VoiceThread – BYOD

BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) is a program that some school districts are using to help get technology in students’ hands on a daily bases. Students who have their own devices can bring them to school, connect to the network, and use them during class. Schools would then provide devices to those who do not have their own device. This would mean schools do not have to spend as much and every student has a device to use during instruction. There are pros and cons to this program as well as many things the district has to put in place before beginning such a program.


Digital Production

MS-ESS1-1. Develop and use a model of the Earth-sun-moon system to describe the cyclic patterns of lunar phases, eclipses of the sun and moon, and seasons.

The above standard comes from the Middle School NGSS curriculum. Students would learn about the moon phases and what causes us to see the different phases throughout the month. They would also keep a calendar of the moon phases they actually see for a month. As a final project students would create a comic strip using ToonDoo to report the date they saw the different phases of the moon and create a model of the position of the sun, moon, and earth for those dates. They would have to create a series of Toons and then put them together into a ToonBook to show the whole month. Students could create this as an individual project or could work together in groups of two, with each student creating a Toon for four of the phases and then putting the two together to show the whole month. Students could even take their own pictures of the phases through the month and use these pictures in their Toons. This project meets the ISTE Standards for students #3 Knowledge Constructor as well as ISTE Standards for teachers #2 Design and develop digital age learning experiences and assessments.

Teacher Blogs

User Generated Education is a blog site created and run by Jackie Gerstein who teaches gifted students. The blog shares and instructs teachers in different techniques and methods to use in the classroom as well as ideas about teaching in general. Some of the posts explore ideas about teaching and how we need to change these ideas to fit the changing times. For example, one post titled “Why do we give tests? What purpose does it serve?” looks at the purpose for tests and assessments and how we need to change them to really have them do what we want them to do, which is to “provide students with feedback that lead to increased personal performance”. Another post, “Team Building Activities That Support Maker Education, STEM, and STEAM”, shares ideas for projects that can be used directly in the classroom to help build team work skills and STEM ideas. I really enjoyed looking through some of the articles posted on this blog and can see myself using ideas from it in my teaching.

The Middle School Science Blog was created by Liz Larosa to share lesson plans and resources for Science classrooms grades 5 – 8. There are activities, lesson plans, unit plans, and year-long sequence plans for all Science topics. All worksheets are provided to use and directions are given to help you edit them to fit your own classroom needs. There are links provided for all images, videos, and audio files used in the lessons. It easy to search the blog to find all lessons that pertain to a certain topic. I am about to start my Astronomy unit and we learn about Moon phases. I found a great lesson to use, “Moon Phases – Sort and Flip Book”. It not only had the pages to make the flip book but also a collection of lessons to use when teaching the phases (videos, other worksheets, activities). You can also go directly to her lesson plans that show day to day what lessons and activities she uses in her classroom as well as how to set up a student interactive Science notebook. I will definitely be using this blog as a resource for myself and have already shared it with all the other Science teachers in my building.

Organized Chaos is a totally different blog than the other two I looked at. Instead of giving ideas and advice on things to use inside the classroom, this blog was mainly for sharing views on the politics and policies that effect teachers and education. Written by an educator who runs her own private special education business, the blogger shares thoughts and discussions about things like the new president’s policies, the stress and long hours teachers put in, discussions she has had with parents and other educators, and things she has learned from children. At first I didn’t think I would like this type of blog. I am not one to listen to the grumbling in the teacher’s lounge. But as I started reading the posts I found myself pulled in. I did not agree with her view of things all the time but it did get me to thinking about my own viewpoint and how it affects me as a teacher. This is very true with her post “40 Hour Work Week?”. I am constantly wrestling with how much time I put into teaching. How much time have I missed with my family due to grading papers and planning lessons? I know there are times my family gets upset because I put my job first at times. This post really started me thinking about my own work hours and how it affects not just me but my family. 

When I started this assignment I was not a blogger. I did not follow any blogs and never thought I would use them. I have since changed my mind. I can see myself spending a little time each day following and commenting on these blogs. I will be going back to look at several posts I thought looked interesting but that I didn’t have time to look at yet. I love seeing how others present the same material I do. Sometimes I like my way better and sometimes I find something I never thought about but when I use it the students love it. I still do not see myself joining in the conversations that go on in the teacher’s lounge but the blogs that shared thoughts about the teaching profession I found to be eye opening. These seem to be not just a gripe session but a way to put ideas out there and finding solutions to these problems that all teachers face. Teachers’ blogs is like having PD sessions with teachers from all over the world. Teachers have always shared ideas and opinions within their school, now we can do so worldwide.

Classroom Blogs

If Only The Best Birds Sang… – Elementary School

I found If Only The Best Birds Sang… blog to be very interesting. It is run by an elementary school to help share with family and the community student work as well as the curriculum. It also shares with students many educational websites while stressing digital citizenship. There are no pictures of actual students on the blog and there are reminders throughout that there should always be parent supervision when students are exploring the blog and the internet as a whole. All content is monitored by teachers. I really liked “The World Around US” section of the blog which actually had students sharing and talking with students around the world. Some classes even collaborated with classes in other parts of the world on projects. Posts span the range from art projects to coding, from poetry to religious content.
I really liked the set-up of this blog. It was easy to move around and find things. I also liked the way that digital citizenship was stressed throughout, not only for the students but for the parents as well. When I create a blog for my classroom I would definitely use some of the organization ideas from this blog.

Curiously Collaborative – Middle School

Created by Don Eckert, a 7th grade teacher at East Naples Middle School; Curiously Collaborative focuses on “a student-driven, project-based learning environment”. The blog is used to share the many activities going on in the classroom and the creations of the students. There are many links to other blogs used in the classroom as well as those created by the students themselves. I was really interested in the Harmonized Learning blog that was created especially for students to share information on their “Genius Hour” projects. Students develop their own project based on something they want to learn about. They are in charge of their own learning and have to present what they have learned and the project they have developed using that learning. Students have to post weekly on the blog about their project. This allows them to share what has worked and what has not as well as getting comments from others on their project.
I can see myself visiting this blog to see what interesting projects students are doing in the classroom to get ideas for my own classroom. I can also see sharing this blog with my students so that they can see how other schools work, as well as learning from the projects some of the students are working on. I am really interested in the “genius Hour” projects. I would love to somehow adapt this to my own classroom.

Hey Kids! – High School

Hey Kids! states that its goal is to “extend our classroom beyond ourselves and generate thoughtful discussion among all members of the learning community – other students, parents, and teachers around the globe.” Each post shares information about a topic in several different forms including videos, podcasts, and links to other websites. Students are then asked thought provoking questions about the material. Activities done in the classroom are also shared. Students then start to discuss what they have learned and discuss the questions posted. One post, Play On! , begins with a discussion on plays and then leads the students to explore plays performed in Ancient Greece. Students are then asked to leave comments for future visitors to Greece sharing what they discovered.
This blog was more for sharing of information, not showing student creations. Although there were some projects shared, the majority of the blog was used to give students information. I think that this is a good use of a classroom blog but should not be the majority of its use.

In the three blogs I reviewed I noticed several similarities. All three had many statements regarding digital safety and citizenship not only for the students but also for parents (especially the elementary and middle school blog). I was glad to see this was something that most classroom blogs included. All three also had a connection to Goodreads. I thought this was interesting since neither of the blogs focused solely on reading. The biggest difference I noticed about them was the rate of participation. The elementary and middle school blogs had lots of student participation but the high school blog did not. Of the three I think I will be keeping up with Curiously Collaborative. Not only because I teach middle school but because I think it seemed to have the best mix of teacher and student input. If I start a classroom blog this would be one I would like to model mine after.