More young people than ever are connecting with each other online through instant messaging, texting, blogs, and social media. We live in a digital world where students collect information, collaborate, share and communicate using emerging technology. Educators are striving to prepare students to be 21st-Century learners. However, young people are using this powerful technology to mistreat others. The intentional and repeated harm inflicted through the use of digital technology is called cyberbullying. It is a prevelant problem in schools and affects the lives of many students and families. To learn more about this important topic vist my voicethread entitled Cyberbullying.
I’m excited to share an exciting digital storytelling tool called Biteslide with you. This program allows students to research, create, and publish engaging school projects online. Students can easily and safely add text, photos, and videos to their presentations. Biteslide has a feature that allows students to add editors to their slidebook so groups of students can work collaboratively on projects.
Teachers can access Biteslide by registering for one of two memberships. The teacher basic plan costs $99.oo and allows two teachers and 100 students access to the program. The teacher pro membership costs $299.00 and allows 5 teachers and 500 students access to the program. You can register for a free 30 day trial to explore the program before making a purchase. The features and functions of the program make it well worth the money. Simple tools allow teachers to create classes, assign projects, and review student slidebooks. There is no limit to the number of projects or slidebooks that can be created. This program also makes it easy to embed finished slidebooks into websites, blogs, or social networks.
The exciting aspect about Slidebook is that it can be used in a variety of ways. It can be used to create writing projects, science projects, math projects and more. Each year, my students research an animal and write an informational story. This is a project that takes some time. I take my students through the entire writing process until it is time to publish their work. In the past I would have students publish their work in a Google document or Google slides. Now, I plan to use Biteslide. I have created a model slidebook for students to view before publishing their own slidebooks. You can take a look at it here at https://www.biteslide.com/embed/t/m/o/t/ts/az9teGMnwYA
I’m going to enjoy using this great learning tool with my students. Once you see how easy it is to use, you’ll wannt to try Biteslides in your classroom too.
Blogs created for educators can be a valuable resource for teachers. I have chosen three educator blogs I feel you should follow.
The first is The Curriculum Corner. This blog provides a variety of resources for teachers. You can find current, relevant, meaningful and ready-to-go lessons, activities and resources that fit classroom structure and meet national and state standards. There are resources for reading, math, writing, organization, seasonal, and sciance/social studies. One of my favorite blog posts it the “I Can” Standards Toolkit k-8 resource. It includes resources to help students and parents develop a better understanding of each standard. The toolkit helps monitor student progress and track as standards as they are addressed in the classroom. It includes checkboxes for putting into student data binders so students can keep track of their own learning. Another great resource is a science unit called Writing Like a Scientist. This unit is geared towards primary students. It provides mini-lessons, experiment ideas, anchor charts, observation pages, blank books and more.
Another great blog to follow is called Moving at the Speed of Creativity. This blog is created by Wesley Fryer. He describes the purpose of his blog “to digitally document my own journey of learning and collaborate with other educators and lifelong learners around the globe. I focus primarily creative uses of multimedia to help students “show what they know with media,” digital literacy, digital storytelling, digital portfolios, blended learning educational leadership, digital creativity, and digital citizenship.” One of the things I think educators will benefit from this blog is the professional development videos. There is a variety of topics to choose from. Wesley has also been producing the “Moving at the Speed of Creativity” podcast since 2005. The podcast primarily focuses on educational technology and digital literacy. This blog is a great resource for teachers who want to expand their own learning.
The last blog is called Free Technology for Teachers. You can find this blog at http://www.freetech4teachers.com/. Richard Byrne is a high school social studies teacher. His blog has earned numerous awards including the 2012 MERLOT Classics Award and the 2011 Edublogs Award. Richard Byrne offers a number of workshops and webinars for faculty. One of the things I found useful was the free digital handbook on technology integration. Here is an example of a post on creating and using rubrics in Google Drive. He includes a video showing how to create a rubric in Google spreadsheets and walks you through the process step-by-step.
Educator blogs like these can be a valuable resource for teachers. Blogs allow educators to engage in knowledge sharing and reflection. They allow users and readers to respond, to create, and to connect in a global learning community. Wang Hong wrote a paper on the educational uses of blogs in U.S. education. He says, ” Readers are no longer passive recipients of the information from the web but become creators of the content by either posting entries on the blog or making comments on the entries posted by others. As a powerful tool that enhances communication, foster critical thinking, and encourages collaborative learning, blogs have great potential in education.” So let’s start using this powerful tool in our own classrooms.
Hong, Wang.”Exploring educational use of blogs in U.S. education”US-China Education Review v5 n10 p34-38 Oct 2008
Blogging is a way for teachers to open their classrooms to the world. It builds an online community of learners and provides real world experiences for students. It allows students to share their work with an authentic audience. Blogging is a great way for students to practice their 21st century skills necessary to become successful and productive members of society.
One example of an elementary classroom blog is “Mrs. Yollis’ Classroom Blog: Third graders learning and sharing together” at http://yollisclassblog.blogspot.com/. This blog is a great example of how technology can be used to enhance student learning. It contains lots of videos about what the students are learning. Here is one where students share the benefits of blogging. One interesting activity I found on this blog is called Yollis’ 365 Project. Participants email Mrs. Yollis an interesting photo, with proper credit, and add a few sentences about the photo in the comments section. Participants are asked to end their post with a question to create a conversation. Each day a photo is shared on the blog page under the Class Photo-of-the-Day section. In December, Mrs. Yollis’ class participated in the global Hour of Code to celebrate Computer Science Education Week. This is the fourth year the class has participated. Mrs. Yollis tweeted about their progress and included some great information about two computer science pioneers, Ada Lovelace and Grace Harper. She even included a link to Hour of Code tutorials so students and parents could continue their exploration at home.
A great example of a middle school classroom blog is called Blockhead http://minecraft.edtecworks.com/. This blog was created by John Miller, a seventh grade history teacher at Chalone Peaks Middle School in King City, California. He combines history, writing and Minecraft to design, develop, and implement curriculum that promotes collaborative and interactive online learning. John Miller has participated in a discussion panel at the Minecon 2016 Minecraft Convention. He talks about how he uses Minecraft to teach history. He has also recently published a book called Unofficial Minecraft Lab for Kids . This book connects Minecraft builds with an arts and craft activity to be completed after playing the game. It gives families an opportunity to work together and spend some quality time together. His most recent post shows a collaborate project called Momotaro-The Peach Boy. Students worked for nearly three months on this project with students in Hawaii. They created a you tube video to share their project based on the Japenese folktale about a boy born from a peach who grows up to save his village. You can watch it here. Another interesting project Mr. Miller’s students completed is a culminating activity for their unit on Midieval China. Students recreated the Tang Dynasty capital city of Chang’an with MindcraftEdu. You can find a detailed description of the project here. They also uploaded a you tube video of the completed project called Medieval Mannequin Challenge.
It was a challenge finding an example of a high school classroom blog. The Nerdy Teacher is a blog written by Nicholas Provenzano, an English teacher and technology curriculum specialist for Grosse Pointe Public Schools in Grosse Pointe, MI. Provenzano is a proponent of Making and Makerspaces. He even wrote a book called Your Starter Guide to Makerspaces.His blog often shows his Making projects like the NerdyPi 0 as part of his #Make 52 challenge. His goal is to “tinker”on a new project each week. One of his most interesting posts is about a project based learning activity using Snapchat. The students had been studying the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. The assignment was to show events from the story from the perspective of other characters using the My Story feature of Snapchat. The students were very motivated and created some great video of their snaps. Another great project was putting on a production of Romeo and Juliet. Students acted out and filmed scenes from the story. A wiki page was created to assign roles and jobs for the production. Students created blogs to post what they learned from the project. Here is one of the student’s blogs. This project is a great example of student collaboration and use of technology to enhance learning.
All three blogs that I have reviewed show how teachers used blogging as a learning tool in their classrooms. Classroom blogs can be used to share classroom assignments, resources and what great learing is happening in the classroom.When students are taught the elements of blogging and given the opportunity to create their own blogs, it opens the door to the world. They have the opportunity to connect with their teacher, peers and other bloggers around the world. So how do we get teachers to give blogging a go? I think it starts with sharing great classroom blogs so they can see the the many benefits of blogging. There are also great articles and blogs that help teachers set up their own classroom blog. In the article “What are the benefits of Student Blogging,” Rochelle Dene Poth states “Blogging enables you to write freely about your ideas and thoughts, and you can choose to share them or you can keep them private, but the end result is that you have a way to express yourself, be creative and can then use it as a means for personal growth and reflection.” So get ready to start blogging today!
Poth, Rochelle D. “What are the benefits of Student Blogging” teachthought. 8 January 2016