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Classrooms Blogs — Not Just for Showcasing on Bulletin Boards Anymore!

Mrs. Poulin’s Blog

Gail Poulin teaches kindergarten at William E. Norris School in Southampton, Massachusetts – and stated that the main purpose of her blog was to be a a communication device between home and school.  One nice statement that she made to families was that the blog is great way to keep distant family members in the loop of what the child is doing in school.  She actively uses PhotoStory3, Animoto, and Movie Maker to post her videos which I think is great as our students in my school are sometimes only getting to use those programs starting in middle school.  The blog is very easy to navigate and visual easy to look at — with kindergarteners, it would have to catch attention as Poulin urges her students to make comments on the blog after reading them at home with their parents.   All monthly newsletters are easily seen and pictures from the class field trip were published with a description of the day.

There are links to practice literacy and math for kids to play Online games.  On both os those posts, I was expecting to see links to the curriculum and maybe some sample work or copies of assignments — but maybe that is reserved for a homework page.  Other than the link for students to have Online books read to them, there was no other academic information.  One post directed readers to the stuffed animal, Mr. Davo, a Tasmanian Devil’s blog.  This was interesting as I am inferring that the animal is passed around the state between a few teachers.  Again, I was expecting to see a science connection or picture of the actual Devil, but all that was provided was pictures of the stuffed animal at each kindergartener’s house.  That would be very special for them to be included in the blog, but I would like to have read some facts about the animal.  The reason that I said that they must pass the animal around is because there was a video that explained that Mr. Davo had come for a visit, but would now be going off to Cape Cod to see other kids.  I would use this passing of the animal to help my kids learn about Skype in order to see other kids enjoying Mr. Davo’s presence.  I like her ideas of keeping this blog updated and I think my school already has a feature like this, I just do not take advantage of it — though I do have some blogging experience now:)

Huzzah!

This 6th and 7th grade classroom blog is based in British Columbia and maintained by teachers, Ms. Smith and Mrs. Bombini (who stated themselves as learners to the blog as well).  The purpose is to be a place for learners to share the inquiry learning that they have done.  The teachers are models for me as far as getting their students curious about a topic of their choice and then researching it to find answers.  I am impressed that every student in the class has his or her own blog — which is linked from every main page.  I also liked how there is a sidebar that displays where each reader is in the world.  I saw a few for the Maryland area and like to assume that they were from our class.   This site is easy to navigate and the process must have been kid friendly if so many kids were able to create their own blogs.

One of the posts that caught my eye in this 0blog was entitled, “Survey Says: we’re running our own businesses!”  The post olds the links to all of the “business” pages that the kids created for their class project after learning about manufacturing, retail and service.  Those broad topics were the base for the inquiry learning that was done in each room and I am inferring that the end product was the advertisement on the blog.  Oe of the student created a blog to advertise  his “Meaningful Magnets”.  It is not clear that this student has completed al there was within a rubric for the assignment.  If I designed the project, I would have posted the rubric or expectations so that readers like myself knew exactly what was expected.  Tommy’s Blog was more in-depth and I was able to click on more sidelines and options.  As far as the assignment, I was able to get a better idea about the product and even had a chance to take his survey about how I would prefer the product.  So far, this was the only site that allowed all of the kids to showcase their own work on an individual page.

The Plugged-In Portable

This site’s goal is to integrate Technology and Curriculum and is hosted by David Carruthers a grade 6 teacher in St. Thomas, Ontario.  I like this man’s philosophy that kids shouldn’t have to “un-plug”  when they get to school.  It is apparent, just by scrolling through the blog that technology is used in most daily instruction.  I was attracted to his blog as he had a lot of student work and post titles describing inquiry learning–which  am attempting in my classroom now.  Up until I read this blog, I had only seen the Huzzah! site allowing kids to showcase work.

One post was entitled, “Reaching Well Beyond the Walls of the Classroom” reflected on the thoughts that the old classroom ways have turned into technical practices.  Kids may be absent from school, but want to join the conversation through Skype, they are learning in a way that is incising them to be in school.  The message of this post was short and sweet–we need to keep up with the way kids are learning to live their lives–with technologies to communicate.

I clicked on the project based learning link since I just learned about the process in my last collaboration course.  David wrote that he first had his kids design the ultimate bike and the results were fantastic — kids researched bikes then used their imaginations.  He thought the results went well, and was ready to produce another project.  He also took some time to look back on the work that was done.  “What Will I Do Next Time?” was a post reflecting on the first inquiry based research project that David attempted with his class.  I found it interesting that he criticized himself for not having a clear enough goal for the end of the project, which I found to be true for the Huzzah! site as the goals were not clearly stated.  I appreciate this post as we all know that reflection is one of the most important parts of growing and learning.  He also discussed having numerous checkpoint for kids–he must have had trouble with kids falling behind or not hitting all of the points of the assignment.

Works Cited

Bombini and Winner. (2012, March 21). Huzzah!. Retrieved March 25, 2012, from http://huzzah.edublogs.org/about/

 Carruthers, D. (2011, October 23). TheUnpluggedPortable. The UnpluggedPortable. Retrieved March 25, 2012, from http://thepluggedinportable.edublogs.org/

Poulin, G. (2012, March 23). Mrs.Poulin’sBlog. Mrs.Poulin’sBlog. Retrieved March 25, 2012, from http://poulingail.edublogs.org/

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About slm508kaf

I am a 7th grade teacher at Thurmont Middle School in Thurmont, Maryland. I teach language Arts and am active in the theatre program, CLC program, and also act as the 7th grade team leader.

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