Posting


I have the honor of working with teachers in Seguin, Texas this week.  My law-making friend, Mr. Murphy, comes through again by having Edublogs do a website update only a could of weeks ago, thus changing all of my screenshots and helpful tips. So I have reworked the handout page and updated the information on it.

Also posted on the Creating Your Blogs page, this is the handout for my updated 2009 Edublog Training for Teachers: EdublogSetup09

I recently heard some comments from teachers about not wanting to blog because they didn’t want to have to do it all year. “It’s such a long commitment.” Today, we break that barrier as well.

Many people (small businesses especially) use the free blog as their web presence. It’s their home page. Maintaining a home page does require some commitment. But creative teachers often use tools for new purposes or bend the rules for old tools. For the blog, we can make it fit our needs for product creation, assessment ability,  and authentic communication between teacher and student. But how many of us have a project or unit that goes on all year? Very few.

The short-term project blog can be a great asset. A teacher can set up the blog for the classroom as a project-based blog. Use it for the two week unit on butterflies and then give it a rest. Later, during our weather unit, use it to track and discuss weather systems. Towards the end of the year, start a discussion on how they intend to use what they have learned over the year. Perhaps the last project you start with them could carryover through the summer.

The big idea is that you don’t resist using a wall chart tablet because you don’t want to ‘have to’ fill out all the pages. You use what you want and then pull it out when you need it again later. The blog can be your record of a unit and the student input can help with assessing their mastery of the material. Using inserted media, the teacher can put the unit’s KWL online and end with review material gather throughout the unit. What a great tool for the over-absent student. When the unit is over, post a “Gone Fish’n” sign until you have another unit that would work well with this learning tool.

Think about the purpose of the blog in the classroom. It’s a tool that facilitates communication, helps students practice technology skills needed for graduation, and provides an archive of work done in the classroom. Using the classroom blog for a while several times a year at least could benefit both teacher and student.

My biggest concern with student educational activities online has to do with Student Security. There are tons of security analysts and private consultants who will go to your school and scare the bajeezes out of you, your students and/or their parents. The point I hope to eventually make is that we don’t need to wait for something bad to happen or for the fear environment to hit before steps are taken to protect our students.

One gentleman I heard speak was Dr. Russell Sabella, a professor of counseling out of Florida. He spent a day presenting the present environment of internet safety to teachers and parents. It was nice, but the best part for me was that he puts his whole PowerPoint out there for everyone to use. Most of his workshop of Guarding Kids Against High Tech Trouble can be found online to be used on your campus with kids and/or parents.

Two other website that I want to mention are also leading sources for education. iKeepSafe.org and NetSmartz.org provide schools and parents with many tools for child education. There are a number of lessons, printable posters, and some engaging media that provide a platform for getting the attention of any age-level environment.

In the classroom environment, we spend much of our time teaching students to be responsible and there is no better place to emphasize that than when working with blogging. The possibly anonymous nature of blogging presents so many avenues for problems that some organizations keep blog sites blocked. I am a huge advocate of providing the climate of responsibility and being self-accountable so that young learners understand the possible dangers and learn to avoid them. So what can teachers do in the classroom to promote student security on the internet?

  • Accountable Communication: Do not allow totally anonymous comments. Have students use their initials or another identification schema when writing their ideas. Students can still be held accountable without divulging personal information. “I disagree with R.L.’s comment because on page 33, the author…”
  • Naming Strategies: I really liked what a South Carolina school did one year. Each 4th grader in the class adopted the name of an author. Dr Suess would respond to Gary Paulsen about the Science question. They were anonymous online and had a new opportunity to research and create a biography on famous authors.
  • Information Protection: Students should be aware that anything posted online can be used by someone else. The negative side of that is how predators can learn to identify people by following their text chats or blog posts. A short video (older elem thru high school) that demonstrates this is Tracking Teresa found on the Netsmartz.org site.
  • Classroom Bill of Rights: Have the students create a Bill of Rights for the classroom. Having ownership over their guidelines encourages self-policing and self-responsibility. I once deleted a comment where one student told another, “Hey stupid, you aren’t supposed to use real names!” Uh, half of the battle was won.
  • Parental Permission/Awareness: Sending all passwords and login information home to parents encourages their involvement. Knowing parents can read it helps raise the importance of their writing content. I’ve also had a parent respond to a writing prompt which had a really nice effect on that day’s blog comments.
  • Having an internet contract in addition to the regular classroom student behavior contracts would indicate the increase importance of responsible behavior online. One good example of a student contract is the Kid’s Pledge found at safekids.com.

All too often, the greater powers block sites and close lanes of communication because there MAY be something negative out there. My 7 yr old is already learning to chat with children on Disney sites and is learning now how to be responsible for himself and how to be more safe. He still needs to be protected, but with guidance, he will continue to learn how to be safe. As teachers, we need to provide that safety education as we increase our internet presence with our students.

Okay, so the title should say, “Blogging Bloom’s”, but I liked the figurative language picture of little blogging flowers. (I lost a man point on this one, but gained an Early Childhood Class point.) Anyway, I wanted to return to the idea of “How are we using a blog with students in the classroom?” It’s easy to come up with a simple Answer-The-Question blog, but how can we use it to really push learning?

Well, it occured to me this morning, as I was looking at the picture of Benjamin Bloom on the front of the Wheaties box, that using Bloom’s taxonomy for catagorizing questions can be a great reminder for how we are to meet the needs of all students with the same blog post. If my post for today’s literature group work is, “How old is Brian Robeson?”, then everybody commenting after the first two kids can just copy the previous answer. I would get many similar answers if I posed the question, “Tell what happened with Brian’s plane crashed at the beginning of Hatchet.” Again, the kids commenting later have the advantage of just copying someone else’s work.

As I added the third spoon of sugar to my bowl, I remembered some of the great discussions in my classroom and how the divergent thinkers would get us sidetracked. It was great! They were putting the work into their mental environment and authentically applying it to their own experiences. By giving the blog post an opening for synthesizing or evaluating the classroom lesson, students will see a much broader answer base and have much greater room for dialoguing with thier peers about their answers.

“I don’t think Brian really wanted to go home and leave the forest. Using only information from the book up to Chapter 11, convince me that he did or didn’t want to go home. Using accountable talk, question other students about their answer with evidence you feel is appropriate.”

How can we use Bloom’s ideas in a Math teacher’s blogg? in Science? You can start discussing while I put my cereal bowl in the sink.

Sharing YouTube videos has been pretty popular for a while. It’s the TV generation’s latest addiction provided online! But for education, just think what it could also mean for the classroom blog. The students get online for the day’s blog time and find a short video of some action. The students could be asked to write about what they saw or discuss whether they agree or disagree with what the video’s speaker was saying. Very captivating and rich food for student bloggers.

So just how can you get video on your page? Two terms one needs to understand are ’embedding’ and ‘linking to’. Embedding video means that the video title frame is visible in your post. With the video embedded, the reader will see a video frame on the page and can click a play button right there. The video will play in a window that has been ’embedded’ into your blog posting. Linked video shows only an internet web link instead of the video frame. You post will most likely just have a link that the user will click on to open a new window containing the video. The method you choose depends mostly on how you want your post to look. It does take a bit more time to load a page with lots of graphics or embedded videos that a page that just has links to those videos.

For example, this is a video found on Teachertube.com. Some teachers created a video example of what Literature Circles should look like in a classrooom. I would give a link: http://www.teachertube.com/view_video.php?viewkey=a8ce66358eb576b8912c for the reader to click on. This particular video is 22 minutes long and I don’t such a large clip to load everytime this page is viewed. So my link will make a new window open up and only start loading the video at that time.

Embedding video clips is a bit more difficult than just adding a link. Different blogs require different embedding video code. The YouTube video site is very popular and includes copy-able code for linking to their videos. Most blog services accept YouTube code. One simply adds the code on the YouTube page to their post and the movie frame is shown within the blog. For example, the Die Hard 4 movie trailer is available on YouTube. Embedded, it would look like:

The TeacherTube site listed above, however, will not embed into the basic WordPress blog and YouTube links must edit the link a bit. For directions on embedding video, click on the Video tab in the graphics upload window below your post-creation window, and follow the appropriate directions.
Embed Directions
Or use these links. YouTube Video Google Video

How do you find these links? When looking at Teachertube, YouTube, or Googlevideo sites, near the video you should see some links for sharing that look similar to this picture. Copying the link next to URL and pasting that into your post will show up as a text link. Copying the link next to Embed and pasting that into your post will get you started. You still have to follow the directions for the video service as discussed above.
tooyube.jpg

There is so much to learn when dealing with video on blogs. As a teacher, it is a nice way of sharing a visual lesson prompt, lab experiment review, or teacher training piece. For the students, the wow factor will keep them excited about your posts and help them forget that they are actually learning something that day. 😉

Okay, so I admit to not being the world’s greatest speller. So I look for tools to compliment my creation strategies. I recently realized that I have been overlooking a fantastic spell-checking tool.

splchkingtool The ABC-check tool found above the ‘post’ window will toggle the spell-checking tool on and off. When it is on, the editor will show red underlines beneath mispelled words. Not to stop there, WP added an additional feature. When you click on a red word, a window drops down with suggestions for the correct spelling. Wow, I really like these guys!

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