Thursday, April 17

Student Blogging 101: Part 2

I’d like to take this opportunity to brag about my students in my Web Design class. Like any proud teacher, I like to show off their work and share their accomplishments with my colleagues and other interested educators. My students are just finishing a unit on blogging and I must say that they have all done an outstanding job. Their assignment (which you can find on our class blogwas to create a blog on a topic of their choosing. Students blogged about many interesting topics such as baking, nutrition, beaches, skin care, sports, and superheroes. (Most are complete - a few still in the development process.)

As an introduction to the unit, students viewed a few short videos about blogging. We then discussed the differences (and similarities) between blogging and more traditional modes of communication such as PowerPoint, essays, newspapers, magazines etc. We also discussed the potential challenges that they might encounter while blogging. For example, students had to become skilled at how to create effective blog posts. An effective blog post, they learned, is developed as a “conversation starter.” The were asked to develop posts that were robust with information and written in such a way as to encourage reader comments and effective online dialogue.   

Learning how to respectfully participate in this form of online “conversation” was another challenge that the students had to consider.  Crafting comments (on their classmates’ blogs) that were both positive and valuable to the online-discussion was certainly a challenge that many students had difficulty with initially. However, with more practice, they soon became quite adept at submitting comments that developed into some very interesting (and respectful) online-conversations. 

Another challenge with blogging (as with any other online medium) is that blogs should be designed to be visually appealing. The more “artsy” students had little difficulty with this requirement but some of the other students were a bit more intimidated. Fortunately, with Google Blogger, adding images and color and making use of the pre-set layouts, makes this challenge fairly easy to master.  Using Animoto, students also created their own "videos" about their topic. They were also encouraged to explore other tools such as PowToon and Bitstrips to add some "flair" to their blogs.

So, grab a cup of coffee, relax and take some time to visit a few of my students’ blogs. (Leave them a comment if you're so inclined - they'd love it!) You’ll find them to be creative, informative, and often times, witty. As you view their sites , please think of how you might be able to incorporate blogging into your curriculum. Might an assignment that typically requires your students to write an essay or to create a PowerPoint lend itself well to blogging? Do you have students that struggle with writing assignments? If so, consider blogging. My experience with these students is that they become completely engaged when blogging. They put a lot of effort into researching their topics and developing the content for their posts.  
If you’d like to include blogging in your curriculum and would like help doing so, please let me know and I can help you and your class get started. 

Wednesday, April 16

PowToons / YouTube video

Please Don't judge me on my first PowToon video; I'm a work in progress.....


If you're interested in learning more about using PowToons (and how to upload to our DS YouTube Channel) please let me know. You and your students can have fun while learning!!

Monday, April 14

Social Media: Strategies & Best Practices for Business & Educators

As mentioned in one of my previous posts, I'm in the process of developing a course on social media that will be offered to our high school students in September. One of the units that I'm developing
image from:
focuses on the influence that social media has on the business sector. Students will explore social media strategies as well as best practices for both large and small companies. Students will analyze these companies to see which social media strategies resulted in success and those that resulted in failures. Students will also explore career options in the social media field.

As an educator, you will find many of these articles useful as you contemplate your own social media strategies. How will you incorporate social media into your curriculum? How will you use social media to communicate with your students and their parents? How will you use social media as a means to develop your Personal Learning Network and take control of your professional development?

The websites listed below are a few of the articles that I've come across (thanks to everyone that I follow Twitter) that you may find useful as you begin to take advantage of all the resources that social media has to offer. All these sites are available on my Diigo Library as well. I add new resources to my library fairly often so please visit and help yourself to any resources that you may find useful.

Wednesday, April 9

DIY Professional Development Resources for Educators

I’m going to my first EdCampBoston in just a few weeks! What is EdCamp, you might ask? According to their website, it’s a “free professional development unconference for teachers by teachers.”  Participants basically create the schedule for that day based on their interests. It provides an opportunity for educators to share in peer-to-peer collaboration and to broaden their professional network. An opportunity for educators to be in control of their own professional development! Sounds wonderful doesn't it? Considering that the tickets (over 300) for this year’s Boston “unconference” sold out in just 6 hours, a lot of educators apparently do think it’s a fabulous opportunity!

Having received my “golden ticket” to this year’s “unconference” prompted me to start thinking about professional development (PD). What is its purpose/objective? How is PD deployed at most districts/my district? And, most important, what can teachers do to ensure that they are engaged in PD opportunities that meet their needs?

While my district does an admirable job in planning for and providing PD opportunities, there still exists the issue of “so much to do/learn and so little time.” Much of our PD time is spent on UbD, DDMs, and the latest evaluation requirements. (Thank goodness this isn't a NEASC year - that sucks up all the available PD time!) Educators can feel frustrated with all that they’d like to do and learn versus the reality that it’s just not always possible. I encourage those educators that would like to get a little more control of their PD to “get social.” There is a vast collection of great resources available to educators on just about any topic - online - for free. Making connections with like-interested educators is as easy as signing up for an account on Twitter, Pinterest, Diigo or Instagram, to name just a few excellent social media tools. There are countless blogs written by educators that are passionate about teaching that you can easily follow to obtain new ideas and insights on just about any educational topic. 

The websites listed below are a few of the articles that I've come across (thanks to those fabulous educators that I follow on Twitter) that you may find useful as you begin to take advantage of all the resources that social media has to offer. All these sites are available on my Diigo Library as well. I add new resources to my library fairly often so please visit and help yourself to any resources that you may find useful.