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?

 

 

Friday Link Up!

Friday Link Up

10 Back-to-School Tips for Teachers Using Google Docs via Te@chThought

Cultivating Creativity in Standards-Based Classrooms via Edutopia

“Interactive Sites for Education” Roundup from Larry Ferlazzo

Why Are There Silent Letters in the English Language from Mental Floss (via Larry Ferlazzo)

Ten Free Apps and Tools for Starting Out (and Staying) Organized via Edutopia

Favorite Pins

Setting Up Your Classroom: 9 Practical Things You May Not Have Thought Of via Teach 4 the Heart

Practice Makes Perfect: Citing Textual Evidence via Lesson Planet

53 Ways to Check for Understanding via Edutopia

Maintaining the Rowdies

This is the classic time of the school year when students begin to let their eyes wander from books to sun-filled windows.

Wait.  Mrs. Ferrari.  That can happen at any point of the calendar!

Too true, too true.  However, at least there seems to be incentives to be on their best behavior.  By the time the end of May rolls around, many factors can build up so high for students to climb on in their anarchical behavior.

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1.  Higher temperatures make it easier for students to picture themselves outside.

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2.  Extreme Fussiness Syndrome (EFS) 9 months of lectures, taking notes, studying, reciting and drilling, writing essays, time-outs, talks in the hallways, trips to and from the principal’s office to hear the same scoldings and reminders of how today is the first day of the rest of your educational journey.  Oy!

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3.  Learning how to play by each teacher’s rules and how to push the right buttons to get a reaction comes too naturally after 9 months of practicing.

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4.  Teachers let their standards slack because WE’RE daydreaming about that cruise or day-long coffee sipping and novel reading summits on the hammock in the backyard.

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5.  “What more can they do to me?” mentality.

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So what is a teacher to do to maintain a sense of order and mental competency during these last few weeks of the school year?

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Dos and Don’ts To Maintain Order in the Classroom

1.  Do maintain order and high standards; this is still quality time in the classroom and keep your lessons rigorous.

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2.  Don’t be that teacher who begins the “End of the Year” party too soon.  This will lead to students thinking that they can slack off in all of their other classes.

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3.  Don’t let the bad behavior get to you.  If the students see that they can fluster you, they’ll take advantage and have something to use against you in their game of “Stir the Pot to Avoid Actual Work.”

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4.  Do reward your students for their attention to their school work and dedication.  It takes everything for some of the little darlings to make it through 6-7 class periods a day when they want to be outside.tumblr_inline_mmiioev1rL1rbdrkf

5.  Do something fun!  Save an interesting , intriguing, or hands-on unit for the end of the school year.  In my own high school experience, my Psychology teacher saved the “Serial Killer” unit for May; I teach “Romeo and Juliet” and “Othello” this time of the year because, believe it or not, the kids get into it and there are many activities that get them out of their seats and their imaginations flowing.

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6.  Don’t forget why you and they are there: you’re there to teach, they’re there to learn, and you’re in this partnership and need one another.

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