Starting a Student Led Class Blog

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  • Check in with your administrator. Make sure that they understand your vision for the blog and that they are on board. 
  • Introduce your students to the idea of a blog – read some student/class blogs with the students and have them identify what makes a good post good. Also discuss commenting and set some guidelines.
  • Decide on a platform – we used edublogs because it’s easy to connect with other class blogs, teachers, and students. But you could use any site that you feel is appropriate for your students and district.
  • Set up the blog – write an introduction piece.
  • Send home media release forms (so that you can include photos of students) – I adapted the social media release forms from Great Minds Teach Alike. If you are signed up for my newsletter, you should have received a free copy of my EduBlogs media release from – if you have not signed up yet, what are you waiting for?
  • Add a contributor account (if you go to “add users” you should be able to add a contributor) – this way you will have to approve posts and comments… students will not be able to post online without you reviewing it first.
  • Consider what your first posts will be.
    • We went with a book review created in Wixie – that way I saved the Wixie pages as images and just posted them for the students.
    • Our first “real” posts were group posts
      • Groups decided on a topic and divided up subtopics
      • Each individual wrote their portion/paragraph, revised, edited
      • The group came together to put all the paragraphs together
      • A student typed up the post
      • Another student checked it for errors
      • A student searched for an image to go along with the post
  • Last, students should comment on one another’s posts and respond to commenters.

You can read my student-led class blog here. We’d love for you to leave some comments.

Do you have a class blog?

What have you found to be the most important thing to ensure it is meaningful?

If you have a tech tip or suggestion to share – feel free to join my link up below. If you’d like to add the link up button to your blog – you can get the InLinkz code here.

What You Need to Know About Plickers

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As teachers we all know how important it is to take the temperature of the room. To figure out if our students are following along and understanding the lesson. But, sometimes that can be difficult – we can do a “thumbs up, thumbs down” or “vote with your feet/toes” or even an every student response with white boards. However, there is an easier, more effective, and more efficient way to do this. There is an app called Plickers that has changed the way I check for understanding in my classroom.

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In this post you will find:

  • Pros & cons to using plickers
  • Ideas for using plickers in your classroom
  • Student reviews about plickers
  • What you need to know in order to use Plickers tomorrow (checklist freebie included)

Plickers Pros

 

Plickers Cons

Ways You Could Use Plickers in Your Classroom and at Your School:

  • formative assessments
  • take the temperature of the room (surveys)
  • self reflection (I use them with this daily outcome recording/reflection sheet)
  • lunch choice count collection
  • check in during rotations (from across the room)
  • staff surveys

2-Students review Plickers-001

I recently did a Periscope tutorial on Plickers. In this 10 minute video you will learn everything you need to know in order to start using Plickers in your classroom tomorrow! You can also use this checklist (a freebie only available to my blog followers/readers) to ensure you’ve done everything you need to do before trying it out (it’s not complicated at all). For other exclusive freebies – be sure to sign up for my monthly newsletter!

**If you’ve read this far – you deserve a special tip: I write the letter choices on the back of the Plicker cards (very very small) to help students ensure they put the correct letter choice up)**

I’d love to hear from you!

If you’ve tried Plickers before – let me know what you used it for and how it went in your classroom. If you’ve never tried it – let me know if you’re going to give it a try now…

If you’ve written a blog post on technology in the classroom (doesn’t have to be plickers) — join my link up below. And if you’d like to join up again next month – sign up for my tech link up newsletter here.

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Thanks to Meg @ Meg’s New Box of Crayons for the awesome conversation hearts stock image.

What You Need to Know About Kahoot

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You know that feeling you get when you hear about an exciting new app or website? The angel on one shoulder says “my students are going to love this and it will make learning more engaging and rewarding for all of us”. Meanwhile, the devil on the other shoulder is reminding you of the time it will take to implement the new website or app and besides, you did try that fun web hunt a couple of months back. That’s more tech than some teachers have tried this year. You’re doing the best you can…

I know that feeling… especially since connecting with so many amazing teachers through Periscope and Blab. The ideas are endless, and seem exciting and fun! But, it just seems overwhelming. Well, as I have blogged about previously, one of my goals for 2016 is to actually implement new tech (a website, an app, etc) once a month.

I want to help you see how easy it can be, if you just take the leap and give it a try. I’m also hoping it will help save you time to learn from my newbie mistakes.

So here it goes…

I created a Kahoot quiz to review math concepts before a district assessment. Here are my take aways.

I would use Kahoot for: 

  • fact fluency practice
  • timed drills
  • facts that students need to have memorized
  • fun review quizzes (not math or something that will require problem solving though)

I would NOT use Kahoot with/for:

  • gifted and talented students who may become anxious with the time limit
  • problems that require time to solve or consider

 

Want to give it a try with something fun but valuable? Here is a Kahoot that will assess your students’ learning styles. I did not create it, but it’ll be a great way for you to test it out before creating one of your own. There are a lot of different public Kahoots out there. In order to use this Kahoot, here’s what you need to do:

  • Open the link on your computer & project it so that all students can see
  • Make sure each student has a device or laptop (students should go to kahoot.it)
  • Click Play, and then Start Now
  • A game pin will pop up – students will need to enter this pin to access the Kahoot
  • Students will then be prompted to input a nickname (ask them to use their real names)
  • Go through the Kahoot
  • At the end, download the results so that you can see what learning styles your students are

Have you tried Kahoot in your classroom? Would you agree with my pros and cons? Did I leave anything out that you think new users need to know? Let me know in the comments below.

Trying new tech in your classroom isn’t about luck any more than getting rich is about stumbling across a leprechaun in the forest with a pot of gold. The teachers who survive just keep going.

Sometimes you do the right thing and it goes great, sometimes it’s a complete flop. But, in each and every case, you will learn something about how to be a better teacher. Even if you do mess up, your students will still be there tomorrow and most of the time they won’t even realize you messed up. 

It means that it’s okay to not implement new tech seamlessly. It means you can make mistakes. It means your trepidations are perfectly normal, and you’ll get through it. 

So keep your chin up, do something outside of your comfort zone, make some adjustments, and most of all, believe in yourself. If you’re determined, and you persevere, your lessons will be enhanced with engaging tech and your students will thank you for it.

And when they do, it’ll all be worth it.

If you’re ready to make a commitment to yourself, and your students, join my mailing list here. I’m going to be starting a monthly link up, so that we can keep one another accountable and encourage each other when the times get tough. I will be emailing once a month to remind you about the link up and share a publish date (the last Friday of every month). I will also be creating a link up image to include in your posts. I hope you’ll join me on this journey to help empower teachers to try new tech without fear!

How I plan to make 2016 top 2015

January 2gether we are betterOnce upon a time there were two passionate teachers. They shared both a passion for teaching and a passion for creating TPT products. One day, they went on an exciting adventure all the way to Vegas to explore the TPT conference. While they were there they stumbled upon a magical app called Periscope. Periscope made these teachers a little nervous, but it kept calling their names… so, they kept scoping and sharing the excitement from the conference with other teachers in lands far away. Soon… they had started what I like to call #theperiscopeteachertakeoverof2015. When the teachers had returned from their adventure, they decided that teachers need to be more connected – to learn from one another. And so… the #2getherwearebetter blog link up began.

This month we are discussing our plans and goals for 2016.

Incorporate MORE technology (1)

Something that I’m really passionate about, is implementing and using technology in the classroom. I have recently started having my students use the SMARTboard during Math rotations. I have purchased some awesome digital interactive notebooks from the amazing Danielle Knight. I did 1 hour of code with my students, which was awesome! I use Edmodo for guided reading extension lessons/questions/quizzes.

But, I know that I could still do so much more – so my goal is to (first – use the digital interactive notebooks I bought, then) try one new app or website or technology tool a month. Here is one example of an app/website that I think would be awesome for collaboration in the classroom. Padlet is a bulletin board type website, where users can add posts, photographs, voice notes, videos, or files. Whoever creates the padlet can make it private and just share the url with people he/she wants to collaborate with.

Hey — let’s make it official…. I always work better when I have people counting on me. So, I’ll start doing a monthly blog post reviewing the new app/website that I tried out, and how it went in my classroom!

periscope more

I love periscope and always enjoy it when I get on and start scoping…however, I always psyche myself out. My self doubt creeps in “you don’t have anything worthwhile to share” “no one is going to watch”…etc etc.

But, my word of the year is ZONE (more on that later) – so I am going to burst out of my comfort zone this year and just do it. I’m going to be 100% me, and trust that I am worth knowing and that I do have something to offer. It might not be the same type of thing other people have to offer – but that’s even better! I’m one of a kind – as are you! So don’t hold back this year! Put yourself out there with me, be vulnerable and let’s push the boundaries of our comfort zones together!

blog more

As you can see – I am off to a running start, but we all know the beginning of the year is “easy” in terms of keeping up with new goals – but I have a plan for this… which I’ll share in a minute. Blogging has always been something I enjoy – I’ve had 3 blogs in my life. I keep my family in South Africa updated with my adventures in the USA with a weekly blog. I did that for 2 years and then my blogging slowed down quite a bit, finally when I started teaching, it passed away peacefully in its sleep. About 6 years ago I started a very personal blog about my struggles with infertility – but gave it up after about a year because I chose to step away from that community because it was holding me back from finding happiness in the present. Now… I’m trying to get into a groove with blogging about teaching – which I can honestly say is my life’s passion and calling.

**I just watched an awesome periscope by Bri Miller about the book Daring Greatly by Brené Brown. Bri mentioned how our fear of not fitting in can hold us back from truly being ourselves or putting ourselves out there and being vulnerable. She also spoke about how we are all vulnerable in different ways – some people may be able to connect with others via video, or in person, or through blogging. I totally had an “ah ha” moment. Being truly vulnerable on periscope is hard for me, but here… on my blog – it is so easy. I am so grateful for that scope tonight – because it made me realize that we truly are all different, and even the way we connect with people could be different, and it’s okay – it’s actually more than okay, it’s something to celebrate! Our differences! **

small goal

This is a small goal because I’m not 100% sure yet if TPT is going to be something I commit a lot of time to. I haven’t spent enough time on making products to really know. So, really my goal is to make more products to see if this is something I am good at, and enjoy. I’m going to start by making products that I need for my students, and see how it goes from there. I’ve already made 2 simple products today to use with my students next week – I just need to make covers, etc and I can post them. I’ll be happy with 2 quality products a month to start with. Once I get into a groove, I hope to be able to exceed that goal.

Plan

  • Single tasking (focusing on one simple task at a time for an allocated number of time – this is a great app for this!)
  • Using a notebook to record ideas and inspriations
  • goal sheet to set weekly goals
  • Using my phone’s calendar to schedule all social media chats, weekly or monthly periscopes and blabs as well as gym classes, lesson planning and time for ME!! I am going to use this to also plan out some periscopes – to ensure that I have no excuse not to scope more often!

My new monthly blog about technology will help keep me accountable for trying something new every month. Maybe I’ll make it a link up… except I’ve never done that before, and not sure how to, or if it’s even possible with WordPress…if you know – I’d love you forever if you let me know in the comments. Also, if you’d be interested in joining a link up like this – let me know.

I also started a Facebook group with some other teachers to help share blog ideas and to keep one another accountable for blogging at least twice a month. If you are interested in joining the group – just let me know and we can connect.

New Year Blog Challenge

The last thing I want to share is my #otw (one little word) for 2016. Ali Edwards started this project, on her website she says “[in] 2006 I began a tradition of choosing one word for myself each January – a word to focus on, mediate on, and reflect upon as I go about my daily life.” Here is my word for 2016 – it reflects how I want to not be afraid to be vulnerable and how I want to be more productive and goal focused.

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Don’t forget to let me know in the comments if you are interested in joining our #teacherblogchallenge2016 facebook group. Also, if you would be interested in joining a monthly link up to share your experiences trying some new technology in your classroom, let me know. I’d also love to hear what your goals are for 2016! 

>>If you’d like to join the link up – click the banner at the top of this post.

 

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