Fake It

I was reading yet another helpful list from Larry Ferlazzo today and was inspired to write a post. His latest update was for a list of tools that create fake “stuff” that students can manipulate to tell all kinds of interesting narratives. By “stuff”, I mean various forms of social media. For example, there are tools for creating fake iPhone texting conversations or a series of fake Tweets that would demonstrate a series of events.

These are great tools, but how can they be used in the classroom? Richard over at Free Technology for Teachers put together a post that suggests how students and teachers could use a fake Facebook profile. For my part, I’m going to make a suggestion for various core subjects as to how each of these tools could be used in the classroom.

FakeiPhoneText – One of the nicest features of the iPhone is that text conversations are recorded on a single, scrollable screen, making a timeline of sorts. The benefit to teachers and students would be to create or possibly recreate a conversation via text.

  • Math – Sometimes, it can be really difficult to get students to describe a process used to solve a problem. A fake text conversation might be one way to allow students to get creative with this kind of exercise. One texting participant could ask the questions while the other provides answers.
  • Language Arts – When working with dialogue – whether in one’s own writing or in a piece of literature – students can get confused as to who is speaking. Having them break down key conversations can help make comprehension clearer. A fun activity might be to have students replay an important piece of dialogue through texts.
  • Social Studies – Throughout the course of history, there have been important correspondences between key actors. Imagine if American colonists had texted their demands to the king back in England. What might that conversation look like?
  • Science – All sciences depend on actions and reactions to explain phenomena. Students could describe one action with a text and the resulting reaction in another text, possibly including scientific reasoning in their texts.

My Fake Wall or Fakebook – Either of these tools could be used for creating a fake Facebook wall. Conversations with acquaintances, pictures, links… all the things we post on Facebook walls could demonstrate an understanding that goes deeper than the surface.

  • Math -The easy thing to do would be to design a fake profile for a famous mathematician with other mathematicians commenting on his or her wall. However, a more imaginative project might feature designing Facebook walls for mathematic concepts. Geographic shapes could be one route. Maybe a circle could post a video of the pyramids on triangle’s wall. Maybe even specific numbers could interact on a fake wall the way people do. The key would be to define and apply definitions through these posts.
  • Language Arts -Imagine if Romeo and Juliet were Facebook friends. Then, imagine their entire saga playing out on Juliet’s (or Romeo’s) timeline. The literary possibilities are endless.
  • Social Studies -At this point in history, we can follow the Facebook wall of our president. However, this sort of access was not available or was too new for previous presidents. Have students play out important events for the great leaders of history on a Facebook page.
  • Science -Imagine a famous scientist and the kinds of images, links, and videos he or she might post on a Facebook page and that is how students could use this tool in their science classes.

Fake Tweet Builder and TwHistory – Twitter is a pretty popular record of current events. It’s one of the few places we can obtain first-person perspectives and real-time observations of events as they happen. These tools allow users to create fake Tweets and/or Twitter timelines in order to show imaginary Twitter threads.

  • Math -Again, math processes could be played out using this tool, much like the fake texting tool mentioned above. However, imagine a word problem involving money, dimensions, or time played out in a Twitter thread. Figuring out a problem that takes place while the subject travels over a certain time period could make such a problem seem more concrete.
  • Language Arts -A student could map out the major plot elements and events in literature through a series of Tweets. It may also be helpful to work out the same components in an original work.
  • Social Studies -Twitter has recently played a major role in protests and events of social change all around the world. Students could record the events of Pearl Harbor or the Boston Tea Party via Tweets.
  • Science -Taking observations of scientific phenomena can be boring at times. However, students might have fun recording each action and reaction through Tweets.

Of course, the above ideas are not the only ways to use these tools. Some of these ideas can work for various subject areas or any of the tools. The important thing to remember is that using these fake social media tools is a fantastic hook for student interest. These activities also give them an opportunity to apply what students have learned in a new and creative way.

How would you use these fake social media tools in your class? What aspects of these activities would be most beneficial to students’ understanding of concepts? In what ways would it be more beneficial to use actual social media tools in the projects described above?

Zac Early is an instructional specialist and blogger for the eMINTS National Center.