Face to Facebook Classroom

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. 

The Lesson:

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. 

  1. For what reasons did your country enter WWII?
  2. What was primary cause of WWII?
  3. Was there anything from World War I that could have cause World War II?
 Day 2Questions about the Holocaust
Collaborating class will ask questions on this day

Day 3Weaponry and the Atomic Bomb:

  1. What weapons did your country use/invent during World War II?
  2. Do you think the atomic bomb was necessary in ending World War II with Japan?
  3. What was your country’s view of the atomic bomb?

Day 4Battles:

  1. Discuss what battles you consider key to winning WWII.
  2. Explain the importance D-Day has in your country?

Day 5Answer the following questions:

  1. Evaluate your country’s perspective on U.S. involvement in WWII.  (Were they a welcomed addition? Nuisance?  non-event?, etc.)
  2. Appraise how Germany was dealt with at the conclusion of WWII. 
  3. 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:

  1. Comparing and contrasting the views of WWII expressed in the Facebook group
  2. Explaining how Lincoln’s quote “History is not history unless it is the truth” is relevant here.

Guidelines for
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: 

  • You:  Hey babe, waaaa sup?  Wanna get together tonight?
    Her/Him:  Nothin’s up… And no…Not with you!

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! 
Published in: on November 16, 2009 at 12:04 am  Comments (2)  

Podcasting Basics

Ever wanted to be a Podcaster?  Well, here is your chance!  At this website http://chatt.hdsb.ca/~elses/boylit/Podcasting%20in%20Education, you can learn the basics of podcasting and have the added bonus of learning the basics of using it in curriculum.  It is not a comprehensive site, but it gets you started.  It provides examples of student podcasts like this one:  http://www.adrianbruce.com/acekids/index.htm.

The podcast is strictly audio.  There are some podcasts out there these days that are video.  For those that are visual, this is important.  There is an advantage to audio for the podcaster in that it is easier to produce and post.   In this podcast site, the caster is interested in getting his information across verbally.  He uses other resouces like voicemail recordings and songs to enhance his recordings.  In his podcast called “Technical Stuff” he gives us practical information about how to go about recording podcasts.  He talks about even the basics of having a microphone.  There were tips on software (Audacity) and editing.  He added that the software was free – great bonus for me! 

In searching for Podcasts, I found that many of them date around 2005 and 2006.  Some of the sites even boast that it will be the new medium to broadcasting.  Since that time, it “looks” like podcasting has waned.  I could be wrong because I have not researched this extensively.  It is a slippery slope to suggest this by only havingGoogle to back me up.  But Google brought up the issue by providing me with links three years old.  So the question is, is podcasting waning or is it still growing?  I like the technology.  I think it is great tool for using and generating creativity.  It is certainly a great media resource for those who have linguistic tendencies toward learning.  Whether I choose to use it in the classrom does not necessarily hinge on its popularity, but it causes pause for thought. 

It was interesting site – a site that I will return to in order to get started podcasting.  Check it!

Published in: on October 18, 2009 at 11:31 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Blog Activities for the Classroom – WWII Blog

The World War II Blog

 This assignment will be for 9th grade. The subject is American Cultures and will be on the topic of World War II (WWII).  In preparing this activity, I found that this site (WordPress) may not be real user-friendly for the student and may not be as flexible in posting videos or audio as some other blog providers would be.   I found that in posting a video, I could only make it work if I used youtube or google video.  In trying to use teachertube, it did not work.  I would like students to be able to use sites and not be limited to two previous mentioned options. 

Students will need to: Have access to the internet, have their own blogs, follow their 2 partners’ blogs who will be in a geographically different location (European country), Make substantive comments to those partners on each assignment.

Objectives for this unit are:

  • Explain what it was like to be in World War II by dramatizing and role-playing (Comprehension and Analsyis)
  • Discuss major reasons for the US entering WWII. (Comprehension)
  • Examine the consequences of WWII and its outcome. (Analysis)
  • Compose an argument for or against the US entering WWII. Justify your argument. (Synthesis and Evaluation)
  • Compare and contrast our world today with the WWII era. (Analysis)

WWII Blog Assignments

Assignment 1:
For the next five days this will be your WWII diary. You will make an entry about WWII each day as if you were a soldier, nurse, medic, aviator or journalist. Choose one of those roles to play. Explain what you experience, what you see, how you feel, your surroundings and your opinion on the war. If it helps, pretend you are writing to a family member or to someone who will read what you are writing.

You will be graded on the following for a maximum of 22 points:

  1. Content of post
  2. Quality and creativity – 5 points
  3. believability/accuracy of the time period (don’t talk about Vietnam or cannons here) – 10 Points
  4. Use of technology (video, links, audio, pictures) – 5 Points
  5. Were comments to your partners substantive and appropriate? -2 points for each comment.

Each blog entry is worth 22 points so make sure you get them in. This is a large assignment. Missing one puts you down to a B.

Assignment 2:
In this assignment, you will be using your blog to explain and defend your opinion on one of the following topics:

  • Why the U.S. entered the war. Give reasons, support them with evidence, explain the consequences of entering and not entering.
  • Discuss how WWI was a contributor or set the framework for WWII. Embed video from that era or other media. Provide links where needed for evidence. Support your suppositions with evidence.
  • Defend or criticize the US helping Japan rebuild after the war. Defend your position with evidence of examples we have discussed in class. If needed, use video footage you can find from that era discussing the matter.
  • How are US Japanese internment camps during WWII like or unlike German death/labor camps? In other words, compare and contrast the US treatment of Japanese to the German treatment of Jews during World War II.

You will be graded on the following for a maximum of 27 points:

  1. Content of each postDid you defend your position with at least 2 reasons/arguments? (10 points)
  2. Did you use technology in presenting your argument? (video, links, audio, pictures) – 5 points
    This is an example of a video you could use
  3. Was your thesis statement well-defined and did it get the reader’s interest? – 5 points
  4. Did your conclusion clinch the reader’s attention and give him/her something to think about? – 5 points.
  5. Were comments to your partners substantive and appropriate? -2 points for each comment.

Assignment 3:
Write a letter to a world leader from the WWII era telling them your opinion of WWII and persuade them to enter or not enter it. Remember, this is a persuasive letter. Use the resources from your first two assignments to help you with this. Though this blog technology did not exist in the 1940s, use this technology now to be as persuasive as you can. Use editing features (such as font), use imbedding, linking, etc to gain the reader’s attention.
You will be graded on the following for a maximum of 27 points:

  1. Content of post  –  Did you defend your position with at least 2 reasons/arguments? (10 points)
  2. Did you use technology in presenting your argument? (video, links, audio, pictures) – 5 points
  3. Was your thesis statement well   –  defined and did it get the reader’s interest? – 5 points
  4. Did your conclusion clinch the reader’s attention and give him/her something to think about? – 5 points.
  5. Were comments to your partners substantive and appropriate? -2 points for each comment.

At the end of these assignments, please fill out the poll below by choosing one answer.

Published in: on October 11, 2009 at 9:10 pm  Comments (1)  

Blog Ideas for the Classroom

As I perused sites over the last week for ideas about using blogs in the classroom, I have found that many have great ideas. I saw one with 33 different blog uses in the classroom. The site was called Web 2.0 in the Classroom. I found them all very useful options. One that stuck out was:

“Create a blog where students describe a typical day at school. Invite other same aged students from different global locations to contribute the same type of information on the same blog. Let students ask questions and leave comments to gain cultural awareness. Students can then begin to share/compare thematic units being learned, novels being read, field trips being taken, etc.”

Having students from different global locations participate is a great idea. It gives students a culturally different educational perspective on life and education in different parts of the world. Even the teacher can learn from this. I think that I will try to use “global participation” sometime in my own classroom. I don’t know if I would use the same topic or not. It’s not a bad topic, but I think that since I co-teach a lot in social studies, I might use a topic like one of the World Wars or the Cold War so my students could see that history is not always coming from one perspective.

Published in: on October 11, 2009 at 8:20 pm  Leave a Comment  

Protecting Education

This is my first blog post.  Not sure why I chose this topic but, at the moment, it has me fired up.  I looked at a site today that is designed to tear away the protections teachers have – the protections teachers and administrators have worked so hard to build.  I won’t post the link to the site here as it would be an advertisement for the propoganda that is spun there.  It is shrouded in the notion that it wants to help teachers by freeing them of unions.  Basically, this site in question says that teachers should not have the right to strike because they are public servants and it deprives children of the right to an education. 

Let me start off first with how I share a common belief with this site.  I believe, like this site,  that children DO have a right to education – and a good education at that.  Educating our youth is perhaps one of the single most important jobs in existence.  Why?  Because education enhances our ability to compete globally.  Past Presidents, including our current, say that improving our education system is important for maintaining our economy and our global status as a world leader.  Without teachers, we all suffer.

However, I have a fundamental difference with this website.   This website claims that strikes hurt the education of our children.  While that seems logical and can generate intense emotional debate, I can’t agree with that basic premise.  Looking at the proposed legislation of this site leads me to believe the true motivation come from a foundation that thinks citizens pay too much taxes to education, one that thinks teachers make too much money because they don’t work all summer, one that thinks teachers have too much protection, one that doesn’t understand or appreciate the important services unions provide.

Yes, the fact is that unions are there to protect teachers.  That is what they are designed for.  There is nothing to argue there.  Unions, however, go the extra mile by being aware of how teacher strikes affect children. They work hard to avoid and reduce strikes by teachers. 

Strikes do not hurt education as some might think.  Unions do not hurt education.  They strengthen it!  Here is why.  Unions are there to make sure that teachers can do their jobs without having to worry about salary, working conditions, benefits, retirement, law suits and other legal issues.  Beyond that, local unions even provide scholarships to students.  Since teachers are public servants, they need to have a voice.  Unions are that voice.  Silencing this voice compromises quality education.   

Parents, teachers, students and citizens, I encourage you to consider the negative effects that having no teacher union or representation would have.  Public education is supported by taxes.  Schools are not designed to make a profit.  They are a service-based institution.  Administrators and boards are thus inherently encouraged to use money most efficiently and to save it wherever possible.   I can’t blame them.  I would do the same thing. Boards are under enormous pressure from their constituents to cut budgets and to keep expenses in check.  There must be equal and effective pressure to increase budgets and to improve education.  Who is that voice?  Teachers and their unions!  

The site mentioned at the beginning of this rant would like us to believe that strikes are somehow always done frivolously and without purpose – that unions and teachers just can’t wait for a strike.  It would also like us to believe that teachers somehow have a gun to the head of boards or administrators.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  The fact is that strikes are no fun for anyone.  In addition, strikes are not just a retaliation for not getting what is asked for.  Strikes always have to be a last resort.  Strikes always have to have a legitimate reason – reasons, by the way, that are not always salary related.   Strikes simply give teachers the power to be able to negotiate. 

Protect education by protecting teachers and unions. We want our children to have quality education.  We want quality teachers.  We want teachers who are dedicated to their profession.  We want teachers who are fully focused on our children when in the classroom.  We don’t want teachers preoccupied, afraid of litigation or willing to leave the profession for more money or better working conditions.  Teachers are an invaluable resource for our children.  Empower them and they will empower our children!

Published in: on October 3, 2009 at 11:45 pm  Comments (1)  
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