Get the Buy-In With a Class Facebook page
You’ve undoubtedly watched students walk into your class engrossed in some common topic of conversation. Rarely is the subject academic in nature, but the energy level expended is both enviable and dreaded at the same time. Gaining class attention and redirecting all that energy into the day’s learning goals is no mean task, but what if you could capture some of that enthusiasm by harnessing a behavior students already use? By combining some old tricks with new technology, improving instructional time and student buy-in can start your class off on the right note and carry over into your lesson.
Facebook after the dust clears
After a spate of sensational Facebook controversies, a gradual realization that the platform itself can be a benefit to learning is creeping into the national dialogue. Recent findings show that learners using online training, either entirely or in some hybrid form, actually perform better than with traditional instruction. Those findings seem to be drowning out the controversy. Facebook isn’t going away, and by a structured engagement strategy, this platform can generate some real synergy when adapted to a time-tested classroom management practice.
Classroom Management 101.1
In your methodology classes, time honored tips and tricks about how to set the stage for a successful lesson were an important part of your program. To your relief, you probably found that most of these suggestions really worked with live students. Among those, training the students to independently begin some assigned work when they enter the room is among the most popular and successful practices taught. In many cases, a problem or question is displayed for the entire class to see at a pre-designated location and students have to actually respond to the prompt, usually in writing. Updating that practice with some technology can multiply the effect.
While this piece is about how Facebook can augment one of many established practices, times dictate the need to mention some basic ground rules. To start, thoroughly read and comply with your district’s online policy. For Facebook, like with any potentially controversial unit, lesson or topic, clear the use with at least your building level principal and then gain written permission from parents to have students use Facebook and interact with you. Establish a class or course Facebook page. Do not use a personal social media page to communicate with students.
Putting Bloom to Work
As you’ve probably anticipated posting a task or prompt for students on Facebook upon entering your classroom is the obvious initial application of technology to the old tactic. That alone, however, is not enough. A mimeograph machine could accomplish the same end. What you want is a prompt that requires students to communicate with one another about a well-reasoned, thought provoking question central to the day’s lesson. Your goal is to create a question, or for differentiation—questions, that every student can weigh in on with other students.
To manage responses, employ flexible grouping practices. By limiting the size of groups, all students can be expected to respond. Establish a rubric for what constitutes a suitable response and then use the input as formative assessment data from which to adjust your instruction, small group makeup and scaffolding for those struggling with a concept.
Before the door closes
Watching students entering your classroom (another great classroom management secret), won’t always involve hearing your upcoming class topic as the discussion du jour, but it will happen. By using technology to give depth to an old method, your classes will start off on the right foot and you’ll get immediate feedback on how effective your lesson delivery really is.