Tagged: blogs

Benefits of Blogging for Students

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Way back in June 2008, Anne Mirtschin wrote “What is a blog?” with a description of the different ways blogs can be used. We are still blogging at Hawkesdale, due to the great benefits for students:

1. Student-centered Learning

Blogs allow students to create their own space on the internet, where they can customize their templates, express their ideas and share their opinions. Students love to add different widgets, images, music and animated clips to their blogs.

2. Supports Differentiation

Blogging is an authentic, open ended task that is suitable for a wide range of abilities. You can be young or old, speak any language and use blogging for your own purposes and interests.

3. Open Learning Community

A blog is accessible 24/7 to students, peers, parents, relatives and anyone! Students can display a portfolio of their work to a global audience. Cluster maps or other widgets can be added to show where visitors are viewing from. Students love to see red dots popping up on their cluster maps and it can become a geography lesson too!

4. Authentic Audience

Students take more pride in their work because it has the potential to be viewed by this global audience, including their peers in other countries. They are no longer just writing for their teacher, but the whole world!

5. Improves Literacy Skills

Blogging encourages reading, writing, vocabulary, grammar and research. As the blog builds (with the most recent post at the top) you can look back and see improvement over time.

6. Builds 21st Century skills

Blogging allows connections with the global community and promotes teamwork, critical thinking and problem solving. Blogging helps to build information, media and technology skills required for 21st century work places.

7. Engages students socially

The Facebook generation expect to have a global voice, they expect to be able to communicate with everyone, all the time. Blogging allows this. Students can create links to their friend’s blogs and other sites of interest.

8. Allows reflection and a record of change

Like a diary or a journal, but accessible from anywhere, a blog can document the development of the learner. Blogging gives users time and space to record their reflections.

Year 7 Student Blogs:

Jade’s blog
Jasmine’s blog
Elektra’s blog
Jobe’s blog
Tobie’s blog
Sam’s blog
Messiah’s blog
Tayla’s blog
Chris G.’s blog
Emalee’s blog
Helen’s blog
Alex’s blog

Great Educational Bloggers to Follow

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During the Teacher Blogging Challenge for Activity 2, I read many posts about effective writing and followed links to some outstanding educational blogs. Where can a beginner blogger find great blogs to follow? I compiled the following list, at the risk of leaving out some very important people’s blogs; but these are ten of the most popular and influential blogs in education, that I find myself returning to frequently for great information. These writers are leading the way in education, bloggers who have a vision for improved learning using technology and are willing to share their knowledge and experience. In no particular order, these ten blogs are a great place to start:

  1. Richard Byrne – “Free technology for Teachers” @rmbyrne
  2. Tom Barrett’s Blog at “edte.ch”   @tombarrett
  3. Frank Noschese’s blog at “Action-Reaction” @fnoschese
  4. Dan Meyer’s blog at  “dy/dan”  @ddmeyer
  5. Dean Shareski’s blog “Ideas and Thoughts” @shareski
  6. Kelly Tenkeley’s blog “iLearn Technology” @ktenkely
  7. Mr. Robbo, “The P.E. Geek” @mrrobbo
  8. Langwitches’ Blog @langwitches
  9. Tony Vincent’s blog “Learning in Hand” @tonyvincent
  10. Chris Betcher’s blog at “Betchablog” @betchaboy
  11. Edna Sackson’s blog at “What Ed Said” @whatedsaid

I know I have left out some great educational bloggers! Please leave your own recommendations in the comment section below.

Teaching Science to 21st Century Learners

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This is the topic of my 20 minute presentation to the K12 Online Conference next month. As part of my research I asked several of my science teacher colleagues what their favourite web2.0 tools were. A couple mentioned Voicethread as a great way to share images and/or video, as well as student voices. Google Docs was also mentioned as a useful tool for collaborating on documents and reports, although titanpad.com  has the advantage that any number of people can edit simultaneously, and watch change in real time – apparently with the changes made by others visible more quickly than Google Docs.

Blogging, using platforms such as Edublogs and Posterous, allows student-friendly places for ongoing discussions and communication outside the regular classroom environment. The blog also becomes the place to share all the various types of user-produced content on the web (via podcasts, YouTube, photo sharing sites, slideshows and quizzes). I would definitely recommend blogging, as that is the way I first started my e-learning journey and how I have met (virtually) friends from around the world. Wikispaces is also a very useful platform for collaborating and sharing student-created content. It can be used specifically for a collaborative project or as an ongoing resource for a particular class, with links to current work.

My video “Teaching Science to 21st Century Learners” includes interviews with students, screen casts of web2.0 tools and examples of student work. It will be available at the K12 Online Conference from the 25th October. I will also be presenting on Elluminate on Tuesday, 5th October with a session called “A Digital Toolbox for 21st Century Science Learners”.  The presentation starts at 3.45pm (find your time here). Find the link at the Guide to Innovation website – Tech Talk Tuesday’s are moderated by Anne Mirtchin at the Victorian Department of Education and Early Childhood Development’s Virtual Conference Centre. I will tweet the link with the #scichat tag when it becomes available and immediately prior to the Elluminate session.

 What do you think are the defining characteristics of 21st century learners? Please leave a comment below.

Blogs, wikis and Nings!

I’ve past another couple of checkpoints on my web 2.0 journey this week – using an ipod recorder, creating a “Wordle”, uploading a podcast to “podOmatic” and creating my own “Ning”. “What’s a Ning?” you sing…

First I have to get my head around what blogs, wikis and nings all have in common:

1. They are all user-created websites with unique URL addresses

2. Hosts (such as Blogger, Edublogs, Wikispaces and Ning) provide the space and customizable themes that you can choose – options include colours, logos, fonts etc.

3. You use your email address and/or a username and password to access the sites, which can notify you of comments via email

4. You can select privacy options – public (accessible to everyone); by-invitation-only; or sign up as a member.

5. All allow feedback or collaboration to a certain extent (although blogs can be blocked from comments?)

6. All can have one or many authors (although one user of a wiki or ning will defeat the purpose)

How are they different?

1. Blogs and Nings (not wikis?) – you can usually add ‘widgets’ – boxes in the sidebars that accommodate gadgets such as calenders, maps, photos, time and date clocks etc.

2. Comments from visitors are invisible in Blogs until selected – in wikis and nings they are part of the discussion and collaboration.

3. Wikis can be kind of ‘messy’ – the idea of everyone collaborating on a project, anytime, means that it is constantly evolving, perhaps with different people having slightly different goals? 

4. Nings are a forum for discussion and it is easier to share word documents and other files, not supported by edublogs? 

5. Wikis and Nings – Any member can create groups, send messages publicly or privately and start discussions.