Students gain digital literacy skills and build self-esteem by expressing via social media the positive traits that best define their character.
Positive, bullying prevention, self-esteem, self-concept, character, traits, icebreaker, social emotional learning, emotional intelligence, social media, digital literacy, Instagram, photo
Instagram is perfect for enhancing students’ ability to use mobile tech tools for academic purposes. (This project can be done without Instagram, but will lose some elements of positive social engagement.)
Start a class Instagram account with a designated mobile device. (Make sure to set the account settings to “private.” Only people you choose to follow will be able to see material posted to this account.) Then find other educators and classes at a similar grade level with whom you can connect. Make sure you have at least some simple photos on your account when you get started—these can include a selfie, classroom pics, and/or an image of your desk. You also could include a video introduction explaining how your Instagram account is an educational tool.
At the beginning of class, have students watch the 13-minute TED Talk video “How Do YOU Define Yourself”:
In the video, Lizzie Velasquez discusses how she suffers from a rare disorder which prevents her from gaining weight and has caused blindness in her right eye. Once cyberbullied and labeled “the world’s ugliest woman,” she decided to turn things around and create her own definitions of beauty and happiness.
Lizzie asks the audience to consider what defines them. Is it their backgrounds? Friends? Families? She reminds us that if we can find happiness within, and be the drivers of our own lives, bullies will always lose.
After they experience Velasquez’s explanation of her journey, have your class briefly reflect.
Students should already be familiar with positive traits linked to good character. It also would be a good idea to have students check out this list (or print copies of it), with a reminder to focus on the positive and neutral traits on the list. (The list also provides an opportunity for vocabulary building!)
Have students get in a circle either by standing or rearranging the desks. Give them a few minutes to jot down the following with pen and paper:
Have the class go around the circle once, with each student saying, “My three favorite positive traits are _________, _________ and ________” and “One of [classmate name]’s positive traits is ___________.”
Return the classroom to its original arrangement. Pass out one sheet of paper and one bold marker to each student. Have each identify the one characteristic or trait (out of the three they shared and the one a classmate shared about them) that s/he likes best.
Ask students to write a statement expressing this positive trait (they can choose a word, a few words or a short sentence and can even incorporate graphic elements). Have them write the statement in pencil, using large letters and holding their paper horizontally. After you’ve approved each, give students the okay to go over their statements in marker.
Once the class has finished their signs, ask them to volunteer to share. The order doesn’t matter, but everyone must present his/her characteristic in front of the class and express it verbally. Right before or after a student shares, take a photo or video of him/her affirming the statement aloud or simply holding up the sign.
Post the photos and/or videos to the class Instagram account. You might also choose to share with your Instagram audience video of your class process and/or individual character testimonials. Use hashtags, when appropriate, for engagement purposes. To gain traction for your posts, be sure to “like” and comment on other photos and videos posted by users whom you follow.
Lesson Plan Source
Jason Cunningham, EducationWorld Social Media Editor
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Sample state social/emotional learning standards met by this lesson:
Illinois Social Emotional Learning Standards
Goal 1: Develop self-awareness and self-management skills to achieve school and life success
Learning Standard B: Recognize personal qualities and external supports
1B.3a. Analyze how personal qualities influence choices and successes
Kansas Social, Emotional and Character Development Standards
Character Development Strand
Core Principle A: Recognize, select and ascribe to a set of core ethical and performance principles as a foundation of good character and be able to define character comprehensively to include thinking, feeling and doing
Illustrate and discuss personal core principles in the context of relationships and of classroom work (example: illustrating an individual personal core ethical or performance principle being applied in a visual form such as a comic strip, thought bubble or advertisement)
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