The Founding Fathers, Facebook style...
I have found that students are thrilled when offered the opportunity to create Facebook accounts because these are two social media networks that use regularly and are comfortable with. Makes involving social networks spark student interest, even in those who are typically resistant to “creative” project ideas. One such Make was to create a Facebook account for a founding father, and students were offered multiple different format options: a paper template, an online “Fakebook” account creator, or an opportunity to use any online medium of their choosing (like Google Draw). They were directed to include a short biography, at least one post by their founding father, at least one post by one of their “friends,” and who at least two of their “friends” would be.
Just like the Makes we created with #TRWPconnect, this Make gave students a general guideline as to what was expected, but allowed them creative freedom to lay out the information in the manner of their choosing. This resulted in students developing a greater passion for the Revolutionary War era and gaining a better understanding of both the person they chose and their contemporaries.
One very high-achieving student created a Facebook profile for George Washington. This profile included the American flag as the cover photo, a picture of Washington for the profile picture, a short biography, a wall post by Washington, two wall posts by “friends” Ben Franklin and Paul Revere, and a photo depicting Washington as a General in the Revolutionary War. The student even included “likes” and “tags” for posts and photos, and they created their own template using Google Draw to fit their idea of what the Facebook profile should look like. Another student of a lower achievement level created a profile for Ben Franklin using the Fakebook creator, and included very similar information in a different format. I was stunned that with such broad guidelines, these students were able to bring George Washington and Benjamin Franklin to life in a way that was far more entertaining than I ever could have presented in a lecture.
(See pictures and analysis of student work below)
For students, this project inspired a thought process that was reminiscent of the learning experience I had in the MOOC and with the TRWP for the simple reason that it required them to think “outside of the box.” Obviously, none of the founding fathers would have been familiar with Facebook, which meant that students would have no “real” example to follow. This frustrated many of them, just as I was very frustrated in the beginning of my TRWP experience with the lack of checklists and explicit instructions. Students had to determine what that person would have been thinking, what would have been important to them, and what they would have wanted to broadcast in a public forum, and they slowly discovered that their best resource was the feedback from their peers. They were able to effectively collaborate with each other without having been instructed to do so, and more so, they wanted to share and comment on each others’ work. Students with different founding fathers joined together to create conversations among their Facebook pages, and they enjoyed using humor in these Facebook posts (which I instructed was great so long as it was historically accurate information). I found that without specific instructions, students were willingly participating in the collaborative learning process.
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