Bringing Technology Into Your Classroom

Posts tagged ‘blogging’

Dive In and Begin Blogging!

After reading professional and classroom blogs, it’s time to dive in and begin blogging.  Blogs are easy to set up.  There are many places that you can set up a blog, but I think one of the easiest is Blogger.  Take a minute to watch this Youtube video which will guide you step-by-step through the process.

Remember, you don’t have to do everything at once.  You can change the look of your blog and customize it further to meet your needs at any time in the future.  If you prefer to set up your blog somewhere else, you can find other tutorials for WordPress or Edublogger as well.  If you’re interested in setting up a WordPress blog, you can find tutorials here at http://wordpress.tv/flavor/wordpresscom/.

Writing Your First Post:  My classroom blog has changed a lot over the three years that I have had it.  So far this year, I have been using it to communicate with parents.  Other times I have used it to post student writing.  Your blog will be a living thing, so it’s okay if you still aren’t sure how you will use it.  You can begin by posting a short announcement for parents, or you can have the kids help you with that first post.  Take a look at the changes that my classroom blog has undergone over the years: http://msdayatphillips.blogspot.com/

Widgets and Other Fun Things:  Many people add calendars, tag clouds, videos, and lots of other features to the sidebars of their blogs.  These are called widgets and gadgets.  When you feel ready, you can add and make changes to the sidebar of your blog.  The following video will be helpful in learning how.

So dive into the world of blogging.  You’ll have lots of fun with it, and your students will too.

Using a Classroom Blog

My first venture into technology was to create a classroom blog.  I learned about them from one of  my colleagues, who had used a blog with her students.  In my previous post, I talked about reading blogs and learning from other educators.  Most of the blogs we looked at were professional blogs written by educators for educators.  Now we will take time to look at the ways teachers use their classroom blogs.

My classroom blog has undergone quite a transformation in the three years I have had it.  Initially I used it to display some student writing.  The post would be my question or introduction to a topic.  The student writing would appear as the comments.  Our very first blog post was about our field trip to Living History Farms.

The following year, students began to take turns as the guest blogger.  Then I discovered Kidblogs, and they began to have their own blogs.  Last year students served as class photographer.  They took pictures around our school, posted the photos and wrote about it.   So far this year, I have been using the classroom blog as a way of communicating with parents.  Here is a link to Ms. Day’s Class Blog.

To write this post, I asked for help from members of my PLN.  Of the teachers responding to my poll, half of them use their classroom blog to display student writing.  Others mentioned using it as a conversation with students, the teacher writes the post, the kids the comments.  Still others use it to communicate with parents.

I asked, “What are some of your favorite ways to use your class blog?”  Here are some of the comments made by teachers:

“I have used Kidblogs to showcase the students’ work, but I also use it to post videos that the students respond to in the comment area for a grade.  I post the videos we make in class for parents to watch and get comments from all over the world”

“To publish work.  I find it motivating to students.  The quality of their work increases when they know they will get to post it for others to read.”

“My favorite way is to host videos that we’ve created in class.  Ot allows work we’re doing to be shared with parents and the rest of the world.”

“We use it as part of our learning and reflecting, and to connect with others globally.”

There are lots of places you can set up a blog.  Most of the teachers that helped me with this survey use Blogger, Kidblogs, Edublogs or Weebly for Education.  The best way to learn about classroom blogs is to visit a few.  Click on the links below.

A Kindergarten class in Ohio:  http://mrstahlkindergarten.blogspot.com/

A first/second grade class from Canada:  http://avivadunsiger.blogspot.com/

Check out a second grade blog from New Zealand: http://www.openthedoortob4.blogspot.com/

A second grade blog from Nebraska:  http://kidblog.org/MrsPeters2ndGrade/

A third grade class from California:  http://yollisclassblog.blogspot.com/

A fourth grade blog from Wisconsin:  http://mskreul.edublogs.org/

A fifth grade class in Iowa:  http://kidblog.org/2011-12Class/

Grades 6-8 in Canada:  http://swelbergen.weebly.com/our-classroom-blog.html

Grades 6-8 in Massachussetts:  http://mravery.edublogs.org/

This teacher has several blogs that she uses for different purposes:  http://wltechntalk.blogspot.com/

There are so many different ways to use a classroom blog.  Teachers from Twitter collaborated on this Google Document called Ideas for Classroom Blogs to list some of their ideas and share links to their blogs.

There isn’t one right or wrong way to use a classroom blog.  As you can see there are a multitude of possibilities.  What ideas do you have for using your blog?

Next time we will talk about setting up a blog, and adding widgets and other features to make it more interesting.

Read a Blog and Build Your PLN

What Is a PLN?

At your fingertips, you have the means to connect with teachers from around the world.  You can talk to them, learn from them, visit their classrooms, share information, and have a good time with them, and you never need to leave home.  Most of what I have learned about using technology in the classroom, I have learned from people I met via the internet.  These people, along with educators in my own school and community are my PLN, my Personal Learning Network.

I was able to connect with these people by following them on Twitter, Plurk, or Pinterest, liking a page on Facebook, or reading their blogs.  To gain a thorough understanding of an issue, or how to implement something, blogs are your best bet. Unlike other forms of social networking, when it comes to reading blogs you never have to say anything to the author, if you don’t want to.   As someone who writes several blogs, let me tell you that we really really want you to talk to us, but if you are at all nervous or uncomfortable about Twitter or Facebook, reading blogs is the place to start.

There are millions of blogs out there. The word blog is actually the words “web log” combined.  A blog is basically an on-line journal.  It is a website or part of a website and it can be written by individuals or groups.  Most blogs post so the most recent article is at the top.  Blogs are written about every subject imaginable.  When it comes to education, there are blogs about every aspect and every topic.  When I started reading blogs, I was most interested in those about using technology, but more recently I’ve been reading lots of grade level blogs about things teachers are doing in their classrooms.

Setting Up a Google Reader

With so many blogs out there, it can seem overwhelming to try to find them and keep up with them.  I use Google Reader to help me do that.  Take a look at the video below to learn how to set up a Google Reader account for yourself.

Practice by adding the web address for this blog to your Google Reader.  As you visit other blogs, add those to your Google Reader as well.  The next video will explain more about using your Google Reader.

Fantastic Blogs to Follow

Now it’s time to become familiar with a few blogs that are out there.  According to Hat Trick Associates, there are about 450 million English language blogs out there on a multitude of subjects, so where do you begin?  Members of my PLN on Twitter and Plurk helped me to assemble the following list of education related blogs.  Click on the links to visit the blog.  If it is something you find interesting, add the blog to your Google Reader, so you can be notified of future posts.  Check out the side bars of the blogs.  Many bloggers list favorite blogs, so you can find many additional blogs this way.   Visit blogs from other grade levels as well as your own.  You may find lots of useful ideas.

Preschool & Kindergarten

  1. Aloha Kindergarten!

First Grade

  1. Little Voices, Little Scholars,
  2. Tunstall’s Teaching Tidbits
  3. First Grader At Last
  4. A Primary Blog for the 21st Century
  5. Kids With a View
  6. Room 6 + 6 Kind Kids
Second Grade
Third Grade
Fourth Grade
Fifth Grade
Fine Arts
Reading
Special Education
Library
Principals
A few of these are class blogs, but most are professional blogs written by educators for other educators.  Do you know of other fantastic blogs for educators?  If so, please write a comment and share the blog with us.  Next time we will take a look at classroom blogs.  You will be amazed by all the great ways that teachers use their classroom blog.

Becoming a Techie Teacher

There’s no doubt about it, I consider myself to be a Techie Teacher.  Using technology to enhance learning for my students has become a passion.  It all started two years ago when a colleague showed me how to set up my first blog.  Soon after that I enrolled in an on-line class called Using the Internet in the Classroom.  From that point on, I was hooked.

Entering the world of technology has been life changing for me, and I have tried to share some of my passion with other teachers.  For the past two years I have presented professional development to teachers in my building.  Among other things we have learned about Google Docs, my students attended one meeting to introduce teachers to blogging, and teachers have created their own blogs.  We have new iPads in our building, and we have devoted time to learning ways to utilize them to support instruction.

At a meeting last week we were discussing the purchase of more iPads and laptops, and the need for additional training.   One of my colleagues asked if we could go back and talk about some of those things we had already worked on.  That is when I got the idea for this blog.

There are many blogs written about technology in the classroom.  To be honest, some of them are way over my head.  They assume a working knowledge that is beyond my experience.  The goal of this blog is to begin at the beginning.  It will present ideas for using technology to enhance learning in the elementary classroom.  I also want it to be a link to other blogs and resources.  I want to share ways to shape your own tech journey; through blogs, social networking, or conferences.

Ideally a blog post should begin a conversation.  If I leave out a step, or fail to answer a question, please write a comment asking for clarification.  If you have a better idea, please share it.  A blog post should be just the beginning.

While I have created this blog with my colleagues at school in mind, I invite everyone to participate.  Ask questions!  Share experiences!  Give feedback!  If I don’t know the answer, I will ask people who do.  And that is step 1 to becoming a Techie Teacher.