I have decided that I would like to use Facebook in the classroom. You might ask, “How do you use a social networking site like this in the classroom when you have students physically there that could talk face to face?” I am glad you asked. As teachers we always want to expand the horizons for our students. We always want to give them a new perspective, to freshen things up a little bit – to give them something new and exciting to talk about. But how do you talk about, for instance, new things in history? After all, history is history. It’s been done. There is nothing new to the curriculum you have been teaching for ten years. There isn’t possibly any way that it can be freshened up without spending thousands of man hours rewriting curriculum and infusing it with new ideas. Or IS there?
There is a free way and a way that uses less curriculum building hours to create the new perspective that you so desperately want to give your students. The following is an example of how a social studies teacher could infuse Facebook into the curriculum and give students a new perspective on an old subject, an old war – World War II. It could be done using any war or event in history though.
The main point of using Facebook in this way is to show students that truth is not always from our own perspective. One event can have multiple points of view and can be right at the same time. It gives students the opportunity to respect opinions, respond appropriately, learn from others and to realize that there are other valid opinions.
Here is why Facebook is such a great tool for this assignment. Facebook is not only a United States fad. It is a worldwide known social site. Facebook has unique, easy-to-use features such as a profile page, a wall, a photos and video section. There are many application such as the “courses” application that make is so easy for a teacher to create a great online classroom environment. In the courses application, you don’t even have to “friend” students to interact with them on Facebook. Abilene Christian University is doing a study on the Facebook’s effect upon students using their “schools” application. Read about it HERE if you are interested. Facebook has many security features as well which creates a great safe environment for students. In this application of Facebook, we will be using a group set to private where only those invited can see it and participate. This is being used to preserve the classroom environment and to put some parents at ease as some will be concerned about their children just having a Facebook account let alone talking to students from a foreign country.
Other sites that were considered in hosting this were: Ning and MySpace. Ning is not as widely known but is a fine social networking site. It does have its benefits. I did not see the ease of organization, however. It seemed harder to navigate. Perhaps if I spent more time with it, it would be easier. MySpace is popular but does not lend itself as well to educating. There are some privacy concerns as well. Most students have Facebook accounts, it has a great “course” application that can be utilized to keep personal lives separate. There are apps like quizzes and polls that can be used in Facebook too.
World War II
Ask your students: What did Abraham Lincoln mean when he wrote to W.H. Herndon in 1856…“History is not history unless it is the truth.” There will be varying answers but hopefully some students will mention the accuracy of writing history. Discuss how an author’s perspective or a perspective of a nation or particular society may have a view of something that might be different from another nation or society. Use a current example of how some might view how the current president is doing a good job while others think that he is not. Two different perspectives. Who is right? Is there even a wrong?
Using Facebook, we will be collaborating with another classroom for the next two weeks. This other classroom will be located in Europe and will be studying the same WWII subject we are studying.
If you do not have a Facebook account, you need to get one. Before you get one, you need to have your parents permission. Have the form I hand out signed by your parents and given back to me within three days. Once you have your account, you should let me know your email address so I can invite you to the class group. The group is private so you cannot search and find it. You must be invited. Once invited, you should accept so you can view the group. You can find the group each time by going to the groups you belong to on your personal Facebook page. Each day, there will be a new assignment that you will be required to respond to or complete.
Previous to answering these questions, we will discuss them, learn about topics involving World War II and express our opinions and thoughts. Then, you can be better prepared to answer the questions.
Here are the first five days of activities so you can prepare.
Day 1 – Reasons for the war: Answer the following questions by commenting on each one. Your counterparts in Europe will be doing the same thing and asking you questions the next day.
- For what reasons did your country enter WWII?
- What was primary cause of WWII?
- Was there anything from World War I that could have cause World War II?
Day 2 – Questions about the Holocaust
Collaborating class will ask questions on this day
Day 3 – Weaponry and the Atomic Bomb:
- What weapons did your country use/invent during World War II?
- Do you think the atomic bomb was necessary in ending World War II with Japan?
- What was your country’s view of the atomic bomb?
Day 4 – Battles:
- Discuss what battles you consider key to winning WWII.
- Explain the importance D-Day has in your country?
- COLLABORATING CLASS WILL ASK QUESTIONS HERE TOO
Day 5 – Answer the following questions:
- Evaluate your country’s perspective on U.S. involvement in WWII. (Were they a welcomed addition? Nuisance? non-event?, etc.)
- Appraise how Germany was dealt with at the conclusion of WWII.
- TWO QUESTIONS from the collaborating class
Week 2: Week 2 will involve taking pictures of local monuments, photos of WWII paraphernalia if you have any, MP3 recorded memories of any WWII veterans and your own project of what you have learned from the other class using PowerPoint, Prezi, video or another application online.
PROJECT: Your project will involve two major elements. They are:
- Comparing and contrasting the views of WWII expressed in the Facebook group
- Explaining how Lincoln’s quote “History is not history unless it is the truth” is relevant here.
Expectations and Behavior
As with any online social interaction, there are consequences to things that you say and do. There are consequences to things that you don’t say and don’t do as well.
As a student, you are expected to act politely and in a socially appropriate manner while interacting online.
Before you post your comments, pictures, projects, etc. ask yourself if there is anything in your post that is questionable. Would this potentially get you into trouble or possibly hurt one of your peers? If your answer is “yes” or “I’m not sure”, then don’t post it. See your teacher about that particular post.
If anything is posted that is inappropriate, it will be dealt with according to your student handbook. Examples of inappropriate online behavior are in the handbook as well if you need to refer to them.
Examples of inappropriate online classroom interaction:
This isn’t inappropriate because you got rejected – sad maybe. It’s inappropriate because you are not talking about the subject you are supposed to be talking about. If it were in the classroom, I take your note or ask you to stop talking. Please don’t! It won’t get you expelled but it will get you ALL CAPS from me!
Don’t talk about what you did last weekend. Not that it isn’t interesting that you got pulled over for speeding and your grandma was driving…but save it for lunch time.
Refer to your handbook about drugs, alcohol, bullying, etc. You know that won’t be tolerated.
Since we are dealing with another classroom in a different country/culture, we will review some important factors about that society and what you can and can’t do.
Being humorous is ok – done appropriately and at the right time.
Being dramatic is ok – done appropriately and at the right time.
Be careful using emoticons.
Sarcasm should probably not be used in this setting
Most importantly, you need to enjoy this experience. You will walk away from this with new knowledge and possibly new friends!