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

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Digital Natives (part 2)

“Everyone talks about leaving a better planet for our children. Why doesn’t anyone try to leave better children for our planet?”

Many of us grew up in a pre-digital era – we made phone calls and wrote letters, while public information was distributed through broadcast media. But now there’s a whole generation at college that has never known a world without the web. They bring with them a new way of engaging with the world, with information, and with each other.

An excellent video to understand how Digital Natives fit technology and open up to a world where anything is possible.

From Google+, Facebook, and Twitter to SMS and corporate messaging, this generation is developing an instinctive set of behaviors and expectations around these tools. They are very savvy in understanding which medium is most appropriate for the message and for the recipient, whether it’s a dinner invitation or asking someone out on a date.  They know they have to find the appropriate interrupt signal, and that different channels send different signals, with numerous subtleties that we are only just starting to understand:  Following Generation Z

In Rethinking Education in the Age of Technology, Allan Collins and Richard Halverson argue that the knowledge revolution has transformed our jobs, our homes, our lives, and therefore must also transform our schools. Much like after the school-reform movement of the industrial revolution, our society is again poised at the edge of radical change. To keep pace with a globalized technological culture, we must rethink how we educate the next generation or we (the Digital Immigrants) will be left behind. This groundbreaking book offers a vision for the future of American education that goes well beyond the walls of the classroom to include online social networks, distance learning with anytime, anywhere access, digital home schooling models, video-game learning environments, and more.

School leaders and teachers need to understand how learning technologies work and how they change the basic interactions of teachers and learners. Technology leaders need to work together with educators as collaborators in creating new opportunities to learn.

Technology is changing what is important to learn in a variety of ways. There are new literacies that are becoming important, such as creating videos, animations, and web sites. Computers can carry out all the algorithms taught through graduate school, and yet mathematical reasoning is more important than ever. Hence we should spend time teaching students to solve sophisticated problems using computers rather than executing algorithms that computers do well. Memorizing information is becoming less important with the web available, but people do need to learn how to find information, recognize when they need more information, and evaluate what they find. People will be changing careers often and transitions are difficult. They need help going back and forth between learning and work.

As technology continues to transform our society, those responsible for our current systems of learning and education are facing overwhelming pressure to adapt. Education technology, connected learning and the rise of the Networked Society is transforming the established concept of learning, teachers’ roles and even the nature of knowledge itself.

The revolution in education will alter not just the lives of students, but the entirety of modern society. As with any revolution, there are will be both gains and losses. Pessimists see people becoming subservient to their technologies and being left behind as technology comes to dominate our lives. Optimists see a golden age of learning opening before us, where people will be able to find resources to pursue any education they may want.

TAKING ACTION

Strategies:

1. RETHINK ASSESSMENT

With few exceptions, all the things our children are using to connect and learn outside the classroom — social media, cell phones, Internet connections — are banned inside classrooms. Move from a standardized testing teaching approach to a style that incorporates more creativity and adaptability.

Remaking assessment starts with this: stop asking questions on tests that can be answered by a Google search. Or, if you have to ask them, let kids use their technology to answer them. More often than not, we ask questions that can be easily answered by technology. That is unfortunate. Take a quick look at any of the state standardized tests for graduation, and you’ll see more of those than you can imagine.

Let’s scrap open-book tests, zoom past open-phone tests asking Googleable questions, and advance to open-network tests that measure not just how well kids answer a question, but also how literate they are at discerning good information from bad and tapping into the experts and networks that can inform those answers. This is how they’ll take the real-life information and knowledge tests that come their way, and it would tell us much more about our children’s preparedness for a world of data abundance.

This is an excerpt from Will Richardson’s new TED e-book, Why School?

2. CULTIVATE MENTORSHIPS

Encourage two-way intergenerational mentorships and interactions. This would create opportunities for youth adults to learn from each other. Gen Z comes to the workforce a wide set of new technology skills, determination and passion, among many other factors. Older employees can benefit from the connectivity, flexibility and creativity that are unique to this generation. These youth are still young, however, and have a lot to learn from their older mentors that will help better integrate them successfully in the formal working world. As these youth become a larger part of the emerging labor force, business must plan for Gen Z’s entry and the succession of the Baby Boomers as they retire. Mentorship programs not only get youth interested in and prepared for work in new fields, it introduces fresh skills and attitudes that help businesses flourish in a changing economic atmosphere.

Extract from GENERATION Z CHALLENGES 

3. EMPHASIZE PUBLIC SPEAKING AND CONFLICT MANAGEMENT SKILLS.

These skills are increasingly valuable in the workplace and society more broadly. Greater emphasis should be placed on their development. The ability to manage conflict is probably one of the most important social skills an individual can possess.

5. ENTREPRENEURIAL EDUCATION

According to the Key Competence Framework, the entrepreneurship key competence refers to an individual’s ability to turn ideas into action. It includes creativity, innovation and risk taking, as well as the ability to plan and manage projects in order to achieve objectives. Include business and entrepreneurial skills in school curricula in order to equip students with a background in that area, making entrepreneurship less of an idea and more of a viable possibility for those students.

Entrepreneurship Education at School in Europe. [Eurydice]

7. PROMOTE SERVICE LEARNING

Civic engagement is instrumental in building community awareness, teaching tolerance and cultivating socially conscious young people. Service learning should be integrated into K-20 education.

8. TEACH RISK-TAKING

We must teach our youth to look for opportunities and that failure in pursuit of them is a learning opportunity and not a stigma to avoid at all costs. To help our students, we need to directly ask for academic risk-taking behavior (e.g. asking questions, dwelling in uncertainty, and advancing untried hypotheses) and identify it whenever we ask for it, so students know we perceive and value the challenges they face.

Teaching Risk-Taking in the College Classroom

SOURCES:

RETHINKING EDUCATION IN THE AGE OF TECHNOLOGY:  THE DIGITAL REVOLUTION AND THE SCHOOLS. (PDF) By Allan Collins and Richard Halverson

http://www.scoop.it/t/digital-natives-by-frank-tudela

Digital Natives (part 1)

“Children are the future of the country” if you want to know the future you should know how children are nowadays. The succeeding question is how are the children today?

Today’s children are born digital — born into a media-rich, networked world of infinite possibilities. But their digital lifestyle is about more than just cool gadgets; it’s about engagement, self-directed learning, creativity, social networking and empowerment.

The author of “Teaching Digital Natives” Marc Prensky says: “Today’s students have not just changed incrementally from those of the past, nor simply changed their slang, clothes, body adornments, or styles, as has happened between generations previously. A really big discontinuity has taken place”…. “the explosion of technology over the last 10 years is just the start of a symbiotic new world. Computers and handsets are becoming an extension of body and mind, creating a Cyborg-like population”.

You only have to realize how they spend their entire days surrounded by and using computers, videogames, digital music players, cell phones, tablets and all the other toys and tools of the digital age. Computer games, email, the Internet, social media and instant messaging are integral parts of their lives. They grow up with this new technology. They are Digital Natives. [Marc Prensky (2001a2001b) employs an analogy of native speakers and immigrants to describe the generation gap separating today’s students (the “Digital Natives”) from their teachers (the “Digital Immigrants”).]

Prensky defines Digital Natives as those born into an innate “new culture” while the digital immigrants are old-world settlers, who have lived in the analogue age and immigrated to the digital world.

Here is an image of a mind map created to show the differences between Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants:   (click to enlarge)

Mind-Map-2eep58z-1024x378

Digital Natives are used to receiving information really fast. They like to parallel process and multi-task. They prefer their graphics before their text rather than the opposite. They prefer random access (like hypertext). They function best when networked. They thrive on instant gratification and frequent rewards. They prefer games to “serious” work. The following infographic takes a look at today’s kids as compared to the children of the past:     Click here

The single biggest problem facing education today is that our Digital Immigrant teachers, who speak an outdated language (that of the pre-digital age), are struggling to teach a population that speaks an entirely new language.

Parents live with it. Teachers see it daily. You can’t observe young people and not notice how smoothly and seamlessly they dive into new Web 2.0 communication technologies. With a flick of the cell phone, they share more texts, photos, music, and video than any other demographic group on Earth. Either way, the teachers, moms, and dads among us find ourselves on the outside peering into a world we neither know nor understand. Too often, we draw conclusions that miss the point — and the promise — of what these new communication tools offer. Sound familiar? Perhaps it’s time for all of us to explore the Web 2.0 frontier.

digital-natives-copy

Digital Natives accustomed to the twitch-speed, multitasking, random-access, graphics-first, active, connected, fun, fantasy, quick-payoff world of their video games, social networking sites (facebook, tuenti, twitter, etc.), and Internet are bored by most of today’s education, well-meaning as it may be. But worse, the many skills that new technologies have actually enhanced (e.g., parallel processing, graphics awareness, and random access)—which have profound implications for their learning—are almost totally ignored by educators. Digital Immigrants typically have very little appreciation for these new skills that the Natives have acquired and perfected through years of interaction and practice. Every time Digital Natives go to school they have to power down.

Digital Natives1

The possible solutions will be discussed in the next post.

SOURCES:

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

Is there a future for the paper dictionary? …

Macmillan Dictionaries will no longer appear as physical books. The final copies are rolling off the presses at this very moment, and from next year, Macmillan Dictionary will be available only online.

 Is there a future for the paper dictionary or, like the encyclopedia, will it soon become a 20th century relic? Beyond this, will dictionaries in any form survive, as digital natives increasingly use the Web as their primary source of lexical information?

What is your answer? …. (clue: look what happened to encyclopedias)

The CD-ROM dictionary was first produced about twenty years ago, followed by other handheld devices. But the Web has now taken a more central role, generating significant ‘external’ effects and creating a completely new, and still emerging, paradigm.

Liberated from space constraints and taking advantage of multimedia and hyperlinking, the electronic dictionary’s range is infinite, affording the possibility of a multilayered approach to defining words that demonstrates to the user the many ways in which it can be encoded. Online dictionaries, replete with pronunciation aids, sound effects and games, have the capacity to offer the user a far more holistic experience than their paper counterparts. Furthermore, online dictionaries can be effortlessly current, staying really up to date (not once in 5 years o more)

What do we lose? …..

  • Users Dictionary as ‘authority.
  • Too much information? Needs careful management.

The future is already here … but is it for everybody?

http://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/top-stories/macmillan-phase-out-printed-dictionaries

www.macmillandictionaryblog.com

“Who needs dictionaries?” 

 

Educate, engage and inspire your students with video!

YouTube’s educational section, YouTube EDU, is a valuable resource for schools. Now, It’s launching YouTube for Schools, an easy way for schools to access educational videos while restricting access to other content. YouTube for Schools is:

  • Comprehensive: Access over 500,000 free videos from over 700 YouTube EDU partners. These partners range from well-known educational organizations like StanfordTED and PBS to up-and-coming YouTube partners with millions of views, like Khan AcademySteve Spangler Science, andNumberphile.
  • School-appropriate: Students can only access YouTube EDU videos. Related videos and comments are disabled.
  • Customizable: Administrators and teachers can log-in and get full access to YouTube. They can also add videos that will be viewable only within your school’s network.
Visit YouTube.com/Schools today!

YouTube for Schools: Join the Global Classroom Today!

Youtube para centros educativos

Youtube es el portal de mayor difusión de vídeos de breve duración, de gran popularidad a nivel general y de utilidad en el aula tras la selección previa por parte del docente.

Desde hace unos meses, el propio servicio ofrece una sección para centros educativos, http://www.youtube.com/schools, por la que se accede a miles de vídeos educativos de canales diseñados al efecto para diversas materias, como PBS, TED o Khan Academy, en un entorno en el que los contenidos son controlados en todo momento por el profesor. De esta forma, se pueden evitar vídeos inapropiados y centrar las búsquedas.

Youtube cuenta también con un canal específico para profesores: http://www.youtube.com/teachers, que presenta las ventajas del uso de vídeos en las diferentes asignaturas y ofrece la consulta y creación de listas de reproducción por parte de profesores y alumnos. Está organizado en cuatro áreas de conocimiento para varios niveles educativos, si bien la búsqueda de contenidos por materias se puede vehicular de forma más extensiva a través de http://www.youtube.com/education.  Este canal de educación abarca diversos ámbitos académicos, distribuidos en enseñanza primaria y secundaria, nivel universitario y formación continua, así como en disciplinas específicas. Asimismo, se pueden consultar variados vídeos relativos a metodología didáctica a través del canal http://www.youtube.com/teachingchannel. Otra herramienta para la selección de vídeos, que contiene mayoritariamente grabaciones de Youtube aunque también de otras fuentes, es http://www.watchknowlearn.org. A través de este portal se accede a gran cantidad de vídeos exclusivamente educativos que están clasificados en un directorio temático muy práctico. Así, para la enseñanza de lenguas extranjeras, el profesor puede escoger entre varios idiomas y, a continuación, explorar las diversas categorías de estudio: vídeos de conversación, lecciones de gramática, dibujos para niños o canciones, entre otras. En la elección de vídeos de Youtube cuentan los tiempos, ya que una duración más breve puede facilitar la explicación y el debate en clase, así como la realización de más actividades complementarias en el laboratorio de idiomas. Las ventajas para los alumnos no son solo de tipo motivacional, dado que están acostumbrados a consultar todo tipo de contenido audiovisual; está demostrado que una correcta secuenciación de este material favorece el estudio de la asignatura. En efecto, el trabajo con vídeos educativos suele generar un mayor compromiso del alumno con los contenidos de la materia, así como un aprendizaje más exhaustivo y duradero.

http://www.youtube.com/teachers

http://www.youtube.com/schools

http://www.watchknowlearn.org/