February 28 2019

Blogging with Students

Ever question why we do it? Or just simply wonder how we do it? I do, often. But just briefly. I could be referring to teaching in general , of course, but more specifically to the part of me that needs to be the teacher that connects to the students in today’s classroom. I am always looking for a way to make the learning experience more engaging and meaningful.

They are a very different breed of learners , our 21-century students. They don’t have to learn the ins and outs of technology from the ground up, they simply do it. By the time they get to high school, they are living and breathing video games, texting and social media! But … doing it and doing it as a mature, responsible individual is often not one in the same. Yes, they possess the tech skills and intuition that many adults work hard to achieve, but that doesn’t mean they have nothing more to learn.

Enter…Blogging with Students. Utilizing a blogging forum presents an opportunity to communicate digitally in an appropriate, yet authentic, environment. By participating in the  Student Blogging Challenge , students learn how to blog and publish online, develop both tech & soft skills, find a voice & community, explore interests & passions, relate to a global audience, all while preparing for a modern digital work environment!

I am excited to be participating  in the  Student Blogging Challenge again this year and looking forward to embracing my new role as commenter for the challenge. Read more info on great reasons to take part in the student blogging challenge  recently shared by Challenge coordinator – Kathleen Morris.

The  Student Blogging Challenge starts March 3rd! Find out more……It’s not too late to join us!

April 11 2018

Deeper Learning Through blogging

Deeper Learning

We have seen a stronger connection to a student’s ability to digest and incorporate learned materials when they are actively engaged in the learning process and when the stakes are raised to include an authentic audience. Not only does Blogging in the classroom provide an opportunity to connect on these 2 levels, it also allows students to deepen their understanding through the natural demonstration of what they have learned. “Learning by doing” or pragmatism is a foundational approach to education, a valuable methodology rooted in the early 1900’s with John Dewey. Considered a progressive concept a century ago, it has been built upon and utilized for decades. In today’s classroom, a pragmatic approach is achieved commonly with the use of technology in gamification, simulations, and even virtual reality tools.

A technology experience is certainly not the only method to engage your students in the classroom, but it is helpful when developing the 4 C’s; creativity, collaboration, critical thinking and of course, communication. I agree wholeheartedly with Michael Kiefer that in today’s digital age, technology is simply a natural part of the learning process. In order to fully equip students with the necessary 21st-century skills, they must put learning and technology into context and experience the environment.

I have found that with Blogging, a deeper understanding comes with immersing your students (and yourself) in the writing, the editing, and the audience. Tremendous insight can be gained by the collaborative exchange of ideas, genuine support and objective criticism.

 “There truly is no better way to learn than by doing.”

Kae Cunningham

March 24 2018

Financial Fitness

Financial Literacy – Required, Yes or No?

Last week I had an opportunity to speak at the NHAFCS Teacher’s Conference on Financial Literacy.  In my preparation, I uncovered all sorts of statistics on the Financial health of our youth and our role as educators to improve overall knowledge in this subject area.

According to a recent study by NextGen Personal Finance, as reported in the Business Insider, by Jeff Desjardins , only 5 states in the US require a Personal Finance class for High School Graduation. Five out of Fifty? Is anyone else a little shocked by this number? The President’s Advisory Council on Financial Literacy defines personal financial literacy as “the ability to use knowledge and skills to manage financial resources effectively for a lifetime of financial well-being.” We are talking about the basic fundamental skills necessary to make responsible decisions with regard to making money, spending money and saving money in order to achieve personal independence and well-being.   Are we really expecting our youth to navigate today’s complex financial world without the skills they need to effectively manage resources for financial well-being?    Five states equate to only 16% of US High School students having guaranteed exposure to one of the most valuable life-skills – Managing Money. It’s no wonder, after college “with $1.45 trillion in student debt, millennials find themselves in a tough spot to begin with – but 45% regret even taking out loans to that extent in the first place. At the same time, only 24% of the generation demonstrates “basic” financial knowledge, while 70% are already stressed about saving for retirement.”

NH JumpStart Coalition recently reported results of a similar survey they conducted specifically on our home state (NH) which indicates that in New Hampshire, 12% of our High Schools now require a stand-alone Personal Finance course for graduation.   Champlain College’s Center for Financial Literacy conducted a more thorough evaluation and graded all 50 states. NH was one of the 19 states that received a B, but unfortunately, 30% of our nation received a D or F.

Obviously, a direct measurement of financial literacy is difficult to obtain, but studies have indicated that there is a correlation between a comprehensive exposure to the subject and improvement in financial decision making. The good news is, compared to previous studies, things are getting better with 36% of young adults more likely to save than older generations and adult spending down 26% overall. Yes, that’s good news, but there is still significant room for improvement.

Does your high school offer a Personal Finance class? if not, don’t you think they should?



March 13 2018

Personal Finance

Financial Literacy- A Must Have 21st Century Skill!

For almost 10 years I have been passionate about including some aspect of Financial Literacy in every class I teach.  From developing SMART goals and creating a Personal Budget, to managing credit and staying out of debt, in today’s world, understanding how to successfully manage your money is a fundamental skill. Personal Finance is essential to every High School Curriculum. I believe its importance is overlooked and would love to see it as a required component for high school graduation credits.

This fall I was asked to present a Professional Development session on Personal Finance at the 2018 NHAFCS conference on March 23, in Manchester, NH. The following information includes my presentation and a listing of valuable resources to get anyone started on the road to Financial Fitness!

Personal Finance- lesson ideas and Resources

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Personal finance from KaeCunningham


March 4 2018

Authentic Audience through blogging

Authentic Audience

Coming home from a basketball game, I was talking with my 9 year old grandson about heading back to school next week (we are wrapping up our February break). And he said to me, “Grammy, you are so lucky!” “How so, Andrew?”  I asked. ” He replied, “Because you don’t have to learn anymore! ” Wow, I just had to chuckle, because boy Oh boy, he couldn’t have been any further from the truth!  (Kids are the best) My immediate response was, of course, “I learn something new every day”. 

I am currently involved in the Better Blogging with Students initiative with Kathleen Morris from Edublogs and many other educators. I would venture to say that we all are learning something new every single day! I believe we have a common goal as teachers: to do a better job of engaging our students in their learning. By learning and developing our own skills through blogging, we hope to help our students improve their understanding of digital literacy and responsible digital citizenship along with the development of better writing and communication skills. A tall order, I know, but I am a teacher on a mission with a passion for learning.  After all, It’s not a matter of having to learn, it’s about wanting to learn.

In January, I wrote about resurrecting my class blog as my first effort in getting students more involved and enthusiastic about what goes on in the classroom. I will admit, it’s been moving along slower than I had hoped, but we are making progress. This week my students will begin the 10 week  Student Blogging Challenge, which looks interesting and frightening all at the same time! (More to come on this experience, I’m sure!).  I also shared the top 5 reasons I believe blogging is a great classroom tool and my thoughts on reason #1 – Student Engagement. 

What fuels our need to learn more?  

There is something about having a listener that shares a common interest, or the same point of view, or a common goal. They get it, they understand. They are not judging or grading or criticizing. They are just listening and giving support and acknowledgement of your work. They are your authentic audience and they fuel your passion to keep going, dig deeper, do better, learn more. It is human nature. We are social creatures of habit and we need to share. Connecting what we do in the classroom to the outside world is a perfect way to get students involved and take ownership of their learning. In The Value of an Authentic Audience from Edutopia, Monica Burns shared ,”One of the reasons…we establish authentic audiences for students, [is so] they can see the purpose for their work.” Authentic audiences provide a sense of buy-in and help students connect to the real world. Our peers intrinsically ignite a sense of purpose, a drive to put your best foot forward and express yourself in greater detail. After all, it’s not just for the teacher or the grade, ‘real’ people are watching and reading and listening! 

As Cailin Tucker shares in her Ed Talk on Connecting Students to an Authentic Audience, when we choose to persevere (in spite of our fears) for the sake of learning and connecting, we open ourselves and our classroom to a world of meaningful possibilities.

Happy sharing through blogging!

Mrs. C

February 4 2018

Student Engagement through blogging

Student Engagement

In my previous post, I re-examined my purpose for incorporating blogging into my classroom. and identified the top 5 reasons I believe it to be an effective tool for learning. Today, I’d like to share my thoughts on  how blogging can be a tremendously effective tool to promote student engagement.

I have spent countless hours researching and reading materials on Student Engagement. There are literally hundreds of  valuable resources on the topic. The importance of student engagement in  the classroom, it’s relevance to learning, relationship to student success, higher-order thinking, implications for career readiness, you name it, when it comes to education, successful education, Student Engagement is key!

Tammy L. Stephens, Ph.D., and Guest Author at Pearson shares “Motivating students and encouraging engagement is not an easy feat for teachers. While much of the motivation is intrinsic to the student, teachers play a vital role and can be proactive in cultivating student engagement. Increased student engagement and motivation is key to academic and behavioral success.” In her article, Encouraging Positive Student Engagement and Motivation , she further explains that an engaged student will demonstrate more effort, pay more attention in class and can potentially obtain a higher grade as a result.

For me incorporating blogging into the classroom as a means of engagement seems like a natural solution.

  • Blogging allows students to get involved in their own learning. Providing them with a tool to communicate their thoughts about a class topic or about a personal interest or passion.
  • In a blog post they can reflect on what they have learned and thereby enhance their own understanding of the subject.
  • Students collaborate with their peers, gaining insight through others.
  • Blogging also demonstrates the use of a technology tool, one they are likely more familiar with, as digital natives, than many of their teachers would like to admit.

I believe that students need to be involved and invested in their own learning to be successful. Providing a tool in the classroom , that nurtures active participation, creativity and expression of self , brings our students one step closer to discovering who they are and what they love. Kathleen Morris from Edublogs writes in Ten Reasons Every Educator Should Start Blogging, “Blogging is also a fantastic creative outlet. Whether it’s writing, designing your blog layout, or using photography, video, podcasts or other multimedia tools, blogs offer so much scope for creativity and fun.”

Blogging is one of the many ways we can create a successful learning environment. It is just another tool in the teacher’s toolbox. Does it work for every student, every teacher, every class? Probably not. But Students are actively involved and having FUN in class, what could be better than that!

Happy Blogging!

Mrs. C.