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Abe Lincoln, Facebook, Twitter and teaching history


Update 2/10/2010 – I’ve created a step-by-step tutorial about creating your own blank Facebook template with downloads here.

Update 1/4/2011 – I posted some new Facebook online creation tools and Facebook templates on a recent Tip of the Week. Find it here.


I’ve been wanting to get this screen shot of Lincoln’s facebook page off of my desktop for a while and you’re looking for a fun way to suck kids into talking about historical people. I think we can help each other.

Not sure who first came up with the Lincoln Facebook page but it’s been floating around for a while. But if you look closely, you’ll see that who ever it was put some real work into it. (Do you know who Jack Armstrong is?)

And it got me thinking . . . could I use this with middle school and high school kids? I like how we can learn about Lincoln from his Facebook page through a variety of different perspectives, media and voices. Couldn’t we use this format to create some sort of research project or assessment?

A few ideas:

  • The teacher acts as the historical (Lincoln, Harriet Tubman, D-Day paratrooper, Henry VIII) or fictional (Johnny Tremain, Pink & Say, Hawkeye) character and posts comments, photos, speeches, quotes and status updates. Kids interact with the page in much the same way they would on an actual page.
  • Ask your student to create a Facebook page instead of the traditional book report.
  • Students create their own Facebook pages based on research that you assign. This could be a specific person or even non-human kinds of things such as a country, region, event or place. Students would then respond to each others’ pages.

Possible problems?

No access at school. Parent concerns about social networking.

The work- around?

Create an offline template. Not the best but a nice solution that lets you get the same Facebook feel. Kids could do some simple research and complete different pieces of the template, exchange papers and add to one another’s work. This could include fictional and actual links, photos, quotes, friends,  flame wars and possible groups.

Blank Facebook template small

And when you’re finished with Facebook, what about Twitter? Historical Tweets puts together some great tweets from historical characters. (There are some other sample Twitter profiles out there.)

Sticking with the Lincoln theme:


This seems like more of a hook activity though you could extend the assignment to the creation of Twitter profiles.

Whether Facebook or Twitter, I think it’s a useful way to engage kids with historical content in a format that is familiar and engaging to them.

What ideas have I missed?

(inspired by Multimedia Learning)

37 Comments Post a comment
  1. We created offline Facebook profiles for literary characters last year, and students really enjoyed it.

    Are you following John Quincy Adams on Twitter? The Massachusetts Historical Society is tweeting events in his life. Pretty interesting.

    August 13, 2009
    • glennw #


      Would be interested to hear more about what you and your students did with the Facebook profiles. Willing to add details?

      I have been to the Adams Twitter feed! Very cool. I bookmarked it a few weeks ago and planned to post about it but I think it’s been covered enough already.

      Also following “Before the Mast” at:


      August 13, 2009
  2. nancy #

    How did you get this blank template? Is it modifiable? I would love to use it for a getting to know the student activity for Grade 7 and 8 students but would like to change some aspects of your template.

    August 20, 2009
    • glennw #


      You can just save any Facebook profile page as PDF, then use Photoshop tools to white out any of the specific data – leaving just headers and blank spaces. It would work the same way if you wanted to use the Friends or Home page of Facebook. There’s probably a better way out there but I was able to do it pretty quickly. But I haven’t really ever tried to modify it. I suppose you could put in your own text boxes using Photoshop if you want to put in “non-Facebook” headers.

      August 20, 2009
  3. kim #

    I love this and have been looking for a template for my students to use for literary characters, thanks!

    December 29, 2009
    • glennw #

      Glad you found what you were looking for! I would love to hear how you use it and how your students respond.


      December 30, 2009
  4. Lauren #

    This is wonderful! I am going to use it with my English students!

    April 4, 2010
    • glennw #

      Glad you found it useful. Have fun!


      April 4, 2010
  5. Carol Ferguson #

    I like the idea of the template and am going to play around with it. I wish there was a “school” facebook, like teachertube, where we could create these characters online. I’d rather my students become the characters in the civil war and “friend” each other and comment. Wouldn’t it be fun to recreate the dialog between Lincoln and Grant, Meade, or Davis and Lee, or recreate Lincoln and Douglass debates. I’d like to see it “live” and evolve. Shouldn’t this be coming? It would be fun to work with other schools and have hundreds of characters and students involved….. any suggestions on how to make that happen?
    Thanks for the template…
    Carol Ferguson, PhD
    Northfield Middle School, Northfield, NJ

    September 3, 2010
    • glennw #


      Facebook did allow that sort of thing 2-3 years ago, they’ve since stopped letting “fake” sites stay online long. You might try a site called It’s a social networking site for educators – haven’t played a lot with it much. teachers set up controlled networks, you should be able to create “fake” students named Lincoln and Douglas. Mmm . . . will need to play with that a bit.

      Have fun! Let me know how it works out.


      September 3, 2010
  6. For the past two or three years I have done this in my high school art history class (when studying the Egyptian culture). Each student selects an interesting person from that culture and creates a page. They post to their own FB page and others. I love this idea. There is a teacher oriented program out there called gaggle net. Our school tried it. When we used it –some aspects were good, but over all I wanted something that was designed differently.

    September 24, 2010
  7. We’ve been using NING to create a private social network where students can interact while staying in character. It’s worked quite well for us. When NING became a pay site, Pearson sponsored us.

    We use actual quotes from the figure for status reports; we require a related video post, a Wordle as art, posts to forum questions, a minimum number of interactions, etc.

    One of the keys is to space this out over time so the interaction can happen.

    March 20, 2011
    • glennw #


      Cool! Love the Ning idea! I especially like the interaction aspect of it.

      Thanks for sharing.


      March 21, 2011
  8. I love this lesson! So useful for so many different content areas! Does anyone have a rubric already made, by chance? Just trying to work smart not hard 🙂

    November 22, 2011
  9. Priscila #

    Hi, my name is Priscila and I’m History teacher in Brazil. I have had this same idea two year ago when i was teaching about Iluminism, but we didn’t have internet at school. So, i’ve done a “print screen” in orkut layout and i gave some copies to my students. They loved! It works very well =)

    February 16, 2012
  10. lbeseke #

    I have often thought about doing a facebook page for historical figures but was just unsure how to get started. Thanks for the information and beginner template. I also enjoyed the helpful hints in the comments. My students already have edmodo accounts and it should be easy to just change their usernames to represent their new character. I cannot wait to get started with my upcoming Civil War Unit and integrating this into a new lesson.

    November 18, 2012
    • glennw #

      Good luck as you integrate this idea into your Edmodo stuff. I would be interested to hear how it turns out!


      November 19, 2012
  11. Cindy M #

    Love this idea. I am a new tech integrator and just found this page. I will have to share this with my fellow teachers.

    Have you seen Meograph? It’s another new tool that is perfect for SS. It’s like Google Maps merged with VoiceThread. I am hoping to use it with a student who needs alternative tech for SS curriculum. It doesn’t work on IE, but does work on Chrome or FF.

    January 6, 2013
    • glennw #

      Good luck with the Facebook idea! And thanks for the tip on Meograph site. Looks like a great site.


      January 6, 2013
  12. This past fall I had my students create twitter pages for different delegates at the Constitutional Convention. They had to tweet as if they were at the Convention and I really think it helped them learn about some of the Founding Fathers, as well as the issues debated. Plus, they seemed to like it!

    March 10, 2013
    • glennw #

      Like the idea of using current social media tools to recreate past conversations! It’s one more tool that you can use to engage kids emotionally with the content.

      You might be interested in a new tool I just read about. It recreates text messages withe ability to save, edit and embed the conversation. Will probably be posting more experiences with it later. Find it at:

      You can also find a tool for Twitter that might supplement what you are already doing:

      Be sure to check out the full page of goodies at:

      Thanks for the comment!


      March 11, 2013
  13. I’m not sure if you’ve ever used “Fakebook” It does sort of the same thing.

    May 10, 2013
  14. Just saw the Fakebook mention; better twice than never!

    May 10, 2013
    • glennw #


      Thanks for suggesting Fakebook – it is better twice than never! It’s a great tool. The stuff at is always good.


      May 11, 2013

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