Want to connect with your students in and out of the classroom? Consider bringing Facebook into your class as a collaborative tool. We all know that most kids, or at least those in the pre-teen and up category, are locked into many forms of social media. Instead of fighting it, why not meet them where they are, and use the benefits of Facebook to communicate and increase involvement?
We’ve identified a number of resources for you to use as you determine why and how to make Facebook work in your classroom.
Although students (and to be honest, teachers too) may sneak onto Facebook during the school day to read or post updates, is there a reason to encourage this behavior? Let’s take a look at why Facebook could be a great addition to your daily classroom routine.
Quicker response to class updates. Many teachers see the benefits of using Facebook for sharing information with students and parents about homework, tests, projects, and class activities. Since many students 13 years old and over (in accordance with Facebook rules) check their Facebook accounts often, they may be more attentive to class news.
Create a hub for classroom resources. By sharing links to lesson resources, you can create a place where students can easily find the information they need, no matter where they are.
Introduce information from outside sources. You can select any number of educational resources to follow so your students can see their updates. Tag the Facebook pages of the Smithsonian Institution, the White House, your local congressional official, National Geographic, or any organization that may tie into your lessons.
Teach students to use social media responsibly. Recent Pew Research reports reveal that 93% of teens aged 12-17 go online and that 73% of teens use Facebook. But are they using them wisely? With issues of cyber bullying, sexting, badmouthing others, and general over sharing of private information, students could use a little help learning how to use social media appropriately. By providing guidance in a structured environment, kids may better understand how to respect others while maintaining a safe and healthy social media profile.
For more thoughts on why setting up a Facebook page for your class is a good thing, check out 50 Reasons to Invite Facebook Into Your Classroom.
Privacy. It’s a valid concern, especially if you already have a Facebook page. Do you have to friend your students? How can you keep them from reading about your personal life? How can you keep their updates from showing in your stream?
Many teachers have solved this by creating a classroom page, separate from their personal one. One school named their page after a project, P.E. Kids Going Global (Postcard Swapping) while another class named the page after the teacher: Mr. Edelman’s Teacher Page. Other teachers create closed groups so student members can be invited and monitored. If you’d like to get to know your students in a different way, The Edublogger offers some ways to determine how much each of you can share.
Keep your posts professional. Sure, conversations in Facebook are by nature casual, and although you can (and should) keep a sense of humor, make sure the comments you make—and that students add, are ones your principal and your student’s parents would be comfortable seeing.
“Like” pages thoughtfully. Remember that posts from pages you “like” will show in your stream, so be sure those pages are education related.
Monitor the page frequently. Check the page often to ensure comments others may have made are appropriate.
Integrate the use of Facebook in your teaching. Use it often as just one tool that increases interaction. Post homework on your page and encourage students to comment if they have questions. Encourage them to post examples of palindromes or arachnids after you’ve just completed a unit on them in class. When you go on a field trip, have students take photos, then upload them to the page and add a caption.
By respecting the challenges and opportunities that Facebook offers, you can use it to increase information, education, fun and interaction in your class.