During the same week I started student teaching at Kimpton Middle School, I also had my first Educational Technology class. To be completely honest, I only signed up for this course because it was required in order to graduate in December. However, my mindset quickly changed after the professor, Garth Holman, shared with the class how his students are using technology at his middle school.  During that first class, I read a blog post on Prof. Holman's website, Teachers for Tomorrow, called “Final Evaluations, from 13 year old: How did I do?”  He had his students fill out an evaluation form (created by Paul Bogush) at the end of the year.  The way his students talked about his class and the things they did during their time there was incredible.

The night before my final day at Kimpton, I asked myself whether or not I made a difference in any the lives of any of my students.  In order to answer this question, I had all of my students complete the same evaluation form Prof. Holman used in for his class.  Here are a few: (Sorry if some are hard to read – I used a camera phone to take the pics)

I wanted to end this by saying thank you, Garth Holman, for making a difference in my life.  You completely changed my entire philosophy of education, and by doing so, you have also to made a difference in the lives of more than 150 7th grade students.

- Kyle

Fakebook is a great way to allow students to apply their knowledge of a topic in a way that is fun and incorporates technology.  

I used Fakebook to teach seventh grade students the major gods and goddesses from Greek Mythology.  The project required students to work in groups of two to research information on a particular Greek God or Goddess, and then create a Fakebook page that they would be graded on, and eventually present to the class.  I set up a page on my class website that contained all of the necessary materials and resources for the students to complete this project.  

The project lasted a total of 5 days: three days to research and create a Fakebook page, and two days for presentations.

The Process

On the first day of this assignment, I went through the entire project, step-by-step, and made sure everyone understood what they were required to complete within the next three class periods.  

The first step required students to research their assigned Greek God or Goddess.  Due to the amount of time, as well as the credibility of online resources, I found websites and PDF articles students could use to research their god or goddess.  Once students found the information to answer their questions, they were asked to write their information on their worksheet.  I asked that students turned in their worksheets at the end of each class so that I could check their work and ensure they were staying on task.  

The next step had students type their answers on the word document provided on the project's webpage.  I wanted students to write their information prior to typing it to limit the chances of one student doing all of the work.  

After students save their word document, they were asked to watch the YouTube Fakebook tutorial.  Once they watched the video, they were allowed to begin creating their Fakebook page.  Groups were told before they began working on their Fakebook page that they were required to include the following things on their page to earn full credit: 1. Name of Greek God/Goddess 2. Roman Name 3. Title  4. Symbols  5. Family Members  6. One Interesting Fact  7. One Allusion

The students were allowed to be as creative as they wanted, and add anything extra to their page that related to the assignment.  

Once students completed and saved their Fakebook page, they were instructed to complete the form at the bottom of the webpage.  I used the "Assignment Form" Element on Weebly to make sorting and grouping each class quick and easy.  I also had the form send the information to my email address, which allowed me to see how many groups completed the assignment at the end of each class.  

After three days of working in the computer lab, the next two days were used to present their projects.  I used the assignment form's "Export Data" option to view and print the information on a spreadsheet.  

Once I grouped all of the projects by their period, I created another Weebly page for presentations.  I linked each group's Fakebook page so that I could easily access their project when it was their turn to present.  

Issues and Problems with using Fakebook

The biggest issue I discovered while implementing this lesson was when students had to save their Fakebook page.  I created a step-by-step guide to save their Fakebooks so they could work on it at a later time. However, it still caused issues for every class.  

Before saving a page on Fakebook, you are required to add text to the name, edit profile, friends, and posts sections.  After you fill out the required text boxes, you are asked to 

The next time I use Fakebook in the classroom, I will set up accounts for each group prior to assigning the project.  Although it will take a lot of time, it will provide students with more time to focus on creating their Fakebooks rather than making sure their projects are properly saved.

Another problem students brought to my attention during this project was a box that appeared on their page stating: "Please close the existing textbox!"  However, the majority of students did not have an open textbox to close.  If the students already created a password, all they had to do was refresh the page and the problem went away, but many groups encountered this issue before they were able to create a password.   Those who did not have a password and were prompted with this message, ended up losing their work and starting over.

The Final Product

Overall, I couldn't have been more pleased with the outcome of this project.  While there were a number of students who did the bare minimum to receive a passing grade, I was amazed to see students who discovered ways to do things such as uploaded images, link YouTube videos, and comment on their own posts.  

I also found that students used the page I created for presenting their projects to show their family and friends outside of the classroom.  I received numerous emails of parents telling me how excited their child was to show them what they created in Language Arts class.  

Keeping up with technology is a constant struggle.  For example, today's greatest smartphone will probably be considered "outdated" in just a few weeks.