Final Reflection of Student Blogging experience

I started my class blog as a major assignment in my EC&I 831 class but it have evolved to more than just an assignment.  I am thankful we had a lot of freedom when choosing this what we wanted to focus on this semester because I was always interested in blogging with students but I hadn’t yet had the push that was needed to get me started.  Even though this class has concluded, my Grade 2 students will be continuing with their blogs for the remainder of the school year.  It feels like we are just getting started!

Last week my class was asked to blog a short post about spring. Their prompt were “what do you like about spring?” “what do you do in spring” “What does spring look and feel like?”  Many of them also had time to insert a picture on their post that I had previously saved on a file in our school’s global drive.  I am SO happy to announce that this was the most stress free hour of blogging we have had yet! This tells me that students are becoming more independent bloggers and I have two “blogging experts” trained to help out as well.

I am happy that I learned about blogging with young students over this semester and happy that I involved my students and their families in this project.  Not only did I increase my knowledge but I increased 21 seven and eight year olds knowledge about blogging, typing and digital citizenship as well!

I feel I chose a topic directly related to social media, open education and networked learning but I also want to reflect upon “What I learned about learning online”.  I connected with Kathy Cassidy early in the semester to ask for some tips and help with setting up my student edublogs.  I was very thankful for the free upgrade to the Plus account on Edublogs, it would definitely be worth the $40 next year though.  I also used Twitter to connect with two other teachers using classroom blogs (edublogs and seesaw) and I tweeted to Edublogs to see if they had any great hashtags I should follow.

I am not nervous to use Twitter any more which I think is a huge accomplishment!  Next year I hope to get my students tweeting more, once I create a classroom account!

Last week I created a short video about blogging with my students.  It is quite candid, as a I did not give them any prompting. I think it is easy to see that they have really enjoyed this experience as well!

 

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Student blogging update

Things are continuing to go well with my learning project of creating a class blog with my students.  My goals for this project were to create a class blog, post class updates and pictures on the main page, have my students write individual posts, have students post a picture and/or video and connect with another classroom.  I am happy to report that we have accomplished all of these goals!

I hoped to connect to another class who uses edublogs and have my students pair up with another student and become blogging buddies.  It took me a lot longer than anticipated to get my students comfortable with logging on and writing their own post that I haven’t yet had them comment on an outside blog.  I encourage my students to comment on my main post and leave comments for each other.  I taught my student to leave positive comments to their peers that might include a though provoking question or a question to encourage a conversation.   We were SO lucky to have one of my fellow classmates, Erin Benjamin’s Grade 2 class from Regina check out our blog.  Mrs. Benjamin and her class commented on each of my students blogs.  My students were over the moon excited! They were excited to have someone other than myself and their parents read and react to their posts! The next day we checked out Mrs. Benjamin’s class blog on SeeSaw and wrote a comment back to them.  I would like to try to write back to each student as well, but it would be easier to do so as a class.

I have about five students who are posting outside of class time to their blFullSizeRenderog.  When we are at school, I usually give my students a topic to post about that is school related. When my students are at home and choose to blog, they are mostly writing about a personal
experience such as a birthday party they attended or last nights hockey game. I love to see them so engaged that they are writing from home!  I even had a few students blog over the Easter break, one student even blogged from Phoenix, Arizona!

 

 

This week, a fellow colleague from down the hall shared a recent blog post he wrote about his students using Edmodo.  I connected a lot to what Alan said in his post, Edmodo for Authentic Writing.  Alan explains that he uses his students edmodo writing for a lot of assessment. He states “I catch them at their most eloquent, when they are engaged, and independent. Personal voice shines through.” Although my Grade 2’s have not been blogging as long as Alan’s Grade 4 and 5 students, I still believe that I am seeing very authentic writing with some of my students.  Alan also comments that he promotes his students writing on Edmodo because of parent engagement.  I am always excited when my students receive parent comments on their blogs, this week we even had an aunt from a different city comment on two of my students blogs (they are twin brothers).  It is great to see students and parents share our class blog with other family members. 

 

Successful week of blogging in Grade 2

This past week was a great week in my Grade 2 classroom!  We had a much more successful week learning how to add more to our individual student blogs.   This week I taught my students how to upload a saved image onto their blog.   We are using Edublogs and I found it quite easy to teach my students, step by step how to insert their saved image.  Now, since this was a very new territory, I had to do the first few steps on my own.   I took a picture of each student reading one of their books from their book bags. Then I saved each image into a file on our school’s “Global” network.  My students then only had to log in to their blogs, click “Add Media”, find their image, and upload.  I asked them to write 3-5 sentences about the book they are reading.  This might sound extremely simple to some of you up there but the student part of this process took almost an hour.  If we had no laptop log in complications it would have been less time!  I have lucky to have a 3rd year University of Regina pre-intern in my classroom right now doing her three week teaching block, it was extremely helpful to have  helping had with this task!

Check out some of my students posts about their books:

Liliya

Ashlyn 

Tylan

I just finished a round of Student Led Conferences with my Grade 2’s and their parents.  I am a little embarrassed to state that my students are still using paper portfolios to share their work with their family.  George Couros, blogged this week about “The (Nearly) Invisible Portfolio”. George discusses how many portfolios being created in schools are made to be shared with the school, home and teacher – the sharing stops beyond that. He also mentions that when using open digital portfolios, that he believes the student should have the power to decide what work will be shared with the world, not the only teacher.  I love this quote that George found by Rushton Hurley.

I would love to try to using digital portfolios in the near future with one of my future classes. I would like to use SeeSaw as my platform instead of Edublogs. SeeSaw seems to be better set up for students to share photos, videos and drawings.  This year, with this learning project, I am more focussed on having my students learn to love writing and write for a larger audience and Edublogs has been fine for such.  

I love reading about how a fellow classmate, Erin Benjamin, is using SeeSaw with her Grade 2’s to create student blogs and digital portfolios. From the reading I have done, I believe SeeSaw would be more kid friendly than what my class is currently using.  SeeSaw has several twitter hashtags started for teachers to follow and learn more from each other about using SeeSaw (#SeeSawchat) This would have been a great way to network with other users.  Today I tweeted to @edublogs and @Suewaters asking them if they knew of any great Edublog hashtags I could follow to learn more about using their service and find other teachers to connect with.  I have not heard anything yet, but hope to soon! 

 I enjoyed checking out another ECI831 classmates, Nathan Bromm’s  blog this week because he is also using Edublogs to blog with his students. I enjoyed looking at some of his students blogs to see what older elementary students could do using Edublogs. I will show my Grade 2’s this week what they could do on Edublogs once they become better writers! 

As a pondered this week whether I chose the best blogging platform for my students, I came across a great comparison chart made by Richard Bryne- Free Technology for Teachers .  In his post, 7 Blogging Platforms for Teachers Compared and Ranked, he shares a great chart which compares the features of many popular blogging and digital portfolio platforms.  He also summarizes each platform at the end of his post and ranks them. He ranked Edublog #4 and SeeSaw #5.  I look forward to becoming more comfortable with Edublog this year and possibly trying out SeeSew next year!

What are your preferences for student blogging platforms?

 

 

 

Well that was interesting..

This week was a slight disaster in the Grade 2 blogging world.

I will begin with some positives.

  • All of my students are able to get on our class blog successfully. They can log in and write a short post.
  • My students are also commenting on each other’s posts. The comments continue to be very positive (or else I would not approve) and some are also constructive example: “that is good, write more please”
  • Parents are accessing our blog!  We have had a few parent comments on student’s individual posts. This is great to see!
  • I found and paid for a great app called “Draw and Tell” The can be used to create an addition and subtraction story while the students record their voice. My students have seen examples of this on Mrs. Cassidy’s class blog and they were excited to create their own!

My goal this week was to have my students post something beyond just writing about a personal experience or sharing something we have learned about.  I wanted my students to use an app to share their learning by posting a quick video of themselves creating and solving a math story problem. Of course things do not always go as planned.

I have three desktop computers in my room (plus my own computer) and two ipads. Once  a week I have our laptop cart booked.  For about one hour we bring in the laptops and I teach them a new skill on the computers or recently we have been writing a blog post.  This week I needed my students to work independently on the laptops while I worked in small groups on the ipads.  I took this time to teach two students at a time how to create their word problem on the ipad using the app “Draw and Tell”. This app came recommended by Mrs. Cassidy.  We had about 1 hour and 10 minutes and I only got 5 kids through on the ipads!  I was so disappointed! We do have a class set of ipads but I really thought we needed to do this in small groups so I could show them step by step how to create this video.3986997574
I was already feeling frustrated that I did not get to work with enough students but then I realized I was mostly going to have to post the video to the blog by myself. I tried to get the students to help but I was frustrated and knew it would be quicker if I just did the clicking on my own 😦

THEN the videos did not even upload correctly.  See some examples here and here.  I hoped the video would show right on the blog instead of directing viewers to a separate link. I will work on this to figure it out! In the second link I shared, his audio worked but the video did not 😦

Although I am frustrated, we will try this again! I suppose it wasn’t a huge disaster, but I had it in my mind that it would go one way and nothing seemed to go right  I have a pre-intern in my room now for the next three weeks so it will be helpful to have another set of hands when we bring in the laptops and computers!

Any tips would be greatly appreciated!  Does anyone know any other ways I can have my students post a video? Maybe I should have just started smaller and had them post a picture of their work from an ipad first.

Oh well, you live and learn!

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!

 

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?!