Use Facebook to Create a Positive Learning Community #edchat

Social media is changing the communication landscape before our eyes.  Now with 1:1 programs popping up all over, companies like Edmodo, Moodle, and Schoology are developing safe ways for teachers and students to communicate outside of the regularly scheduled class time.  But even these online models base themselves off of Facebook.

Fear the Facebook!

The whole reason for educators to fear Facebook was because “it’s unsafe and can’t be monitored.”  Which is partially true, but wasn’t convincing enough for me.  Free websites like Edmodo, Moodle, and Schoology are great alternatives, because they operate on a more closed basis.  However, I don’t run my class like that.  My class is open, ideas are shared, and if someone goes along the lines of inappropriate, then that’s just another opportunity for me to teach.

Go to the students!

Five years ago, before Edmodo and others, I decided to start an Engish with Mr. Bormann Facebook page based on the same rules that I apply in my classroom.  At first, it operated as nothing more than a way for me to remind those students of projects, deadlines, etc.  Of course, these are only the students that have Facebook and “like” my page.  Then I realized that it could be more than that.  And pretty soon, it became something that resembled a PLC – Positive Learning Community.

Got a Question?

Pretty soon after starting the page, students began using the page to ask me questions about homework (because calling me is so “old school”).  I would try to answer them, but sometimes another student would beat me to it.  They were using the page to discuss, something I did not require or request.  It just…happened.

Show and Tell…

After about a year, I noticed parents started to like the page as well.  So I thought I should show them what we’ve been doing in class. I began posting photos and videos from class using my iPod Touch.  I also encourage students to post to the page if they wish, with permission first of course.  Parents were “like”ing these too.

Make Connections…

When teaching an old text like The Odyssey, it can be difficult to get juniors to see how a book like that relates to their own life or current topics in the news.  I began sharing some of those connections in class, but I also post them to my Facebook page for others.  I also encourage students to take a picture and post if they see a vocab word, misused grammar, or anything they noticed could relate to class.  Powerful connections take place, and these connections are shared and demonstrated for everyone.  

Spread the Positive…

We find things everyday that inspire us.  I even have a sign that hangs outside my door…”Only positive attitudes allowed beyond this point.”  Along with anything else, the willingness to learn and be positive is a mindset.  So why not spread that outside my classroom as well?  If I or my students see something inspiring, we post it and pass it along.

Just for fun!

Although I may not fully integrate gamification in my classroom, I realize students are playing video and online games outside my classroom.  If I see one related to grammar, I’ll be sure to post it.

Final Thoughts…

I can go on and on about all of the positives that have come from this.  But what I like most is I am demonstrating and inviting my students (and even parents) to be responsible digital citizens.  Facebook is normally the catalyst for cyber bullying.  What better way to show how to battle it than use it to do the opposite?
If a teacher basis their class-specific Facebook page on the same rules and morals as their real classroom, then I believe you will see the same benefits.  
Mr. Bormann
English Rocks!
P.S. Do you use Facebook?  What benefits have you seen?  How do you use it exactly?  What’s your justification for using it?  Share in the comments below.


5 responses to “Use Facebook to Create a Positive Learning Community #edchat

  1. I tried to use Facebook a few years ago. Not really successful. But only for my older (10th grade) students. Since I teach 6-11th grade I can't use all things for all kids. I know that our parents are particularly scared about what their kids are on and who can get to them. Edmodo has worked well for me in this way. Parents trust it. They can have a code to see students' grades and work portfolio, they can see the classroom calendar. Parents cannot see the wall discussions, which I think is also good. It still gives the students the impression that it is their space. And I let the kids do much of what you are doing.

    I post videos I find for enrichment and let them post useful ones as well. I have polls, discussions, questions about homework. I have also used it for peer feedback and editing. Students post their writing to the wall, and then students comment on it using a specific criteria.


  2. I admit, Edmodo does provide a nice online environment for educators. We use Edmodo as well in our 1:1. Unfortunately, I've found that students really didn't like Edmodo that much…for whatever reason. They are unlikely to check Edmodo outside of school. Maybe we just didn't do a good enough job selling Edmodo, but we still use it for similar pieces as you do. I have found that any piece of technology utilized really does depend on the school environment and needs. For example, results with any kind of educational technology can vary from school to school. Have you also found that in your connections with other teachers?
    Have you seen or used Schoology? It's similar to Edmodo but seems easier to use and navigate. The iOS app is WAY better than Edmodo's. Just wondering.

    Thanks for reading and replying!


  3. This post was very interesting to me. Most of the time I feel like the use of internet and technology is restricted in our school. Now i relaize and understand that this is for our own safety, but i feel that we could keep ourselves safe in a different way. The way you teach how to be safe on the internet is what I believe we could also do at my own school. By the looks of it, I think i would love the way you teach and wil keep this in mind when I plan on teaching in the future.


  4. Thanks for commenting. Facebook and some other sites are restricted in our school, but I utilize it for more out-of-class sharing. Good luck with your teaching in the future! I would love to hear what ideas you come up with.


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