Six Ways Shared Photo Streams Will Change Your Classroom

Shared photo streams will change your classroom. In case you missed the memo when iOS 6 was announced:

With Shared Photo Streams, you can share just the photos you want with just the people you choose. Select photos directly from the Photos app in iOS, iPhoto or Aperture on a Mac, or even a Windows PC. Enter email addresses of the people you’d like to share with (or add new photos to a Shared Photo Stream you’ve already created).

CNET has a great tutorial for how to use shared photo streams, but I don’t care as much about how to create it. I care about how to integrate it into the classroom. That’s where the magic is, and the implications for the classroom are huge!

Class Photo Stream

Take photos of your class, your students, and your work. Create a photo stream for your classroom. Share the URL with parents. Share student work, homework examples, experiments, and classroom activities. Take a photo, and instantly your class parents can see it. This could almost replace a classroom website.

Sync to the School Computer

Easily get photos to your work computer. In the past, I would take a photo on my iPhone, email it to myself, open the email on my laptop, and download the photo. Now, all I need to do on my phone is add that picture to a photo stream. I created a photo stream just for getting photos to my work computer called Laptop Share. Those photos show up at  a URL like, and I can download the photos.

Student Projects

Students can share their own photos, and classmates can like or comment on photos. If you’re using Evernote for student portfolios, you’re already taking photos of student work. Feature the best work (it’s already been photographed for Evernote) in a student’s or class’ photo stream.

Special Events

If your class has a performance, game, or other epic event, take photos on your iOS device. Add them to a new photo stream, and share that photo stream with families.

Visual Literacy

Create a photo stream dedicated to visual literacy. Share a captivating photo, and ask students to write about it. They leave comments in the stream, so it will show up as more of a threaded discussion than a journal. If you’ve never tried this, writing about an interesting photo is a powerful, simple writing prompt.

Here’s a photo that tells a story. Students could write about the firefighter, about the helmet, why the helmet has soot. They could write a story about how the captain that wore this helmet saved the day… you get the idea.


The next time you attend a conference, share the photos you take. Instagram and Twitter are temporary sharing solutions, and email photos is just annoying. A shared photo stream allows your friends and colleagues access to photos you want to share.

If you’re already using shared photo streams in your classroom, please share how else you’re integrating it. If not, I hope this gives you some ideas that you can apply today.

I Accidentally Taught an Amazing Math Lesson Outside

I Should Ask Them For Keys

Nobody unlocked the classroom for me tonight. I had a dozen college students waiting to learn about teaching math, and no classroom. The original lesson plan included centers, google docs, and videos (using a projector (indoors)). But, we had no classroom. Fortunately, EduPhotographers (#EduTogs, for short) have shared amazing ways to integrate photography into the classroom. So, I took my students on a photowalk to teach them how to teach geometry to primary students.

rectangle hunt

Teaching geometry to primary students was the focus of class tonight. I rethought my plans for the class, and tried to adapt most of it to being outdoors. Rather than looking at photos of geometric shapes, we took photos of geometric shapes. I sent my students off in three shifts to take photos of rectangles, circles, and polygons. It took a few minutes for them to figure out that I was serious, and that tonight’s class required an active role. But, they were quickly on their way. Soon, they were walking around campus in small groups, sometimes taking pictures, sometimes sharing pictures, sometimes checking Facebook. We came back together as a class three times to share our favorite geometric photos, and talk about how we could adapt this activity to kindergartners. The class was more engaged than I’ve ever seen, and all because someone forgot to let us in to the classroom.

Looking at normal things from a different perspective

The Real Key

There’s a bigger lesson I learned tonight.

Lately, I am focused on fine tuning my courses. I’ve taught the same college classes several times in a row, and am comfortable with the curriculum. I want each class to have a better flow, with better examples, and better transitions. Meanwhile, I lost sight of the big pictures. Sometimes being forced to teach without a computer, projector, or ceiling is a good thing. I had to adapt.

I was able to adjust my lesson quickly and effective for three big reasons:

  1. I know the material, and I was prepared. I didn’t need a presentation (aka teleprompter) to remind me of what I needed to cover.
  2. The technology made it easy. Every student had a phone with a decent camera. Two years ago, this idea would have required way more preparation. Today: none.
  3. #EduAwesome teachers on Twitter inspired me. I had last Saturday’s photowalk fresh in my head. Conversations with Ken SheltonNicole Dalesio, and Lisa Highfill about iPhoneography were also fresh in my head. It was the perfect storm of inspiration (Twitspiration?).
I’m glad this curveball was thrown my way. My students were engaged, they understood how to teach geometry in an interesting way, and we made great use of class time.