What is a blog?
A blog (short for “Web Log“) is basically a journal or personal diary that is available on the web. Blogs are typically updated daily using content management software that allows people with little or no technical background to update and maintain them. Many blogs allow visitors to make comments, or “postings” in response to the blogger, or ask questions.
Why blog in the classroom?
As the picture above illustrates, blogging provides the opportunity for our students to practice many of the lifelong skills that we want them to grasp and understand. Blogging provides a safe place for our students to communicate and collaborate with their classmates, creatively share their writing and reflections, and practice their reading skills. Most of all, a blog provides a great way to ENGAGE your students with technology!
A video for an explanation of blogs in “Plain English” – http://www.teachertube.com/viewVideo.php?video_id=12423&title=Blogs_in_Plain_English.
BrainPop also has a great explanation about blogs – http://www.brainpop.com/technology/computersandinternet/blogs (You will have to log in)
Here is a presentation that I use to introduce my students to blogging. Feel free to use it if you need to. It may need to be adjusted based on the grade level you teach –
www.wdpsd.com/admin – There is a blogging feature inside our website. This would be the easiest way to get started because there is not another website to set up. ALL postings and comments must be approved by you to get posted to the site.
www.edublogs.org OR www.kidblog.org – Both of these FREE sites provide password protected student accounts for you to use. You will be the administrator of the student accounts and will have the ability to accept/decline all student posts and comments. This is a GREAT way for each student to have their own individual page that they can update as their leisure.
Here are some great ideas about how to incorporate blogging in the classroom. Click here, here, and here to view a HUGE list of classroom blog examples. Looking for a way to assess all of this technology stuff? Here is a list of several technology rubrics…including one for blogging!
Silvia Tolisano recently presented at the Teacher2Teacher Conference and did a great presentation about blogging. Check it out!
If you are interested or need help setting up a classroom blog, let me know!
· Keep the computer in an open area of your home. Don’t think of the Internet as a babysitter; kids need adult supervision while they are on the Internet.
· Set limits on the computer. (1/2 hour/night, etc.)
· Sit down with your child and visit their favorite websites with them. Keep the lines of communication open.
· Talk to your child about the information they should NEVER share on the Internet (Full Name, Age, City, School, etc.)
· Talk to children about refusing requests or communication from strangers. Internet Predators love to hang out in chat rooms, so steer clear!
· If your child wants to set up a social networking page (Facebook, MySpace, etc.), set it up together and keep the password.
· If your child already belongs to a social networking site (Facebook, MySpace, etc.), look closely at what information they have posted to their page and monitor it often.
· Consider the use of filtering software to block sites and/or monitor Internet usage. (Cyber Patrol, CYBERsitter, Net Nanny, etc.)
· If your child has a cell phone, be aware that many sites can be used through Internet cell phone service or text messaging. Many times they do not have to be on a computer to use certain Internet sites. (Facebook, etc.)
· Discuss cyberbullying with your child and the repercussions of bullying online.
· Encourage your child to create a positive “Digital Footprint” on the Internet, and help them understand that what they publish online is permanent.
Here are some great websites to visit to get more Internet Safety information. Many of these sites have interactive games for children to play to learn more about Internet Safety.
If you child has a Facebook, MySpace, or Twitter account, or is thinking about getting one, click on presentations to watch a step-by-step slideshow on how to change privacy settings so that your children stay safe.
At least once a week, it seems as though I engage in some type of conversation with a parent about Facebook. There are a lot of concerns, and rightly so.
I stumbled across a GREAT article that may be helpful to parents that are unsure about crossing this social networking “bridge” with their children.
Remember – my resources page also has a presentation with step by step instructions about privacy settings!
This week’s Tech Tip was about Skype. Skype is a FREE download that allows you to use your computer to call anyone in the world for FREE! (As long as they have a Skype account too!) You don’t have to HAVE a webcam, but if you do, you can have video chats with the other person. This program is allowing schools around the world to connect with each other and collaborate. Studying Mexico? Maybe there is a classroom there that would like to connect with you. Studying the Middle East? Maybe there is a soldier in Iraq that would be willing to talk with your students. The possibilities are endless!!! Click HERE for more ideas!
You are probably asking yourself…how in the world do I find people to talk with??? Because of social networking, this task is becoming much easier. Here are some things to think about –
1. Think about your personal connections. Cousins, aunts, friends, etc! Are any of them in a different area of the world? Does their location tie into your curriculum? If so, would they be willing to communicate with you?
2. Create a Twitter account to connect with teachers around the world. Many teachers are willing to collaborate with another classroom!
3. Join www.classroom20.com and post a message in regards to who you are looking for.
4. Look at and join http://skypeinschools.pbworks.com to see if there is anyone already looking for a class like yours.
5. Ask me to help you!
Here is a site with some great tutorials about Skype – http://www.top-windows-tutorials.com/install-skype.html (Step 2, 3, and 4 have tutorial videos embedded in.)
If you would like to download Skype at home, here is the download page – http://www.skype.com/intl/en/download/skype/windows/?c=204. If you would like Skype on your school computer, you will need to put in a helpdesk request for the software. If you want to do video calls, you will have to helpdesk the Logitech software as well. Both schools will soon have webcams for checkout through the library so that you can make video calls.
Skype is an amazingly powerful tool! If you have any further questions about it, please let me know! I would love to help you find someone to connect with!