What is a Blog? from Lynne Laburn on Vimeo.
Get ready to adjust the volume between the introduction music and the little girl talking!
Why should you set up a classroom blog?
"If you always do what you've always done, then you'll always get what you've always got..."
Students are not always forthcoming with parents regarding their homework... even when asked directly by their parents. Parents are often left with no other option than to believe their child, after all, he or she would never conveniently forget that they have homework, especially when video games beckon to them! Most parents have access to the Internet, so why not create a space where parents can check out what's going on in the classroom? Yes you can e-mail, but why not go beyond the e-mail and create a blog... A blog can do many things for you in your classroom...
* give updates on homework
* give updates on field trips and special events at school
* provide reminders for special activities in the classroom where students may need special supplies or clothing
* include lessons or lesson extensions which are great for students who are really engaged in what you are learning and want to learn more!
* include great websites which will provide more practice at home, thereby reducing the number of paper practice worksheets.
Can an e-mail do all that??
So how do you get started?
1. Create a Blog. There are many sites that offer free blogs. I use ger.com og
Remember that by updating regularly you are providing information to not only parents, but students too, especially if they miss school. Parents and students may not check your blog everyday, but at least they know where they can go to access information on what's going on in your classroom.
6. How do you link and embed??
- Links are easy, copy the URL from another site that you want to provide a link to, then paste into your blog post or page... then hit enter to hyperlink the URL (this means makes the link "active") If that doesn't work, then highlight the link, then click on "link" on your Blogger tool bar and paste the URL in the window that pops up.
- Embedding: Very useful for videos on youtube. Embedding allows for a mini-window to open with a video once your blog downloads. Chose the youtube video you want (double check the video to ensure that it's the right one...), click on the Share button, then Embed then unclick the box that says "Show suggested videos when the video finishes" (sometimes there are suggested videos that are not related or may be inappropriate)
7. Finally, give the web address of the blog to the parents, and provide it to your Office Manager so that a link to your blog can be added to the school webpage!
8. Keep the habit of Agendas with students even if you have a blog. Really! This is an essential skill for kids and encourages them to be accountable for their homework... Therefore all the responsibility is not all on you as the teacher. However, keep in mind, as our students become more tech savvy, if they ask if it's okay for them to update notes in their phone or phone's calendar for homework... Let them... Meet them half way, just create the habit.
Now that you have a blog, parents can confirm that their child is not lying to them when they say that they have no homework. Happy Blogging!!
Alternative Ideas for Updating a Blog for Teachers Who Teach Upper Grades
- If you think that you don't have time to update the homework on your blog, then select TWO responsible students to be in charge of it. These students should have excellent spelling and grammar skills. You will need two, so that in case one is absent, the other can handle the job.
- Once you have selected you two students, give them the username and password to the blog. I would use a password that is different from the password you have for your personal email account. It should be something that is easy to remember, such as the name of the school, the name of the mascot, etc.
- Select a specific time of the day when these students will update the blog, such as just before lunch. If you tell them to update it “whenever,” you’re going to find that “whenever” never shows up on some days. Make sure it’s a specific time every day. These students will then sit at your computer and update the blog. After the students have learned the essentials of blogging, let them take turns updating the blog. It doesn’t take two students to do this job.
Why should students blog?
Check out the links below, which explain why we should blog with our students...
How can blogging improve writing and literacy?
How can blogging be used as a Digital Portfolio?
So you have heard about blogging with your students, and you are considering taking the plunge but just not sure what or how to do it? Blogging with students can be a way to engage and reach students using 21st Century teaching strategies. It can also be essential for teachers especially with classrooms where students have very little exposure to technology. As educators, not only is it important to teach skills in reading, math, problem solving, social studies, science, health... social development... (yes it goes on!) but also expose students to technology and help to bridge the "digital divide". So if you are ready to take the plunge into blogging, here are some tips to assist you.
(adapted from Blogging Through the Fourth Dimension by Mrs. Pripp, however I added a some of my own tips)
What are Your Goals for Blogging?
Check out the link: http://www.flickr.com/photos/teachandlearn/1776430181/
1. Pick an easy platform, both for you and the students. I used Kidblog with great success, it fit our needs, it is free and it offers easy moderation. There are other great alternatives out there such as WordPress or EduBlogs.
2. Teach them how to blog first. You can try the paper blogging lesson first (found on the blog of McTeach), which brought up why we were blogging and how to do it appropriately. This can get students excited and thinking about what great comments look and sound like. The McTeach paper blog link is below (great instructions - awesome activity!!) http://www.notesfrommcteach.com/2010/09/learning-to-blog-using-paper.html
3. Talk safety! We assume some students know how to be safe, but don't assume it; teach them the do's and dont's. I came up with the lesson of why the Internet is like the mall and it really worked. I also sent home safety plans for students and parents to discuss and we discussed it throughout the year.
Link to "Why the Internet is like the Mall"
Link to a sample agreement for "Safety plans"
4. Teach them how to comment.
How to Compose a Quality Comment! from yourwonderfulteacher on Vimeo.
In order for blogging to be effective, comments are needed, but if students don't know how to properly comment they will lose out on part of the experience. Commenting emphasizes the community nature of blogging. Therefore teach the skills necessary for writing effective blog comments, because comments give students opportunities to practice reacting to ideas in writing. Discuss how to thank people, how to answer their questions, and most importantly, how to ask questions back. This is all part of common conversational knowledge that all kids should be taught any way. How do you teach skills in commenting? Check out the following link... http://www.notesfrommcteach.com/2010/09/learning-to-blog-using-paper.html
Remember: 1. Compliment, 2. Comment, 3. Connect and 4. Ask a Question... Try to get a "little Converstation going", 5. Proofread!
Does commenting make a difference? Check out this link and decide for yourself. http://comments4kids.blogspot.com/p/does-commenting-make-difference.html
5. Start small. The first post can be an introduction of themselves. It's an easy topic and about something they really liked to do. They can comment on each other's post as well, which can build community.
6. Include parents.This way parents can know what you are doing and can be invited to comment. This provides an extra home-school connection.
Ideas for getting parents involved, as well as forms etc: http://primarytech.global2.vic.edu.au/2013/02/09/a_guide_to_involving_parents_in_your_class_blog/
7. Connect with one or two classes to be buddies. This might be further down the road, but give it a shot. Comments from around the world are phenomenal, and the connections are essential to global understanding. So reach out on Twitter or try #comments4kids and set up something more permanent.
8. Ready for more? Try Twitter! Or Try Quad Blogging #comments4kids, is a site created by Will Chamberlain. Students can link their blog to it and ask people to comment, tweet it out with the hashtag #comments4kids, and use it to find classes to comment on. Worth trying. Or you can check out Quad blogging... Blog with other classrooms around the world! Connect to others around the globe via blogs! Basically Quad blogging allows your students to use a safe social networking site to learn about the lives of other kids around the world. Check out: http://comments4kids.blogspot.com/p/quadblogging-creating-social-networks.html or http://quadblogging.net/
9. Visit other classroom blogs. Show them how other kids use it and have it inspire them. Blogs can be found through Twitter or the comments4kids site.
10. Let them explore. My students love to play around with font, color, and images. They taught each other how to do anything fancy and also let each other know when font or color choices were poor. This was a way for students to come into their own as creative writers and also start to think about creating their online identity or digital footprint.
11. Grade Only After Students Have Peer Revised and Focus More on Content. Blogging can be a way to practice writing for an audience and learning to respond to critique. Tell students your requirements and even make them go back and edit. After a prescribed amount of time for students to make changes, then grade. Some pieces of writing could be printed and included in a writing portfolio.
12. Challenge them. Often students are asked to write about particular topics but you can also have a blogging challenge almost weekly. The kids always wondered what the next challenge would be and looked forward to writing them. You could share creative writing pieces from class, or create electronic journals of work.
13. Link to your Blog! Any other multimedia that that students create can be linked to their blog. Think of the blog as an electronic journal or portfolio of the year's work. Glogs, avatars, prezis, or slideshows can be linked to their blog. Images or "Word clouds" through wordle can be downloaded and saved to blogs as well. All of this will allow students to comment on each other's projects and offer critiques or compliments... or even challenging questions for the students to think about.
14. Give it time! Some students embrace blogging right away, while others weren't so sure, yet they all admit that it was kind of fun.
15. Moderate the Student Blogs. This means that the students' posts and comments must come to you first before you approve them. You will have to keep up with the posts, this can be challenging... but just try it!
16. Blogs are Interactive Forums. Blogging allows students to be interactive and share ideas... learn how to challenge and defend ideas...Blogs are interactive forums for continuing conversations around topics of interest, and interactive forums require two-way participation.
In order to do this, students need to become avid readers of blogs, too.
Perhaps, organize a collection of student blogs in a public feed reader that your students can visit during silent reading time or while surfing the web at home.
Encouraging students to read blogs written by other students serves three primary purposes:
1. Students who read blogs see models of writing that can be use as comparisons for their own work.
2. Students who read blogs are exposed to ideas for interesting topics that they may want to explore and write about in new entries for your blogging project.
3. Students who read blogs connect with potential audiences for their own ideas.
Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Student Blogging
Technology Use Sample Letter for Blogging
Introduction to Blogging sample letter...
Samples of Blogs...
Middle Grades - Grade 5... A very tidy blog!
A Collection of Blogs from teachers around the world...
How Do You Evaluate Blogs?
Check out the edtech guru's thoughts.... on "The Edublogger"
So now that you know how to blog... do you know how to Tweet???
Join Twitter... see the video on Blogging Through the Fourth Dimension...
How Do You Set Up a Blog for You Classroom?
Kidblog.org is a service designed by teachers for teachers. They have made the process of creating and monitoring a class blog safe and efficient. Sign-ups are fast and simple, making it easy to co-ordinate a whole class of new students. At the same time, the blog’s privacy and security is protected by default. This makes life incredibly easy for the teacher, allowing you to get straight in to the fun bit of blogging!
Setting up a Teacher Account
Create a New Class
The class name is the blog name, which becomes part of the URL for the class blog too. You’ll want to set up initially as one class, even if there’s smaller group projects within the class, since the default privacy level is for students to be able to see other classmate’s work. If they’re not in the same class, they won’t be able to see it (or you’ll need to change the privacy).
You’re limited to 200 kids per class, but it’s suggested that if you need more usernames you simply start a new class, add the new users to that and then invite them to the original class. You can easily keep adding classes every school year and importing the users from older classes. This gives the kids a little continuity, too.
Privacy and Security
So once you feel comfortable with blogging, it will be time to try other engaging elements.
Adding Video to Kidblog
To add a video, it's pretty straightforward. If the video is from youtube, then from youtube, click on "Share" - immediately a link and an embed code will pop up. However for kidblog (unlike Blogger) you will need to get the video link. Create a new post (or go to the post you want to add a video to), then click on the post "Toolbar", and add the video link URL in the place indicated in the pop up box.
Click on preview, and your video should be embedded into kidblog. If the video does not allow for embedding, then you will just have to link it.
Adding a Picture or Image to Kidblog
Most pictures will just copy/paste straight from one website to kidblog. It's pretty easy.
Adding a Wordle to Kidblog...
Go to Wordle.net and create a wordle word cloud (usually a word cloud is about a particular topic... ie: what are the key elements of plot for The Hunger Games?...). Create the Wordle, enlarge the image to full screen and take a screen shot.
*Then, click the maximize button then press the Print Screen button (usually at the top right hand keyboard). If your using laptop and have the funtion button a.k.a. “Fn” ( beside the ctrl button) you have to press it at the same time.
*Next, you have to use the Paint application. When you're on paint, click ” Ctrl + V “. Your wordle will automatically pop up the screen, so click on the image and just crop it.
*If you don't have PAINT, you could use the microsoft WORD document or the POWERPOINT. Just also click ctrl + V and it’ll pop up. Click CTRL + S to save your work and put the file name. Or just file save as a jpeg.
Linking Glogster, Eduglogster, and Prezi
Students can link their work from other Web 2.0 sites, like work from Glogster, Eduglogster and Prezi. Students will need to link their particular electronic document to their blog, not just the general site address to the blog. These projects can be shared with classmates and comments can be shared.TO ADD A PREZI OR GLOG…1. Open the exact file, project, slideshow or "interactive media"...
For Prezi follow the following steps...
For Prezi follow the following steps...
2. Click on “Share” on the bottom right of your Prezi in the box.
3. A box will pop up with the embed code and link address for linking to a blog.
4. For kidblog, copy – paste the link code (not embed code) and paste it into your Kidblog post…
5. Select or (highlight it)the address you just pasted, click on the link (or chain button) and paste in the address into the window that pops up.
*Your link to your Prezi will now work.
Adding a Link to Another Site... Just Because It's Worthy Mentioning...
1. Copy/paste the URL from the desired site you wish to link to your blog...
2. Highlight or select the URL address, click on the link or the "chain" picture in the toolbar.
3. Paste in the same URL address in the window (make sure you don't have the http:// in the address twice)
4. Your link should work if you did the steps correctly (note the http:// element as stated above).
Embedding a Voki
Voki's or avatars are free (unless you chose the classroom site) and allow students to create a character (like a character from a novel) and record a narrative using a microphone headset (you could call the phone number on the site, but it is long distance to New York). Vokis once created (students will need to create an account... It's free, then paste the embed code into the post on Kidblog or even create a link to the voki that they created. Go to voki.com and check it out.
Adding Pictures, Audio and Files
This is pretty straightforward once you are on Kidblog. Just click on the type of file you want to link to Kidblog and chose the particular file from your computer. At school it might take a LONG TIME. So maybe try at home.
Do you Teach GRADE 8 ELA?
Scroll down and look for the Dystopian ELA unit... on this page of this blog.
Scroll down and look for the Dystopian ELA unit... on this page of this blog.