I read with great interest about a teacher in Council Bluffs, Iowa who uses Facebook to update parents and recap lessons with her first-grade students. Just reading the headline posted in the Sunday, November 7, Nonpareil Online newspaper made me think, “ridiculous.” As I further read, I had to rethink my original gut reaction and let my mind wander to the many possibilities, solutions, and perhaps, unknown challenges this teaching strategy might bring to a classroom. Is it really so bad? After all, Facebook and other social networking tools are familiar communication vehicles for most U.S. children.
The Iowa elementary teacher in the spotlight, Erin Schoening, says that although the students update the class page two or three times a day, it does not take away from instructional time. Schoening and her husband, also a teacher and the district’s K-12 technology coach, helped write the district guidelines for using Facebook in the classroom “It is 100 percent private. You have to be accepted as a friend of the page and to be accepted you have to have a connection,” Devin Schoening said.
Although there are still many questions about the role of Facebook in the classroom, Ms. Schoening believes that it is here to stay. She sites the following reasons for using the technology:
- Classroom dialogue between parents, siblings, teacher, principals and administrators is ongoing and in real-time
- Lesson collaboration between students and the teacher is easier to foster
- The students love the format and are engaged by thinking creatively
“The parents love it,” Devin Schoening said. “Many already know how to use Facebook and now their kids can’t say ‘I don’t remember what we did in school today.’
Parents can use it to start conversations with their children. Teachers can post pictures or videos and Erin used it to connect with a student’s family that had not been able to meet face-to-face with her.
It is an interesting concept. From the Reading Horizons viewpoint we wonder how struggling readers can be helped using Facebook? Or, will ELL and ESOL students and others with learning disabilities fall even further behind? What do you think?