The majority of middle school students have a Facebook page and of course … like many of us (adults) … they use it strictly to connect and “rap” with their friends. To their “pleasant surprise” Facebook was also a resource to study History via pages about famous personalities.
Eighth grade students at Raul Yzaguirre School for Success (Houston, Texas) researched an eclectic group of personalities via Facebook pages. They were tasked to use this social networking tool to read/study their assigned personalities, and then produce Word documents based on their findings. Not only did they immerse themselves in the study of History via their respective Facebook pages, but also became more aware of the various individuals and their activities in terms of enhanced cultural literacy:
Facebook is an excellent site to study famous people in History. The past (events/activities/deeds) is more “immediate” because of recent to very recent postings/comments on its pages. On certain pages, anyone can post his/her feelings about the famous person and/or what this person did, perhaps 10s to 100s of years ago, but because of the contemporary comments [postings], the person and activities/deeds become more relevant/personal for everyone viewing/reading the page … History “comes alive”, and an excitation factor is created to want to study and enjoy History in a “social networking sense”.
For example, Brandon’s (one of the 8th grade students) assigned personality was Carlos Fuentes. During his (student) research and reporting of findings, Fuentes passed away. This was a shock, because postings of Fuentes’ death were immediately seen on his Facebook page. History was literally updated in front of the student due to the immediacy of this social networking tool. Textbooks can never deliver this kind of stimulus. He (student) will remember Carlos Fuentes, indefinitely.