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 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.

January 28 2018

Why Blogging? A reflection of purpose

Why Blogging?

I utilized blogging as a classroom learning tool a number of years ago. I began the journey back then, having read a great many articles on the subject of blogging and its use in education.  I was tremendously excited and enthusiastic about the topic. I was also in the process of obtaining my online teaching certificate and created this professional education blog as a component of the class.  I will say that after the class was over , a bit burnt out from the workload,  I found no pressing need to continue to communicate online using a blog medium. So yes, a large portion of the info here is older (2014). I couldn’t, however, bring myself to simply trash it! I felt and still feel the road was insightful and valuable. After all, it is  technology and I’m still a tech teacher and now, almost 4 years later,  I am finding myself revisiting this tool with new enthusiasm.

Technology: it’s safe to say, is here to stay. With so many social media platforms to choose from – from Facebook to Snapchat to Twitter –  every generation and profession seems to have it’s own specialized platform for communication. As a teacher we try to integrate technology as part of the overall learning experience. It is, after all, the method the younger generation of learners prefers to to use when absorbing information – everyday – all the time! It’s fast , it’s easy, and it’s convenient! It easily lends itself to the continual pursuit of knowledge and a life-of-learning.

So, as a winter Professional Development project, I decided to resurrect my class blog as a means to entice my students to get more involved both in class and with their learning as a whole. I have given  it a fresh new look and am excited to see how a whole new group of students will respond to using blogging to communicate in and for class. Instead of fighting the masses to stop texting and put their phones away (which I will continue to do), I want to provide an alternative means to communicate; a professional tool to share information online. A future goal would, of course, be for them to fully embrace the medium and continue to utilize  the tool. We just don’t have enough good writers these days! Feel free to check out my class blog and be sure to review our Safety tips page for class blogging guidelines.

Following is a list of what I believe are the top 5 reasons  for using blogging as a learning tool.

1. Engagement
2. Reflection leads to deeper learning
3. Authentic audience
4. Improved writing skills
5. Improved communication skills

I will be posting more information on each of these top 5 reasons over the next few months. I hope that you will agree the benefits are well worth the effort. Feel free to join us if you’d like, I’d love to hear your feedback and opinions. You can easily follow this blog by signing up for an email subscription at the bottom of our home page. A notification of All new posts and comments will automatically be sent to your email address. (You may unsubscribe at anytime.)

Thanks for learning and communicating through blogging with me!

Mrs. C

If you are curious about the History of blogging and it’s use as a business tool, A brief article  by Randy Duermyer @ the balance, Home Business presents a nice overview.

If you are curious about me , and would like additional information, you can find a brief bio on the About page at the top right of the home page.

January 20 2018

2018 New Year – New Adventure

January 20, 2018- a fresh New start to a New Year!

As I relaxed over the Holidays these past few weeks, I reflected on the current state of student engagement in my classes. The semester was coming to a close and I had seen a tremendous drop in student interest and engagement in many of my classes. And , of course, I wondered what I might do to change it. Then I stumbled across a notice for a 10-week course on Better Blogging with Students from Edublogs. On pure impulse, I signed myself up! I have dabbled a bit with blogging on both the personal and professional level. Even hosted a fairly successful class blog in my previous school district. This fall, when setting up the web pages for my co-curricular club (FBLA) and our Student Store ( The Spartan Market) , I discovered my prior experience to be very helpful. Dashboards and widgets and WordPress! EduBlogs! Been there, done that! Yes, I had done this before!!!! Student blogging just might be the solution that I was looking for. It would all come back to me, right????

Fast Forward to Week One: OMG , what the heck was I thinking!!????

Yeah, I’d kept my Edublogs accounts. Paid that small fee each month without even blinking an eye. After all that hard work, I just did not have the heart to shut it all down.  Class blog, 30+ student blogs, this teacher blog ; all still here, frozen in cyberspace, as if it were still the end of semester 1, 2014. Yup, threw myself right into the deep end of the pool. So before I could make that fresh start, I  had some blog clean-up to do.

  • First I removed most of the student blogs from my class blog and selected a newer  modern theme.  In my stumblings, I discovered a great little edublogs article about how to best do that ( I think I deleted some of those guys which is not recommended- Oops- Learning curve). I did save a few good examples for my future bloggers to view. I then had to reconfigure the menus and widgets to fit the new theme. Progress was stalled as I contemplated what background picture I wanted to represent my class….decisions,decisions; size, pixels,is it mine or someone else’s work? Resurrect Creative commons and proper online publishing etiquette, learning curve, learning curve, learning curve.
  • Once I was (somewhat) content with my class and student blog progress, I decided to take a look at week1 tasks in Better Blogging.
    • What Is A blog?
    • Why Edublogs /CampusPress/ WordPress?
    • What Are The Benefits Of Blogging?
    • Why Do You Want To Blog?
      • 1) Who will your audience be?
      • 2) Who will be writing on your blog?
      • 3) How will blogging be integrated into your classroom program?
      • 4) Will your blog be public or private?
      • 5) What makes a high quality classroom blogging program?
    • Your Task and (let’s not forget)
    • Join the Facebook group

Seriously ,  I am a high school teacher at the end of a semester, with students failing and final exams and grade recovery work and blizzard bag assignments and  prep for next semester’s all new classes . Holy cow, people I do not have time for this!!!!!

But I am determined to forge ahead, let’s go back to the task at hand.

  • Our task for this week was to post an answer to a question or two (from above), connect with fellow classmates, comment to other posts here and there. This I can do, this I like most amongst all other online experiences. I find posting and commenting on other posts a very rewarding experience and where, for me, (during my online post-graduate work) the most learning occurred.
  • It was there in the hundreds of posts and comments ( literally) that I discovered my inspiration.  A classmate, teacher and fellow blogger had posted a comment and shared a link to her blog, where she was sharing the “Better Blogging” experience. Brilliant! That was it. Now I had something to write about. So Simple, why hadn’t I thought of it? After all,  my goals, like many others’ in this course, were to:
    • Revamp and introduce my class blog to a new set of students,
    • Add consistency and purpose, and
    • Be a better blogger.

Just a bit more work to do. Week one continues with a brief revamp of ” Innovative Learning with Mrs. C.

  • Final task of the week, revamp my professional blog site by recategorizing old posts, which entailed reconfiguring menus and categories and some juggling of widgets. This is not complete. I am still considering a new theme but have not made any final decisions. I am content with a Work-In-Progress status for now.
  • Of course to be a better blogger and good teacher, we must “walk the walk”. ( thank you classmate – identity lost in the vast comment stream). There is no better  lesson  to illustrate  blogging  than modeling the experience, presenting an example and setting expectations.
  • SO Lastly, as the sun sets on this semi-warmer Saturday afternoon in January, I have finished writing my first blog post in almost 4 years.

Let the New Adventure begin!

🙂 Mrs. C.