Friday, September 26, 2014

Blogging Excitement is in the Air at Estherville Lincoln Central Middle School

(Cross posted at http://rethinkredesign.org)


Blogging is a powerful medium within our education system. So many things can be learned through blogging. Students use blogs to reflect, tell a story, share their learning along with giving them a voice. Blogging can be used at any grade level and in many different ways.
It was about 2.5 years ago that I as a Business Education teacher fought to get Blogger unblocked in our school district.  I wanted them to blog about their projects and reflect on their learning. I wanted my students to have an authentic audience and write for the world. I struggled to understand why they would not open it up for my students. I almost gave up.


Fast forward to April 2014……
It all started in April of last year when Mrs. Reeves, a 5th grade teacher asked about using Kidblog with her students. So we started to have conversations on what that would look like and experiment with the website. We talked about what she wanted from her students and the blog. I remember having the discussion about do we open the blog up for the world to see or do we keep it just within the classroom? This can be a scary jump for teachers to open their classroom and go beyond their four walls. We decided that her students too needed an authentic audience to write for, so we decided to open it up. She introduced it to her students and started having them blog and comment within their class blogs. We also began to talk with her students about the purpose of a blog and how to comment and write posts. The students enjoyed their short experience with the blog and some even wrote on their blogs over the summer! Can you say AWESOME?!?!


NOW…..
Amazing things are happening in Mrs. Reeve’s classroom. She is innovative and ready to interact with the world. Last Friday Mrs. Reeves came to me and said I spent over an hour approving comments from students from around the country! I said what? Do you know these people? She said no. Tears came to my eyes (and I am not kidding), I was so excited and threw my arms in the air and yelled “YES!” She is active on Twitter and tweeted her blog along with the hashtags #geniushour #5thchat and whola!


Her students are participating in Genius Hour and are blogging about their passion projects. Other classrooms from around the country are helping them by providing feedback and questions concerning their projects.


The comments are amazing! In a 36 hour time frame, some blog posts had 15+ new comments on them. The students are excited. Even students who are normally not assertive went to Mrs. Reeves and said, “Mrs. Reeves, you have to see this, I have comments on my blog.”


And what is really cool….
Other teachers are hearing of the good news and want to begin the journey! Other 5th grade teachers are wanting to start this process. The 6th grade team has begun blogging also and I cannot wait to see how these other blogs take off!


You can read Mrs. Reeves and her students blogs here. Her students would love to hear from you! You can also follow Mrs. Reeves on Twitter here.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Just the Beginning......

Well, it has been a while since I last posted on my blog and many cool things have been happening here at ELC!

At the high school, we now have 5 carts of Samsung Chromebooks. Although we had some network issues during the first few weeks, we feel we are making progress and making the necessary adjustments to rectify these issues. So I want to brag about what some of our teachers are doing!!!

Image Source: Eric Sheninger: @e_sheninger 
Mrs. Wheatley (English Department) has been using the Chromebooks from day 1. She has a big project going on in her Advanced Communications class that has the students creating an online portfolio of their work. What a great way for them to showcase what they are learning and who they are. This is definitely something they can use beyond their years at the high school. She is also piloting the Chromecast to see how that will work in the classroom. This will definitely make her mobile as she is teaching instead of stuck back in the corner.

Mrs. Turner (Science Department) has her Biotechnology students doing some great things also. She created one Google Presentation and shared it with the class. Then the students were to add their information to the presentation and place the contents in chronological order while all collaborating on the same document at the same time! Students were put in charge of their own learning and will be teaching each other on the various concepts!

Mrs. Hanson (Spanish) reviewed with her class using a website called Kahoot! This proved to be a great way to actively involve all students in her class and reviewing for an assessment.

Ms. Schnoes (Business Department) has just started using Google Classroom with one of her classes. She is also piloting this to see how it can benefit our students.

We are starting a Chrome Cadre here at the high school where a small group of teachers will get together once a week to work on all things Chrome. I am very excited about this group and know it will greatly benefit our teachers and students.

I know there are many other teachers doing wonderful things and I will continue to update you on them! I am so proud to work with the teachers here at ELC. Many are very willing to try new things to enhance their student's learning.