Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Facebook Insights

I spent many hours this summer reading Facebook posts.  No...not browsing status updates of my friends and family, but rather reading to learn from others in the many groups that I joined for book discussions and literacy learning.  I enjoyed discovering new reading and writing strategy ideas that were shared by fellow educators. I was fascinated with the copious posting of ideas, books lists and resources. And I was intrigued with the descriptions of new insights on old ideas. This social media site became a powerful tool that enhanced my summer learning, thanks to the many people in cyberspace that willingly shared their work and words with me and so many other educators.  My Facebook experiences reminded me once again about the powerful social nature of learning.  

Thinking about my experience with social learning this summer I can't help but reflect on learning with our students. Do I provide opportunities for students to learn from each other through conversation?  In my Facebook experiences, the facilitator rarely chimed in, shy of posting a prompt or a thought provoking quote.  The talk and the work came from the participants. We posted an idea or an answer and other participants commented on the post.  The exchanges were often times lively and filled with wonderful insight and new ways of looking at things and ideas that I might not have thought of on my own. How can I foster this type of learning in the classroom?  My first response is through interactive read alouds.  Interactive read alouds consists of the teacher sharing a piece of rich literature and then creating a space where students feel safe to share their thoughts openly and freely, much like I did in my Facebook groups. Turn and talk is another technique to foster the sharing of ideas and making learning social. My experience this summer on social media sites reminded me that these times for sharing are important, but it is even more important to hear different voices, so mixing up our turn and talk partners is important too!  The share portion of the mini-lesson is another opportunity for students to discover new insights from their peers. Again, hearing different voices only adds to the learning. Imagine if we took all our advice from one source!

My experience with Facebook this summer was indeed insightful and the learning was powerful due to the social nature of the platform.  And while I do not believe we should allow our primary students to troll social media sites for learning opportunities, I do believe that we should provide our students with numerous opportunities to share their learning with each other.  Learning is very much a social act and we need to find ways to incorporate more conversation into our day.

How do I make learning social in my classroom?  

Thank you to the Two Writing Teachers for giving us the Slice of Life forum every Tuesday to help us all hone our craft!


  1. Appreciate the reminder, Christine. Made me recall thought from Dr. Jeffrey Wilhelm; I'll paraphrase it as: Anything worth doing is even better done with friends. A variety of powers arise from community, both actual and virtual.

  2. I'm not a teacher, but I'm a mom and book blogger and children's book writer--those three hats make me feel the need for a way for kids to recommend books to each other. You know how some Indie bookstores have tabs/tags sticking out of books that their staff read and loved? Or maybe even their children read and loved? I wish that school libraries did this--so you could see what your classmates read and then, if you liked one book they read, search the classmate ask to see if they had other recommendations. Another thought: have a reading challenge for the year where each month the child has to read: 1 book from an author born before 1976 (random! my birth year!), 1 book from an author born after 1990, 1 book by a minority author, 1 book by a local author, 1 book by a non American author...etc.

    Okay, I see that second thought isn't really tied to your question about social networking, but...I was on a roll! Clearly I got a lot out of your slice!

  3. I found the same thing on Facebook this summer. I have always kept my Twitter activities focused solely on PD, and Facebook is for connecting with friends. It was a shift for me to have PD conversations on Facebook! I liked it though.