A growing number of schools are implementing BYOD programs. I created this Voicethread, “Bring Your Own Device“, based on my research of this topic. Allowing students to bring their own devices to school presents some challenges, but there are many benefits including greater access to current technology, and the possibilities for innovation. Students are familiar with their own devices and find them engaging. Schools need to prepare students for the 21st Century and the use of personal devices to communicate and collaborate with others helps to make their learning authentic.
piZap is a photo editor and collage maker that I found to be an engaging way for my Kindergarten students to publish their writing.
I created a lesson plan for students to write their favorite recipes, which we took to publishing using piZap, so that we could create a collection of recipes for Mother’s Day. This web tool could also be used to model math problems. There are examples of student recipe cards at the end of the lesson plan and an example I created of how to use this tool to model math.
What is the purpose of a library blog?
I was curious as to what I would find on library blogs when I began this project. What I discovered was that library blogs can be used as a sort of one-stop shop for information about all things related to a media center, or a librarian may choose to focus on one particular aspect he or she is passionate about. My reviews here include blogs with different purposes. McSpedden Elementary Library combines the information you would usually find on a library website along with the more interactive, social aspects of blogs. Technology is Loose in the Library features the many technological tools students use in the library. Watch. Connect. Read focuses on introducing wonderful books to children so they might be connected to a book that is just right for them.
Motto: Read. Learn. Connect. Create
This blog serves a variety of purposes. In many respects it functions as a library website with links to the library catalog, ebooks, reading programs, databases, online resources, volunteer guidelines, and the mission statement. Teachers can request books or schedule a visit. A balloon icon links to a birthday book donation program. But the library blog goes a step further by incorporating social media. They can be followed on Facebook and Instagram. The library participated in World Read Aloud Day by Skyping with other classes around the country and with an author. Book reviews, book trailers, and links to many author and book websites encourage reading. Media Specialists can gather a number of book lessons and author study ideas for use in their own libraries. Educators can learn about digital storytelling. Proceeds from a grant allowed librarian, Mrs. Lambert to design a new MakerSpace to encourage innovation and creativity. As stated in the motto, this library seeks to encourage reading, learning, connecting, and creating.
This library blog proves that technology plays an integral role in the future of our libraries. Students throughout the school are featured using a variety of technological tools. Fourth graders learn from Mrs. Knutson how to create their own Google websites which will become their Elementary Digital Portfolios as they include projects from each grade level. They are learning the importance of a positive digital footprint. Second graders narrate their favorite wordless picture books. Even kindergarten students join the technology bandwagon as they use iPads to take selfies and create picture collages. Students can review favorite books on their own blogs. A menu at the top of this blog leads to the school website, technology tips, a Symbaloo Webmix, and information about coding. The technology tips seemed like a great resource. The library was also hosting a March Madness Tournament of Books as a fun way for students to vote for their favorite books. It is evident students at this school are learning important technological skills through their library media center.
Motto: Exploring Children’s Literature through Book Trailers
The purpose of this librarian blog is evident with the plethora of book trailers and interviews with authors and illustrators used by Mr. Schumacher to encourage reading. A host of books are featured and summarized each month with countless links to more books, and their authors. The February post includes a brief video of an interview with Cece Bell, author of El Deafo and links to a book trailer of Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla. Mr. Schumacher promotes Children’s Book Week, World Read Aloud Day, and Newberry and Caldecott Medal Challenges as further ways to inspire reading. If you are looking for a good book to read, a visit to this blog will present a multitude of choices.
Each of these great blogs is unique. They represent a variety of ways blogs can be used by librarians. The question: What will be the purpose of my library blog? How about yours?
Blogs: What are they and do they have a place in the classroom?
My exploration into the world of blogging has taught me that blogs are a technological tool with great potential in the classrooms of even our youngest students. Blog posts are like short news articles or a diary of what has been happening in the classroom, but they also open the door for two-way communication between students and a world-wide audience. The 21st Century Learners in these classrooms are gaining important life-long skills through the use of technology. Students have the opportunity to digitally document their own learning journeys. They can also teach others important concepts they have learned through the use of video clips. Skype allows groups of children to connect with one another or with special guests such as an author. A blog can provide information that students may not always share with parents, strengthening the home-school connection. Yes, blogs do indeed have a place in the classroom for those teachers willing to stretch themselves and their students. For those of you who wish to begin blogging, here are some excellent examples of the variety of ways you may incorporate technology into your own classroom.
Motto: “A Class of Six-Year Olds Inviting the World Into Their Classroom”
This nicely organized blog from Saskatchewan, Canada opens to a class picture of the students, which I think helps viewers make a more personal connection to the site. The world is invited into this classroom of six-year olds as daily learning activities are captured through pictures and videos. These young children are given guidance in creating their own “learning” blogs as they take those first steps toward developing positive digital footprints. In one of several links to great resources, Ms. Cassidy describes the benefits of digital portfolios including the feedback students receive from a worldwide audience and how portfolios are used at conferences. The class webpage has a wealth of links to great educational sites for students and teachers. A list of monthly archive links reveals different experiences from the past year. The class participates in a weekly Mystery Number Skype with a class from British Columbia to develop their numeracy skills. How exciting for these young students to learn and work together with another class using this technology.
Motto: “Third Graders Learning and Sharing Together”
From the state of California, comes the award-winning classroom blog of Mrs. Yollis and her students with an assortment of links to information about blogging, technology, and their home state. The blog is used as a means to educate and communicate what students are learning. Student blogs often use digital photos and questions as a means of striking up some conversations. The live traffic feed lets students know they have a worldwide audience. Children are active participants in the numerous video clips created to highlight important concepts they have learned. A video post by students giving tips on how to make good comments about a post was awarded the 2011 Most Influential Post. Viewers learn about being positive, specific, and how to advance the conversation with a question. Viewers will be engaged and may even discover something new. Mrs. Yollis explains nonfiction text features using a fun, cowboy style video. She was inspired to participate in Global School Play Day after listening to a presentation by psychologist Peter Gray on “The Decline of Play.” Visitors can view pictures of all the games, activities and fun children had on their play day. A Skyping session is highlighted in a popular post with another class from Australia. Students were engaged and learned so much through their questions and answers. No doubt, the variety of ways technology is used in this classroom will assist students with communication skills and the retention of information.
Hey Kids… Mrs. Donofrio
This award-winning middle school language arts classroom blog from Florida adds an additional dimension to the documenting of student learning seen in the elementary blogs. Mrs. Donofrio uses the blog as an instructional tool to support the integration of science and language arts. After reading the novel, Tangerine students could access links to learn more about the citrus industry and then they responded online to questions posed by the teacher. Student blogs are used as writing responses. The reach of the class blog is noted in the live traffic feed and a post where the author and movie producer for the novel, Under the Blood Red Sun communicated with the class. What an exciting and authentic way for students to make a connection between their classwork and the real world, which led to more opportunities for reading and writing.
As I reviewed the classroom blogs, it was interesting to see how individual student blogs were used a little differently at each grade level. The blogs of the six-year olds included student work from the classroom. In third grade students were writing personal narratives and by middle school, students were responding to writing prompts. There are so many links to explore on these wonderful blogs, each one providing a glimpse into the classroom of the 21st Century. Teachers are sure to find innovative ways to incorporate technology into their own classrooms.
The good thing about a college class is how it sometimes forces you to try new things – like blogs.