Thursday, June 28, 2012

Blogging with students

I'm a big fan of blogs, obviously, and I use them often in the classes I teach and with student teachers. I think it provides a way to keep up-to-date on professional topics and connect with other educators, and share daily reflections on your growth in understanding content and teaching. And there are a growing number of K-12 teachers using blogs as a teaching tool in their classrooms. I came across the Powerful Learning Blog, particularly this post on blogging with high school students to improve their persuasive writing. In the post, the author discusses how blogging as an instructional tool supports her students' writing development, particularly their ability to write and support a thesis statement. Students need to think critically about their topic as well as the audience of the blog when writing pieces for the blog. She also includes that blogging as a genre to support student writing doesn't have to stay at the high school level, and links to a first grade class blog. Pretty cool stuff. How do you think you could use blogs to support your students' critical thinking and writing skills?

Friday, June 22, 2012

Apps_social bookmarking, free books

A growing number of teachers have iPads for their own use in the classrooms, and many students have access to iPads in schools as well. With thousands and thousands of apps out there to use on these powerful tools, how do you decide? From time to time, I'm going to recommend some apps that will help you and/or your students. So here's the first installment, but please add to the list in the comments section with your favorites. For today, I'm going to focus on an eclectic mix of apps to help with social bookmarking and books/stories.

Social bookmarking has become very popular - many of you out there likely have Pintrest accounts and like to keep track of all the awesome cooking, gardening, parenting, decorating etc. ideas you come across on the web. There are also some education-specific social bookmarking sites that you might want to check out. This can be really handy if you're thinking ahead to the coming year - whether it will be a new position or rethinking what you did last year.
  1. Diigo - You probably already know about Diigo, but just in case you haven't checked out this social bookmarking tool, there are several app options for bookmarking through Diigo. Diigo also provides info on using Diigo in the classroom.
  2. Symbaloo - On Symbaloo, find links to great teaching sites in many content areas and interest areas. Add to the site or just take from what is already there.
Books. Now, I know that iPads provide really interesting ways to engage digital literacy skills, reading non-traditional texts. But there are also some great apps to access free(!!!) books and stories, for yourself or your students.
  1. ICDL - the International Children's Digital Library. The app gives you and your students access to all the books available in the ICDL database.
  2. Narrative Magazine is a nonprofit organization that publishes amazing short stories accessible through their app. You have to sign up,  but it is free.
  3. There are a number of apps for teen and adult reading: Kobo, WattpadManybooks, and Project Gutenberg.
Such a brief list, one that is only beginning. Will be reporting regularly with app recommendations for you and your students.

Thursday, June 7, 2012


I bet you can hardly believe it - the end of the school year is finally here! For many of you, dear readers, this week is the final week of your first year of teaching. What an amazing accomplishment! Congratulations for completing this major milestone - the culmination of all those courses and field experiences, the Praxis or MTLE tests, the job search, and then all your hard work throughout the year with learning, planning, teaching, parent-teacher conferences, staff and committee meetings, PLCs, and a lot of blood, sweat, and tears.

I will never forget the mix of emotions I felt as I saw those kiddos leave the building the last day of school of my first year of teaching. I hope you feel a sense of pride for all you accomplished, relief that you finally may get to relax, and excitement for the year to come.

Find a way to celebrate this huge accomplishment in the coming days or week. You deserve it!