Thursday, July 22, 2010

Student Blog Options

Student blogs with 'total' teacher control is always the bugabo. We want students to create, and post, but teachers want control. What this means, is that now you must review each students' posts and returned comments before they become public. This can become a HUGE chore. Another consideration is whether to make student blogs public or just within a community. I say make the world their audience; deal with any inappropriate posts as real-life learning experiences. It's what they will experience outside of school (and probably already have) for sure.

In short, it depends on what you're looking for. Here are some I've used or explored:

Google Apps EDU - while this is not set up to provide for teacher moderation, I'm hoping to try this out this year as we'll have student accounts set up so students can make posts to others blogs and their username will be recorded.

Weebly - sign up for educator account and you can create classes with students. Students can create pages and blogs. Easy to use. I have not used with a class, but know of several teachers who do and love it.

Blogmeister - can be set up to have complete control over student posts and comments. A bit cumbersome to use. Have to sign up for school, then create teachers and students. Does allow for moving students from teacher to teacher as years progress without loosing students' posts. And automatically puts all student accounts on teacher page. I've used this one with 1st grade teachers.

I looked at this one early on, but never used with students. It had some challenges, but I don't recall what they were, and chances are they have remedied them by now. Worth checking out.

A very powerful blog site. You see it used by lots of folks. To get the good stuff, though, you've got to pay. But well worth it if you've got it. They provide tons of support.

This is yet another option. I have a couple teachers here using to provide discussion forums. It does allow moderation, but students must create their own accounts (though this might change if it becomes available within Apps EDU).

For some additional blogging resources, of which there are many, I maintain a page on my site that I continue to add new resources to when I discover them. There are many great educators with tons of great ideas for different age groups and styles of setting up, getting student/community/etc. involved in blogging.

Blogging is a great way for students to realize an authentic, potentially global, audience for their writing.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Madison's Faults - Mr. Reynolds Class Network

Madison's Faults - Mr. Reynolds Class Network

Holly cow! This student went over the top with creativity. She made a custom drawings using Smartboards Notebook program, then did a screen recording of this to create an animated image. She needed this as a video, so she used to do a screen capture to convert to video. Crazy...

Talk about a work around. She used the tools she was familiar with, and didn't give up, just kept exploring and trying new things until she got the product she wanted.

Note: the delays in the recorded voice are because she was having to wait for the Notebook program to catch up. These are old hand-me-down PC's and are not able to replay the screen capture very well. The audio was recored with Screentoaster while it was capturing the notebook recording as it played.

Again...just incredible creativity. I can only imagine what this student would be able to accomplish if she had equipment that could keep up with her creativity and ideas.

Check it out.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Drive - Motivation 3.0 - Moving on from the "carrot & stick" industrial models

Motivation, huh, what is it good for... 

Enjoyed Nora Young's conversation about motivation research. Relating these ideas to the needed changes in education. The carrot and stick methods of motivation are left over from the industrial age, just as our educational system. It's high time we move on, and as Daniel Pink points out, research over the past forty-years has pointed this out to us. We've just chosen to ignore it. A new examination of what motivates, especially when it comes to solving today's more complex challenges, is drastically needed.  And I would argue that we're on the verge of accomplishing.

The "higher level" motivators Pink describes: Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose, are exactly what we need to begin focusing upon in the education of our youth. We are selling them short (and the future) to continue to believe that simple carrots or sticks will motivate anyone to solve today's complex, global challenges.

Why do we still ignore this information, and continue with techniques that are proven to fail?

As Pink describes, rewards models work well for problems with simple, linear, focused goals.  If tunnel vision is what you're looking for - one correct way to solve (get to the end) of this problem, then reward away, however, this is not the case when the goal is to educate.  We want to create problem solvers that can adapt to the challenges of an unknown future and think outside of the "box of tacks" to come up with new solutions. For this, he points out, we need to tap into the more intrinsic motivators, the exact motivators that are continually ignored in education: giving young learners purpose to what they learn, allowing them to achieve mastery by digging deeper into subjects and not just scratching the surface, and lastly creating an environment where autonomy is expected.  That is learners take a responsibility for their own learning.

I've been having this very conversation with colleagues and students.  The whole idea of setting the bar so low that students have now need or desire to achieve.  While they might complain, students have told me they want to be challenge, they want to feel they are learning something that requires high standards.  If we can more our student motivators to the higher level, intrinsic variety, and away from the stale carrots, I think we'd be surprised at just what students accomplish.

The short version:

or, check out the full interview here:
Spark 109 – April 11 & 13, 2010 | Spark | CBC Radio

Carrot Photo by Madeline Nicole

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Pixar University's Randy Nelson on Learning and Working in the Collaborative Age | Edutopia

What are 21st Century Employers "Really" looking for? I really like this view on how to make collaboration really work.

This is a video I plan to share at my next PD opportunity.

Pixar University's Randy Nelson on Learning and Working in the Collaborative Age | Edutopia

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

How to Create Data Visualizations Using Google Fusion

This is an incredibly powerful tool. Watch the brief video to get an idea of the possibilities. Help student see that data is a tool to see trends and make predictions and analysis.

How to Creat

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Using Instant Messaging to Engage Children with Reading Comprehension |

Tom Barrett always has some great ideas about using Google tools in the classroom. What struck me most in this post was the affirmation that teachers need collaboration time. His "few minutes" of exploring ideas with another teacher gave him the ideas of this post. If you don't follow Tom's blog or tweets, I'd highly suggest you add him to your PLN.

Using Instant Messaging to Engage Children with Reading Comprehension |