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Erik Bean, Ed.D. has served as an English department chair, school dean, associate professor of arts and humanities, curriculum developer, online instructor, and has taught English composition, film...
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A Facebook Fictional Writing Caper Lesson Plan

The following two part blog is an excerpt sample Facebook fictional writing caper lesson plan from the new book Social Media Writing Lesson Plans by Erik Bean and Emily Waszak, published by Westphalia Press, imprint of the Policy Studies Organization, Washington, D.C.. 

Creative writing takes on a new twist in this Facebook caper. Your class will collaborate on including character development and dialogue as well as uploading pictures of key settings coupled with their chosen classmate protagonist, antagonist, round and flat characters. During the progression of the story and after it concludes, you can download a PDF file of the Facebook tale to assess the quality of student contributions via the accompanying appended rubrics, and as a student keepsake for years to come.

You will know exactly who contributed each piece of the story as well as the number of classroom likes particular passages and dialogue garnered. This assignment reinforces fictional storytelling, sentence construction, dialogue, sequencing, plot, and closure. Some pre-Facebook story criteria will be necessary in class before the story can unfold online.

Before the First Lesson Plan (Time—20 minutes)

As with all the social networks discussed in this series, take some time to familiarize yourself with Facebook, particularly if you do not have an account. You will want to start a new class group managed off of your existing Facebook page. The first step in this process is to choose a name for the group, and Facebook will immediately tell you if the name is available. Do the following:

  1. While on your personal Facebook home page, look for the label “Groups.”
  2. Scroll down to “Create Group,” and select.
  3. A new smaller browser window will appear allowing you to choose a
    group name. Be strategic and select a name that is reflective of your
    classroom goals, one that you and your students can be proud of.
  4. You must invite one friend, preferably a student who is a current friend
    to initiate the group, otherwise the group cannot be formed.
  5. Select "Closed Group" and click “Create.”
  6. Once the group is formed visit the “Settings” icon. This looks like a
    tiny gray gear on the right hand side of the upper tab menu bar.
  7. Once in Settings you can solidify a permanent email address as well
    as web address to provide your students, if desired. Any name longer
    than five characters can be used if available.
  8. You may want to align the web address and email address with the
    group name, but Facebook does not do this automatically. You can also
    select a miniature icon to represent the group, such as a green apple.
  9. You can write a group description of your choice.

It is important that you establish a group rather than a standard standalone page. Groups allow you to include friends who will see posts, but the public will only see that the page exists or you can choose to keep the group secret so that only friends invited can see it. When you start to manage your Facebook group, we also recommend not to moderate posts. In other words, do not hold posts for approval. The immediacy of seeing the story unfold is paramount to student creativity and attentiveness.

Story Parameter Preparation (45 minutes)


Selecting the Genre

Start the preparation by first selecting the story genre that your class is most interested in. Choose from the following: mystery, western, action, romance or science fiction. We recommend staying away from pure comedy. Consider working in a discussion on setting and perhaps consulting any number of books on the topic. When students begin their storytelling in Facebook, they should have a good feel for establishing a believable fictional setting that should draw from relevant setting artifacts pertaining to a particular era. Books such as:

The Writer’s Guide to Everyday Life in the Wild West: 1840 to 1900 (Writer’s Guides to Everyday Life),; The Writer’s Guide to Everyday Life in the 1800s (Writer’s Guides to Everyday Life),; The Writer’s Guide to Everyday Life from Prohibition Through World War II (Writer’s Guides to Everyday Life),; Description & Setting: Techniques and Exercises for Crafting a Believable World of People, Places, and Events (Write Great Fiction),; all can be excellent resources for demonstrating the need to develop a successful setting.

In the next blog installment, we’ll discuss character brainstorming, assigning student characters, revealing the class Facebook private group site and the ground rules for successful class interactions and postings. See Part II here now!