Image challenge - How to use INSTAGRAM creatively in the class

Image Challenge - week six

#instagram #can #be #fun

Another week, another challenge. This week inspired by a great conference that I have just attended in Thessaloniki, (sorry for a week absence but duties need sacrificies, promise to catch up), I would like to share a few ideas connected with using INSTAGRAM creatively. This is part one focusing on creativity. Part two will be devoted to critical thinking - soon on the blog:)

One of the workshops entitled “And you call it art?” was run by two excellent speakers from Poland, Hanna and Monika. In general, they were telling how to incorporate art into the classroom, but they also showed a fantastic activity concerning the use of Instagram. That, of course, inspired me to write the following post and think about other activities that can be done with the use of Instagram. Thanks girls:)

I expect that some people may not be familiar with Instagram, so let me briefly explain what kind of app it is.


What is it all about?

INSTAGRAM – is another app perfect for all photo lovers as it allows you to take pictures or use the ones that are on your mobile and post it on your wall, similarly like on facebook. You can give your photo a title, usually using hashtags###. However, that is not all. Photos are public on Instagram. If you want people to have to ask permission before they follow you, set to private. The cool factor of Instagram is the fact that they have 11 different filters you can use to upgrade your photos. Even boring photos can look amazing with some of these filters. Instagram, like any other social network, is based around having friends or followers. On Instagram you ‘follow’ people. Another thing you can do is like photos and comment on them. Both are appreciated. Instagram lets you see which of your Twitter and Facebook friends are using it and easily start following them. So that’s the gist of how Instagram works.

On some blog the other day, I saw a post about Instagram and that is another interesting aspect of using Instagram. The woman called it: An Education on our Shared Humanity. What she meant was that it “gets a glimpse into the everyday lives of people who she’ll never meet, who live in completely different cultures than she does. What she’s found is not so much how different we are, but how alike we all are. People all over the world celebrate weddings and birthdays, cherish their children and pets, appreciate a nice sunset or beach scene, like to drink and are obsessed with food.” Can it be used in the class then? Of course, it can.

Students, as it has been underlined in my posts regularly, carry their mobile phones with them all the time. That is why, using photos as a way of engaging them with the language outside the lesson is a fantastic idea and Instagram seems to come in handy. I have been using mobile phone as homework for quite a long time now. Students have to be aware, however, that such homework has the same value as ‘millions of copies’ with exercises that we give them. Soon they simply get used to it. So let’s get to work. 

#english #outside #class

One of the ways to use Instagram, especially if you live in a bigger city is to ask your students to take photos of examples of English that they see on the street. Then students hashtag them and comment on form, grammar, content and have a further discussion. This activity makes them fully aware that English simply surrounds them. Perfect for elementary and pre-intermediate students of various ages – even adults. Here are some examples:

#englishsigns #funnysign #liverpoolstreet #holidayfun

In the first case, students use their basic vocabulary to hashtag the photo with the vocabulary they know. while in the second one, it can be used to teach various meanings of the word operate, for example. Unfortunatelly, students usually associate it only with the hospital as a synonym of the word 'surgery'. In reality, it has a lot of meanings and the example from the photo proves it.


Verb (used without object), operated, operating. work, perform, or function, as a machine does:
This engine does not operate properly. work or use a machine, apparatus, or the like. act effectively; produce an effect; exert force or influence (often followed by on or upon):
Their propaganda is beginning to operate on the minds of the people. perform some process of work or treatment.
5.Surgery. to perform a surgical procedure.
6.(of a drug) to produce the effect intended.

*optionally you can use “hashtagging” with elementary group to let students introduce themselves in the class. Students write for example: #adam #12 #football #sport #tall. Then a teacher collects their sentences and puts the sheets of paper around the classroom and students have to guess who it might be. Students are not so scared to present themselves as it involves very basic vocabulary and they usually know it well.

#caption #it


That can be used in many ways. Students just have to take a photo referring to the topic that you are currently covering. Let's say, it's a chapter about FOOD. Ask your students to take a picture of their breakfast and add a creative caption under it. Of course, they have to include vocabulary that was taught during the lesson. the words like nutritious, delicious, yummy etc. Students bring their 'mobile homework' and compare the answers. The best photo with the best caption will be printed out and put on the board. It can be a photo of a week or a photo of a month.


We can't forget that our students take photos anyway. They are extremely creative and we, as teachers, should encourage them to show it, to express themselves and to show their individuality.

Remember that you can also use the existing photos and search in the box by writing, for example, #breakfast and you will see over 54 million photos connected with breakfasts. How can we use it? Culture differences or/and similarities is another idea worth considering. Especially, if you teach international groups.

This is part one of using Instagram in the classroom. Hope you liked the ideas and you will try it with your students this week. Soon PART TWO!!! New ideas about teaching critical thinking through Instagram. Enjoy:)