4 Ways to Implement Blogging in the Classroom

This is reblogged from my post at Daily Genius.

Blogging is a popular activity in classrooms today because it allows students to share their writing with a broader audience and teachers to communicate with parents. There are a myriad of platforms to choose from: edublogs,Kidblog (especially good for elementary age children), Blogger, wordpress, and most LMS systems have a blogging platform built in.

How to set up blogging in the classroom will depend on your platform, and is pretty easy to figure out with all of the “how-to” videos and help center collections. What teachers most often ask me is why they would set up a blog for their class. What value is there in a class blog?

Here are some great ideas and applications for class and/or individual student blogs that you can explore in your classroom.

BLOGS AS EPORTFOLIOS

Blogs can be set to private, public, and shared with specific individuals or groups. This makes them a great platform for students to build their own ePortfolio. They can curate their content first for teachers and parents before publishing it to a broader audience. As a blog allows for not only written content, but multimedia material (images, videos, interactives, etc), it makes it possible for students to create a robust online presence. Kristen Wideen uses Kiblog for her elementary students to create digital portfolios; you can read more about her experience here.

BLOGS AS A SHOWCASE FOR STUDENT WORK

If your students are making videos, creating science fair projects, writing poetry, or other creative content, then a blog is a great way for them to showcase their work. By allowing (moderated) comments, students have an authentic, broader audience that they are addressing. Imagine students who are participating in Poetry Month posting their participatory works online and getting feedback from poets around the country! TheBurlington High School Help Desk (staffed entirely by students) hosts a community blog where they post information about themselves, helpful hints, reviews for new apps and tools, individual projects, and much more. By engaging a broader audience, students learn about digital citizenship and safety while online.

BLOGS FOR CLASS DISCUSSION

Because blogs allow for threaded discussion, they are an excellent platform for discussion. One of my favorite exercises in Social Studies is to post a news article along with some guided questions (the New York Times Learning Network has great tools for this). Students then engage in an online discussion about the topic. Not only does this promote critical thinking and writing skills, but it is an excellent diving board for discussions on Digital Citizenship.

BLOGS FOR GROUP PROJECTS AND LABS

If you have students working on groups projects or in class labs, especially ones that take several weeks and exercises, then blogs are an excellent way for them to record and report on their progress. Imagine students working on a Biology Lab that encompases a quarter or semester-long project. As a group, they report their findings, measurements, and progress each step of the way. If the blog is shared with the class, then they have an audience that is also monitoring their progress, not only learning from their peers but also providing oversight for errors.

These are just a few examples of activities that you can use blogs for in your class. Explore how blogging can work in your class and try some of these examples from EdTechTeacher.

LOOKING TO LEARN MORE ABOUT BLOGGING IN THE CLASSROOM? COME JOIN US THIS SUMMER!

ETTsummer1

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Ideas for using Peardeck & Google Drive in Your Classroom

This is reblogged from my post on FreeTech4Teachers

As more schools go 1:1, teachers often feel challenged to make their traditional lessons and activities more interactive. One of my favorite tools is Pear Deck because it allows a teacher to take a PowerPoint, Google Presentation, or PDF and incorporate various student activities to check for understanding and engagement. Pear Deck is free for students and teachers (with a higher end, paid premium model) and it fully integrates with Google Apps for Education.

When you sign in to your Pear Deck account, create a new interactive lesson by selecting “New Deck.” You can then create a slideshow from scratch or import a PowerPoint, Google Presentation, or PDF…

You can the complete article here.

Top 100 Most Social K-12 Tech Leaders on Twitter

I was recently honored to learn I was included in the Huffington Post Tech article: “Top 100 Most Social K-12 Tech Leaders on Twitter.” I am especially honored when I see who they include on this list. Impresive group of people. If you are looking to expand your Twitter PLN, these are all great adds!

New Google Classroom update: Little things that make it a big deal

Jennifer Carey:

This is a great summary of the new features in Google Classroom!

Originally posted on History Tech:

The Google folks have been busy – and it seems as if they’ve been listening to teachers. Today, a few handy updates to Google Classroom were announced. If you’re not using Classroom, you really need to take a few minutes, perhaps, to come to your senses. It is a handy time saver and teaching tool that’s free, accessible anywhere, easy to use, and did you know it’s free? The biggest update is the ability to now

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How to enhance your lessons with Google Art Project

This is reblogged from my post on Daily Genius.

gap_logo

Google Art Project is one of my favorite tools available online. It is a repository of high resolution images and 3D “museum view” virtual art gallery tours. Since its inception in 2011, Google Art Project has grown from its initial collaboration of 17 international museums to more than 151 and is now available in 18 languages.

This is a great tool for introducing students to Art from around the world. Here are a few ideas for lesson plans that you can use in conjunction with Google Art Project.

CREATE & CURATE A GALLERY

Google Art Project will allow you to create and curate your own gallery. You can have students build a project thematically (styles, emotional experiences, etc), chronologically, culturally, and more. Students select the pieces that they want to add to their gallery, move them around (just as a museum curators places art pieces in an exhibit), and then share them privately or publicly. This could be a great way for a student to showcase their understanding of a particular artist or style as a project for an Art History, History, Social Studies, or Humanities course.

COMPARE WORKS OF ART SIDE BY SIDE

Using the “Compare” model, you can put two works of art side by side and perform an in depth analysis of the works. Here is one of my favorite exercises:

google art project

You will see that I have selected A Sunday on La Grande Jatte by Seurat (Chicago Institute of Art) andBreakfast by Signac (Kröller-Müller Museum); both of these artists were masters of pointillism. I have students examine the pieces in high definition, side-by-side, and explore the different techniques between these two artists.

Students write up their comparative analysis in their Art History notebook and present on the stylistic differences in class. This can also help students understand how styles and techniques evolve over time (Seurat and Signac developed pointillism out of the styles of impressionism). You can assign specific works of art to students (like I do above) or you can have students choose and compare pieces on their own.

This is a great way to teach students to engage the content in depth and perform comparative analysis.

STUDENTS STUDY & “FORGE” THE MASTERS

A common practice in Art courses is to study the work of master artists by reproducing their work. A fun way to do this is to ask students to “create a forgery.”

Students could select an artist and study their life, style, work, and technique; the high definition, zoomable figures on Google Art Project allows them to study numerous works of art that are held in collections around the world. After they have done this, ask them to create a fake!

They can host a gallery opening where visitors compare their reproduction to the original works of the artist.

PARTICIPATE IN AN ART TALK

Google hosts regular Hangouts on Air with prominent curators. They announce the schedule on theirGoogle+ page and post the recordings on theirYouTube page. Students can prepare for the announced topic and submit questions to professionals. It’s a great way to engage students with modern Art curation.

Google has also posted some different lesson ideashere. With more and more expansions to the Google Art Project (the most recent being its Street Art Collection), there will be more opportunities for students to explore the world of Art.

This resource continues to grow and provides students with the ability to explore art in new and interesting ways, outside of a textbook, or more in-depth than they could at a museum.

LEARN MORE ABOUT BRINGING GOOGLE INTO YOUR CLASSROOM!

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Exploring Digital Citizenship with Google

One of my goals next year is to improve upon and expand our existing Digital Citizenship model. So I’m excited to attend Exploring Digital Citizenship with Google with Craig Leach. Any school that incorporates technology needs to include meaningful, digital citizenship. In conjunction with Common Sense Media, he has been developing a Digital Citizenship Course.

He starts by telling us to explore Digital Citizenship in our backyard. It’s never hard to find stories about digital presence resulting in negative consequences. He provided us with 5 local stories that we explored, ranging from cyberbullying to student arrests. We engage in group discussions about the themes behind these topics. One element that I noticed is that schools are so focused on being reactive to these events instead of preventative. Dealing with incidents of cyberbullying or bad behavior online necessitates a broader educational program, including teachers, students, and parents (who are often left out). It needs to be consistent and pervasive education; if you are focusing on Facebook behavior, then you’re not preparing for the next tool. These incidences and events expand outside of the Classroom.

We next explored the definition of Digital Citizenship. Common Sense Media defines Digital Citizenship is “The ability to think critically, behave safely, and participate responsibly in our digital world.” An approach to digital citizenship needs to include balance: powers and perils. So you should talk about ready access to media, but also address copyright infringement.

Craig tells us that the topics that he likes to tackle inlcude:

  • digital life
  • internet safety
  • privacy, Identity & Digital Footprints
  • Cyberbullying, Communication, & Relationships
  • Searching, Evaluating and Citing
  • Reaching the Community

I like that it doesn’t wholly focus on “Stranger Danger.”

When Craig got a classroom set of iPads, he created some digital expectations and classroom guidelines for technology use. His acceptable use policy included protecting the devices as well as appropriate behavior inside and outside of the classroom. He recommends having students build their own policy in their own words.

We talked a little about Google Searching; show them how to find effective sources and assess it. He recommends that you explore google search tools and advanced search features. Navigating and negotiating online tools is important.

By using Google Research tools, especially features like “search by license,” you can engage students in conversations about licensing, copyright, and plagiarism. One of the great things about Google Tools is that they allow you to to instigate a number of empowering conversations about online engagement.

Are you Future Ready?

Courtesy of Pixabay

Courtesy of Pixabay

The keynote speaker this morning is James Sanders from Classroom in the Future. I love the title of James’ talk “A Resume Full of Failure.” He begins by telling us that he “fails all the time.” We work so hard on avoiding failure, that we forget that it’s an integral part of learning. In fact, google “succesful people who have failed,” and you will find a list of impressive people that have not only failed, but failed miserably.

James tells us about his childhood working in a mill. He learned how to drive specialized vehicles and doing hard, demanding work. He also spent quite a bit of time going to the doctor and the hospital as a result of his work there. In the process, however, he learned a lot about himself; in order to learn about yourself, you have to make mistakes. He tells us that “we are a collection of all of the mistakes that have come before us.” We have to learn from what has failed and take that and try to do better. He then tells us his resume of failure. He tried to become an entrepreneur t-shirt developer, that failed. He then tried to get his kids on tumblr… not a good idea. He then worked as a teacher with students in rows, and they went all “Lord of the Flies.” He next tried to create an online gambling website. He then was exposed to the KIPP Academy of Opportunity and their Chromebooks programs. The Chromebooks were a prototype at the time. The Chromebooks made it possible for his classroom to be mobile, the internet access allowed them to connect with students from around the world, and students could engage with material outside of the classroom. They used the Kiva project, investigating  entrepreneurs, and making investments around the world.

Even though this roll-out was great, they had a number of problems that arose. Chromebooks were quickly damaged. So, they had to start teaching students how to treat their devices.

He also found that traditional lessons didn’t work very well. For example, a current events project was quickly written after a student grabbed an LA Times that morning. Instead, he made students create their own newscast! You can see their news network here. Students couldn’t do this at the last minute, it required planning, structure, writing, and production. If you tried to do this at the last minute, it would fail miserably. However, in keeping with his method of learning by failure, he got so excited that he had all of the students create their own YouTube accounts. As a result, students start to post things that were not appropriate to learning, including an aspiring rapper whose language on his YouTube channel was…. you can figure it out.

James then started to have his students post their work online. He then began to put himself out there even more. He started a podcast show. However, his hashtag “pen is mightier,” which became #penismightier caused a few problems. Their Edunation Cast didn’t take off, so they decided to push it a little further. He drove up to Google and tried to pitch an educational angle at Google. He joined them to help develop “YouTube for Schools.” The goal of this was to move towards unblocking YouTube. He moved to San Francisco and then started another company called “Classbadges,” which allowed teachers to award digital badges to students.

After his work at Google, he moved to DC and joined the White House Presidential Innovation Fellows. While there, he started the White House Film Festival. I’ve seen some amazing student submissions with this project. Students get to highlight their own learning experience; it gives them a powerful voice that is then witnessed by the Federal Government.

James finishes by talking about his experience teaching in Los Angeles, where the school to prison pipeline is a reality.

He said that in our classrooms, we need to take risks to disrupt this. There isn’t an easy solution. As teachers, we need to take big risks and be willing to fail… and if you take big risks, you will fail. It’s not easy, it’s hard. At the same time, the rewards for success are immeasurable. We write our own script, and we need to try to do more. Put yourself out there, and let your students put themselves out there. HIs latest project is Future Ready Schools. Start looking at what schools should have today; more big idea projects, what do you need to be successful in your job? What do students need? Being Future Ready means. Look for that window, the opportunity to relight your fire and allows you to put yourself out there. If you keep pushing through your failure, you will find what works for you.