More 21st Century Upgrades from the Classroom

I have been working with 5th grade for several weeks to upgrade “The American Revolution”, a unit in their Social Studies curriculum.  Along the Way I blogged about individual lessons.

One of the creations that we had planned for students to show their research and knowledge about historic figures of the American Revolution was to create a fake facebook profile page. Since the students are under the age of 13, they created them offline in a PowerPoint slide, which we later uploaded to their classroom blog. There are quite a few few facebook templates floating around online for you to use. Thank you to the person (I am sorry that I can’t give proper name credit), who created the following one that we ended with.

Kids were very excited about creating these pages, since at their age,  “Facebook” represents something “cool” and “…when you are older…” for them. Once we got started, we ran into several hurdles though:

  • Platform Familiarity: Although some of them (11 year olds)  seem to have already  an account of their own, peek over the shoulder of an older sibling or family member, there were quiet a few who were not familiar with the entire structure and the connections between friends, posts, profile, comments, likes, etc. Many of them had to get a handle on the reverse chronological order of posts.
  • Process: After requiring a rough draft (paper version) of their facebook profile before they were able to start working on the electronic file, proved to be wise.
  • Language: The concept of going beyond a “cool”, “awesome”, “Yeah, kill the British” type comments was the hardest to get across. Not all of them succeeded. We explained again, that they had to put themselves into the shoes of their character. How would they have written, if a communication medium like Facebook would have been available.
  • Content: We had to repeat over and over again, that this page and its content had to SHOW their research and knowledge about the selected person. They needed to embed facts in the “conversation” between their character and their “fictitious” friends. We wanted them to show connections between events, characters and political point of view.
  • Logistics: Some students had difficulty working in the PowerPoint environment and got very frustrated with the formatting issue. Moving text boxes around, aligning them properly, resizing text and images to fit their allotted spaces, etc., was not as smooth as we anticipated. We allowed the students who became frustrated to fill out a paper-version of the

In addition to the Facebook pages, the class worked with Andrea Hernandez to create a Snopes- Urban Legends inspired video. What myths about the American Revolution could they debunk? Students used the a range of programs (their choice)  to produce a short intro video:

Here are a few examples of the Snopes movies.


Debunking Myths- Paul Revere from langwitches on Vimeo.


Debunking Myths of the American Revolution from langwitches on Vimeo.


Why Haven’t We Heard More About Peter Francisco? from langwitches on Vimeo.

Watch Andrea’s blog for an upcoming reflective blog post about the Snopes video creation.

Part of the planning and reflection was to use the “Upgrade to 21st Century Skills, Literacies, & Roles” template and fill in the skill and literacies addressed. The template helps teachers realize how many skills and literacies they are addressing with a single unit upgrade. Over the course of a year, it also helps to make sure that we rotate through all roles to empower learners, even if one upgrade does not address (and does not need to) all roles.

Please click on the individual images to see a larger version.

21st Century Skills Addressed

21st Century Literacies Addressed

Roles to Empower Learners