2015 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 5,600 times in 2015. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 5 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Kidblog for easy and safe e-portfolios

Last year I found the site Kidblog. I researched the site and found that it was free to use (for a generous limited amount) and had great teacher privacy controls. I found it really engaged the students in the course work and  helped collaboration and creativity. On a very practical level, I think the pupils found it very useful and engaging.

Kidblog is designed for primary and secondary teachers who want to provide each student with an individual blog. Students publish posts and participate in academic discussions within a secure classroom blogging community. Teachers maintain complete control over student blogs and user accounts.

E-Portfolio.

“An electronic portfolio, also known as an e-portfolio or digital portfolio, is a collection of electronic evidence assembled and managed by a user, usually on the web, Such electronic evidence may include inputted text, electronic files, images, multimedia, blog entries, and hyperlinks.” (Wikipedia)

Benefits of an E-Portfolio

  • keep a record of work in one place.
  • can include different forms of student work:
    • examples of students  performances
    • demonstrations of achieving a particular objective
  • show achievements (students and teachers). they provide a window into student learning
  • shows best work and allows for creativity
  • use through the year and through school career
  • allows for reflection on work. They allow students to think critically and reflect upon their work
  • make classroom learning more accessible to parents, teachers

This year I have started to keep an E-Portfolio with primary 5th and 6th English classes.  I hope it will give pupils of all abilities a better chance to create and collaborate. Students continue to become creators rather than simply consumers. I hope to report back later on in the year with how we are getting along.

Frank's Class

Why kidblog.

Kidblog is unique among the web tools featured here because it is built by teachers for teachers. Kidblog provides teachers with everything they need to help students create their digital portfolios safely. It gives teachers administrative control over student blogs and accounts. Though Kidblog is private by default, teachers can choose to make posts public or password-protected. Kidblog is fully COPPA (Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act) compliant and does not require any personal information from students.

Furthermore, Kidblog makes it easy to publish rich multimedia content. Seamlessly embed slideshows, videos, podcasts, artwork, Google Docs, and your favorite Web 2.0 tools like Storybird, Animoto, Glogster, etc.

Create a E-Portfolio

Do you want to create a e-portfolio using Kidblogs or others tools? Here are some easy instructions:

Creating an e-portfolio using kidblog

Using E-Portfolios in the Classroom

Digital portfolios: guidelines for beginners

e-portfolios in the classroom

Final Portfolios: Ending the Year with Meaning

Why Blog? Blogging Suggestions for Teachers

As far as I am concerned, it is necessary for teachers to be writers and to share strategies, lessons, and resources with one another, as we are able to provide glimpses into our daily lives, while sharing effective ideas that are realistic and classroom-tested.

There are several reasons why teaching, writing, and blogging complement one another.  Following various teacher blogs, commenting on the entries, and interacting with other teachers is an excellent form of professional development.   What better way to improve your teaching than to have hundreds of teachers in your professional learning network?

If you are a teacher and are unsure about writing your own blog, here are some suggestions that you may find useful:

1.) There are so many excellent teacher blogs out there that you may find interesting.  A quick search would provide you with some great blogs that are related to your own teaching and are interesting to read.

2.) Every teacher is busy—between teaching, planning, marking, coaching, and our personal lives, we all have a lot on our plates.  How do we find time to write? We find writing to be a reflective practice that helps us become better teachers.  If you find a topic that you are passionate about, then writing will not seem like a chore, but more like a goal that you are inspired to reach.

3.) Be professional when writing! Never blog about anything that would compromise your integrity, that of your students, or your colleagues.  Respect and professionalism is of the utmost importance.

4.) Don’t think that your thoughts, reflections, and experiences shouldn’t be shared.  What you think is not that great, may be just what another teacher needs to read!

5.) Learn from others and reflect! Take what you see, make any necessary changes or additions and try it out! Once you have tried it for yourself, reflect! Then, share the experience again! As we pass it on, we continue to learn from others and others continue to learn from us!

Do you have any blogging tips? Share them in the comments section!

 

Do you blog?

Why use blogs?

Engage your students with an authentic medium that takes them out of the classroom (and away from the coursebook) into the real world using English as a medium to communicate.

Motivate your students to produce the best work they can.  Blogs are public and there is a wider audience than just the teacher who will see work.  This motivates everyone to do the best they can.

Collaborate outside the classroom by “connecting” your classroom and use your blog to prepare for and continue work done in the classroom.

Popular Edublog Platforms

There are lots of blogging platforms but here are a few that are popular with teachers:

http://www.blogger.com/ – free, simple and intuitive to use.  Users need a Google account.  See www.teachertrainingvideos.com for video tutorials on how to set up a blog in Blogger.

www.wordpress.com – the best blogging platform used by serious bloggers but some functions are pay for and it’s not as easy and intuitive to use as Blogger.

www.edublogs.org – based on WordPress, but adapted specifically for teachers.  There are free and pay for accounts and this is especially good if you want students to have individual student blogs.

www.kidblog.org – free, simple and basic created by teachers for teachers and suitable for kids, as its name suggests.

If you’re interested in starting a blog for yourself or your students but you’re not sure where to start, here are some ideas and tips to help you get started:

Getting Started Checklist

Here’s a checklist to help you get started:

  • What type of blog do you want?  Teacher, student or class?  Investigate and choose an appropriate platform
  • Do you need/have you got parental permission?  There are specialist educational platforms where students don’t need and email address and will give comfort to parents.
  • Is your blog going to be private or public?  This depends on content.  Public is more authentic and encourages students to be more careful about their work.  Private is safer and may be more acceptable to parents of younger learners.
  • Is the name easy to remember?  If your students can’t find the blog, they won’t use it.
  • How are you going to organise it?  By topic?  By date?  By student?  Spending time planning “labels” or “tags” (the words you use to categorise each post) can save a lot of time later.
  • How are you going to assess student work?  Give clear instructions and use rubrics so students can self-assess before submitting any work.

Quick Start Blogging

Convert coursebook activities into digital activities by getting your students to comment, discuss and collaborate online instead of in the classroom using pen and paper.  And, you don’t need to limit your blogging activities to reading and writing tasks.  You can also free web tools you can get your students do interactive activities.

  • Post useful links to websites.
  • Post important course information (such as exam dates, homework instructions, etc.) on the blog for you and your students.
  • Introduce blogging rules.
  • Drill grammar and vocabulary on the blog – using course book exercises, students write multiple sentences using the target language on the blog instead of in their notebook.  Encourage collaboration.
  • Find and embed online games and quizzes for homework then students comment on them using language for expressing opinion, agreeing and disagreeing, etc.
  • Use other free web tools to create quizzes, flashcards, short animations, etc. that can be used over and again year after year.
  • Use authentic online materials as prompts for speaking and writing tasks.  A nice beginning activity is to get students to embed their favourite Youtube vídeo.
  • Students keep an online diary.  You can organise a class blog by student name to see individual student posts instead of having individual students create their own blogs.
  • Encourage learner autonomy and save your time by getting students to create or find materials they want to use in class and post it on the blog!

Whatever you do in class with pen and paper, can be converted to digital.

Things to Consider

  • Do not allow students to post personal information (such as address and photos, etc.) on the blog.
  • Instructions need to be clear, either on a handout or on the blog.  If students are not sure of what they are doing, they’ll quickly lose interest.
  • Set up “Blogging Rules”.
  • To help students know what is expected of them, and encourage learner autonomy, use rubrics so students can self-assess before “publishing”.  Include “participation” in your assessment rubrics to encourage everyone to complete tasks.
  • Copyright law.  It’s important you and your students have permission to use video, images and texts on the Internet.  See www.creativecommons.org for more information.
  • In class, be prepared for fast finishers.  Get them to help their peers, do an Internet quiz, etc.
  • Have a back up plan.  Technology sometimes fails!

15 Great Web Tools to liven up your blog

There are hundreds of free tools to use with your blog.  Here are some easy tools to get started.  Remember, you don’t have to all of this, get your students to do the work.

www.authorstream.org (convert Powerpoint to flash to embed in your blog)

www.slideshare.net (convert Powerpoint, Word and other documents to embed in your blog)

www.docs.google.com  (collaborative working and embed documents, powerpoints, etc. in blog)

www.livetyping.com (create moving reading texts)

www.wallwisher.com (create an online noticeboard)

www.goanimate.com (create animated cartoons)

www.voki.com (create a speaking avatar)

www.profprofs.com (create online quizzes and embed in your blog)

www.audioboo.com (students complete speaking tasks and post them on the blog)

www.storybird.com (create an online story book)

www.quizlet.com (create online flashcards and embed)

www.superteachertools.com (create online flash games and embed in your blog)

www.photopeach.com (create online movies using images)

www.pimpampum.net/bookr (create online book using Flickr images)

www.classtools.net (create educational games and embed)

 

Extract from Helen Collins

For more ideas and examples of some of the ideas and tools above see:

 http://www.helencollinselt.com/ – examples of other teachers blogs and class blogs

Class blogs – http://www.class.helensclassroomelt.com/

Many thanks to Helen for these excellent ideas and suggestions on blogging!

FrankTudela