Thursday, October 29, 2015

Quick List of Classroom Blogging Resources

I originally wrote this in 2013. Since then a few resources have changed and I've come across some different ones. Enjoy!

Blogging is an important part of who I am as a professional. I can use this space to share resources with you, reflect on my own practice and try to figure out how to be a better educator. It is my public reflection on technology, leadership and learning.

Think about when you were in school. You write an essay. Who read it? Most likely the teacher and that is where it ended. You pour hours and hours into reflections on Shakespear, the economic and political effects of wars on society or how plants have evolved over time, yet the only person who read your thoughts are the teacher. Maybe you shared with a close friend or even the class. But generally the world was unaware of your thoughts and feelings.

Blogging changes that for kids. Now the audience is global and anyone can read, and in some cases respond and comment. Kids can post their writing, projects, thoughts and reflections. Teachers can provide prompts or starters and kids can pick up and run with it.

More and more teachers and classrooms are embracing blogging in the classroom. You're thinking about it, but are unsure where to even start or how to get started. Lets take a look at some classroom blogging resources to get started with.

There are lots of platforms to use. And the one you pick will depend on your district (blocked or not, policies, etc.) and how you want to manage them. Two very popular platforms are Edublogs and Kidblog. Both are very teacher friendly and ofter lots of features that make management easy. Edublogs has a great Getting Started section that will walk you through creation of your blogs and how to use them in the classroom.

Five Steps To Starting A Classroom Blog-Ms. Morris offers some great and personal advice on classroom blogging, learned from her own trial and error.

Educational Blogs and Blogging Resources-A wonderful Pinterest board fill of not only classroom specific blogs but additional resources for classroom blogging.

Two Critical Tips For Blogging Projects-From my good friend Bill, this post offers some more great advice on blogging in the classroom and how to make it successful.

Collection Of Blogging Resources-When I think of classroom blogging I think of Silvia Tolisano. She has been blogging, on, well blogging for a while. Her resources for classroom blogs are extensive and worth spending lots of time with.

Tips For Blogging With Students-Sue Waters (from Edublogs) also has written a lot about blogging with kids. This collection of tips are definitely not to be missed.

Student Blogging Guidelines-Some teachers will want some guidance in place when they undertake blogs with kids. Kim lays out some easy to follow guidelines that might make implementation easier.

So you can get started. You can manage your blogs. But what will you do with them. More over, what will kids do with these spaces. In addition to the ideas I laid out earlier, there are a couple more to consider.

The Student Blogging Challenge is a great way to get into blogging and get kids into their blogs. The challenge is hosted by Edublogs but you don't have to use Edublogs to take part. The challenges range from helping kids understand the mechanics of the blog to learning about digital footprints. Each challenge has prompts the kids can use as starters for posts too. And while the challenge goes on for a specific time, you can certain jump in any time and start.

And lastly, one of the great communities out there that supports student blogging is Comments4Kids. Remember before when we talked about reflection beyond the teacher? Comments4Kids aims to extend the reach of student blogs and provide feedback on posts and show kids the world is reading what they are writing. There is a Twitter hashtag too (#Comments4Kids) that you can use to post blog links or ask questions. Join the Comments4Kids blog and share your posts with the world!

Do you have a favorite resource for blogging in the classroom? Or some advice? Leave your comments below.

photo credit: Kristina B via photopin cc

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Reaching The Community With Periscope

This post is sponsored by Samsung Business. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

I am on the road a lot. Traveling the country, working with teachers and districts to improve the way they use technology and bridge the gaps in the way they communicate with their communities. And while I have the best job in the world, that means I miss many opportunities to be involved with my first grader and what's happening in her school. Parent-Teacher Conferences, After-School Events, other meetings, are just out of reach.

Or are they?

Periscope is a live video streaming app that lives on your mobile device. To broadcast, simply fire up the app, give the broadcast a title and go. No complex set-up. No special equipment needed. You carry around a full fledged broadcasting station in your pocket with the power of one app.

To view, one gets a notification on their device that a broadcast has begun and they can tune in. While watching they can type comments and even favorite individual parts of the broadcast by touching the heart in the bottom right.

I am by no means the first to suggest using Periscope in Education. In fact a simple Google Search for "Periscope in Education" yields over 2.1 million hits. But if you begin to look at the suggestions most focus on in the classroom. And while there is potential in video streaming events in the classroom, I believe the greater impact is out of the classroom, getting parents and the community excited about whats happening in our schools.

Here are just a handful of ways to think about using Periscope to build community relationships:

Broadcasting After-School Meetings-Many adults don't work in traditional settings nor do they keep traditional hours. Those that work 2nd or 3rd shift or have multiple jobs may never be able to attend a parent meeting in the evening because of other conflicts. Or the lack of child care can prevent some from being more involved. With Periscope you can broadcast those meetings simply and easily allowing anyone, anywhere to see, comment and ask questions.

Athletics Highlights-Many schools have programs to record or even broadcast live the major sports in their schools but what about sports that don't typically get covered? Soccer, cross-country, tennis, track and field, these sports are just as important. And again, not every parent can be there for every event. So using Periscope could help them be more a part of them. And with the privacy functions built into the app you can allow in just who you want so you are in control of who can view and who cannot.

Parent-Teacher Conferences-In my situation using Periscope could be a great way for me to be at the conference without actually being there. Sure, using something like Google Hangouts would be a better choice because its 2-way video, but what about if I'm in a busy airport with lots of noise, or the equipment for a 2-way video chat just isn't available where the teacher is. Using Periscope allows me to be involved and takes the guess work out of the setup.

The inevitable question will arise, yeah but what if I can't see it live? Periscope doesn't offer a feature to save or publish videos. Fear not! With Periscope you can save your videos to your camera roll. Then you can publish them and share them to your social media accounts.

Periscope can be a great addition to the tools you use to communicate with your communities. Remember, its not the only way or replace what's already working. It's just another way to build those bridges.

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