8 Real Ways Facebook Enriched Ms. Schoening’s First Grade Class

Today I got up early to attend a 7:30 a.m. session on a topic that is extremely intriguing to me especially in light of the fact that I was just mentioned in The New York Times - Friending Students on Facebook story.

This was a presentation from a first grade teacher named Erin Schoening who was using Facebook with her students, their families, and other targeted members in the school community.

In a world where there is such a fear of using Facebook in education even for high school, I wondered how she could succeed in using this as a tool with 1st graders????

Well, I wasn’t disappointed by my early rising.

Here are some ways this teacher used Facebook to enrich teaching, learning, and connecting with families.

8 Ways Ms. Schoening Used Facebook to Enrich a Primary Classroom

Providing parents and families a window to the classroom
About four times a day, student reporters update their Facebook page on something interesting that has occurred in the classroom and the teacher often comments on these updates with suggestions of things families can talk with students about at home. Additionally, families can comment right on the class page, providing advice, inspiration, and expertise to the students. They become part of the class community.

Celebrating student work
The class teacher can easily share student work by taking pictures of it and placing it into albums around the unit of study. Families can comment on the work of their students and under the supervision of their parent’s or teacher they can comment on one another’s work too!

Sharing events and announcements
The events section made it very easy to share celebrations, upcoming events and other activities with parents and families. It also allowed those invited to see who else was coming, and comment, and plan and converse. Another great use is for field trips. Organize the trips here. Know which parents can attend. Have conversations about how they can support the class during the trip.

Using Facebook Notes as an Easy Way to Update Parents and Families
Facebook Notes provide a terrific way to update parents and families of important notifications in the classroom. You may want to share a new school or class policy. You may want to inform parents of school closing due to inclement weather. The nice thing about notes is that you can tag many parents so they get a notification in their email account and...they can comment sharing thoughts, ideas, and questions.

Using Facebook Notes for Students to Share Writing
Next year Ms.Schoening plans to use the “notes” feature for students to publish their work. She might consider having tagged classmates, students from other classes, and/or parents comment on one another’s work and give some valuable authentic feedback by “liking” work with which they really connected.

Having Private Communication with Parents and Families
Ms.Schoening discovered that for many Facebook was the most effective way to communicate with student’s parents was Facebook. Many parents found this a great way to communicate and enjoyed that they didn’t have to log on to something else to connect with the teacher , students or classroom. Sometimes it was the teacher communicating, but other times, it was the student who had an important message they wanted to share with a parent, like, “Mom. I just lost my tooth!”

Use Videos to Share Tips, Advice, and Lessons to Parents and Students
Ms. Schoening is excited to begin using video on Facebook to extend learning and connection beyond the classroom. How do you move your child from a beginning level reader to intermediate? How can you extend science learning at home? Ms. Schoening can make a video to share with parents and students that they can view together at home.

Another great idea is to give students the video camera and let them video tape during a field trip. Parents who couldn’t join the class, can still see what they did!

Connecting with Other Classes
When Ms. Schoening began this project, the word began spreading and other teachers wanted to follow suit. She helped other teachers in her district get going, and those classes became friends. As a result of this collaborations could now easily occur across schools and classes. They had windows into one another classrooms and also were able to communicate and connect EASILY on projects.

Why Facebook?
Facebook serves as a one stop shop that more than half the parents were using already. With a ready-made audience that included most of the student’s parents, they were able to get going today on something without support. For the rest of the parents, guess what? The students could help them get going, or...they could learn how to connect on Facebook on Parent/Teacher night.

Was this worth waking up bright and early? Heck ya.

Does this interest you? If so, here are some resources to get going in your class.

Watch the presentation below.

Facebook guidelines/permission slips (with different levels of involvement) that they created for their district.
Friend the class at Schoenings Class
Friend the teacher at Erin Schoening
Follow on Twitter at eschoening

For further reading
Jeff Utecht's post - Facebook.

Using Facebook with Students Becomes A Global Conversation via CNN

Explore Togetherville, a
Facebook-like site that brings social networking to kids in a safe environment.
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