Instagram has a function where you can you generate a grid of your 9 most "liked" pictures at the end of the year. It is supposed to serve as a representation of the "parts of the sum" and provide opportunity to look back, reflect, remember, re-center and move forward. I see this "Insta 9" formulation as a digital litmus test of sorts. In a culture where students are (slightly?) obsessed with social media recognition through "likes", comments and retweets, this online platform provides an opportunity to reflect in a very concrete way on how an individual has been represented as well as received recognition in a larger community.
I wonder if there's an opportunity to flip this model around (and modify it a bit...) in order grow community and strengthen identity within schools. A thought I've been playing around with is providing students space and time to create their own Insta 9s to represent who they want to be (or how they want to be perceived) within their school communities. I piloted this ideas this winter by asking a small group of students to collect/create visuals, artifacts, and quotes that define their experience at school to date over the current school year. Students were then given the opportunity to curate their own "Insta Best 9" and then share out their creations. The group then took time to reflect on questions such as, "what moments are you most proud of?" "what makes you smile to look at?" "what do you want more of in the year ahead?" and modify their visual compilation as needed. Final creations were then hung up and displayed in a community space at the school and continue to remain on display.
I feel like there is a lot of opportunity to reflect on personal digital citizenship practices in this type of activity where students are given the power to curate their own visual footprints and reflect on questions such as "what experiences/actions/moments define me?" and "how do I want others to view my experiences?" I also see a potential bridge to conversations about students personal Instagram (or any other social media platforms) accounts- and how might students feel if their actions and posts were summarized publicly and put on display? Would this computer-generated compilation provide an accurate representation of identity? Would it be a profile they would be willing to share and feel proud of?
As we move further and further into a digital-centric world, I feel like it is imperative to have these types of conversations and discussions with students. The more practice and reflection time that students (and teachers!) can acquire in this area the more empowered, educated and aware we can all hopefully become.