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.