How to Begin Blogging with Your Students
Blogging is a written website that expresses personal opinions, activities, and experiences. Blogging has been around for awhile, and there are many tools for the students to use. It is not so much about the tool but about the conversations to be had. Is there a political issue that has the class fuming? Have them air out their opinions in a controlled web space. Have students raise awareness about an issue that is going on in an underprivileged nation. Have them reflect on their lessons. Get the students discussing, get the students learning, get the students publishing.
Blogging meets CCSS.ELA-Literacy in Writing, Standard 6 which states: Use technology, including the internet, to produce and publish writing, and to interact and collaborate with others.
Why not add it to your digital toolbox?
Start with a simple tool like TodaysMeet.com. This website can be accessed with all devices. There is no app. They just need to point their device to TodaysMeet.com/yourtopicgoeshere. The students can then have an ongoing conversation about anything. Once the conversation is over the transcript can then be saved and posted anywhere on the web or printed out for notes/records. A key management piece is teaching students not to use "text talk" and use complete sentences, as well as correct grammar usage and mechanics. Obviously there are some behavioral management things to consider with cyber-bullying and the like, but common sense media does a great job of addressing those issues.
Todaysmeet.com also gives voice to those students that would not necessarily raise their hand in class but are vigorous texting machines. Socratic method works well in this format as well and students are more likely to be engaged if they have a device they can use to respond. TodaysMeet has a really small learning curve here so give this tool a shot.
Common Sense Media
Using TodaysMeet is a great way to introduce blogging to your students. It is also a perfect time to begin teaching cyber safety and digital citizenship.
Here are some great lessons to do with your class as you introduce blogging to your students:
K-2 Screen Out the Mean
3-5 Super Digital Citizen
6-8 Forms and Norms
9-12 My Online Code
KidBlog is an awesome tool! Over 3.7 million students across the globe are using Kidblog, because it has the features teachers and students want.
Designed by teachers, KidBlog is safe (COPPA compliant), simple, and robust. Teachers set up a class blogging site where students are given individual accounts. Students can then publish posts and participate in academic discussions within a secure classroom blogging community.
You can use KidBlog to create classroom discussions, practicing writing skills, create an e-portfolio, reflect on learning, and formatively assess your student's writing. Give your students the chance to share their writing with an authentic audience!
Google Apps for Education
Palm Springs Unified School District is officially a Google Apps For Education (GAFE) school. All of our students have Google accounts with 30 GB of space. As Educators, this means we can create great content on the web and truly collaborate with our students. Google has been developing their educational sector and is strongly advocating to get into the classroom. Google has definitely infiltrated the classroom with the introduction of the Chromebook. The Chromebook offers an inexpensive way for districts to get technology into the classroom, preparing students for the 21st century.
Google Drive has many tools inside of its suite of apps. We have written a tutorial that outlines how to use some of those web apps. One of the more basic apps within Google Drive is their word processing app called Google Docs. Google docs allows for ultimate collaboration. Students can edit assignments simultaneously. Projects and research papers can now be written as a group, without students having to meet face to face. Students can be in the comfort of their own homes and work on their assignments together, and all they need is an internet connection and their computer/tablet.
Google Docs also automatically saves a copy of your work every six seconds or so. The days of losing your work are over. Not to mention the revision history feature allows you to go back in time to use an older copy of any document, just in a case a students "accidentally" deletes their work.
Common Core Connection
Research is a large focus of the new common core implementation within Google Docs. Students open the research tool, and a search bar opens on the right. Students can seamlessly cite their resources when doing their research in MLA, APA, and Chicago style formats. This is also a great way to reinforce copyright laws as well.
Flipping Your Class 101
Flipping has now officially become a norm in the classroom. You have a real guru in Ramsey Musallam and others writing books on the topic. There are many benefits to flipping your class .
Teachers are using screen casting to help them flip their classes. You can record lectures or demonstrations for students to view at home, and they can come to class prepared with questions. Screen casts can be viewed anywhere and saved for future reference. Students can now rewind the teacher to gain better understanding of the subject at hand. This is a great tool to have in your tool belt no matter what screen casting app you choose to use. Here are a few we have used!
Screencast-o-matic is a Web 2.0 used to create screen casts on Windows or Mac operating systems. It runs in a browser window. Go to the site and hit "Start Recording", frame your recording and start teaching. It’s that easy to use! The site also gives you the option of downloading and installing the free app to your computer.
The app records your screen, and, if you have a microphone, you can record your voice to go with the video. Advantages to using this screen casting option is the ability to include video of yourself in a picture-in-picture format, so students still have that personal touch.
Unfortunately you are limited to a 15 minute recording with the free version, and you cannot edit your screen cast from the site unless you purchase a Pro account for $12 a year. What you can do is download your video in a variety of formats and use any movie editing application you might have at your disposal. You can then post the video on your website or anywhere else on the web. As far as ease of use, we highly recommend this app.
There has got to be an app for that, right? There are many, and we like a lot of them. The one we want to talk about here is Educreations.
Educreations is a full featured whiteboard app that allows for screen recording. The whiteboard component is everything you would expect: different inks, the ability to import pictures, annotate over images, and record your voice as you explain. This app also lets you take the video that is created within the app and then embed it or share it via email, twitter, or Facebook. Educreations is free, and anyone can create an account, including students. If you are getting ready to flip your class and would like some material because you are not ready to make you own video, there is always YouTube, but Educreations offers a vast library of educational videos sorted by subject and grade.
Educreations for iPad
Quicktime for Macs
Macs are built for flipping. Well, not really, but they do have a built in screen capture tool that comes with Quicktime. To access screen capture launch the Quicktime application. Once the application is open, select file, then click "Start new screen recording".
Quicktime will automatically save the files to .mov format, which works well with other Apple products like iMovie. You can also directly upload to Youtube. Quicktime screen-casting is great for adding a voice over to a Powerpoint or Keynote presentation. If you already own a Macbook product, then flipping your classroom is right at your finger tips. Happy Flipping!
PSUSD must unblock Youtube to watch videos.
Google has been beefing up their apps and it has made an educator's job easier. Google has an entire suite of apps that replace Microsoft's suite and it is free. One of the more powerful apps that Google has created is called Google Forms. We have written a tutorial on how to use a form here.
The real power behind these forms is the ability to create small assessments and analyze data quickly. Once a form is created it can be embedded in a website or the link can be sent out to any email address. After students have answered the questions in the form the teachers receives all the data in a nice spreadsheet that is automagically created in Google Drive. The form allows for a student to answer multiple choice questions, free response paragraphs, simple text answers, and, for common core readiness, select all that apply type questions. So next time you want to create a simple assessment have students take a short google form, they can be accessed on any device that has access to the internet, that means android, ipad, pc, mac, etc.
Also, for PSUSD employees, all students have google accounts that means students can create assessments too.
Socrative can be run on any web browser including students’ smart phones or iDevices. With it, you can pose questions that students answer in real time to any kind of inquiry. You can use true/false, multiple choice, or even open-ended questions. Instructors log in to the instructor version and create the question, and students log in to the student version and answer them. It has a lot of potential for analyzing data in the short term. There are pre-designed activities to choose from. Using this tool, you can visually measure students understanding in real time and adjust your teaching on the fly. Responses can be displayed immediately or sent to the teacher’s email. This is a great tool to use for those tickets out the door! Best of all, it’s free!
If you are looking to be able to use any Internet-connected device (smart phones, tablets, computers) to poll your class quickly and easily, you can use Poll Everywhere. No special software or app set-up is needed.
Just go to http://www.polleverywhere.com/ and click on the link “Create Your First Poll.” You will see a pop-up and you just need to enter your first question. There is even a video tutorial in the pop-up link if you need support. Once you have created your questions, you will be given a website or text number to give to the class so they can respond using their devices. After students enter their responses you can chart and share the results.
You can create open-ended, true/false, or multiple choice questions, a PowerPoint presentation, and you can save your poll questions. However, you will want to feel comfortable with it first, so try it out with your friends. It does not have the ability to create student reports unless you pay for the personal plan, about $15 a month. But with the FREE version you get a quick and adaptable solution!
Finding the right Learning Management System (LMS) for your students' needs
A learning management system allows teachers to develop structured online or blended courses for their students. With the new year already in full swing, a super long to do list, and achy feet from standing all day, the last question on your mind is, " What LMS should I use in my class?" Establishing an LMS should be part of every teacher's tech toolbox. Implementing an LMS at the beginning of the year sets up class norms that will last all year. Some systems require passwords and log in codes. So which LMS is right for your class? Read on and find out what we like in our classes.
Edmodo is one of the longest standing learning management systems around. Edmodo has done a great job of remaining relevant by updating their interface and including new features with each new update.
We really like Edmodo because it is self contained. added to that, there are many privacy settings and filters for students. Edmodo has also included educational apps that can be used inside of Edmodo.com. When a teacher creates groups for each class, they can link up with other groups, other subject areas, or another class around the world. Edmodo also allows for teachers to embed HTML code inside each post. This means it can be a one stop shop for all assignments. Did we mention it also has a built in grade book? Although not integrated into Synergy, it works great. Students can take tests inside the platform, and both teacher and student get instant feedback. Finally, Edmodo offers a parent connect where parents can track their child's progress.
Although Edmodo offers great features, there are some drawbacks. Mainly, the setup takes a little bit of time. It is not a deal-breaker by any means, but it will require students to remember codes for their group. Students must create a password, which can be reset when forgotten.
All in all, Edmodo.com and the Edmodo app, which is available for Android and iOS, is a wonderful LMS for anyone. If you have never used an LMS this would be a great place to start as you venture into the world of learning management systems.
Edmodo for Android
Edmodo for iOS
Haiku Learning at Palm Springs USD is a K-12 learning management system that allows teachers to develop structured online or blended courses for their students.
There are several reasons why we love Haiku Learning. The first is that it is integrated with PSUSD's student information system so all your courses are already created and your roster of students is updated regularly and associated with your class. Integration with PSUSD also makes logging in simple. You and your students just use your psusd login and password and you are in!
Another feature that appeals is the course design has a definite structure that is helps to make it easy for students to navigate, but it is still highly customizable. Course development is intuitively easy and customizable with a drag-drop interface that includes a wide range of web 2.0 tools, widgets, and media that can be embedded. Once you have a course developed, you will probably want to be able to duplicate it and share it. Easy! Again, with the drag-drop interface you can just select where you want to put content and it will easily move or copy. You can even share the content with your fellow teachers. Finally another anoth
Since keeping students involved is everything, interactive tools built into the system include polls, surveys, calendars, discussion boards, and even wikispaces that you can use to facilitate individual or group work on projects. In addition, the course has a full grade book with the ability to give feedback comments back to your students just in time.
Finally, one additional feature we appreciate is that you can control when the content and course is active. With just a click you can make it active or inactive so it only appears as you want the student to view it.
Having given you all of these reasons to love Haiku Learning, there are cautions. First, you do have to log in. While it is easy to do, it is not possible to for students to just be able to go to your site and pull up content without logging in. The other caution is that while the system is integrated with the grade book does not interface wit
Weebly is technically a free web page building tool. To build a page, simply drag and drop the elements you want to include and add your content. Because it is so versatile, it can be used to organize content for your students.
Customization is user friendly. You can create assignments and upload attachments. Forms can be used for multiple choice testing. Students can create blog pages to publish their writing. Video can be added for commenting. Almost anything found on the web can be embedded on this site using HTML code.
Webpages can be password protected making them secure for your students. Since there is no advertising, students can and should use Weebly as an electronic portfolio. Teachers can manage up to forty student webpages on their account.
Unfortunately, Weebly does not incorporate a grade book or a drop box for student assignments. Weebly does not give your students space to collaborate, so you might want to couple this Web 2.0 tool with Google Docs. Since Weebly is a free site for educators and extremely user friendly, we would say it is still a good tool to use with your students!
Remind 101 is great for sending messages to students through text message. Students that have cell phones usually have them at all times. Sending reminders for homework and updates about upcoming events are easy. This tool is a must have for the first week back. Set up your students early and start that one way communication. Create groups for each period, schedule reminders ahead of time, or remind students that they have a project due soon.
ClassDojo is a classroom behavior management tool. You input student names and chart positive and negative behaviors. Add points for team work, participation, or good character. Subtract points for classroom disruptions of any kind. ClassDojo can also be used as a student randomizer. Throw out your popsicle sticks and pull out ClassDojo. Award participation points on the fly.
StopWatch & Timer
There is nothing better than setting the right tone right from the get go. Students may need a little reminder of the time frame for each task. Perhaps you need a reminder to help you pace your lesson. Having a good timer in you tool belt is a great way to increase productivity. There are many different timers out there for Android, iOS, and web-based. Here are our recommendations.
Learning Management System
A learning management system is one way a teacher can create a 24/7 environment in which students can be responsible for their own learning. Students can communicate with their teachers and work in an online environment at any given time. Check back here for more on this topic. Here are some of our favorites.