I first met Betsy Weigle over at Classroom Teacher Resources when I ran across a great how-to post she put together on Skyping in the classroom. The more I ran around her blog, the more impressed I became with her expertise and asked if she would do a guest post for my readers.
Betsy holds a Masters in Elementary Education & Teacher Certification from Eastern Washington University and earned her National Board Certification. She attended the Mickelson ExxonMobil Teaching Academy for Science and Math, been a national finalist at the Microsoft Innovative Education Forum and been awarded an Enhancing Education through Technology Grant. Her professional experience includes teaching grades 3 through 5 and substitute teaching from Kindergarten through 6th grade
I think you’ll enjoy this post:
Using Skype to Connect Classrooms
Twitter can easily be dismissed as a waste of time in the elementary school classroom. Students will get distracted. Students will see tweets they shouldn’t at their age. How does one
Here’s some ammunition for what often turns into a pitched, take-sides verbal brawl as well-intended teachers try to come to a compromise on using Twitter (in fact, many of the new Web 2.0 tools–blogs, wikis, websites that require registrations and log-ins, discussion forums. You can probably add to this list) that works for all stakeholders:
You learn to be concise.
Twitter gives you only 140 characters to get the entire message across. Letters, numbers, symbols, punctuation and spaces all count as characters on Twitter. Wordiness doesn’t work. Twitter counts every keystroke and won’t publish anything with a minus in front of the word count.
At first blush, that seems impossible. It’s not, though. It challenges you to know the right word for every situation. People with a big vocabulary are at an advantage because they don’t use collections of little words to say what they mean, they jump right to it. All those hints your English teacher gave you–picture nouns and action verbs, get rid of adverbs and adjectives–take on new meaning to the Twitter afficionado.
Twitter isn’t intimidating
Kathy Shrock has done a wonderful piece linking the multitude of Google Apps to the levels of Blooms Taxonomy. This is an invaluable resource for all teachers.
BTW, she’s updated the page since I posted this 18 months ago so the picture looks a bit different. Click the image; scroll down to the section on “Google Apps to Support Bloom’s”
Take a look:[caption id="attachment_5485" align="aligncenter" width="614"] Google Apps Meets Blooms Taxonomy[/caption]
Blogs do that. The students get to interact with their favorite toy–a computer–and go online for legitimate purposes. They get to see their thoughts in print. What could be more appealing. Blogs and online forums are a teachers dream.
The problem is how teachers use these tools. Like every good skill, blogging and online writing requires a bit of explanation. Start with these simple rules:
- Be concise in a blog. Readers don’t go to blogs to read a novel. They want something that will help them in, say, a minute (that seems to be the average time people spend on a post)
- Be pithy. Readers don’t want to waste even that sixty seconds. They may get tricked the first time by a snazzy title, but not again. So, students must put their thoughts together in a cogent and concise arrangement.
- Be knowledgeable. There are so many bloggers out there, students must come across as intelligent on their topic and smart enough to discuss it in that one minute the reader gives them. How do they do that?
- Watch grammar and spelling.
- Pick a topic they know about. If it’s an opinion, pick something they have ideas about.
- Don’t tear down the other guy’s opinion as a way to promote their own. This sort of mean-spiritedness turns people off.
For more great reasons why blogs are good for kids, visit Educational Blogging Wiki–including helping them find their voice and empower their maturing identities.
I wrote a post on how Blogs and Wikis make students better writers–teachers too for that matter–and wanted to follow it up with how tweeting improves writing. Then I found Jennifer’s summary. It pretty well covers what I’d say:
- You learn to be concise
- You learn to be focused
- You have time to check for grammar and spelling
Do you ever wonder who would sit in front of a computer and post articles, day after day, week after week, with no idea how many people are reading them or if they’ll ever make any money doing this? Are they frustrated journalists? Desperate housewives? Just plain bored and in need of a platform?
I’ve got the answers for you. I write five blogs as well as columns for this newspaper and Technology Integration in Education. I’m not paid for any of them (not a salary as a corporate blogger is), yet I happily do it. My reasons are varied, but I’ve been at it for several years, so it seems to be more than a passing fad.Here’s the breakdown:
- If you blog, you’re probably 35-45, or in a broader sense, 25-55 (check for me) (more…)
Over the years, I’ve developed a list of lesson plans that nicely integrate technology into core classroom subjects like, science, language arts, spelling, math, history and more. To share them, click here, on Free Lesson Plans.
When you get to the page, you’ll find 112 options. They all don’t have links. The ones with links I’ve posted. The others, I’m planning to. For the entire book of lessons without waiting, and arguably clearer than the reproduction in the blog allows, go to the Store and select either volume of 55 Technology Projects for the Digital Classroom.