Tag Archives: technology integration

3 Easy Integration Ideas for Your Blog

June 26, 2012

I talked in an earlier post about the evolution of the use of blogging in my classroom. Whenever I mention starting a classroom blog to teachers, or do professional development sessions that involve blogs, there are a few ways to use blogs in the classroom that I seem to always mention. Here’s a list of a few ways you can use a classroom or student blogs in the classroom.

  1. Blogging is writing, so it’s pretty obvious that the go-to use of blogs is to have students write. A blog is a perfect place for students to keep a learning journal, reflection log, or writing notebook! For this, a service such as Kidblog is perfect for creating and managing blogs for younger students. Older students or adult learners could use Google’s Blogger easily for this. This is a blogger blog !
  2. When I was in the elementary classroom, I loved using my class blog as a center activity. Students rotated through the blogging station through-out the week. Each week there was a discussion question for them to answer or reply to. I posted the topic or question, and they replied back through comments. There were quite a few reasons that I loved using blogging as a center. Let’s be honest- as a teacher time is the one thing you never have enough of! Each week, the only setup I had to worry about for this center was posting a question or topic. Also, depending on the need, the question or topic could be from any content area or subject! Finally, it was great seeing students answer the question and then be excited to reply back to others in the class!
  3. Another thing that my students always loved was looking at the stats from our class blog. In blogger, you can view your page views broken down by country. It didn’t take too long to get page views from countries around the world…and students were so excited about that! So not only were students motivated to make sure their writing was up to par with being seen around the world, but I could also use the stats as a way to engage students in learning about other cultures, countries, geography, and more. We could even pull mathematics in by using the measurement tools in Google Earth to measure distances between different places, or in upper grades by using the page view numbers and converting them into the fractional or decimal parts.

So those are 3 pretty simple ways to use a classroom blog. How do you use yours?

My Advice About Teaching with Technology

March 13, 2012

I spent a little time tonight looking back at the classroom blog that I started back during my first full year as a teacher, before I was even accepted in the Pinnacle Technology Leader program that we have in my county. In fact, I had forgotten that I even HAD a blog way back then, but the proof is there! What’s interesting to me is comparing the blog I had then to the blog that I had the next year. One reason I love having a personal blog is because it’s like a diary of sorts that reminds of those sometimes mundane turned awesome life happenings when memory fails. As is turns out, my classroom and professional blogs work the same way.

In looking back at my first classroom blog, it was totally there to distribute information. It wasn’t to provide collaboration or spur discussion, but simply used as a tool to get information out to parents and students.

1st Class Blog
2nd Class Blog

But then I took a look at the classroom blog that I used the next year, and it had obviously evolved into something more than simply information distribution. By this time, I was not only using the blog to post assignments and communicate with parents, but was also using our classroom blog as a weekly literacy/content center, and as a place to get student feedback on many activities we did in the classroom. 
But thinking back on this time in my classroom, not only had my use of blogging changed, but my use of technology in general had changed as well. When I first started teaching, whatever technology I used was mostly just that- me using technology. I was lucky enough to have a school laptop that I could use to write lesson plans on, and had easy enough access to a projector when I wanted to show a video or a website for use in my lessons. And I think that was natural, especially when I take into account that I started teaching in my own classroom half-way through a school year. It was more about survival and figuring out where to pick up than making things my own.
But…just like my blog evolved in my 2nd year, so did my other use of technology. I started focusing on letting my students use whatever technology was available, not just me. And it wasn’t just about using the technology… I figured out that what was most important was what students were DOING with technology. So using the technology wasn’t important, but learning was. And learning new technologies wasn’t even important, but learning about the moon, or other countries, or about the life cycles of plants, or about how to work together even with people you aren’t best friends with was the important stuff. And if through doing that, students learned new technology or got to use the newest “it” site great. 
And you know what? Teaching with technology, and integrating it in a way that was seamless and flowed wasn’t always easy. BUT. It was possible. I know it was, because I did it. But that doesn’t mean that it is going to happen overnight.
So my advice to all those trying to figure out ways to teach with all this new technology? Whether you’re a veteran teacher trying to update your teaching practices or a novice teacher already in love with all things tech…take it step by step. Baby steps are okay. The same methods don’t work for everyone, and that’s okay. If this year or this semester, you want to try using a class blog or give a site like Edmodo a try and just focus on communication, that’s okay. Don’t feel like you have to do everything at once, and don’t feel like you have to try every single new thing out there. Because you know what? Technology and all the cool new stuff shouldn’t really the focus. Your content should be. All that cool stuff may be a great way to engage your students in your content…but that’s what your Instructional Technology Facilitator can help you with too! 
So if you’re scared, it’s okay! Take small steps, and don’t be afraid to ask for help!
What’s your advice for integrating technology into teaching?