Blogging in the Classroom with Feedly

Good morning!

The first week of the new school year is in the books, and I have to say that every year has gotten better and more comfortable for me asa teacher.  With this comfort comes great responsibility (hello, I sound like Uncle Ben there).

The responsibility is that you do not become stale as an educator.  Once your curriculum is in place, you feel secure in your classroom management skills, it’s time to start adding in some “out of the box” strategies and lessons.  For me, that is going back to something I did two years ago in a Creative Writing course and during my first attempt at a Project Genius Hour: classroom blogging.

I had my students create their own WordPress accounts and design a personalized blog.

In Creative Writing, they used it for their weekly postings about a given writing prompt or subject that we had been talking about in class; for Genius Hour, they posted their progress in researching their topics and other specific prompts that had to do with the process of being given 20% of the school week to focus on a subject matter that meant something more to them than just another grade.  If you want to know more about Project Genius Hour or 20% Time Projects, please see the following link:

My Own Genius Hour and follow @JoyKirr on Twitter.

I have decided to go back to classroom blogging for several reasons:

  • It gives students a voice and an outlet to be expressive
  • It’s important to address the ever-growing technological aspects of classroom writing
  • It gives students ownership over their writing
  • #GoGreen and save a few thousand sheets of paper
  • It creates an online archive/portfolio of their writing
  • Simplicity in checking their work

Let me address the simplicity point.  Some may say that if I have students email me an attachment or link to a GoogleDoc, won’t it be easier for me to have all the essays/poems/narratives/etc all in one place because I can save them to a folder on a flash drive or my desktop?  True.  You can do that.  However, there is an even simpler way to do this and that is through the use of a fantastic (and free) website: Feedly.

I started using this website that allows users to collect all the websites for blogs they read all in one dashboard.  You are able to sort the different blogs into categories and the most currently published blogs are added and highlighted for your benefit.  It saves so much time as opposed to visiting each one or receiving an email that notifies you of a new post.

 

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A listing of the categories that you customize. The number to the right of each title tells you how many new, unread posts are left to read.

 

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Here you can see all the specific blogs that I read that are organized into categories.

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This view allows all the newest blogs, regardless of category, to appear at the top of the page. It even tells you how long ago it was posted.

So how does Feedly help in classroom blogging:

  1. Once each student has created and shared their blog’s website address with you, you then create categories based on class period.  When a new blog entry has been published, it will be indicated for you in both the side bar and on the “All” view.
  2. It comes with a time and date stamp.  You will know exactly when a student has published his or her required blog and if it’s done on time.
  3. It’s all organized for you!  You don’t have to hunt and scavenger through the internet to 125 different URLs; they’re all listed in one amazing dashboard.
  4. In addition to all the blog entries being in one place, so  are all the students’ entries.  Because it’s done on WordPress and Feedly, you don’t have to spend wasted time searching through old emails or worry that the document got deleted.
  5. I often would forget to bring my flash drives home, so there would go a whole night/weekend of grading.  With Feedly, it’s all online and I can access it everywhere.

Question of the Day:  If you use blogging in your classroom, what other helpful tips do you have for supporting your students or making life easier for the teacher who must grade and manage them?

 

 

Google Docs in the Classroom

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I’m trying to convince myself that it’s time to get to know Google Docs, and I’m using the excuse that it’s time to revamp my classroom.  I’m starting my 10th year of teaching this fall and it is time.  It’s easier to remain stagnant, but if humans were meant to stay the same their entire lives, I wouldn’t be buying regenerist serums by the gallon.

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Anyway, I have started fiddling around with how to make Google forms with my personal account.  I am going to be meeting weekly with my department members and I want to streamline the process as much as possible.  Here is the final product:

Meeting Minutes

I can open this form on my iPad during the meeting, fill it out, and then have the results accumulated in a spreadsheet for my convenience.  I also figure out how to have the results directly emailed to me for easy sharing with the individual teachers.

It was a little tricky getting used to the format and platform, and because I’m still working the kinks out, I won’t attempt to explain the process.  I’ll leave that to the experts.

It got me to thinking about how I can use Google Docs in the classroom.  I am completely envious of teachers who work in a 1:1 school or where technology is more consistently accessible.  What I do have control over is the use of my iPad in the classroom.  I can also provide Google Docs/Forms for students to use at home if they cannot access them on their smartphones or tablets.  So here is a list of uses that I intend to implement this year:

  • Behavior Logs
  • Individual/Group meetings with students
  • Surveys
  • Spot Checks
    • This has become the nomenclature at our school to replace the term “quiz.”  It will ensure me that students have read their assigned reading.  Through our PLN, we have decided that the first question must always be, “Did you complete the reading assignment?”  At first, we thought students would automatically respond, “yes,” but eventually as students became more comfortable, their honesty improved.  It helps the teacher know if there is a comprehension problem or if it’s Christmas treeing.
  • Lesson planning
  • Rubrics – I’m still new to this usage, but I definitely plan on getting better acquainted.

Question of the Day: If you use Google Docs/Forms in the classroom, what is your favorite method?  If you haven’t started, what is holding you back?

 

Classroom Rules and Procedures Using Memes

It’s never easy to be the authoritarian nor is spending the first full day of school, the first weeks to build a standing routine, so finding  new ways to keep yourself entertained as the teacher is key.  This year, I am going to be using memes to help introduce the rules and procedures I want my students to follow when they come into my classroom.  I am far from the first teacher to do this, so I borrowed each and every one of the the memes that are shown below.

Rules for Getting Along in Room 204 PPT

Erm

Homework on Time

 

Participate

Talk When I Am

Texting

Writing Utensil