Monday, 19 March 2012

Facebook in an offline classroom

Gaumont-Columbia-TriStar Films logo (2004-2007)
Gaumont-Columbia-TriStar Films logo (2004-2007) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
 This is an activity I found worked really well in a high school class last year. Students there are not allowed to use any phones or tech at all at school...and in my opinion being denied the kind of inspirational impetus learners need in this country (Japan) if it is ever going to climb out of the financial and educational mire it is in these days...

I digress. Younger learners obviously shouldn't be going anywhere near facebook, and my oldest nephew seems to be terminally addicted/spending his life there - rather too public a growing up in my opinion. The classroom caveat is that I want my sparkling students to share themselves a bit, and get some (supervised) feedback. To avoid too much embarrassment, we used a couple of different iPhone apps to come up with avatars/disguises (Toca Boca hair salon, face in hole, Facegoo) and quickly printed them out to much mirth.

The content is very gentle stuff - favourite books, films, pet hates etc. Imagine my surprise when three students (of seven I have started this with so far) did not have a favourite film! Not just that they couldn't remember, but that they had never seen one. That can't be a fluke statistic, I think - but it is a tragic one, don't you think? By their age I was spending whole days of half-term holidays at the Gaumont in Sheffield watching the Star Wars trilogy (as was). Saturday night was movie night. My brother and I would have top ten Western film lists to argue over; whistle the tune and name the film; who was the best in "The Longest Day"?

In a similar vein, I noticed there seems to be a serious lack of 'quality' reading going on. Holidays for me were all about reading (when not at the Gaumont, playing football or cycling to Netherthorpe airfield for a bit of plane spotting - I have never heard of Japanese kids cycling anywhere to pursue a hobby - certainly not much further than line of sight). If somebody had asked me for a favourite book, I would have found it a hard question to answer being spoilt for choice. My group struggled to remember a book they'd read at all. One though, will only read English books which is superb, and very rare!

So there are a couple of blank spaces in these analogue FB pages! We had fun making them, after initial bashfulness, and I found out a few interesting things obviously. I am looking forward to the comments they are now going to be leaving for each other, as they check out everyone elses' pages and update their statuses.