Four score and seven years ago, technology didn’t exist and Columbus definitely didn’t tweet about his experience of sailing to the new world…or did he? Most of our memories of history class include listening to long lectures and reading chapters filled with information. At Clarksville Academy, students also read about history, but it’s on their iPad, and they hear teacher’s verbal lessons, but they may record transcribe to notes. Social Studies teacher, Coach Duncan Williams is challenging his eighth grade history students to think critically and outside of the box. They aren’t just learning about history, the students are engaged in recreating history!
Each student selected three historical figures and made a social media themed “Fakebook” page. Fakebook is a site that mirrors the popular Facebook framework. Students added photos, comments, etc as the historical figure. By using the example of current social media, Coach Williams’ worked closely with the students to stretch their minds and produce a range of engagement and learning that was surprising.
Students found themselves creating Fakebook pages for Christopher Columbus, Martin Luther, Ferdinand Magellan and Henry Hudson to name a few. Posts ranged from Christopher Columbus commenting on John Cabot’s page stating “Congrats on finding parts of the new world! But I did it first!” or Martin Luther posting, “10,000 likes and I’ll lead the Protestant Reformation!”.
By asking the students to build and create pages and even post comments as that person, they had to increase their attention to the range of possibilities from the historic person’s actions or beliefs and to get into the mindset of that person. Students are given an abundance of information on historical events , but this assignment gave them a fresh look at what these historical figures could have been thinking or feeling. It gave them an opportunity to engage in a presentation that was creative and filled with insight into the person.
Nanami Murata a student in Coach Williams’ class said she really enjoyed this project because it was something different that she hadn’t tried before. She enjoyed the creativity of it. Nanami felt the assignment gave her a better understanding of the people she covered and allowed to her to go deeper into their personal stories than they were able to do in class. She feels technology in the classrooms has broadened what they are able to learn and has given them the opportunity to take learning to the next level.
Duncan Williams believed the assignment would show his students an outside of the box way to view history. “I want to introduce the students to many difference experiences in my classroom. I want to make history fun. Each spring my students participate in the annual wax museum where they reenact a historical figure. They recite specific information regarding that person in costume and respond to questions from the visitors. This is just another way to bring history to life for our students. Having the use of technology at our fingertips in the classroom is a fantastic tool. Outcomes of this project are not only a positive mastery of history, but also facilitated their learning in a way they will never forget. “