Several months ago I wrote a post discussing the idea of using social media tools like Facebook and Twitter as a way to help kids create history-related stuff. I followed that up with a Tip of the Week that included a Facebook template that teachers and kids can use to make the process a bit easier.
And now? I was browsing Larry Ferlazzo’s sweet site and ran across his post listing some new tools to simplify the process. Larry listed several sites (including one mentioned by Richard Bryne) that do most of the template creation work for you and your students, making it easier to focus on historical content rather than the process.
I really like the ease of use of My Fake Wall. (Updated 6/2/2013, My Fake Wall is no longer appropriate for student use.) students create a Facebook look-a-like fairly easily. Create an account, upload photos, insert some text and you’re done. This is what the editing screen looks like:
A couple of issues to think about.
The finished product is a link to a web site displaying your work that’s hosted by My Fake Wall. And while the finished wall looks very Facebookish, it also comes with a ton of ads. I haven’t seen any inappropriate stuff yet but I just don’t like that many ads lying around when I’m working with kids.
The other issue is that the ease of use may actually distract from the historical thinking that you want from your kids. It’s the same with a lot of tools – all of the PowerPoint bells and whistles, for example, can distract from the message. So . . . help kids focus on historical content, not the process.
I used my Mac’s ability to take very specific screenshots of my finished wall that eliminates the ads. The first image below is the before:
This is the after:
Larry mentioned two other sites that let your student “recreate” history. One helps create fake Twitter messages and the other makes fake text messages. We’ve talked about using Twitter before, these new tools can help.
I like these as well – as long as the focus remains on the historical thinking rather than on simply creating a fun activity. All three of these tools are really just new forms of graphic organizers. 21st century strategies that can help students organize their thinking so that the content makes sense. You can use these before, during and after learning.
Update 1/4/2011 – I just found a very cool PowerPoint template that does a great job of mimicking the Facebook environment. You can download the template here and get some specific instructions / rubric here.
(Thanks Larry and Richard!)