curve and grasping the interface will take time, likely even more than Twitter did. But if a teenager can figure it out, then so can you. You can access a helpful step-by-step guide to using SnapChat here.

How is media shared on SnapChat?

      SnapChat is much more than a messaging app. It has become a hub for news and media outlets like Food Network, National Geographic, ESPN, and The Wall Street Journal to share exclusive content via the “discovery” feature.

     Exclusive media content is attracting a growing amount of adult users who are drawn by the platform's potential for customization. This trend is only expected to continue as SnapChat is poised to surpass Twitter in terms of overall popularity as its user base begins to resemble more mature social platforms.


How can teachers use SnapChat?

      As a millennial educator and regular SnapChat user, I have been unable to establish a safe and appropriate way to interact with students using the platform. At least not yet. While it’s true that education and SnapChat have yet to become friends, I have discovered that SnapChat is an awesome place for teachers to express themselves and to find inspiration.

       Here are three ways that you can use SnapChat to broaden your horizons as an educator:

1.) Share Your Story

       Teachers know that there is no such thing as a dull moment. Most people are completely unaware of what a day in the life of a teacher looks like. SnapChat offers an incredible opportunity for a teacher to share her story and to inspire others.

       So go ahead and share that little dance you always do when you finish grading a stack of papers or the excited face you make when writing with a fresh dry-erase board marker. By sharing your personal story, you can connect with and inspire others to support and pursue careers in education. Pretty cool, right?

 2.) Networking

      SnapChat users find inspiration in personal experiences. Like every social media platform, SnapChat has a networking element where users can discover and interact with like-minded people. It is a great place to connect with fellow educators and thought leaders. Consider using SnapChat if you are looking to increase and diversify your personal learning network.

3.) Creative Exploration

      Although SnapChat launched in 2011, the platform is still relatively new and people are still discovering creative ways to use it. Since there is no standard approach to effective storytelling, the potential of SnapChat is dependent on the creativity of its users.

       Many athletes, musicians, and photographers have found creative ways to share their story using SnapChat. Most teachers are immensely creative individuals. I think it’s time that we start using social media to share our message and give educational advocacy a louder voice.

      When it comes to telling a teacher's story, SnapChat may be your best tool.


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.


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.


5 Tips for Teachers Starting a YouTube Channel


5 Tips for Teachers Starting a YouTube Channel

Imagine if your students could revisit any class lesson online and on demand.

Imagine if your students could revisit any class lesson online and on demand.

Are you a teacher looking to start your own YouTube channel to share your lessons with students inside and outside of the classroom?     

Our students have always had access to the internet and they use it as their go-to-source for finding answers to whatever question may pop into their heads. For a teacher, competing with a vast sea of content and sources of information can seem intimidating. However, never forget the incredible advantage that you hold when it comes to your students—they have a real human relationship with you and they trust you. 

     While many teachers have their own websites, blogs, and twitter accounts, they miss the mark by not providing video content in the form of filmed lessons, webinars, and other eLearning opportunities. The benefits of sharing instructional video lessons that reflect you and your classroom are many. A student can return to class from an absence completely caught up after watching the lessons online while she was at home. Another student who is stuck on a homework problem can revisit the lesson from earlier in the school day. While yet another student can watch a lesson from the week prior to assist him while studying for tomorrow’s exam.

Online video lessons allow an absent student to learn from home.

Online video lessons allow an absent student to learn from home.

I get it: having an online presence sounds great, but what teacher has the time for creating videos and running a YouTube channel? This concern is fair, but following these 5 time-saving steps will allow you to reap the benefits of sharing video content with your students without consuming large amounts of your time, energy, or money:

1.) Use YouTube

YouTube is by far the most popular online video-sharing network. It is easy to use and I guarantee that every one of your students is a routine visitor. In fact, a recent study showed that 74% of teens prefer YouTube over FaceBook and Twitter. Students should be encouraged to subscribe to your channel, but they can still view the lessons even if they are not. YouTube videos are easily shared via email and can be embedded within your personal teacher website. The only thing that you will need to create your own channel is a Gmail account, which is free.

2.) Use Your SmartPhone

    Want some good news? You already own the most important piece of equipment required for creating educational video content. The video camera on your SmartPhone is more than capable of filming in crystal clear HD. If you want to go the extra mile, you can play around with editing apps like Magisto or Cinefy, but that is only if you want to add some production value to your lessons.

3.) Invest in a Decent Microphone

      This tip is more of a strong suggestion than it is a requirement, but there is something to be said for good sound quality. You can get a suitable microphone on Amazon for under $100. If you plan on filming yourself, while you are teaching in front of the class, then a small, wearable lab microphone like the Rode SmartLav+ is what you will want to use to ensure that your lessons have clear audio. I use this microphone when filming the introductions to all of of the MashUp Math YouTube lessons. Before purchasing a microphone, reach out to your school's library or technology department. You may get lucky and be able to borrow sound equipment.


You were going to teach the lesson anyway, so why not record it and put in online?

4.) You Don’t Have to be the Next Spielberg

     The best approach to educational video content is to film yourself while teaching a lesson. You were going to teach the lesson anyway, so why not record it and put it online? By recording a lesson, it lives on forever and students can revisit it on demand! All that you have to do is set up your SmartPhone camera to record while you teach.  Once you have the footage, you can edit out unwanted segments using a basic app, like iMovie, and then upload the finished product directly to YouTube.

5.) Consider Flipping Your Classroom

     Once you have an online library of video lessons, you may want to consider flipping your classroom, which is a reversal of the traditional teaching model. In a nutshell, students watch the lesson online for homework and work on applying the material while they are in school. Under this model, the teacher becomes less of a dispenser of information and more of a facilitator. Having the ability to embrace this progressive model is one of the greatest benefits of starting your own educational YouTube channel and can lead to a complete transformation of your everyday interactions with students. More information about the flipped learning model can be found here.

     With these five steps in mind, you are on your way to creating an awesome YouTube channel for the benefit of your students! 

Tags: flipped learning, blended learning, elearning, edtech, common core, youtube, education


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.