Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Blogging: Connecting in the 21st Century

"I do not want to get ideas and resources from others," said no teacher ever.  Pinterest has become the 'go to' for many for resources and ideas to use in the classroom.  But if one really pays attention, these ideas, most often than not, come from teacher or educational blogs.

Blogs are online conversations, posts, based on a particular topic.  Usually, the blogs showcased through Pinterest, are created by classroom teachers sharing ideas and resources in an informal, coversational style,  much like this blog post now.  Other blog posts, are presented as more of a topic centered, information and strategy-sharing opportunity by organizations, developed to provide pedagogical strategies for teachers.  Edutopia is one such example.  Regardless of the reasons, following blogs offers a teacher the opportunity to stay up to date on latest and newest strategies and resources being used by others, globally.  @Cybraryman, Jerry Blumengarten, offers a comprehensive lists of blogs dedicated to promoting education and educational practices.

Blogs can also be used to showcase events happening in schools.  Newsletters, information from administrators and principals, as well as best practices and student portfolios are all common uses for blogs. (Principal's Page and TEAMingUp4Tech).  e-Portfolios are becoming the best option for students to track their learning.  Districts, promoting 21st century practices, are having students begin to create their online portfolios in kindergarten.  These portfolios are updated throughout their educational experience.  What an opportunity to have a digital record of student learning and growth through the years.

Now let's switch gears, and talk about authentic writing opportunities for our students.  Whether in kindergarten or high school, teachers are looking for ways to make writing authentic for their students.  What better way to have students write to a real audience?  Blogging offers students an opportunity to write, for specific purposes, to teachers, classmates, and others globally.  Quadblogging allows students and classrooms to connect with other classrooms to share ideas and learning through blogging.  Isn't connecting one of the 4Cs of 21st Century skills and learning?

Still not sure?  Here is a list of resources to help you get started:
What are some ways you could use blogs?  Your students?

Ready to get started?  Here are a few resources to help you create your first blog!  Happy Blogging!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Assessment Engagement Style!

I don't know about you, but I have realized that my students are being assessed at every corner! Benchmarking assessments, progress monitoring assessments, pre-assessments, assessments during instruction, end of unit assessments, ugghh!!  That's not even including our end of course and end of year assessments!  It seems to me that the more we assess, the less importance our students associate with assessment.  But, we HAVE to assess!  How else are we going to know where to guide our instruction, what intervention is needed, who needs extra support, or who is ready for enrichment?

I have a few web tools I am sharing with you.  These can be used for formative or summative assessments.

The first tool I am sharing is Glogster.  I LOVE this tool.  The free version offers plenty of variety in templates for creating interactive posters known as glogs (graphic blogs).  Imagine using these as anchor charts.  Gone are the days of charts hanging in the room that are only available to students while they are in the classroom.  Using Glogster to create anchor charts put these resources in the hands of students outside of the classroom wherever there is internet access.  These could also be used as assessments for students.  What if we made the unit essential question the title of their glog?  As we move through the unit, the students add to their glogs materials that support the essential question learning?  The uses are many!  I am including a tutorial I created on how to create a glog using Glogster.  I am also including a glog I created on Subjects & Predicates.  I am using this as my grammar unit.  The students can move at their own pace and through quick formative assessment checks using EdPuzzle (post coming later) with my YouTube videos, I can check who needs some extra support.

Glogster Tutorial
Subject Predicate Glog

Please let me know of any ideas you have for using this tool!  The kids LOVE it! (I do, too!)

The second tool I would like to share is Thinglink.  Another great tool to showcase the level of understandings students have on particular content.  Using this tool as an assessment will engage students and offer them an opportunity to "show what they know".  Thinglink allows for any image to become interactive.  Google Docs, Forms, Presentations, YouTube videos, and other links can be "tagged" to images to show deep understanding of content being discussed.

I first stumbled upon this resource during my many "stalking" sessions on Twitter and Google+ Communities.  Susan Oxnevad, to me, is the guru of Thinglink.  I have gained so many ideas from her blog, Cool Tools for 21st Century Learners, and have really gained an understanding of how this tool promotes critical thinking and engagement in the classroom.

Imagine having the learning standard as your image, using Google app, Text to Image, and having the students "tag" the image with work supporting their understanding?  Or using Thinglink with visual synectics as literal or metaphorical connections to content?  Susan Oxnevad shares many examples and continues to post new and exciting uses for this versatile tool.

Thinglink Tutorial
Twitter Thinglink example I created for a Web Wednesday workshop

Any other ideas for this tool?  I would love to hear how you are using this tool within your instruction!