Sixteen Ways to Use Facebook with Your Students
I've traveled to over 45 countries and I've almost three years in other countries. What can we learn from each other?
I've developed a pronunciation system called "It Sounds Like" and I hope people will avoid using IPA (backwards C, a+e, upside-down V). Let's talk! Write to freeEnglishLessons@gmail.com. My Orkut and Facebook accounts are both linked to FreeEnglishLessons@gmail.com.
I am a teacher in a school in Fort Lauderdale.
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http://www.freeenglishlessons.com/articlelive/categories/For-Teachers/Articles-to-Improve-Our-Teaching/Learn how to teach English as a Second Language
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Sixteen Ways to Use Facebook on a Daily and Weekly Basis
The Daily Eight
1. STUDENT HOMEWORK: I look in my computer's central in-box (not on Facebook) for notifications of short messages from students. I usually assign five or six sentences for homework each day and some students send written homework via messages in Facebook (instead of via email). I don't have to check my Facebook page because I set up a gmail account that forwards any notifications to my central email box.
THEN I START a Facebook Session: I go into my account.
2. I check for "WALL messages" and Photo Uploads and Tags – some students write "I'm really depressed about the weather" (it's a feature that Facebook offers so that the user can communicate something immediate – "here's what I'm doing right now"). I do a quick check to see that students are generally happy. Students upload new photos and tag existing photos when they recognize themselves or when they recognize other students. This activity generates a notification to me (because we are "friends" and friends like to monitor what each of us is doing…) and I can click on the notification to see the photo. I can send a quick message: "Nice photo. Please talk about it in class tomorrow."
3. I check for "Friend Requests” (new students will ask to link with me). The notification to my central in-box also gives me an idea if there are requests for linking.
4. CLASS LIST: If I have a new "Friend" I need to update the "Students in the School" and the "Class 1" and "Class 2" lists. Class 1 starts at , Class 2 starts at . If a student leaves the school, I remove that student from the "Students in the school" list. I try to keep lists below 20 names, because I use the list to notify groups, and Facebook puts a limit of 20 people per message.
5. INVITATIONS: I look messages that invite me to join an activity. Students suggest games and this is an effective way to build rapport in class and test the students for reading ability.
6. "CAUSES" – students ask me to join a cause to support. "For every 1,000 people who join this group, I will give a dollar to save
7. Group Messages: Occasionally (not every day) I will send a group message to the class about a vocabulary family of words or a grammar point or perhaps I forgot to give homework or there is some confusion about the homework. Maybe there is something in the news that I want to appear "hip" about. The point is that my message can get through the rush of data coming at these students because they are sitting on the computer – not reading email, but looking at videos on Facebook.
8. UPLOAD MY PHOTOS: I don't upload photos and videos every day, but I try to record something in the class room, perhaps a group of three confusing words (quit, quiet, quite) and I make a short movie about the pronunciation. That video goes up in 30 seconds – it takes about 3 minutes to be processed, depending on how long the video is, but once I click "upload", I can go do something else (the uploading process doesn't need monitoring)
STOP – Your significant other needs attention. Facebook can wait until tomorrow.
The Weekly Eight
NEW STUDENTS: When a new student comes to class, I give a small sheet with my email address and Facebook and Orkut information (the account name and the email address that is LINKED to the FB or Orkut account). If the student is on FB or Orkut, I get their account info, just in case they forget to sign up with me.
2. Create an event: Just to keep things moving and exciting, I can create an event (usually a one-time action.) I'm still learning this procedure, but I can find the info by scrolling down to HELP (at the bottom of the main page of my account), click on HELP, and then I type "create an event" in the search box. The fourth "FAQ" reads "How do I create an event?" and the answer gives a link to the "events" application. Perhaps I'll create a farewell party or I'll decide it's "Give a hug to a stranger" Day or something silly.
3. NATIVE LANGUAGE: I check the students' Facebook language about once a week or once a month. I click to their profile and look at what their language is receiving. If I see a lot of Portuguese, I contact the student and suggest: Go to the top of the page >>> Settings >>> Account Settings >>> Language. I suggest that the students change the language to ENGLISH. When I want to have fun, I suggest "Pirate English". Friends become "Mateys" and the screen changes everything into pirate brogue. It's confusing but some students enjoy it.
5. Create a FAN GROUP www.facebook.com/groups/create.php (just memorize that link). I show my passion, invite the students to join a fan group and then I encourage them to find a group that they like. They reveal their interests when they find a community (Orkut) or group (Facebook) and join it -- and recommend it to me and other students.
6. Create a HOMEWORK GROUP – I assign web sites that give grammar and vocabulary practice. I put the links on "FANS of Free English Lessons" group.
If I forget the name of a group, I go to my PROFILE, then click INFO and scroll down to the list of groups that I have subscribed to. The key is to help the students reveal their passions and feel relaxed about discussing things that interest them. Then
7. Post some photos. I put this under DAILY, but every now and then I look for REALLY GOOD photos in the collections of other students and I take those into my Photo Album called "Cool Photos By My Students" – I also have an album called "Things My Students Taught Me" and I'll sometimes create a collection of photos that describe a country that I don't know, such as Teheran. It was an icebreaker with a new student and I wanted to show him that, although I am wary of the country's political leadership, I am curious about the country and the people. Then I send the album to my students. I wait for them to tag or write about the photos. I can assign written homework based on the photo album.
8. APPLICATIONS: Assign an application and wait for the students to send you a result of the application.
Examples of Results that the Teacher receives:
flowers from a "Send Flowers" application called "FlowerGifts"
Food from Yagura
Fish from Blue Cove
Plants from Lil Green Patch
Requests for car racing from Eco Racer
Emailed results from Traveler IQ
In other applications, I can see the student's
status by clicking on the application in their profile
etc. (role-playing games)
In other words, I need to check on the student's progress with the Higher-Level applications (Knighthood)
Applications on Facebook: Lower and Higher Level ESOL classes
Applications or games on FB are either Low Level or High Level; the activities are either Repetitive or Complicated.
Both kinds of applications are good for introducing vocabulary.
Low-level applications are easier to learn and master (sometimes in less than 30 minutes) but they get boring because there is little variation. After you have mastered the elements of the game, there is only persistence that keeps you advancing in the game. For example, in Blue Cove, you have a choice of five actions to take with your "blue cove" (remove dirt, feed a bird, filter the water, etc.). After the first twenty minutes, you have figured out the goals of the game.
Higher-level applications take several hours to master, so some students might be frustrated. I've found I need to nurture the students and introduce an easy task to get started and then get into the more difficult vocabulary several weeks later. I cover more complicated aspects of the application in later classes.
Examples of the low-level games: Lil Green Path, Lil Blue Cove, Eco Racer
Medium applications: Yagura cooking. It's low-level cooking applications with five different scenarios. After you hit the fifth scenario, it gets boring.
High Level: Knighthood, Mafia Wars, Traveler IQ.
myFarm, myZoo, Scavenger hunt
Adopt a Reef
Besides applications, what can a teacher and student do on Facebook?
The student can upload photos and teacher can look at and comment on the photos.
Examples: "Wow, Kristin, that's a great cliff. Can you write five sentences about that photo and describe it to the class tomorrow?"
Teacher can upload photos in an album and share them with the class. The message with the album can be "Please choose three photos and write two sentences about each of them. I need six sentences from you."
The students sometimes tag themselves or friends in your photos. You get notified so you can click on the student's name, visit their fb page and comment on something the student did recently.
"Nice dress" or "Where did you take that photo in your profile?"
The teacher can preview some photos and select some items to encourage a shy student to talk about something that he/she likes (or is likely to have something to talk about). When the teacher is looking for passions in the student, the Facebook page is a helpful resource.
Teaching through passions is easier with Facebook and Orkut.
Orkut has a messaging system, but most students look at their "scraps" which are one-on-one messages. You can't do a bulk mailing to the "scrap" zone of all of your orkut students. You can send a bulk MESSAGE, but many students don't look at their messages. They prefer to use "scraps."
Scraps are easy. You can send a bulk mailing (hoping to reach all), but then send the same message via "scraps" to leaders/influential members of the class. EXAMPLE: On Wednesday I did a bulk mail via messages about planning a "good bye" party the next week for a student named Kristin. Within 20 minutes I got a scrap alert to my home email (which Orkut exports to) warning me that I have a scrap. I checked the scrap and one of my class leaders had written, "But Kristin leaves Friday." I realized I was off by a week and shifted the good-bye party to the next morning (Thursday). Thanks to social networking, I was more in touch with the passions and interests of my students.
For more ideas, visit my web site at www.FreeEnglishLessons.com. To add ideas to this list, write to me at FreeEnglishLessons@gmail.com.