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Blogging

Page history last edited by Bill 11 years ago

Blogging in the Classroom

 

'I like the fact that we are making stuff that people in Japan could read if they have a computer.  It's like we're making ourselves famous in our little, out-of-the-way town!' -- Megan, Age 10.

 

'Our student is genuinely excited to come home and show us what's going on at school. To read his own words and listen to his own voice on the Internet makes it all more real and fascinating for him. This knowledge will help him to better utilize these resources, increase his understanding and awareness of the technologies, and keep us parents in the loop :-)'—Jim, Parent

 

 


 

 

What are we doing?

In collaboration with my colleague Mike Hutchinson, I have begun to introduce the tools of the Read/Write web to my students. Specifically, my class is now blogging and podcasting. Blogging and podcasting has allowed me to create a forum where my students discuss current events connected to our social studies curriculum while developing language arts skills like critical thinking and persuasive dialogue. It has also given my students the opportunity to be creators—rather than simply consumers—of online content. Finally, blogging and podcasting have given my students an audience for their ideas, which has increased levels of interest and motivation.

 

 

How Do We Do It?

  • We used the book Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools by Will Richardson as our technical manual.
  • We use a program called Audacity (http://audacity.sourceforge.net) to record our students. Audacity allows users to covert recorded files into MP3s. It is a very simple program that our children are quickly beginning to master. We are also planning to switch to Gcast (http://www.gcast.com) or Gabcast (http://www.gabcast.com) for recordings in the future because they require nothing but a cell phone to make and post recordings online.
  • Once students have written a script for a podcast episode, production takes approximately 15-20 minutes. Much of this work is done during a school-wide "working lunch" period.
  • To protect their anonymity, students come up with pseudonyms for themselves. This is one of their favorite parts of podcasting. "Melvin the Chicken Hunter" and "Smokey the Cat" are quickly becoming stars in our digital universe!
  • When the MP3 has been recorded and saved, we post it—along with a written summary—on our classroom blog. To teach students about the importance of verifying online information, we require that each entry include a link to online source material—allowing listeners to form their own opinions about our topic of study.
  • We use Typepad (www.typepad.com)—a subscription service—to host our blogs because it allows for easy upload of MP3 files. Many free blogging services do not allow enclosures.

 

 

 

Why It Matters?

  • Technology will always be a carrot in middle school classrooms: In a recent survey, 92% of our students described blogging and podcasting as one of their favorite parts of social studies, 86% wished we spent more time on blogging and podcasting, and 81% wished other teachers started blogging and podcasting. This level of motivation allows for unparalleled engagement in our classrooms.
  • Technology has provided students with a new audience for their ideas: All too often, the use of technology in classrooms is limited to presentation tools or document production. The collaboration and communication elements of the Read/Write web are often overlooked. Blogging and podcasting provides students with wide audiences for their ideas—we've had 50,000 page views from 123 countries in just over 15 months of writing)—and 98% of our students find it exciting that we are creating information that other people can read online. Allowing students to become a part of the dissemination of information in a new frontier is a valuable lesson for 21st Century learners.
  • Technology has generated increased interest in classroom content: In our digital world, it has become increasingly difficult to engage children in meaningful studies of content. Technology, however, has made that possible for us. 91% of our students agree that blogging and podcasting have made them more interested in current events and classroom content. Interestingly enough, podcasting has engaged children beyond our classrooms as well—100% of parents surveyed report that their children seem interested in online current events and 71% report that their children often explore their classroom blog and podcasts while at home. 

 

 

Most importantly, podcasting matters because digital media and the tools of the 21st Century are rapidly becoming the primary method of communication and influence in the world. It is estimated that over 100,000 new blogs are created each day. Roughly 54,000 new articles are posted by bloggers each hour. Understanding how to become a contributing member and a critical consumer of information in this digital universe is essential to the success of our students.

 

As eSchool News recently wrote, "Educators, economists, and forecasters all agree on the growing importance of so-called "21st-century skills" in the workplace. While reading, writing, and arithmetic will always form the foundation of any solid education, digital communication and media literacy are on the verge of being elevated to the same level of importance. In addition to requiring advanced skills in reading and math, the employers of tomorrow are going to require a high degree of digital and multimedia fluency."

 

 

 

Using Feed Readers

 

Feed readers are probably the most important digital tool for today's learner because they make sifting through the amazing amount of content added to the Internet easy.  Also known as aggregators, feed readers are free tools that can automatically check nearly any website for new content dozens of times a day---saving ridiculous amounts of time and customizing learning experiences for anyone. 

 

Imagine never having to go hunting for new information from your favorite sources again.  Learning goes from a frustrating search through thousands of marginal links written by questionable characters to quickly browsing the thoughts of writers that you trust, respect and enjoy.

 

Sounds too good to be true, doesn't it?

 

It's not!  Here's a Commoncraft tutorial explaining RSS Feeds in Plain English:

 

Feed readers can quickly and easily support blogging in the classroom, allowing teachers to provide students with ready access to age-appropriate sites of interest that are connected to the curriculum.  By collecting sites in advance and organizing them with a feed reader, teachers can make accessing information manageable for their students. 

Here are several examples of feed readers in action:

 

Student Blogs

http://www.pageflakes.com/wferriter/20982438

 

 

This feed list includes several elementary, middle and high school blogs that students can explore during silent reading or while online at home.

 

 

Current Events 

http://www.pageflakes.com/wferriter/16714925

 

This feed list includes links to several news websites that cover topics that are a part of one teacher's required social studies curriculum. 

 

Global Warming

http://www.pageflakes.com/wferriter/22534539

Used specifically as a part of one classroom project, this feed list contains information related to global warming that students can use as a starting point for individual research. 

 

While there are literally dozens of different feed reader programs to choose from (Bloglines and Google Reader are two biggies), Pageflakes is a favorite of many educators because it has a visual layout that is easy to read and interesting to look at.  It is also free and web-based.  That means that users can check accounts from any computer with an Internet connection.  Finally, Pageflakes makes it quick and easy to add new websites to a growing feed list—and to get rid of any websites that users are no longer interested in.

What's even better:  Pageflakes has been developing a teacher version of their tool just for us that includes an online grade tracker, a task list and a built in writing tutor.  As Pageflakes works to perfect its teacher product, this might become one of the first kid-friendly feed readers on the market. Teacher Pageflakes users can actually blog and create a discussion forum directly in their feed reader---making an all-in-one digital home for students. 

 

For more information about the teacher version of Pageflakes, check out this review:

 

http://teacherleaders.typepad.com/the_tempered_radical/2008/02/pageflakes-for.html

 

 

For more information on using feed readers to organize and manage information, check out this handout: 

 

Handout_Feed Readers.pdf

 

 

 

Pageflakes as a Blogging Application

 

What makes Pageflakes even more powerful as a tool for teachers is that it enables users to embed blogs and discussion boards directly into their collection of aggregated feeds.  That means teachers can use Pageflakes to resources about the content that they are studying AND create forums for student blogging in the exact same place. 

 

The benefits to students of such an "all-in-one" approach to classroom blogging are many.  First, the collection of feeds assembled in a subject-specific flake provide a never-ending source of content for new entries---eliminating one of the greatest challenges for student bloggers:  finding something to write about.  Equally important, the blogging tool in Pageflakes is remarkably approachable.  While there are fewer "bells and whistles" available for students to enhance their blog content, "bells and whistles" can often overwhelm or confuse student bloggers.  Pageflakes keeps blogging simple---and simple is almost always a good thing. 

 

Finally, teachers who use Pageflakes for blogging projects find that monitoring student contributions is incredibly manageable.  Whether a child is creating a blog alone or multiple peers are writing together, teachers can direct attention to one website and instantly see new entries---written alongside the articles that served as sources for student responses. 

 

For a sample of what blogging with Pageflakes can look like, check out this link---where a 7th grade social studies student is reading and writing about Africa:

 

http://www.pageflakes.com/plugusin/24938193

 

 

 

Blog Commenting

 

One of the mistakes that teachers make when introducing blogs to their students is forgetting that blogging is about more than simply writing!  Good bloggers work to become a part of communities of learners, regularly reading and responding to posts written by others.  By doing so, students have the opportunity to see reflective writing in action.  What's more, they have the opportunity to begin to polish their own thinking on topics of interest by leaving comments for other bloggers. 

 

Jeff Utecht---the educational technology expert behind The Thinking Stick---argues that becoming active readers and commenters is the single greatest key to ensuring that classroom blogging projects are sustainable.  Students who make regular efforts to join in digital conversations started by other writers feel a sense of community and commitment that doesn't often happen in classrooms that are focused simply on publishing new posts.  What's more, commenting regularly on posts written by other writers helps to generate new readers for your own blogging projects who are interested in the intersection of ideas between students in different classrooms and communities. 

 

Blog commenting, however, is not a skill that students naturally master.  Comfortable with the informal language that they've adopted in other digital forums, novice bloggers will often post blog comments that are inconsequential or irrelevant.  Early comments can also be riddled with errors and difficult to understand.  To change this, teachers must actively teach their students to become effective blog commenters.

 

This handout may help you to do just that:

 

Handout_Blog_Comments.doc

 

 

Scribe Posting

 

Often, the greatest challenge that teachers interested in using new digital tools in the classroom face is finding an easy and approachable project to pursue that supports learning without overwhelming anyone!  That can be particularly true with blogging efforts simply because blogs---like any website---require constant attention and new content in order to maintain momentum and to draw new readers.  When blogs aren't regularly updated, they essentially die---and that failure can cause great pressure and shame for teachers and students originally jazzed by the potential to become creators of content. 

 

One teacher who successfully mastered this content challenge in his digital work is high school math teacher Darren Kuropatwa.  Kuropatwa decided early on to focus his classroom blogging efforts on something called scribe posts.  Scribe posts are nothing more than daily summaries of the content covered in class each day.  Kuropatwa's shared the student directions for scribe posts---as well as his general approach to classroom scribing---in this post on his professional blog:

 

Write a brief summary of what we learned in class today. Include enough detail so that someone who was away sick, or missed class for any other reason, can catch up on what they missed. Over the course of the semester, the scribe posts will grow into the textbook for the course; written by students for students. Remember that as each of you write your scribe posts. Ask yourself: "Is this good enough for our textbook? Would a graphic or other example(s) help illustrate what we learned?" And remember, you have a global audience, impress them.

 

What makes scribe posting so powerful as a starting point for classroom blogging is that it doesn't require a remarkable amount of digital savvy or complicated planning.  Student scribes simply create a record of each day's lessons.  Teachers nudge scribes to complete their work, offer feedback, and include grades for posts as they are completed.  The low entry point for scribe posting makes first steps more approachable for everyone. 

 

The benefits of scribe posting, however, are many.  To begin, students assigned as daily scribes are immediately engaged in reflection about classroom content.  The very act of articulating thinking through writing forces students to carefully listen and record thinking during class---and then wrestle with the best ways to share new learning with peers.  Knowing that their work will have an audience of critical friends, student scribes often invest incredible effort into each entry.  An element of friendly competition develops between classmates interested in creating entries that are more impressive than those of their peers.

 

As Kuropatwa writes:

 

When a student is scribe they take particularly good class notes and think deeply about what they learned that day. The process of writing their scribe (we've created a new use for that noun) forces them to reflect on their learning and work to articulate the lesson as though they were teaching it. The paradigm in medical school is "watch it, do it, teach it." My students have brought that paradigm into our classes. Students have told me that they spend upwards of an hour composing their scribe post -- that's a lot of deep thinking to do for just one class! Since the work is distributed across the entire class I guess they're more willing to invest a lot of time once every few weeks -- they all come out ahead this way.

 

Scribe posts also provide a reflective starting point for every student in Kuropatwa's class.  Because entries record concepts learned over the course of an entire semester, students can constantly return to concepts that were personally challenging and learn from the writing of their classmates.  Better yet, students can scan scribe posts for accuracy and use the comment section of each blog post to work through intellectual discrepancies.  As errors are discovered, collective efforts to develop shared understandings can make for powerful, asynchronous conversations about content between students. Finally, students who are absent in scribing classrooms always have sets of notes that they can refer to when getting caught up---and interested parents can use scribe posts as a window into classroom happenings.

 

Scribe posting, however, doesn't just improve the learning of students in Kuropatwa's classroom.  As he explained in this post, scribe posting has also made him a better practitioner:

 

The scribe posts have allowed me to see how and where students are struggling with the material. Face-to-face, some students say they don't understand anything from a particular lesson. But when they have to scribe that class we both learn they understand a lot more than they thought they did. This has allowed me to provide detailed and focused feedback to a student to: (a) help them learn and (b) give their self-esteem a boost because I can honestly say they have a better grasp of the material than they thought. Contrast this to the typical oral feedback I get from underconfident students: "I don't understand any of it."

 

In the end, scribe posting may be the perfect place for you to begin a classroom blogging project.  You'll be creating opportunities for students to engage in deep reflection and ongoing conversations about the content that you cover in class.  Your blog will remain an active place, with new entries posted nearly every day.  Your parents will have the chance to learn more about your curriculum and absent students will be able to get caught up quickly and easily.  Perhaps most importantly, you'll get an inside look into the concepts that your students have mastered, as well as the concepts that they continue to struggle with.

 

Sound good?

 

Then spend a few minutes exploring the scribe posts created by Kuropatwa's 2007-2008 AP Calculus students:

 

 

http://apcalc07.blogspot.com/search/label/Scribe

 

 

You can use these entries as samples for your own students as you begin to explain the role that you'd like scribe posts to play in their learning!

 

 

Iron Scribing

 

Being naturally driven, I'm always looking for ways to incorporate competitive elements into my instruction.  While this approach may run contrary to the philosophies of some educators, I've found that competition in the classroom engages a range of students that may have otherwise gone unnoticed.  Competition is particularly motivating to my middle school boys, a group of students whose struggles with academic engagement and performance have been overlooked in recent years. 

 

One competitive extension of the scribe posting described above is a twist on the popular competitive television series, The Iron Chefs.  In the series, professional chefs engage in a "culinary battle" against identified masters----creating dishes using surprise ingredients in a short period of time.  When the masters and their opponents have completed their creations, judges rate each dish and determine a winner.  What makes the series so interesting is that the masters are rarely defeated----so anytime a competitor can pull off a victory, it's an automatic and memorable upset. 

 

Translating that concept to the classroom, teachers can identify 10 "Iron Scribes" from their classes.  These students should be known experts and accomplished students.  Each day, a new Iron Scribe can be chosen to create a blog entry describing the key principles of an individual lesson.  These posts should be detailed and accurate---including links to additional content or multimedia elements that extend understanding.  Like the work of the Iron Chefs, posts created by Iron Scribes should be of the highest quality----almost beyond criticism. 

 

To increase motivation, Iron Scribes can be rewarded in several ways.  Perhaps most importantly to students, Iron Scribes can be exempted from daily homework assignments when engaged in "intellectual battles."  While teachers may be concerned by allowing students to miss tasks, the act of creating a scribe post is easily as valuable---and probably more meaningful---than most traditional homework assignments.  Students scribing are engaged in deep reflection and content articulation----which are both higher level thinking skills. 

 

Iron Scribes can also be allowed to work on posts during the class period, perhaps sitting at the teacher's desk and/or computer while working.  The act of separating the scribe from the rest of the class heightens the prestige of the position and the desire on the part of the remaining students to find errors in the work of the expert.  Alternative seating and grading for scribes is a public reward that may add extra motivation and excitement to the classroom competition. 

 

The remainder of the students on a team can be charged with trying to "defeat" the Iron Scribe by reading daily posts and trying to identify essential content that the scribe overlooked or reported incorrectly.  Challengers can also try to find ways to clarify or elaborate on key points made by Iron Scribes.  Comments can be left on each post detailing the factual inaccuracies or omissions of an entry, and teachers or community experts can judge whether an Iron Scribe has successfully defended his position as a master of content or been defeated---and replaced---by a challenger. 

 

Perhaps one of the greatest advantages of Iron Scribing is that it creates an opportunity for academically-driven students to compete and be recognized for their skills.  Often playing second-fiddle to athletic victories, scholarly competitions are either non-existant or treated as unimportant in many buildings.  At its best, Iron Scribing may just elevate academic performance in the eyes of your students.  At the very least, it will provide a much-needed competitive outlet for students not drawn to athletics. 

 

And while it's highly unlikely that all students will embrace the Iron Scribe competition, there are direct benefits for your entire classroom:

 

  1. Iron scribe posts provide a complete record of classroom happenings that can be used by absent students---or students with incomplete notes---to review content.
  2. Iron scribe posts provide study-guides that students can use to prepare for exams or to find content for projects.
  3. Iron scribe posts can serve as vehicles for home/school communication.  Parents can refer to posts to learn more about classroom happenings.
  4. Iron scribing provides perfect opportunities for differentiation and enrichment.  Students who finish tasks early can review scribe posts and draft challenge comments. 

 

For all of these reasons, Iron Scribing might just be worth exploring----even if you've always been philosophically opposed to competitive classroom environments!

 

 

Choosing a Blog Service

 

(The following description of blog services was created by Bill Ferriter for a course on blogging for Pearson Education.)

 

One of the first decisions that teachers interested in blogging with students must make is which blog service to use...and you'll quickly learn that not all blog services are “created equally.”  Some are primarily designed as tools for schools, providing greater levels of security for both teachers and students.  Others make it easy to embed a wide range of audio and video content--making blogs more interesting and engaging.  While all include the same basic features---easy editing, publishing and commenting---you've still gprovide greater levels of security for teachers and students because they are primarily designed as tools for schools.  Others allow users to upload and embed different kinds of media files, making content more creative and engaging.  While all will include the same basic features—easy editing, publishing and commenting—you’ve still got do a bit of thinking about blog services before diving in!

 

Three common blog services used by teachers and students are listed below.  Spend some time using page 16 of your participant workbook to explore each and decide which will meet your needs the best:

 

1.     Blogger (http://www.blogger.com):  Blogger is one of the most widely embraced blogging applications primarily because it is a Google product—providing a level of synchronicity to users who already have a Google account for other services such as Gmail or Google Video.  Creating your blog with Google also provides a measure of comfort—you know you’ll never lose years worth of writing and reflection because your blog provider closes unexpectedly one day! 

 

Blogger provides many of the most common features to its users.  You’ll be able to edit and post reflections without any troubles at all while logged in to Blogger.  The Blogger toolbar looks nearly identical to the toolbar you’d see in any word processing program.  

What’s more, you’ll be able to select from a range of different comment moderation settings.  You might decide to open commenting up to anyone who finds your site…or to leave commenting closed completely.  You might also choose a popular middle ground for school blogs:  Leaving commenting open, but requiring that comments be moderated before making their way onto your blog.  

Perhaps the greatest drawback to Blogger is that it is sometimes blocked by school and district firewalls!  Blogger also does not allow users to upload documents directly to their blogs.  While content can be posted in other places and linked in Blogger, there is no storage space available to users for files.    

Interested in seeing how Blogger looks in action?  Then check out The Fisch Bowl, a professional development blog being maintained by Karl Fisch and the teachers of Arapahoe High School:  http://thefischbowl.blogspot.com/

 

 

2.    Edublogs (http://edublogs.org): Edublogs is rapidly becoming one of the most popular blog services for teachers and students because of its slick templates and “school-friendly” feel. 

 

Over 100,000 educators have already taken the Edublogs plunge—and each has access to an incredibly friendly editing and publishing tools as well as opportunities to set different levels of comment moderation.  Users are also given storage space for files of any kind—perfect for uploading handouts or classroom recordings.

Many users also love the fact that Edublogs is made “by educators, for educators.”  Constant conversations on how to make blogging a permanent and productive part of teaching and learning take place in forums that include some of the world’s most tech-savvy teachers.  Edublogs is equal parts pedagogy and product—a combination that many other blog services simply can’t offer.  

The greatest challenge that Edublogs faces is keeping up with demand!  Thousands of users mean that Edublog servers are pretty busy places—and that accessing your blog can sometimes be a slow and frustrating process.

Interested in seeing how Edublogs looks in action?  Then check out Weblogg-ed, the blog of one of the most famous Edublog users:  Instructional Tech Guru Will Richardson:  http://weblogg-ed.com/ 

 

 

3.    Class Blogmeister (http://classblogmeister.com/):  Class Blogmeister is, perhaps, one of the most unique free blogging services available to teachers and students primarily because it makes blogging by students incredibly easy. 

 

On Blogmeister, teachers create a main page and enroll students as users who can post selections to the classroom blog automatically.  This eliminates the need for students to have their own accounts or blogs—something that many teachers and parents are uncomfortable with.  

Blogmeister also works to create a “community feel” by providing links to other classroom blogs and a list of entries recently created by users.  This makes reading and responding to blogs easy for educators and students.  Quick access to age-appropriate content is almost always available.  

Perhaps the greatest drawback to Blogmeister is that their blog templates are decidedly low-tech.  While users can post entries, links and files easily, the final product is not visually impressive—which can turn off students who are used to far more engaging websites.  

Interested in seeing how Blogmeister looks in action?  Then check out this classroom blog being created and maintained by a fifth grade classroom in New York:  http://classblogmeister.com/blog.php?blog_id=281647

 

 

 

Adding Jazz to Your Blog

 

 

 

Half the battle for teachers that tackle blogging is keeping the content interesting for students.  While text only entries on curriculuar related topics allow students to practice reflective writing, today's kids are driven by multimedia.  The following tools may help you to keep your posts engaging and to allow your students to show what they're learning in new and i

 

 

Gabcast

http://www.gabcast.com

 

 

 

Gabcast makes podcasting easy!  After setting up a free account, teachers and students can make audio recordings for their blog with nothing more than access to a phone.  Gabcast literally walks users step-by-step through the process of recording, stores files automatically on their site and provides embeddable text that you can use to include your recordings in posts on any blog service.  If you’re using Blogger, you can even have Gabcast post your new recordings directly in your blog!

 

 

Here’s a post from The Tempered Radical introducing Gabcast.  It also includes an embedded Gabcast recording that the Radical made while driving across Raleigh: 

http://teacherleaders.typepad.com/the_tempered_radical/2008/01/random-babbling.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gcast

http://www.gcast.com

 

 

 

Gcast is a service that functions much like Gabcast.  Users can create a free account allowing them to make recordings by phone.  Gcast then provides users with embeddable text for including recordings in blog posts.  

 

 

So why do you need to know about Gcast if you’ve already discovered Gabcast?

 

Because one of the two is bound to be blocked by your district’s server!

 

 

Voki

http://www.voki.com

 

 

 

Voki is a free service that is bound to appeal to middle grades students everywhere because it allows users to create talking avatars using nothing but a phone.  After setting up an account—which are limited to people 16 years of age and older, so you’ll likely have to create a classroom account and supervise student use—your kids will be able to record one minute messages and attach them to talking hot dogs, blood-sucking vampires, afro-sporting athletes or famous figures from history.  

 

 

Vokis are great for introducing or responding to blog posts.  They are also great for short public service announcements on topics of interest.  

 

Here’s a post from The Blurb that includes a Voki.  It is a public service announcement designed to introduce viewers to the genocide occurring in Darfur:

http://guysread.typepad.com/theblurb/2008/02/ac_voki_embed20.html

 

 

 

 

 

Animoto

http://animoto.com

 

 

 

Animoto is a simple tool that allows users to quickly create interesting photo montages that resemble MTV music videos.  The advantage of using Animoto is that users need absolutely no video editing skills at all.  To create a video, simply upload images, select a music track from Animoto’s podsafe music collection and hit the “Produce” button.  Within minutes, you’ll have a short, engaging video complete with flashy transitions that you can embed as a hook for a blog post. 

 

 

Here’s a post from The Blurb that includes an Animoto.  It spotlights the flags of the EU member nations:

http://guysread.typepad.com/theblurb/2008/01/lets-get-our-an.html

 

 

 

 

 

Teacher Tube

http://www.teachertube.com

 

 

 

Few content elements are as engaging to students as embedded videos.  With the advent of YouTube and affordable hand-held video cameras, almost everyone has jumped into digital moviemaking.  Teacher Tube makes sharing those videos through your blog easy and approachable.  After creating a free account, you’ll be able to upload video files that you’ve created and then get embeddable code to include in your blog posts.  

 

 

Here’s a post from the Plug Me In crew that includes a Papercraft Tutorial on the International Space Station that is stored at Teacher Tube:

http://plugmein.edublogs.org/archives/42

 

 

 

 

And here’s a similar post from The Blurb that includes a Papercraft Tutorial on giant snowmen taking over the North Pole that is also stored at Teacher Tube:

http://guysread.typepad.com/theblurb/2007/12/giant-snowmen-t.html

 

 

 

 

 

Garageband

http://www.garageband.com

 

 

 

One of the greatest challenges for students and teachers who tackle podcasting or digital moviemaking is finding what is known as “podsafe” music.  Podsafe music includes tracks artists have licensed for free use without copyright restrictions.  Garageband makes tackling that challenge easy, providing thousands of tracks across genres from up-and-coming musicians that can be downloaded and used in a range of digital applications—including podcast programs and videos created by your students.

 

 

 

 

Parent and Student Quotes about Blogging and Podcasting:

 

 

Parents

 

"I think it is so interesting and creative to hear each child's discussion on current events with the podcasts. I enjoy hearing their opinions on different topics. They really seem to be having fun while learning so much, which I think is important."

 

"I believe that podcasts are a great opportunity for the kids to share their work with others and broaden their horizons while learning more about technology. They are a good way to get the kids to interact with each other about class subjects they normally wouldn't discuss. It is also a great way for the kids to retain what they have learned."

 

"I believe these Internet tools are the way of the future, and that they are being incorporated into the classroom curricula is great. My child is very comfortable using the system and often asks us to check it out with him."

 

"In today's information age, it is very important to keep up with the ever changing technology to enhance our learning capabilities. I think your effort in guiding our children into the new world of high tech is encouraging."

 

Students

 

"I have never done anything in school with podcasts and wikis, and before this class, I didn't even know what they were.  I think that it is one of the best resources I have ever used in a classroom, and it is very interesting and exciting that we can share it with other people. I think that I would be proudest of the podcasts, though, because anyone all over the world can look at our work, and hear our opinions.  Altogether, I think using technology in the classroom is a great, and fun idea."

 

"I am proud about our wiki and podcasts.  They prove that kids can do work without getting asked and that is cool.  I like the podcasts the most though because you can hear what us, the kids, think about diffrent current events."

 

"I think the most radical thing about the podcasts is that you put them on iTunes!! That is so cool! Then people can hear us on their MP3 player or I-pod. The other cool thing is that people can subscribe to us in our podcasting, so whenever we make a new podcast it can go directly to them! This makes me feel like we are teaching people."

 

 

Handouts

 

Teacher Tips for Blogging Projects

Handout_TeacherTipsBloggingProjects.pdf

 

While classroom blogging projects are becoming increasingly common in schools, they are often short-lived and unsuccessful efforts. This collection of tips and tricks will help to ensure that your blogging efforts can be sustained over the long run.

 

 

Posting Entries in Blogger

Handout_PostingBlogEntries.pdf

 

One of the more popular blogging services that is available to students and teachers is Blogger---a web-based application created and maintained by Google.  This set of directions walks readers through the steps involved in adding a post to a blog hosted in Blogger. 

 

 

Teacher Checklist for Blogging Projects

Handout_TeacherChecklistBloggingProjects.pdf

 

Blogging is one of the most accessible digital projects to tackle. Because it mirrors work that most teachers are already having students do in class—producing written content—blogging projects are a natural first-step for digital novices. These checklists will help you to structure successful blogging experiences for your students

 

 

Leaving Good Blog Comments

Handout_LeavingBlogComments.pdf

 

The best blogs are truly interactive—with users listening and responding to one another. They are super interesting digital conversations! Highly accomplished commenters are constantly thinking while interacting with others who are leaving comments. They come to the conversation with an open mind, willing to reconsider their own positions—and willing to challenge the notions of others. The tips included in this handout will help students to craft great blog comments.

 

 

Blog Scoring Checklist

Handout_BlogScoringChecklist.pdf

 

As classrooms begin to tackle blogging projects, this checklist can be used by teachers and students to rate the overal quality of their final products. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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