Saturday, October 8, 2011

How Fake Facebook Profiles Support Reading Instruction and More!

Teaching author's perspective, author's purpose, tone and mood, characterization and other literary elements are some of the most difficult reading skills for students to untangle. Because of time constraints, teachers often ignore discussing an author's life experiences as part of front-loading a text to be read. I have always been a proponent of less is more, so I make the time to let kids learn aboout a writer's life before we read his/her book, and we research the historical period in which the book was written. Both the author's life experiences and the historical period provide an invaluable insight that helps readers understand themes, allusions, plot events, characterizations, conflicts and other literary elements. Of course, now more than ever technology can facilitate teaching all of these reading concepts.

Using, students can create a fake profile page `a la Facebook to explore the life of an author, a character, a historical figure, an idea, a process, an animal or anything students would like to personify. 

Using Myfakewall to teach Author's Purpose
Teachers can assign students to create profiles and posts that reveal the author's purpose, i.e., why the author wrote a piece: to entertain, inform or teach, persuade or convince. Students can add "friends" such as other writers or people who influenced the writer to write a particular piece, or even characters, and have those influential "friends" post questions or comments on the writer's wall so the posts and the writer's responses to the posts reveal the author's purpose for writing.

Using Myfakewall to teach Author's Perspective
The concept of author's perspective can also be taught in the same manner by having students write posts revealing the writer's feelings or beliefs and how these views prompted the writer to create a particular piece of writing.  High order skills are at work because students apply what they learned after reading a biography or autobiography about the author's life. To write thought-provoking posts and comments on the page, students must analyze and evaluate the author's life circumstances, choices, and beliefs and synthesize a post using texutal examples to reveal how and why an author incorporated his/her life views in his/her writing.    

Using Myfakewall to teach Characterization, Historical Events, Tone and Mood, Connotation and more
  • Of course, Myfakewalls do not have to be just about a writer's life. Students can create fakewalls about characters to learn characterization. Posts could feature the characterization strategy S.T.E.A.L., which focuses on analyzing a character's Speech, Thoughts, Effect on Others, Actions and Looks
  • Other fakewalls to challenge students to use critical thinking skills and textual support would be profiles for historical figures with posts that explore a famous or infamous decision, its repercussions, and the historical figure's controversial thoughts and conversations with his/her associates, friends or family.  Imagine how primary and secondary sources could also be used to incorporate textual support on all of these pseudo profile pages.
  • As difficult as it is for students to identify the tone and mood of a piece, can support teaching this concept if students are asked to create a profile using particular textual examples that reflect a specific negative or positive tone while comments could show reader's positive or negative mood after reading these text examples. could even be used to reinforce connotation if students create fake posts using negative connotations sharing them with fake users to see the effect words have on other readers and writers. supports so many different critical thinking activities that allow students to step inside the mind of notable figures, use textual examples, primary and secondary sources, and their own creativity.

Whether students create fake pages that are serious or funny, they will be engaged in creating original content.
I would love to see what profiles students could create to explore the minds and lives of scientists, mathematicians, artists, and other noteworthy individuals or ideas. 
Please check out these Myfakewall page profiles!

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