The omnipresence of social media in our students’ lives is simply a reality. No use denying it. Might as well take advantage of that to help them connect with literature by putting it in a context they are already quite familiar with!
Come on, admit it. You’ve seen them. Those funny fake Facebook profiles and conversations between fictional or historical people. You’ve seen them and chuckled at them. Well, your students have seen them, too. Might as well make ’em learn something from it.
When I was in 11th grade lit, we had this assignment where we had to paraphrase something. I think I did a poem by Oliver Wendell Holmes, but don’t quote me on that. Paraphrasing, or simply rephrasing, can be a very useful tool in helping students challenging language like Shakespeare. High school students – and middle school students, too, frankly – spend a heck of a lot of time on Facebook, making them pretty much experts on this unique form of interactive communication. It only makes sense to combine these two varying dialects of the English language, and have your students rewrite difficult language in one they speak fluently.
Or alternatively, if the current unit is more novel-y in nature, use the Facebook format to discuss character development or, better yet, relationships between characters!
The Facebook profile templates needed for this kind of lesson are available quite a few places online, including here, here and here, so pick your poison. These are all for the old Facebook format, but everyone liked that one better, anyway.
For other activities in the same vein, try assigning them a Twitter account to a character! Or better yet, a video blog like this one:
This makes me giggle so hard… and it’s perfect for a more long term assignment! Have them act out their own modernized version of a classic and film it as a group project!