return of Facebook

I did an assignment with my kids last year that used a Facebook template created in .ppt and imported into Google Presentations. I’m using it again this year, and noticing even more gains from the collaborative project.

Some of us take it for granted that TV didn’t exist and movies were just starting in 1922 when narrator Nick Caraway is telling his story. But for these 15/16 year olds don’t even have a concept of the world without internet so it’s hard for them to grasp. While last year (detailed here, and here ) I extolled the virtues of this as a differentiated assignment that spoke to multiple intelligences and multiple levels, this year I’m seeing more concrete learning.

After one or two: “what movies were in 1922?” and the answer “you have google right in front of you!!” kids are off on their own, mostly self-directed, web search for information and anecdotes about the 1920s.

I’m not a fan of memorizing names or dates or those sorts of things, but when you encounter them because you are looking out of sheer interest they’re more likely to stick. I love that they get to encounter almost-forgotten cultural icons like Bessie Smith and to anchor their understanding of less-forgotten ones like Duke Ellington and Charlie Chaplin. It doesn’t matter if they can list Chaplin’s whole resume, but knowing he did a lot of work in the 20s and what sorts of topics were interesting helps students come up with their own conception of a larger picture of the American film industry. And maybe they can make a witty comment at an Oscar party next week…

And it’s all, really, in service of one of my over-arching goals as an educator: get them to see another perspective.

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