Tuesday, October 26, 2010

"10 ways to motivate students to blog" by Edna Sackson

Today, I am going to have a guest writer on Te@ch Me. Her name is Edna Sackson and she is a teacher from Melbourne, Australia. I came upon this article on her blog called "What Ed Said" when I was looking for information on how to make students write comments on class blogs. Well, guess I was lucky. There you go.  

Collaborative post with Mitch Squires, a primary school teacher in Sydney. Cross-posted at his blog. I wrote some, he wrote some, we both wrote some. We had fun… kids could do this too!
From Ed: I love to blog. I’m an addict.
I like to blog about things that matter to me, things I’m thinking about and things I learn. I respond to things I’ve read. I share things that I discover. I reflect.
I’d find it difficult to blog if someone told me what I had to write about. I’d hate to have deadlines by which my posts were due. If I was expected to blog about things that didn’t interest me, I’d never produce another post. I don’t think I’d like someone correcting my writing. I wouldn’t like writing on the same topic everyone else was writing about today!
Why should younger, possibly smaller people feel any differently?
From Mitch: I was only ever an occasional blogger until this year, writing in fits and starts, however starting a class blog opened up a whole new world . Students loved having their work on show to a global audience, able to provide genuine feedback. Parents loved the ‘window into our classroom’. I loved the excitement I saw in the students, the motivation it sparked in them. After the initial buzz wore off, however, I had to find ways to keep the students interested…
10 ways to motivate students to blog…
1. Hook them in.
Post a powerful provocation to get them thinking. Get them to respond as a comment. Use photos, artwork, video clips. Suggest a thinking routine to scaffold responses. eg ‘Connect, Extend, Challenge‘ or ‘See, Think,Wonder’. Ask powerful, engaging questions about big ideas and accept all kinds of responses. Sam Sherratt’s class blog is a great example.
2. Freedom of choice.
Allow choice. Encourage students to write about what matters to them. Don’t expect everyone to write about the same thing at the same time in a uniform way. Encourage creativity rather than compliance. (I love this point. I struggled initally with the idea of set tasks vs student choice. While it sometimes bothers me that some of my students won’t post great classwork because it doesn’t fit with their own view of their blog, if I look at the bigger picture, it makes their blogs more authentic and relevant to them. (Mitch)
3. Don’t over correct.
Ed: Actually the jury’s out on this one. Some say blog posts should be final draft pieces, with spelling and grammar correct. I tend to disagree. I’d allow students to express their opinions, grow their thinking, be creative… but I may be wrong! Mitch: My general rule on this one is if the work is an assigned class task, I expect students to have thoroughly checked the accuracy of their spelling and grammar. If it is a personal interest piece written in their own time (most of what makes up their blogs) then I am happy as long as it all makes reasonable sense.
4. Help provide an authentic audience.
Share student blogs with other teachers at your school. Invite parents and grandparents to comment. A comment from a grandmother interstate, a cousin overseas or a teacher from a school on another continent is a powerful motivator for students. Tell your online PLN about them. Add a Clustrmaps widget showing global visitors.
5. Model good writing.
Blogging is writing. Share your own blog with your students. Write posts that model the sort of writing you’d like them to produce. John Spencer writes beautifully. So do his students at Social Voice!
6. Encourage different modes of expression.
Blogging isn’t only writing. Encourage creativity. Students might create videos, images or cartoons and post them. Great examples here from David Mitchell’s class blog.
7. Make global connections.
Students love to hear what their peers think. Help them connect with both an in-school and an online PLN. Collaborate with classes in other countries. Read about Australian Kath McGeady’s collaboration with a class in the US. Their Uganda project is inspiring! And have you seen the Alice Project, where ‘Three 10th-grade Honors English classes tumble down the rabbit hole to discover Alice’s journey first-hand’?
8.  Encourage students to support each other.
Who doesn’t get a kick out of working together to solve a problem? Students love to show each other how to use that photo of their artwork to make a Jigsaw Planet, or record their speech as a podcast for their blog. If they have the skills, let them share them! (I love this one. ‘Kids showing kids’ is much more effective than teacher as boss of learning! -Ed)
9. Let them own it.
The theme. The widgets. The blog name. The posts. Kids love to take full control and place their own stamp on their patch of online space. Mitch Squires’ Year 3 student, Emily blogs here.
10. The power of embedding.
Help students master embedding web 2.0 and multimedia tools. They’ll be empowered to experiment and include an almost endless range on their blogs. See Steve Davis’s middle school English class understandings of text, expressed through different media.

Thanks Edna for letting me use the article.
You should visit her blog for other articles on teaching and technology.
Have fun

Friday, October 22, 2010

Alternative Video Sites for Teachers who Live in Countries that cannot Access Youtube for Reasons Unknown!!!

Everybody on this planet knows that you cannot access Youtube in Turkey. I came to realize this when I saw this map on a site that was showing stereotypical maps of Europe. It shows Turkey as "NO YOUTUBE LAND". It also shows Switzerland as "BANK" and Norway as "SELFISH FISHERMAN LAND". I know all of this is intended as a joke, but still, it hurts to know that something which has such a huge educational value cannot be accessed in our country. According to this website, Youtube remains one of the best educational tools on the Internet. However, there are always alternative ways for teachers to get what they want for the sake of teaching (I am not talking about illegal ways to access Youtube!!). Here are some sites that you should visit if you want to use videos in the classroom (and live in a country that has no access to Youtube):

1. Teacher Tube

It is one of the most extensive educational video sites on the net. It has also documents, audio and photos on various topics intended for classroom use. However, you have to become a member to get rid of all the ads. (It is free)

2. BBC Learning Class Clips

If you haven't had the opportunity to check out the BBC Learning Website, then you have missed a lot.  It is on its own a great place to visit and learn a lot of things plus the neat design with comprehensive content. The class clips are very useful for many activities in class or as homework. There are direct links to the videos, however, you cannot embed them into your blog.

3. Videojug

Videojug is a "how to" video site with tons of videos about virtually everything from "how to make homemade vanilla ice cream" to "how to tune a piano". The videos are accompanied by a printable scripts. So, you can use the videos for a variety of activities in the classroom or as homework. All videos can be embedded into your blog.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Art of Storytelling

The Art of Storytelling is an online museum where you can write stories for paintings and other pieces of art. You can:

Experience a Story: Listen to stories, read and view pictures inspired by their collections created by visitors.
Tell a Story: Become a storyteller as you write and record a story inspired by works in the museum’s collection.
Picture a Story: Create your own work of art using objects and characters found in some of the museum’s most noteworthy paintings. 

There are many ways you can use this site in your classroom.You can use it as a Reading activity by using the stories created by other visitors. You can use it as a Writing activity by choosing a painting and making them write a story. You can also create your own painting by using the museum's own characters and objects. You can do this in the classroom together with your students and then make them write a story about the painting you have created together. This site looks like it has lots of potential for teachers and students as well.

Have fun and please feel free to comment on how you have used or plan to use it in class.

Monday, October 11, 2010

How to use Dvolver Animations in your class

Dvolver is a website where you can create your own animated movies. It is very easy to use and also a great tool for your classroom. Every movie that is created has a link. So, you can ask your students to create a movie and then send the link to your email. Then you can publish their links on your blog and make them vote for the best movie and maybe write a little comment. In the end you can embed the winner into your own blog. That is one way of using Dvolver in class, however, if you have other ideas, please feel free to comment and share.
Below is a detailed video on how to create a  Dvolver animation. You can show this video in class if you want to, or maybe create one together. Have fun.

Friday, October 8, 2010

A Prezi Approach to Teaching an Academic Paragraph and Essay

This is one way of teaching a writing class accompanied with Prezi. The main objective is to highlight certain similarities between a paragraph and an essay by zooming in and out on the parts of an essay. Feel free to comment...

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

How to upload a Powerpoint presentation to Scribd and embed it into your blog

Many colleagues were asking me how it was possible to embed their PowerPoint presentations into their blogs. It is quite easy. You first have to upload your presentation to a document hosting website like scribd or slideshare. In this demonstration I have used Scribd. Here you go:

You can also upload Adobe PDF documents or Microsoft Word documents to Scribd and embed them into your blog in them same way.
Hope this was useful.
Have fun...

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

How to Embed a Prezi into your Blog

Basic Technology Concepts in our Classrooms

Hello there...

I see teachers getting their blogs and I have to admit they look pretty impressive. I also have to admit that I got jealous. So, I will have my own blog. My major aim will be posting tips and techniques about all kinds of EduTEch stuff that you will or will not need in the classroom and at home...
So, lets Te@ch...