Monthly Archives: May 2014

Blogging in the Classroom

I have admittedly put off writing this blog post because, to be honest, blogging intimidates me somewhat. As an adult I am often self-conscious of how my peers perceive my work, in this case, the blog post. I worried about perfecting the content and the form so much that I kept pushing this post to the back burner. How did I finally find the courage to write this? From my inspiring students of course!

 At about the same time I joined Down the Road, I began a blog for the students in my classroom. We use Kidblog, a free, secure blogging site geared towards classroom use. When we first started blogging I set aside a class period to introduce this new project. When I told the class the big news that we would have a classroom blog, responses varied from shouts of joy to “what’s a blog?” Once I explained that it would be a place for students to free-write, as well as to share details about school with friends and family, there was a collective excitement in the classroom. Kids couldn’t wait to get down to the computer lab to blog.

  My students started much the same way I did here on Down the Road, by writing an introduction post. Once everyone had the experience of creating their first post, I allowed more open-ended assignments. We do sometimes type posts as a class that are all related to the same content, for example blogging about an assignment we did in science or social studies. This allows for some great cross curricular opportunities; kids are re-reading content from our units and getting extra exposure to the big ideas without even realizing it! After children finish their own post, teachers encourage them to read their friends posts and write comments. When it comes to commenting on friends posts, students can type at their own pace, often allowing our language impaired students that extra processing time they need to formulate a thoughtful and appropriate question. It’s also less intimidating for some children to share their thoughts in typing as opposed to speaking in front of a group. Some of the children have fallen in love with blogging to the point that they have begun blogging at home! One of my favorite things is when a student comes into school on Monday morning with a big smile saying, “Ms. Parker did you see my blog post?”

 I’ve also found that some students crave this outlet of free expression. When I think about the opportunities students have throughout the day to express themselves freely, I realize how limited these opportunities can be. Students must raise their hands to speak during lessons, line up with “a zero voice” and wait until lunch or choice time to have unstructured conversations with their peers, often only to have these conversations cut short when it’s time to move on to the next activity. Blogging provides an outlet for students to write about anything they wish knowing someone will hear it.  Often parents or other family members post replies to their child’s post, but I always make sure to comment on every students post to ensure they know they are being heard. Some students don’t type much; they are thrilled to write maybe one or two sentences, however the idea that they have the ability to write anything is so exciting to them. The excitement my students showed towards blogging is what helped me finally write this post. Blogging really is a great outlet for adults and children alike!

End of Year Ideas

Keeping your sanity during the tornado of paperwork and checklists at the end of the school-year can be tough. Sometimes the time spent in the classroom can just slip away. It’s important to have designated times when you create something as a cohesive group. This can be anything from group parallel play to a project that requires costumes and collaboration. Depending on your group dynamic, that choice is yours. Do whatever they can handle, and it will be memorable.

Harlem Shake Videos:

Last year, the Harlem Shake was all the rage. Basketball teams, groups of friends, news crews, casts, and more were getting together to create their own Harlem Shake videos. We decided that, as a class, we would make costumes, and take turns being the one in costume. The kids absolutely loved it, and now they have a video to remember their time in our class. There are free apps that make it easy to create your own Harlem Shake video.

Bubble Party:

To celebrate ending the 6 days dedicated to the NYS ELA and MAth assessments, we decided to have a bubble party. Shockingly, the exams still require students to “bubble in” their answers throughout the tests.

Later on, we also made sure to get our co-workers a bottle of champagne to have them also celebrate the end of bubbling in names and codes.

Classroom Stories:

One idea is to have students create their own stories using the kids in class as their characters. The level of support given to this activity depends on your students’ age and needs. This activity will give each student a chance to be creative, while at the same time, creating something that will allow the child to always remember his classmates. If your students need more support, you can help the students generate ideas. If the child struggles with writing, you can type up most of the book, but leave some words that the child can write in themselves. On the back, you can include the picture of the “author” with a short blurb about the students, giving the story the look and feel of an actual book. You can then choose to combine the stories into one big book to send home or give copies of each child’s story to the students to bring home.

Time Capsule:

In the beginning of the year we had students fill out various items for a time capsule. Each student wrote their a few of their favorite things, such as their favorite book, food, school subject, and what they want to be when they grow up. We even took a picture for them to glue on the cover, traced their hand size, and wrote how tall they were. During the last week of school we complete the same activities again and compare the results! It’s so fun to see the growth of students over so many dimensions.

Video Clips:

My students love the opportunity to be on camera. Any activity is instantly more exciting once students find out the end result will be a video. I plan on brainstorming students’ ‘favorite thing from this year,’ together before writing some ideas down on a ‘script.’ Students can share their favorite memories on camera, then we will watch the videos together as a class. As an added bonus we will post the videos on our class blog for students to watch at home with their families.

 

This post was collaboratively written by Jess, Caitlin, Anthony, and Katherine.