Happy students = Happy teacher

Well my Grade 2’s have been blogging for two weeks now and I can happily say the majority of them are loving posting on our class blog.

I must approve every post and comment before it gets posted to our blog, every morning I have students at my desk shouting “Miss Gossard have you checked the blog yet? Can you approve my post? I commented on my friends blogs last night, have you seen it yet?”  I love seeing how excited they are to share their posts with their families, each other and the world.  So far the students have learned how to find our blog, log in, write a post and comment on a classmates post.  It doesn’t sound like much but it has been a lot of work!  Luckily I already have some “blogging experts” in the class who are can write a new post independently and are able to help their peers when I am busy helping another student.

On Thursday I will be teaching the students about an app called Draw and Tell HD.  This is a story telling app that we will use to create our own addition or subtraction stories using pictures, numbers and our voices.   We will create the short video on our school’s ipad’s and then hopefully successfully upload the short clip to each students individual blog.  I have my pre intern starting back on Thursday so I purposely chose to teach this new app when I knew I would have an extra hand in my room helping out! I found this app on Kathy Cassidy’s presentation notes page. Here is a quick tutorial video for this app. I love that students can record their drawing and story and narrate their image.

I had lots of successes this past week! My kids are happy, love blogging and they are excited to learn about new apps. In turn, I am happy that they are enjoying the experiences I am guiding them through!

Successes don’t often come with a few challenges along the way.   This week I am struggling with time.  This is a very busy season for all of us. Report cards are due in two weeks and student led conferences will follow. I am busy with basketball playoffs, catching up on university work, finishing assessments with my students, marking and writing report cards.   I know my students are enjoying blogging, but I am struggling  as to where I can do my teaching towards these new skills.  I already feel I do not have enough Time is tickingtime in my school day to teach math, reading and writing most effectively but now I am adding on blogging skills and teaching new apps.  I am trying to fit blogging into my ELA time and I have now made blogging a center during guided reading. This works well but it doesn’t give me time to explicitly teach and guide my students through the blogging process like I would like.

I am wondering where other teachers are fitting in your learning projects with your classroom? Maybe there is an outcome (besides writing) that I am missing that this can slide right into!

 

The Snapchat takeover

This week’s readings focussed on teens in social media. Thr articles came to the same conclusions; teens are less likely to use social media sites like Facebook and Twitter and more likely to use messaging apps like iMessage, kik and the ever so popular Snapchat. I found the first article the most interesting because it listed suggested reasons why teens are leaving sites like Facebook. The first reason listed was teens don’t want older relatives seeing what they are up too on weekends. Facebook is widely used by adults 40 and above, I see this to be true in my own life as well. My parents do not have Facebook but most of my aunts and uncles do. I share on Facebook from time to time but share on Instagram and snapchat more regularly. I personally like that these social media outlets only post to my closest friends or a smaller audience.

I can see this being a concern for parents though, who hope they can see a small part of their teens life online but then they may be frustrated to find that their teens and tweets are not using the same social media sites.

The data in the following articles showed that teens are not abandoning social media they are just using different sites then older generations tend to use. Teens are definitely using social media…. A Lot! I enjoyed the read: How to  snapchat like teens, I could really relate to almost ever sentence of this article! I use snapchat a little bit. I maybe have 20 friends on the app and mostly only send messages and pictures to a few people on a regular basis. I could really relate to the older brother in this article.   I recently took my girls basketball team into Regina (we live in Moose Jaw) to watch a U of R Cougar game. Us coaches sat behind the girls st the game and we shocked at how the girls we constantly on snapchat!! They watched the game from time to time but they mostly sent selfies to each other and 50 other people while giggling and laughing alongside one another. Because I sitting behind a few of the girls, I got the honour of being in way too many of these snaps…

The girls knew I had the app and starting questioning me about how many “streaks”I had and wanted to know my longest. They were baffled when I said I had none!  One of the girls on my team had a snap score of almost 200 000 and she just chuckled when I showed her that mine was a couple thousand.

I agree that young kids are spending a lot of time on these new social media sites and they should be interacting with one another more.  But I feel that is just how our modern times will be. As educators we need to teach our students when social media is appropriate and how to post appropriately and politely.

Excuse my errors and lack of posting, I’ve done this quick reflection in the airport waiting for my flight to Mexico! 🙂

 

 

 

 

We are bloggers!

Miss Gossard’s Grade 2 class has finally began blogging!

This past Thursday we invited our Grade 8 Learning Buddies (@CampbellClan78) to help us initially set up our student blog pages.  I created what I thought was a simple instruction sheet for the Grade 8’s to follow.  I wanted the Grade 8’s to help my students log, on, changelearning with buddies 111 their color scheme, theme if they wanted, add a tag line under their name and help them write their first post.  Overall this was very successful!  I was very thankful for the Grade 8’s help!

There were only  a few minor probelms when setting up our blogs, mostly to do with my students picking an “extravagant” theme and then my students not being able to pick a header image like my instruction sheet stated.

I struggled with giving up some control for the student blogs. I would have liked each student blog to look mostly the same besides the colours of their choice and header image. I just think this would make it more uniform and easier for me and others to look through. But it was my teacher buddy, Mr. Campbell who encouraged me to let go and let my kids be creative! My students had fun individualizing their pages.

On my easy instruction sheet, found here Student Blog Instructions, I asked the Grade 8’s to sure to have my students write their first post.  I asked the post to T and D bloggingbe an introduction post about blogging. All students followed this, but I should have made it more clear that I wanted the younger students to do the typing.  When I look at my students first blog posts, I can see that many of them had a LOT of help with spelling, typing and grammar! It does not represent my students abilities too well, but I do believe it was their own words, the Grade 8’s would have just been trying to help! Not a huge concern in my books!

After the break, my plan is to discuss with my students what I hope they will mostly blog about. I hope to give them blogging topics connected to our school work, such as “What did we learn about in science this week” or “write three questions you have about our read aloud today”.  I can already see that my students will want to have some “free” writing posts as well and I do not want to discourage this. I have one student who went home and blogged about his dog Lucy, and another boy who blogged about his hockey practice. I think is great!

Check out a few of my students blogs below!

Isla’s Blog , Marcus’ Blog,  Tylan’s Blog 

 

 

 

 

 

Final touches before showtime..

This week I set up the last few things before I shared my Grade 2 class blog with my students, their parents and the world.

Last week I had contacted Kathy Cassidy, she is a teacher in my school division and is quite well known in regards to digital literacy and blogging with young students.  I asked for some advice with using Edublogs with 7 year olds.  I had asked her if the Prairie South technology forms cover classroom blog consent and she said they have covered her for the past 12 years!  I attached these forms( Technology permission forms) to remind my students families what they gave consent to when their child first enrolled. They are very comprehensive and all of my families have given consent to each area on the form.  I really like the first two paragraphs of the form where it clearly states that many classrooms use blogs, wikis and classroom pages to enhance student learning. It also states “the research is very clear that sharing appropriate photos and work is not a danger to students, but in fact servers as a powerful motivator and learning opportunity” (Prairie South School Division). student privacy link

Kathy also informed me that in her 12 years of blogging with young children, she has had no opposed to their child blogging and she has only had to use a pseudonym twice.  Kathy is interested in connecting with my class and I look forward to this!

Early this week I send home an introduction email to my students families about our blog. I attached this letter (Blog Intro), and the Prairie South “Sharing Successes while protecting student privacy forms” to inform parents that we will be blogging soon! We had one family comment on our blog that night!  I decided not to send an additional blogging permission form home.  If I had any resistance I decided to handle it as needed.

I introduced my students to our blog the same day. They were very excited! Many of them said they couldn’t wait to get on and write their first post. I showed them Mrs. Cassidy’s blog to show them an example of what we would be doing.

Something that took me a bit longer than expect this week was creating my students blog log in cards.  Each student needed a card with their username and passwork.  My students already have passwords for their basic computer login, mathletics and RazKids  17331448452 (1).pngand here was I was giving them one more username and password to remember! I decided to keep things simple and make their mathletics passwords and blog passwords the same. When I announced the passwords would be the same, one little boy proudly annouced “I don’t even need my new yellow card then! I know my password so good already!”

I was feeling pretty nervous the day before blogging! Have any others shared my fear?!

 

 

 

 

We think in public..

“The fact that so many of us are writing — sharing our ideas, good and bad, for the world to see — has changed the way we think. Just as we now live in public, so do we think in public”Clive Thompson

The above words from Clive Thompson, really affected me as an individual living in the 21 century and also as a teacher.  In Thompson’s article, he talks about how we are “global culture of avid writers” who are almost always writing for an audience. I personally have never ever thought of myself as a writer.  I have never loved writing essays or creative stories.  But Thompson’s words made me realize that in some sense I do “write”.  Every Facebook status update, Instagram sentence or 140 character tweet is me “writing” my thoughts to the world.   We really do “think in public”.  As I have mentioned before, I am rather quiet in the social media and digital world, I know there are many people who voice their thoughts and opinions online much more than I do.  Even though I choose not to post frequently, I strongly support those that do!  It is an amazing age that we live in!  Freedom of speech takes on a whole new meaning in the 21st century when someone in Canada can blog on  a current issue and know that it can be read by someone on the other side of the world in a matter of seconds!

Clive also discusses how when we post online, on any social media outlet, that we are writing for an audience. A lot more thought goes into writing when you are writing for an audience in comparison to writing in a personal journal.  One of the main reasons I decided to have my students blog for my major project was have them write for a larger audience.  I really enjoyed the research that concluded that students put more effort into their writing when they were writing for someone more than just their teacher.  I am excited to see if my students writing improves from blogging a few times a week!

 

My students will be introduced to their blogs this week.  A huge fear of mine has been whether my 7 year old students will be capable of handling the task of setting up their personal blog and creating a new blog post at least once per week.  I know I need to give them more credit, I do know with proper teaching and encouragement that my student’s blogs can be very successful!

The article, Blogging in the classroom: Why your students should write online,stated that I am not alone in fearing that my students skills and writing might be too weak for a public audience.  Michael Drennan counteracts this point by stating that blogging with students is a great way to show the progression of writing.  My students will be blogging from February to June.  I look forward to seeing an increase in their spelling, sentence formation and use of punctuation over these five short months!

I hope to find  a new love for blogging with students over the next five months.  I truly hope the benefits and successes outweigh the frustrations and that I continue to blog next year as well! Time will tell!

 

Almost ready to rock!

This weekend I finally got my class blog up and running for my major project. I am using Edublogs and I am very grateful for the Alec’s connection with Sue Waters, by mentioned his name I was able to upgrade to the “Pro” account free for a year! Check out @suewaters on Twitter.

Miss Gossard's Class Blog

Current successes

  • I am very happy with my choice to use Edublogs. It is quite user friendly so far and it is powered by WordPress, so a lot of the features are similar to my reflection blog for this class.
  • I signed up for a course on how to set up a classroom blog through the edublog website.  This came as a recommendation of Sue Waters when she upgraded my account to pro.  I was in a bit of a hurry to set up my blog because I would like to get it running with my students and their families so I opted to read and follow the step by step guide. It can be found here, it was very useful. I admit, I followed most of the steps initially but then I started to skip around and learn how to set up my student blogs on the side.  I will finish this up in the next few days!
  • I haven’t told my students or their families that I am creating a class blog yet. I expect they will be excited, I have high family involvement in my classroom and I hope we receive a lot of comments on our blog! I have told some fellow colleagues and my administrator about my class blog and everyone has been very encouraging and excited about it! This helps me stay engaged and motivated! I am excited to share this with my community.
  •  I have reached out to Kathy Cassidy, who is a blogging guru! She teaches in my school division and I was at her school during my first teaching contract. I am have asked her a few questions and I hope she has some expert tips for me!
  • This afternoon I looked over our general school divisions technology and media release forms with my principal.  We found these to be quite cohesive and will cover consent for my classroom blog. I will however send out a similar more simple consent form as a courtesy and information piece for my families. I will share this when available.

Challenges and frustrations

  • I am happy to report that my successes outweigh my challenges right now in regards to setting up my class blog!  But I have not yet introduced this to the 21 Grade 2 students in my room…. stay tuned!  I have decided I might use our Grade 8 learning buddies for support the first few times we set up our blogs.
  • I faced a tiny road block when I tried to create and add my student blogs to my main page.  Each of my students need a username, password and email linked to their account. I decided to create a common class gmail account and use this for each student. I am just working on the logistics of this.  I also tried to set up my student usernames and passwords tonight
  • I have also spent FAR too much time picking out the theme and colour scheme for my blog! I am not sure why I care so much about how it looks! First impressions are important I guess? I have likely tried out 10 different themes and now have settled for a rather boring and simple option…

I will be using twitter soon to find out if there are any other primary classrooms in Saskatchewan or beyond who would like to connect with my room!

I found this video on the Edublogs Teacher challenge website that I mentioned above. There is so much you can do with students blogging! I can’t wait to get started!!

“Blogging really transforms the writing process from something rather one dimensional to something full of possibility.  We write for a purpose… how can we ask students to write with purpose if they are only writing for their teacher.. ”

21st Century Teaching

article.  This weeks readings have focussed on how learning is different for students through the “new” connected age.  Throughout the articles and videos, we have learned how students can obtain knowledge and learn through technology instead of only from one single teacher in their classroom.  I feel fortunate to have grown up with technology and I feel rather comfortable lea3333259091rning to use new online tools and applications.  I imagine it would be quite difficult and/or nerve-wracking for a teacher who has been teaching for 15+ years to see and hear about other teachers using technology in their classrooms.  Right now at my school, using technology is definitely encouraged but it is not expected.  I wonder if a time will come that more forms of technology and social media will be expected in the classroom. I am sure this day will come eventually. I hope that I can learn by experience in these next few years so that I can be a mentor teacher to others who are frustrated or confused by the implementation of more digital learning and teaching.

I really enjoyed the video, Welcome to my PLE. I was very impressed with how much this Grade 7 student knows about using technology to find and present information. Her skills surpass mine! Her science teacher is doing a wonderful job at teaching his/her students to use many online applications during this paperless course.  I truly hope that this students future teachers will continue to use the same or similar teaching methods so that this student can continue to increase her knowledge of using technology to grow and learn.  I hope that other teachers, whether they use these “fancy” apps or not, can at least give their students enough flexibility to use their own method of presentation. Some students may choose to write an essay, create a diaorma, a poster or some, like the student featured in this video, may chose to use apps like evernote or glogster to present their ideas.  This video got me thinking about how my young Grade 2 students could develop a personal learning environment. I often find myself thinking “my students could never learn how to do that, they are too you, this is too complicated”. I am trying hard to break out of these thoughts this semester.  My major project, creating a class blog with my students blogging, should be a baby step in the right direction! I will try hard to have my student try at least one exciting application to share their learning.

I found Howard Rheingold’s article about social media literacies very thought provoking. I was especially interested in the first literacies he wrote about, attention.  Rheingold states that when he is lecturing, he sees his university students staring at their phones and laptops. He states that these students, this digital age, may not have been taught to focus their attention appropriately.  I found myself reflecting upon my own attention span.  I also find myself, like many others I assume, staring at my phone while watching tv or another activity.  I know I should consciously work on my focusing my attention when needed.   As teachers in the 21st century, we need to be aware of these media literacies and find ways to help our students get the best of their education while knowing that some of these media literacies may affect them.