Friday, 22 May 2009

Facebook for Literature and History

In a follow up to my post on “Why is Everyone So Afraid of Social Networking” I felt that it was necessary to portray some of the positive elements of social networking. One of the foundations of social networking can be derived from psychological principles and the enrichment of the Ego. However, this is simply one side of the social networking process. The core of social networking begins with a common interest and spreads out to satellite communities. However, I feel facebook and myspace are not really social networks. The core of facebook was to bring college students together and you could only join if you had a university address. This core idea has since faded and expanded into a community of people adding “friends” daily and not even really knowing their affiliation. Mind you, this is not a universal trait, but when I polled my students on how many “friends” they have on facebook, there was rarely a number below 500. FIVE HUNDRED! Really, who can keep up with that many birthdays?

The original concept behind facebook falls into the social network definition, but the recent versions are simply millions of people accepting or denying invitations based on, and let’s be honest, looks or profile information, not a common network interest. With that said, I wanted to take the concept of facebook and myspace and apply it to literature or history. This lesson worked nicely in my classroom and feel that it can work in any classroom, even those without any form of technology.

Here is an outline of how the lesson should flow.

Objective: Create a “profile page” for one of the characters in history or literature.

Process:

1. Define a social network

2. Define what “facebook” is and what it accomplishes

3. Ask students how they can apply the answers to #2 to the characters we are reading in the novel or history.

a. EXAMPLE: In Lord of the Flies, who would be in Piggy’s social network? What would be his interests? What links might he share? What might be written on his wall?

4. Ask students to create a profile page for one character in the story. They have to include all of the following items:

a. Picture – Let them draw the picture because it promotes creativity and saves paper and printer ink.

b. Basic Information

i. Age

ii. Location

iii. Birthday

iv. Sex

v. Occupation

vi. Religious views

vii. Political views

viii. Favorite Music

ix. Favorite Books

x. Favorite Movies/TV shows

xi. Favorite Quote – This is a good way to get students to elicit an important passage that defines that character.

The best way to display these pages is limit each student or group to one giant post it page. Allow them 30-40 minutes to accomplish this task and make sure they don’t over due it by trying to be overly artistic. While being artistic is wonderful, remind them that this activity is for understanding the literature.

When you are finished with this activity use the sticky portion of the giant post it pages and hang them around the room. Have students present their pages and explain why they chose to design it that way and their rationale for selecting information. Have them explain why Piggy (from Lord of the Flies) is reading Robinson Crusoe.

Remember, this activity should be half creative and half factual evidence from the text. Also, the creative material cannot just be there to gain a laugh from your classmates. EXAMPLE: Jack from Lord of the Flies likes to listen to T-Pain’s music (No offense to T-pain, but it doesn’t fit Jack’s personality).

This activity fosters reading for understanding, understanding characterization and allows students to think critical and creatively when combing through a story. I use this activity every semester and it really brings out a good dialogue about the story and the characters we read. It enhances our class discussions and gives students a familiar device to remember character traits.

The idea of a social network is to build a community from a common interest. In our literature and historical texts, this concept is evident throughout. I think it should be a part of our teaching and aid in building our students’ understanding of characters and historical figures. I hope you like this idea and look forward to hearing feedback from those who have tried it!

Happy Memorial Day to all out there and let us take a moment this weekend to reflect on those who have done so much for this country. Thank you!

2 comments:

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