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Social media

6 Tips I Wish I’d Known When I Started Blogging

blog-489506_640I’ve been blogging for about six years, some professionally (for my tech ed career) and others on topics of interest to me (writing, USNA, that sort). That first post–putting myself on the line, ignoring that I had no hits, wanting to approve comments from spammers because that would look like someone loved me–I thought that was the hard part. The second post was easier and so it went.

But somewhere around the twentieth post, I figured out I had to do blogging right. I couldn’t simply show up, spout off and slink away. There was a lot more to ‘blogging’. I could have quit–it was getting to be a lot like work–but I enjoyed the camaraderie with like-minded souls. I learned a lot about writing by doing it and could transfer those lessons to my students. So I honed my skill.

Now, years later, there are a few items I wished I’d known early rather than late. Let me share them with you so you don’t have the hard lessons I did:

  • only reblog 10% of someone else’s post. If you’re on WordPress and push the ‘reblog’ button, they take care of it for you. But if you copy someone’s post and give them attribution, you blew it. You have to get permission if you are reposting more than 10% of someone’s work. Where was I supposed to learn that?

(more…)

Categories: Blogging, Social media, Teacher resources, Teaching, Tech tips | 1 Comment

3 Problems to Address Before Blogging at Your School

tech questionsDear Otto is an occasional column where I answer questions I get from readers about teaching tech. For your privacy, I use only first names.

Here’s a great question I got from Molly:

I really enjoyed your article on students blogging.  It seems like a great way to get them writing willingly since they love to be online.  I was wondering, what are some of the problems you have run into and how did you solve them?  What pitfalls can teachers watch out for long-term?

Three big–not necessarily ‘problems’ as much as issues to address:

Digital rights and responsibilities

You don’t want to roll out blogging in your classroom without a sturdy program educating students on digital citizenship–privacy, profiles, footprints, safety, fair use/copyrights. I have lots of information on those topics on my blog. Another good resource is Common Sense Media.

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Categories: Blogging, Classroom management, Dear Otto, Digital Citizenship, Keyboarding, Social media | 5 Comments

29 Online Educational Activities Kids Will Love This Summer

earth dayWhat are we as parents and teachers most worried about over the summer? That kids will lose that education sharp edge. It will be dulled by sun and sand and something else.

Worry no more. Here’s your cure: learning disguised as play (inspired by the fascinating website, Playful Learning). Kids will think they’re playing games, but they’ll actually be participating in some of the leading [mostly] free simulations available in the education field. A note: some must be downloaded and a few purchased, so the link might take you to a website that provides access rather than play:

Economics/Money

  • Admongo–explore, discover and learn about online ads while playing a game
  • Coffee Shop—run a coffee shop business
  • Lemonade Stand—run a lemonade stand business

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Categories: Economics, Games/Simulations, History, Math, Problem solving, Science, Social media, Websites | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Twitter in the Classroom

In my webinars for educators, administrators, pre-service professionals, I share a summary of the class not only as a video, but as a tech tool. This one is on Twitter. The web  tool is Tackk:

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Categories: Classroom management, Social media, Web Tools | Leave a comment

7–no 10, wait 12–OK, 13 Skills I Teach With Blogging

Kozzi-little_boys_with_laptops-857x606Blogging has become de rigeur in the Grade 3-8 classroom. It is flexible, scalable, and encourages diversity in both learning and teaching. Handled right, blogs can be used for pretty much any need that arises in the classroom. It has the added benefit of being an activity that students want to do. They like that it’s online, with lots of multimedia options, and a focus not on writing but communication.

I decided to track the skills I teach through blogging. When I started, I had seven, but as I continued, it exploded to this long list that I’m adding to even as I write this post. Read through these, tell me other ways you use it in your class:

Collaboration

Students collaborate on blogs when they comment on the ideas of others. They can also take it a step further by collaborating on the blog itself. Be co-owners of the blog, themed to a particular topic, and work together to fulfill goals.

Developing a profile

Blog profiles must be pithy, concise, and clear. What a great way for students to think through what makes them who they are and share it in as few words as possible. I am constantly reworking my own as I figure out a better way to communicate the gist of who I am.

Differentiation

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Categories: Blogging, Digital Citizenship, Social media, Tech tips, Web Tools, Writing | Tags: | 2 Comments

Twitter and the Teacher

Before I discuss Twitter, Tweets, and the K-12 teacher, watch this video (click the image), see what you think:

teaching social media

 I don’t speak Spanish, so I’m relying on a CNN story to summarize what happened. Here is the gist of it:

After a student made obscene comments about a high school teacher in northern Mexico, she taught a lesson with an online post of her own: a video showing her confronting the girl in class. Now the teacher is on administrative leave. The student has been suspended. The video has gone viral, with hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube.

In the balance of the article, you find out that a student in the teacher’s class posted defamatory comments about her on Twitter and the teacher confronted the student in front of the class as part of a discussion on the power/potency of social media in people’s lives. The teacher admittedly crosses a line when she sinks to the student’s level and says to her (in front of the class), “Listen to me well: I will not allow anyone to call me that, especially a young brat like you and you.”

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Categories: Languages, Social media, Teacher resources | Leave a comment

6 Things I Wish I’d Known When I Started Blogging

bloggerYesterday, I talked about students blogging. Today, let’s look at teachers blogging. I’ve been doing this for about four years and have a short list of things I wish I’d known before starting. That first post–putting myself on the line, ignoring that I had no hits, wanting to approve comments from spammers because that would look like someone loved me–I thought that was the hard part. The second post was easier and so it went.

But somewhere around the twentieth post, I figured out that I had to do blogging right. I couldn’t simply show up, spout off and slink away. There was a lot more to ‘blogging’. I could have quit–it was getting to be a lot like work–but I enjoyed the camaraderie with like-minded souls. I learned a lot about writing by doing it and could transfer those lessons to my students. So I honed my skill.

Now, years later, there are a few items I wished I’d known early rather than late. Let me share them with you so you don’t have the hard lessons I did:

  • only reblog 10% of someone else’s post. If you’re on WordPress and push the ‘reblog’ button, they take care of that for you. But if you copy someone’s post and give them attribution, you blew it. You have to get permission if you are reposting more than 10% of someone’s work. Where was I supposed to learn that?

(more…)

Categories: 4th Grade, Blogging, Social media | Leave a comment

Dear Otto: What’s a good Website program?

tech questionsDear Otto is an occasional column where I answer questions I get from readers about teaching tech. If you have a question, please complete the form below and I’ll answer it here. For your privacy, I use only first names.

Here’s a great question I got from Kay

Can you recommend a user friendly place to create a class website….preferably free, or close to it! Thanks

I use Wikispaces for my class website. It’s versatile, robust, takes most of the widgets that make a class website exciting, and is free. Here are some of my class wikis:

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Categories: 1st, 2nd, 3rd Grade, 4th Grade, 5th Grade, Classroom management, Dear Otto, Social media, Teacher resources, Websites | Leave a comment

Dear Otto: What Are Good Guidelines for Younger Bloggers?

tech questionsDear Otto is an occasional column where I answer questions I get from readers about teaching tech. If you have a question, please complete the form below and I’ll answer it here. For your privacy, I use only first names.

As we roll into a new year, recommitting to goals of improved writing and collaborating on learning, here’s a great question I got from Chaya:

I’d like to help my teachers start class blogs, but would love some kind of document on policies such as what to post/not to post, what needs passwords, etc. I’d like to get the student work out there while continuing to protect their safety and privacy.

Thanks!

I spent some time digging into what most people are using. Turns out, there’s a list that seems pretty good adapted from Academy of Discovery wiki wiki. Everywhere I checked, this is the list I got (often, personalized to the school’s unique situation):

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Categories: 4th Grade, 5th Grade, Blogging, Dear Otto, Social media, Writing | 1 Comment

Will Texting Destroy Writing Skills?

Across the education landscape, student text messaging is a bone of contention among teachers. It’s not an issue in the lower grades because most K-5 schools successfully ban cell phones during school hours. Where it’s a problem is grades 6-12, when teachers realize it’s a losing battle to separate students from their phones for eight hours.

The overarching discussion among educators is texting’s utility in providing authentic experiences to students, the type that transfer learning from the classroom to real life. Today, I’ll focus on a piece of that: Does text messaging contribute to shortening student attention span or destroying their nascent writing ability

Let’s start with attention span. TV, music, over-busy daily schedules, and frenetic family life are likely causes of a student’s short attention span. To fault text messaging is like blaming the weather for sinking the Titanic. Texting has less to do with their inability to spit out a full sentence than their 1) need for quickness of communication, 2) love for secrecy, and 3) joy of knowing a language adults don’t.

What about writing? In the thirty years I’ve been teaching everyone from kindergarteners to college, I can tell you with my hand on a Bible that children are flexible, masters at adjusting actions to circumstances (like the clothes they wear for varying events and the conversations they have with varying groups of people). There is no evidence to support that these elastic, malleable creatures are suddenly rigid in their writing style, unable to toggle between a casual texting shorthand with friends and a professional writing structure in class.

In general, I’m a fan of anything that gets students writing, and there are real benefits to giving students the gift of textual brevity rather than the stomach-churning fear of a five-paragraph structured essay. I’ve done quite a few articles on the benefits of Twitter’s 140-character approach to writing and my teacher’s gut says the same applies to text messaging. Truth, studies on this topic are inconclusive. Some suggest that because young students do not yet have a full grasp of basic writing skills, they have difficulty shifting between texting’s abbreviated spelling-doesn’t-matter language and Standard English. But a British study suggested students classify ‘texting’ as ‘word play’, separate from the serious writing done for class and results in no deterioration in writing skills. Yet another study found that perception of danger from texting is greater than the reality: 70% of the professionals at one college believed texting had harmful effects on student writing skills. However, when analyzed, the opposite was true: Texting was actually beneficial.

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Categories: Digital Citizenship, Social media, Writing | Tags: | Leave a comment