While I do like to try new projects each year, one of the best things about repeating one is that you get to make it even better. Last year, I had students research mathematicians (and use Diigo to manage their research and share resources with each other) and then create a Fake Facebook Wall for that mathematician. Here’s my original blog post.
This year, we started out on the same path. On the first day, we set up our Diigo accounts, joined our class group, and talked about good research techniques. We also talked a bit about tagging and about the types of sites that would be useful to share with our class group. Learning from last year’s experience, (see blog post here), I reiterated that the students would not be able to “google” Blaise Pascal’s friends and come up with a list. I really focused on HOW to figure out their friends and what their mathematician might say on his/ her wall. I definitely was more pro-active with this!
The students were off and running with their research. Diigo was working great. They worked at home and in school (on any computer) seamlessly. Many students remarked that they wished they had this tool earlier in the year! Others brought in their iPads or laptops the next day and showed me how they downloaded the diigo app or installed the diigo toolbar. YAY!
While the rubric for the final project was very similar to last year, I decided to add a planning sheet, with a writing / reasoning component. I wanted students to complete this sheet BEFORE they went to MyFakeWall to start entering information. I did this for a few reasons:
1) Students last year did not organize their information before they jumped into the MyFakeWall site. They were all over the place and they had a hard time figuring out if they met all the requirements.
2) Students created their wall posts “on the fly” and it was difficult for them to explain why they chose to “say” what they did. This planning sheet had them list the posts, and the research that supported it. In meeting with each student and reviewing their planning sheet with them, I was able to question students and force them to go back to their research and improve their work BEFORE it was due.
NOTE: While this “planning sheet” process added about 2 days to the project’s timeline, I felt that it made a huge difference with the quality of the final products.
3) Throughout this research stage, I kept checking MyFakeWall, and I realized it was no more stable than it was last year. I was a little stressed about it. By having students bookmark all websites in Diigo, upload all images and fill out the planning sheet, it forced students to be completely ready, if (and when) myfakewall.com decided to cooperate. In the meantime, I started looking for a different option.
“D-day” came, and everyone was ready to start entering information into MyFakeWall. Lo and behold, the site was completely down, which was extremely frustrating, especially since the rubric was created based upon the features of that specific website. I, thankfully, found two other options for the students. I left it up to the students to explore both tools and see what they wanted to use. I adapted the rubric to match the site they chose. It’s all about flexibility!
Here were the additional choices:
1) Fakebook – This worked pretty well for students who chose it. The glitch with it was that students needed to enter a fair amount of information before it would allow them to save it. Two students didn’t get far enough on the first day when class ended and they lost their work. It was also very difficult to edit information once it was posted using this site. Be sure to select “manual upload” for pictures. The auto-find function did not work as it should have for many students. Having the planning sheets really helped because they had it to work from. I also didn’t love the ads. They were distracting.
2) Facebook GoogleDoc Template– This option worked well and allowed students who had not used googledocs before to explore an additional tool. Students really liked the stability of it. The drawback was that it required that you delete the JFK info as you go. It was also based on an older version of Facebook. The kids seemed to think that it was totally fine.
The last thing I changed in this project was the format of the “sharing day”. Instead of each student getting in the front of the room to, basically, read their facebook wall, I had them peer-share as I walked around the room. Here’s the peer- share form they had to fill out with their partner. It was awesome to hear them explaining their walls to each other. I then had students switch and share their wall with a different student. For the final share, I had each student go around the room and tell one interesting fact they learned about someone else’s mathematician. It was a GREAT class!
Overall, even with the frustration of myfakewall not working again, this year’s students also said they LOVED this project. I am hoping that someone updates a template or creates a website to mimic the new Facebook timeline format. If anyone knows of one, please share it! That will be fun to use next year!