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Why Wiki?  Wikis can been a great asset to your classroom.  In fact, Wikis can be the center of your classroom!  Wikis can help to increase organization, communication and collaboration.  What’s great about a Wiki is it provides unlimited storage for digital materials.  Wikis can be used to summarize lessons, post notes, collaborate on projects, house individual assessments, and so much more!  Here are a few examples I’ve found of Wonderful Wikis.

Here’s an example of a great Wiki for Early Childhood.  This kindergarten Wiki is full of  online activities students can play or worksheets parents can download to reinforce topics taught in the classroom.  There are discussion pages where the teacher has posted a question and children have written a response. There are links to other online resources such as National Geographic for Kids and pictures of student work.

Visit this Elementary School Wiki  to see how a second grade teacher incorporates technology.  Students are sharing what they are learning with individual pages.  There are pages for every subject area with links to topics under each that show what and how the children are learning as well as interesting related information.  Mrs. Ibrahim has organized each of her pages by posting the alphabet and a related word (that leads to a link) for each letter.  This teacher has also created a School Wide Wiki to share information.

This Middle School Wiki serves as a resource page for parents and students at Lovett Middle School.  Technology information is provided so that parents have access to teacher’s calendars, test calendars, Edmodo, and more.  This is another example of a school wide Wiki that promotes communication between home and school.

This High School Wiki , “Greetings From the World” is an international collaboration.  Students from around the world submit virtual postcards to this Wiki.  This Wiki is an example of peer learning and collaboration as students post their work for others to enjoy.  While created by a high school teacher in Croatia to share about her country and inspire others to do the same, this Wiki is open to all ages and curriculum.  Students are learning about different areas around the world, not through a textbook, but actual people living there.  What a great way to promote global awareness!

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Skype, Blogs, Twitter….. Did you know that students are using these social media tools for more than just socializing?  View this VoiceThread  to learn how and why social media should be incorporated into the classroom.  A VoiceThread is a tool that can be used to host a conversation around a video, image, document, etc.  You can share your comments through voice or text.  VoiceThread is a great way to engage ALL students in an ongoing meaningful conversation about a topic. It allows a multimedia approach to engaging students and encourages their creativity as they participate in this learning experience.  I invite you to share your thoughts on social media in the classroom.  Join me by commenting in this VoiceThread.

I’ve recently learned how to use the program, GLOGSTER.  This is an on-line multimedia poster that incorporates text, images, and videos that can be used to introduce lessons, present information, and engage students.  GLOGs are easy enough for students to create, too.  Below is my first GLOG.  I’ve created this GLOG to use with my senior level Early Childhood Studies class for our unit on Conditions Affecting Children’s Health.  In this unit, we address the content standard: “Describe chronic health conditions of young children.”  This GLOG is about Asthma, a common childhood condition.  It includes a video describing some personal stories about living with asthma, a video describing asthma, images depicting the medical condition, statistics,  children using inhalers, and additional important information.  In my classroom, I plan to use this GLOG to spark student interest and introduce this health condition.  Students will use a screen cast to learn how to make a GLOG and then will create their own GLOG about a different chronic health condition affecting young children of interest to them.  I think using GLOGSTER will allow my “digital generation” of students to creatively express their own understanding.  And, because my students are all studying to become teachers, this is another opportunity for them to interact with learning technologies.

http://mbp003.edu.glogster.com/childhood-asthma/

Do you have fond playground memories?  Remember the carousel, swings, and see saws all on top of a bed of rocks?  Remember the bumps, bruises, and broken bones that resulted from them?  Visit a playground today and you’ll probably find a more foam-covered, rubber matted experience!  Some say those bumps, bruises, and broken bones caused on a playground are a “rite of passage” and we’ve instituted these “safety playgrounds” to avoid a lawsuit in this litigious society.  But others note that many of us grew up without wearing seat belts, yet we’d never dream of allowing our children to ride in a car without one!  Safety-emphasized playgrounds allow children to explore and expand their physical and social development while minimizing injuries.  Of course, nothing replaces adult supervision!

Click Here to see a Flickr Slide Show I’ve created to use in my Early Childhood Studies II class for the unit, Creating Quality Child Care Environments.  In this unit we address the content standard,Apply safe and healthy practices that comply with recommended guidelines” as we evaluate playground safety.  Students will look for evidence in the play equipment to show it is age appropriate using information from the National Program for Playground Safety found at:  http://www.playgroundsafety.org/safe/age-appropriate-design and evaluate the fall surfacing with help from tips found at: http://www.playgroundsafety.org/safe/fall-surfacing.

How do these playgrounds compare to the ones in your childhood memories?

Flickr hosts a plethora of opportunities for use in the classroom!  Why not use photos from Flickr for writing prompts or storytelling with slideshows?  I often display a photo with a question as students enter my room as a warm-up.  This serves as an anticipatory set and gives students a preview of the lesson of the day.  Teachers can organize photos and create groups to encourage collaboration within the classroom setting.  Students can use Flickr to create digital portfolios and showcase their own work.

I’ve created my first Gallery of pictures using Flickr simply entitled “Classrooms.”  Here is a collection of photos of classrooms around the world.  Anytime, anywhere learning is taking place, it is a beautiful thing.  These photos remind us of the power of an education.  These classrooms serve as windows to the world.  It begins in a classroom.  In my classroom, we talk about what it means to be an effective teacher.  We talk about how the learning environment affects the learning.  These photos could be used as a great starting point to introduce a variety of topics from what education looks like in different countries, to what does this classroom possibly say about the teacher’s philosophy.  What does your classroom say about you?

http://www.flickr.com/photos/mbp003/galleries/72157631929615409/

Why do you teach?  Need some inspiration? Let’s face it.  As teachers, it’s sometimes hard to stay motivated about what we do.  The day to day demands are physically and emotionally draining.  And, summer is SO far away!  I’ve found some teacher blogs to cure the teacher blues and re-energize your drive!  Following teacher blogs can give you that fresh perspective and new ideas you can use right away.  Check out some of my suggestions below:

Try THINK, THANK, THUNK at http://shawncornally.com/wordpress/.  This high school teacher in Iowa, Shawn Cornally, provides humor and insight on his blog.  Shawn Cornally has an impressive resume.  He’s not only a math and science classroom teacher, he’s an entrepreneur, lecturing professor, mentor, writer, and an inspiration.  Read over his credentials and check out the video of his speaking engagement at http://shawncornally.com/.  This is a great link for teachers to be inspired and understand their impact beyond the classroom walls.  If you’re looking for practical solutions, he’s got that, too.  He not only shares his thoughts on Standards Based Grading, but he also provides a link to Blue Harvest; an online grading system helping to provide feedback to students.  He created it and it’s free!  Check it out at http://main.blueharvestfeedback.com/. For dozens of lesson ideas for teaching calculus, go to http://shawncornally.com/wordpress/?page_id=306.  Mr. Cornally openly shares his lessons and activities.

Click here for the best advice I’ve ever heard for a new teacher:  http://gret.wordpress.com/2010/11/02/lovethembeforeyouknowthem/   As her tagline suggests, the purpose of Greta Sandler’s blog is to share “reflections, ideas and thoughts” from a teacher’s point of view.  She share’s personal accounts of interactions with students that portray her love of teaching.  These heartwarming stories (like Jack’s http://gret.wordpress.com/2011/06/13/kidsdowanttolearn/) provide inspiration for teachers.  I believe all teachers want to make a difference in a child’s life.  Greta’s blog is evidence of this.  This blog also provides a link for how to begin blogging with your students.  It’s full of resources that can get you started.  There are links to student samples, links for getting parents engaged in blogging, and child friendly links about internet safety.  Click here:  http://www.livebinders.com/play/play_or_edit?id=124251

In my quest for websites that will inspire teachers, assist them in creating their own blogs, provide creative ideas to use in the classroom, and push them to further their own professional development, I’ve found another blog worth sharing.  As a fellow University of Maryland alumni, this may be my favorite!  Here, Matt Ray shares his thoughts as a special education teacher at his blog, http://photomatt7.wordpress.com/.  His posts are enlightening and entertaining.  Matt Ray has shared his views on education reforms in the United States using satire in Arne and the Alien, http://photomatt7.wordpress.com/arne-and-the-alien/.  This five part series challenges you to stop and reconsider our decisions, as a nation, regarding education.  Like most great teachers, Matt Ray willingly shares helpful resources.  http://photomatt7.wordpress.com/2012/10/20/free-resource-how-to-preview-a-book/ is an example of this.

Following educators blogs and creating your own educators blog allows you to share resources, inspire others and be connected with others who understand the professional demands of teaching.  In an often  underappreciated profession, blogs can help you find your voice.  Professional development seminars developed at the school or county level are often a canned approach to disseminating information deemed important and necessary by others.  But, through the use of educators blogs, one can create their own professional development.  Find out what YOU need to know to be successful.  Blogs can provide the ideas, resources, and advice needed when you need it.  I’m hoping by sharing my blog, I can inspire my coworkers to create their own and do the same.  This may be someone else’s inspiration to discover the influence we as teachers can have beyond the classroom walls.

 

Classroom blogs.   What are they good for?  Classroom blogs provide a way for students and their families to stay connected with their school.  They provide a way to not only share information about assignments and events, but they also provide a place for showcasing student work and student progress.  This can do wonders for a student’s self confidence.  And, many students are far more comfortable sharing their thoughts and opinions through a computer screen than they are face-to-face.  As teachers, we are tasked with doing whatever it takes to make our students successful.  This begins with getting to know them and how they learn.  They live and learn in a digital world.  Why wouldn’t we teach in one?
Check out this elementary classroom blog in British Columbia, Canada at – http://classroom2kids.edublogs.org/.  This site, “Classroom2Kids Reading, Writing, and Blogging” has a wealth of information to keep students and parents up to date with class happenings and provides wonderful ideas and resources for fellow educators.  The purpose of this blog is to share information, introduce students to blogging, provide fun activities for the students through a variety of links, and share book reviews.  The blog has surveys and polls.  This second grade class has an apparent love of science and nature and is described as a “Living Classroom.”  Their class pets definitely liven up the classroom!  One of their ongoing projects is Monty Moose.  http://www.teacherwebshelf.com/canozconnection/montymoose/montymainpage.htm
If you’re familiar with the concept of “Flat Stanley”, then you’ll understand Monty Moose.    This moose goes home with students who then write about his adventures.  Additionally, the moose is shared internationally with a “pen pal” class.  This is a great way for teachers to form professional relationships and exchange ideas globally.  Students learn about different cultures and form friendships through email and blog exchanges with their new “adopted” class.  Not only will you find science & nature, Monty Moose’s globetrotting adventures, but you can also explore your artistic side at http://classroom2kids.edublogs.org/fun-art/.  Here are interactive games promoting visual arts and music!  Mrs. Boekhout’s creation of her Classroom2kids blog has something for everyone!  Children are actively engaged in educational activities, parents are kept informed, and teachers have been given an excellent model for creating their own blog along with a plethora of teaching suggestions for their own classrooms!
I found this great middle school blog, “Eagles Write:  Our Journey into the Clouds” at http://eagleswrite.edublogs.org/.  What’s unique about this blog is that it is from a small, rural school on a reservation in Washington State.  This provides an excellent opportunity to promote diversity and tolerance.  As the teacher, encouraging students to interact on this site allows them to see the world from a different perspective.  Another great feature about this blog is its emphasis on appropriate digital citizenship.  The guidelines link, found at: http://eagleswrite.edublogs.org/guidelines/ gives students (and visitors) internet safety information, blog etiquette, rules and expectations.  In our efforts, as educators, to prepare students to be responsible citizens, in today’s world, that includes responsible digital citizenship.  Also on this blog, you will find links for families at http://eagleswrite.edublogs.org/family/.  This introduces families to the concept of blogging and encourages them to join in.  This is an excellent way to make the connection from home to school.  Here’s another post on the Eagles Write blog I found interesting:  http://eagleswrite.edublogs.org/2012/06/08/book-talk-hunger-games/.  Here you’ll see one of the students in a brief video discussing her favorite book and even reading a passage from it.  When students share their love of reading, other students are more likely to join in.  This could lead to online book clubs for students with similar reading tastes.
When looking for high school classroom blogs, I found http://dbrosius.edublogs.org/.  D. Brosius’ Virtual Classroom is a blog for high school English classes.  The purpose of this blog is to keep the class organized and informed in this paperless class.  The teacher provides descriptive details for course information, assignments and projects, study guides, a class discussion forum, and links to supporting websites.  The teachers posts weekly and offers a brief summary of what was accomplished and offers encouragement to her students.  She’s even created a space for “Shout Outs” at http://dbrosius.edublogs.org/what-you-should-know-about-me/.  On this one, students are listing what college they plan to attend.  I also like how the teacher has chosen to introduce herself http://dbrosius.edublogs.org/what-you-should-know-about-me/ .  I think you get a really good idea of her character, philosophy, and expectations in a unique way relevant to the course content.
Personally, I plan to share these blogs with my students, our future generation of educators.  In their senior year of high school and interning in elementary, middle, and high school classes, my students are eager to learn more about teaching and about how children learn.  I plan to encourage them to join in and comment on classroom blogs that correlate with the grade level/subject matter in which they currently intern.  I’ll also share them with their mentor teachers.  Maybe together my students and their mentors will  decide to create a classroom blog of their class!  What an excellent opportunity for us to collaborate and exchange teaching ideas!

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Mrs. Palmer

November 2017
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