21st Century Learning at Martin J. Gottlieb Day School

25Feb/130

Kindergarteners Gaining Independence, Pride & Increased Comfort Level with the iPad

K-nouns-class

The picture above makes me smile… I see a group of Kindergarteners thinking, wondering, discussing, testing things out, collaborating, being proud of their independence as they are working with iPads.

It was the first time, we “let go” with the iPads. Previously, we had iPad Centers, working with 3-4 students at a time or we took two buddies out of the class to record each other in a separate room.

This time, we decided students were ready (I was not so sure, if I was ready) to give each 5/6 year old their own iPad in hand. My eyes were constantly darting across the room, trying to foresee any potential disasters or accidents about to happen in regards to the physical well being of the devices (I am happy to report that there was not one incident!)

Mrs.Y.’s , the Kindergarten teacher, goal was to work on NOUNS. Building on the iPad skills they had developed in the previous weeks. We modeled for the entire group how to:

  • find “nouns” in the classroom
  • frame a picture so several nouns would be captured
  • open up Skitch app
  • using arrows to point to the nouns
  • use type or handwrite the name of the object
  • email their picture to their teacher to be included in their blogfolio

nouns

Some students tentatively starting with one noun and then worked their way up to more than one in a second (or third, or fourth) image. They became more creative as they were wandering around the classroom to take  “just the right” image. Mrs. Y. projected her email program to the board and as a class they went through each screenshot that had been taken and mailed.

You could really see the pride these students were displaying in their work.

nouns2

K-nouns

5Feb/130

How Does iPad Workflow Fluency Look Like in Kindergarten

Recently, I tried to explain to a teacher from another school how we are trying to use iPads BEYOND apps. We have over 100 apps on our school iPads and introduce our students according to age level to a variety of them, but the focus of the use of the devices NEEDS to remain primarily as a tool for:

  • exposing students to skills, characteristic of a "modern learner"
  • critical thinking
  • personal learning
  • transformative learning
  • workflow fluency
  • anytime/anywhere/anyhow
  • creating

There is nothing wrong with using apps for isolated skills practice, such as multiplication, spelling, memorization, taking digitized quizzes or substituting otherwise traditional analog activities. These purposes should not be the only reasons of using iPads though. As students are being exposed to different apps, the focus needs to remain on the purpose, creation, workflow and sharing of what they can "do"with the iPads. They should "do" what they could not conceive or accomplish without them before.

I have shared last week, how our first graders are showing first signs of fluency when working with the tools at their disposal. How do we approach the workflow fluency with Kindergarten students?

We chose four apps (Doodle Buddy, Skitch, iMovie, ExplainEverything) to introduce our 5 and 6 year olds to the workflow:

import>create>save>share

Doodle Buddy

  • Students listened to a story (about dinosaurs and Hanukkah) without seeing the illustrations in the book
  • in Doodle Buddy, they visualized the story by drawing the imaginary images in their heads.
  • they saved the images in the photo album
  • emailed the images to their teacher (to be inserted into student blogfolio under categories: Art, Writing)

dinosaur-visualization.png

Skitch for iPad

  • We started out by having students use Skitch to take a picture of themselves (some of them asked a buddy to take it for them, which they then reciprocated)
  • by using the pen tool, they chose a color and then wrote their name on the image
  • from Skitch, their "annotated" images were emailed to the teacher (to be inserted into student blogfolio- Category: Kindergarten, Me, writing samples)

Kindergarten-skitch

iMovie

  • Using iMovie students created a new project
  • recorded a buddy telling them about their "favorite part of Kindergarten".
  • they played the movie back, re0recording if necessary until the movie clip was to their satisfaction
  • students saved and named their project
  • the movie was sent to a school vimeo account (to be embedded into student blogfolio- Category: Kindergarten, Me, Oral Language)

 

Kindergarten-iMovie

Explain Everything

  • The Kindergarten teacher set up scenarios and took photos in the classroom, demonstrating the Math concept of "fewer, more, equal".
  • the images ( different scenarios with different groups of children) were emailed to each iPad and saved in the Photo Album
  • students looked at each image and chose the scenario, they wanted to "explain" (all students chose an image they were part of!)
  • using Explain Everything, they then imported the image
  • chose the pen tool and color
  • recorded, paused, and drew their explanation
  • the project was saved and mailed to teacher to be uploaded to classroom vimeo account (to be included in student blogfolio under Categories: Kindergarten, Math, Oral Language)

K-explain-everything

 

As we were using the above apps, we continue to ask and reflect:

  • How is the app used to directly support curriculum content?
  • How are we allowing students to demonstrate evidence of their learning in this moment in time?
  • How are we/they documenting their learning process?
  • How do we provide opportunities for students to think about and reflect on their own learning?
  • What skills of a "modern learner" are we exposing our students to and how are we supporting the development of new literacies?

 

5Dec/120

Visualizing Stories

I recently found a video of 1st graders using the iPad to visualize a poem that their teacher read to them. After students drew what they imagined, they got into pairs and explained their drawings to a partner. The teacher also circulated to listen and to ask deeper questions of understanding.

The concept inspired our Kindergarten teacher and me to try something similar with our five and 6 year old students. Learning how to listen or read a story and being able to visualize the setting, characters and storyline is an important skill. Being able to "translate" one media (oral text) to another (an illustration) is a critical literacy skill.

Our librarian helped pick a book "How do Dinosaurs say Happy Chanukah", appropriate for this time of year. The Kindergarten teacher explained to the children, that she would be reading the book to them without showing them the pictures. A gasp was heard around the room: "What? No pictures?". Instead they were asked to use their imagination and draw the pictures in their heads first.

We then handed out the iPads and ask them to draw the picture they had formed in their heads on the iPad with the help of Doodle Buddy. Once finished, we saved the images and emailed them to the teacher.

Dinosaurs And Chanukah from langwitches on Vimeo.

22Nov/120

The Making of a Story in Kindergarten and Amplification Thoughts

Kindergarten time is storytelling time: Listening to stories, telling stories, acting stories out, learning how to read your own stories and creating your own stories!

Learning about a holiday, like Thanksgiving in the USA, is the perfect time to cloak the historical origin into a fascinating story for five and six year olds. Who is not excited about a story with Indians, interesting people named "Pilgrims", a ship named Mayflower and a huge feast with "yummy" food?

Our Kindergarten teacher upgraded a traditionally created paper bound class booklet of the students illustrations and text of a Thanksgiving story to creating a TechnoTale. What is a techno-tale? A techno-tale is a digitally told story

By creating a movie, the teacher AMPLIFIED

  • the original reach her students' work had
    ...by embedding the video on the classroom blog, allowing family and friends to watch the movie, regardless of their geographic location and the amount of physical booklets that were available.
  • the learning style
    ...by allowing students to learn through and express themselves in a variety of forms.
  • using different communication media
    ...by giving students the opportunity, not only draw illustrations and add text, but by recording their voices over the illustrations.
  • home-school connection
    ...by allowing students to share something created in the classroom with their families at home, opening doors to further conversation about school and classroom happenings.
  • repetition
    ...The video is personalized (student's voice, student's illustrations) and motivates students to watch over and over again.
  • dissemination
    ...by using different strategies, we actively and strategically share and disseminate our students' work. We blog, tweet, promote and talk about their work with others.

In addition to the TechnoTale video you see above, the Kindergarten class also created a bilingual iPad eBook (Hebrew/English) of their book.

By creating an eBook version, we further AMPLIFIED the original paper booklet and technotale movie by:

  • adding language tracks
    ...by adding a second voice recording in the target language.
  • classroom learning time
    ...by giving students the opportunity to read and practice the target language (Hebrew) beyond the contact time in the classroom.
  • parent-school connection
    ...parents or grandparents, who are native target language speakers are included and encouraged to read the eBook with their children.
  • accessibility
    ....by making the eBook available to download on the classroom blog, we allowed more family and friends to read and listen to the story.
  • distribution
    ...duplication of the book does not cost anything extra, distribution is easy and instant.
  • reach a global audience
    ...by making the file available for download and sharing the created eBook freely, we are encouraging a greater world wide audience for our students.
  • students' legacy (definition of legacy: Something handed down from an ancestor or a predecessor or from the past)
    ...by creating an eBook, which is saved in the school's iTunes account and available on all school iPad iBook shelves for years to come, students in subsequent years, can read, listen and learn from this year's Kindergarten class.

If you own an iPad or iPhone, you can download the ePub file and directly drop it into your iTunes library. Once you sync your device with iTunes, you are able to read our ebook.

If you are reading this post on your iPad or iPhone, simply click on the ePub file and choose to open in iBook.

The above can give you a pretty good idea of the amplification possibilities, a "traditional" analog project, "upgraded" to a digital version can bring. I do want to close, not with more transformative skills or goals for further amplification, but with the LEARNING behind the scenes that went into the production of the TechnoTale and eBook. Take a look...

10Oct/120

State of the Blogging School Address

State of our School Address (regarding Blogging)

3 years ago, we created blogs (WordPress platform) for ALL classroom teachers and resources. There was an expectation for teachers to be at least on the first step of the blogging ladder, illustrated in the image below. Their classroom blog needed to be, as a minimum,  a replacement of a weekly folder filled with parent-school communication and homework assignments. Teachers were expected to learn how to update their blogs (at least on a weekly basis), insert images and videos and categorize their blog posts. (Getting to Know your Blog- A Beginner’s How To Guide)

This was a steep learning curve for some teachers. In addition,  it was extra time consuming, as it was taking teachers longer time to learn and be comfortable with uploading and inserting images, creating photo galleries, creating links, posting, etc.

Then the question shifted from How to We Did it… We Built It…Will They Come? Some teachers continued to email parents weekly, pointing them to the blog to look at images and news, others resorted to “bribing” students with extra credit if their parents went on the blog, yet another class created a  Blog Tutorial for Parents & Grandparents video.

In preparation for our students to become actively involved in contributing on the classroom blogs, as a school, we needed to Update & Upgrade Our School’s Media & Publishing Release in order to reflect the shift from students as consumers to students as producers.

Some teachers felt ready sooner than others, to climb the next step on the ladder. They opened their classroom blog up for comments to their students. They started to shift from merely pushing out information to parents and students to see the opportunity for a conversation. Teachers were learning to, not only post information, but posing questions for students, encouraging them to think and to participate in a virtual conversation. – Preparing Students for Commenting with Wall Blogging.

Once students were well on their way to begin. They were comfortable in logging into their accounts, reading posts and submitting a commenting, the next step was to focus on the QUALITY of their writing. What constitutes a quality comment? One class answered this question by creating a newscast- Quality Commenting Video by Third Graders

The next step on the classroom blogging ladder was for not only the teacher to produce content/posts, but for students to take ownership. For one teacher, it meant the realization that her classroom job list was in need of a 21st century update What is… What Will Be Obsolete…in Second Grade?

Some teachers:

  • had daily  student “bloggers”,  who were in charge of updating the classroom blog, being the Official Scribe of the day.
  • had students take (handwritten notes) summarizing the daily learning during each subject area, to be then typed and uploaded on Friday to the blog (younger grades).
  • highlighted best work from students as it was produced.
  • put students in charge of photographing classroom/resource activities and learning taking place during the day, the class discussed and voted on the final images to be uploaded at the end of the day and write a short blurb to each image. – Let’s Ask the Kids: 2nd Grade Bloggers

Some classroom blogs were growing beyond homework assignment, as teachers found opportunities to amplify the use of their virtual spaces to get kids involved and engaged in conversation

As commenting and posting to the classroom blog became the routine, especially in the upper elementary grades, students were eager to “earn” their own blogs. It was up to the teacher to set the criteria for students to earn them (ex.5 quality posts moderated and published on the classroom blog).

Once having earned that promotion, students became administrators of their own blogfolio , a combination of an online portfolio and a learning blog. Students were able to choose their own theme from a variety of pre-approved themes available. They chose their own title and tagline, and wrote their About Page.

It takes time for the faculty to see that the students’ blogfolios are NOT a project from/for the Language Arts class. We are not there yet.Teachers, still need to take advantage of pulling in resource teachers and student experiences. Non-Language Arts teachers still need to realize that the blog is a platform for learning for THEIR students too. All this is a process for teachers and students to work through.

We had Professional Development workshops helping teachers subscribe to RSS feeds (Subscribing via RSS & Google Reader to Classroom Blogs) in order to streamline the process of reading AND giving feedback to all their students. This is a daunting task for many teachers, as they are feeling overwhelmed. I have met too many teachers (at other schools) who, precisely for that reason, gave up blogging with their students. It was simply too much work to read and sift through all the writing and commenting (!!). We are committed to working through this at our school though. We are concentrating on finding new ways to embed the reading, the writing, the commenting, the conversation into the “way we do things”, not something we do in addition.

I created the following infographic to demonstrate the flow of blogging in the classroom. The hope is to deflect from the emphasis on technology and the “translation” from analog work to digital work during the blogging process.

You can download the infographic as a pdf file.

There is so much to consider when blogging with your students. You will be able to read about some, some you will hear from teaches who are already blogging and some things you will just have to experience and go through for yourself in order to make it work for you and your students. What we do know, is that no teacher can attend a 3 hour workshop on blogging and is ready to blog with their students the following Monday. I wrote extensively about the process for Stepping it Up- Learning About Blogs FOR your Student as a guide for teachers who want to see blogging as a platform for their own professional development and as a medium for student learning.

Ann Davis, on her blog wrote a post titled “Rationale for Educational Blogging“, an article (and the following comments) worth reading! David Jakes responds in the comment section speaking directly to the teachers “who have kids write for the refrigerator”.

Ann Davis’ quote of “It is not just a matter of transferring classroom writing into digital spaces”, resonates deeply with me. It is a challenge, that we are continuously reflecting on in school, as learning and literacy coaches, but need to do a better job in helping faculty work through this as well. Tough questions need to bubble up  to the surface:

  •  Where it the Authentic Audience?  by Andrea Hernandez
  • What does it mean when students, teachers, parents feel “blogged out”?
  • How do we prevent student blogfolios from becoming an accumulation of “Homework for Thursday”, “Homework for Friday” posts?

Where do we go from here?

We will continue to seek the following through our blogs:

  • quality writing and commenting
  • documentation of the learning process
  • hub for learning artifacts
  • reflections
  • meaningful discussion
  • metacognition
  • authentic feedback
  • global awareness and connectedness

We will encourage, support and participate in activities that will foster the above goals.

Examples:

  • quad-blogging
  • commenting mentor program
  • blogging buddies
  • professional blogs for our educators to build reflective teaching practices, connections to a global network of educators and building a personal brand

10Oct/120

What is the Daily 5?- Parent Connect 9/24/12

This year, we are piloting a new literacy program in grades 2, 4 and 5.  This grew out of our summer professional development book groups, which you can read more about here. The program, called the Daily 5, is grounded in the knowledge base of what activities and behaviors are most effective for developing basic literacy. The Daily 5 was written by Gail Boushey and Joan Moser, who also maintain the DailyCafe.com website.

Our first Parent Connect this year was dedicated to sharing information about The Daily 5 and our implementation of it this year. Here is a review for those parents who were not able to join us, as well as anyone else interested in learning more.

Everything we do is grounded in an understanding of what our students need in order to be successful in this connected, high tech world. We believe the Daily 5 helps us help our students to become independent learners.

Our librarian, Karin Hallett, shared some of the research behind this program in the following slides:

If you would like to learn more, here is an excellent article that synthesizes current research and underscores the importance of self-selected independent reading.

We watched a video of Amy Stein teaching her second graders the "I PICK" strategy for learning how to choose "good fit books."

We also watched Stephanie Teitelbaum introducing "Read to Self" to her 4th and 5th graders.

Here are some thoughts from Andrea Hernandez and Jon Mitzmacher:

This final video includes a discussion about The CAFE Book, which is the counterpart to the Daily 5, as well as information about the data collection process.

Stephanie has started a professional blog, Teach, Blog and Tweet, where she will be documenting and reflecting upon the process as it unfolds. Please feel free to follow her there, and add your voice to the discussion.

 

28Jun/120

Kindergarten Math on the iPad…Many Questions…

It all started with a weekly reflection our teachers leave on our school’s closed Professional Development Ning. Mrs. Y, our Kindergarten teacher pondered how her five and six year olds were learning and practicing subtraction:

We blew up balloons last week to demonstrate subtraction! Then popped them one by one – our way of subtracting! The kids enjoyed it but now it’s a little more difficult transferring that idea to the paper. Though we have used cubes, counters, bears etc. and taken some away…

My first suggestion was:

How about using the “ShowMe” app on the iPad to have your students record themselves writing AND narrating a subtraction problem. They could then switch iPads and listen to a classmate explain.

You could also share these screencast videos on your classroom blog and parents and students can review together at home.

Mrs. Y. was game to use the ShowMe app with her Kindergarteners and learn right along with them to use it. She immediately knew that it would be too much to ask for her little ones to draw AND speak at the same time as the app was recording them. We came up with the alternative of students drawing their math story on a piece of paper, taking a photo with the iPad and inserting it into Showme app to record their voices over the image.

Note: We could have done the same in iMovie app, but then would have lost the ability of directly uploading the movie clip with one tap to get an embed code for the classroom blog.

They drew the illustration and then were called up, one by one, to the front of the class to take the picture, insert into ShowMe and record their voices.

Note!: We used the Reflection app to wirelessly project the iPad screen to the SmartBoard for the other kids to see and follow along. The bigger screen for all to see also helped with taking “just the right” picture of their illustration.

Note2: With a little more time available to us to practice, kindergartners are perfectly capable of going through this process (take picture>insert>record>save) by themselves.

Below you can see a few examples of their work.

As you are watching, ask yourself:

  • What changed by using, in this case, the iPad and ShowMe app?
  • Could the same [learning] have been accomplished by keeping students’ illustrations analog?
  • Was there differentiation potential?
  • Can this type of “activity” be used as an assessment to replace/upgrade traditional assessment?
  • Are the movie clips potential artifacts for digital portfolios?
  • Could these movie clips be part of a variety of student work at a parent-teacher conference?
  • Was any learning amplified by placing it on the classroom blog to share with families?
  • What skills were practiced?
  • What literacies were supported?
  • Was it worth the extra time investment, the learning curve?

I believe that teachers need to be AWARE OF, SEE and UNDERSTAND the difference an upgrade could make (or not!)  to their traditional methods.


6Sep/110

What’s New?

Welcome to 21st century learning in the school year 2011-2012! (Since we're so far into the 21st century, maybe we should call it something else....any ideas?)
We have lots of exciting news to share with you.

New Tools

First of all, we have new equipment! We are thrilled to have brand new MacBooks for student use at school.  We are working hard to get the new laptops set up and into the carts. We are also going to be piloting iPads this year. Stay tuned to learn with us as we explore the educational applications of this technological innovation.

   

 

New Spaces

As we have all experienced, with the renovation of our office and hallways, spaces really affect how we feel about a place. Learning spaces should reflect our pedagogy. Sam Gliksman, in "Learning Space Designs & Their Impact on Education" writes:

We go to great lengths and expense to provide technology to our schools - hopefully in part because we see it as a means of empowering students to research, explore, experience, collaborate and more. Does your physical learning environment support that vision? How does it impact the process and flow of learning taking place? 

Here, in the room formerly known as the "computer lab," we are giving serious consideration to how the physical environment reflects our beliefs about learning. The ultimate vision for the use of technology in our school is, in the words of Chris Lehmann, for the tools to be "like oxygen: ubiquitous, invisible and necessary."

So, we have dismantled the computer lab and distributed the old desktop computers to the classrooms. No longer will K-5 students have "technology" once a week as a "resource class." We are re-purposing the space as a hub for our new, mobile technologies. Some possible names for the new space are: "cyber cafe," and "learning lab."  We are still playing with ideas- please share yours in the comments!  We have grouped the tables to enable working together and covered them with map tablecloths to inspire thoughts of global connectedness. We will have a green screen for video making. We hope to see teachers and students of all ages working side by side on projects, using the technology tools in pursuit of great learning.

Parent Education

"Parent Coffee Talk" also has a new name for the new year: "Parent Connect."

 If you haven't joined us in the past, please consider checking it out. The discussions are dynamic, and we all learn from each other. We look forward to welcoming you to our newly-designed learning space where we can discuss in detail our visions and dreams for the year ahead. Feel free to bring interested guests and BYOC (Bring Your Own Coffee!).

edJEWcon

This last bit of news is certainly not least. MJGDS will be hosting edJEWcon 5772.0 , a participatory learning conference for Jewish schools, in the late spring!  We have dreamed and discussed, planned and envisioned, and now we will have the real opportunity to open our school and invite others to learn with us and from us. Dr. Heidi Hayes Jacobs of Curriculum 21 will be our keynote speaker. Much more will be shared as the details take shape, but this is an incredibly exciting event!

25May/110

Let’s Talk About Summer


Recommended Resources-

Virtual Bookshelf-
Shelfari

Blogging-
WordPress
Blogger

Blog Tutorial by our Second Graders:

Audio Recording-
Voicethread

Programming-
Scratch (free download)

Problem Solving-
Whizzball
Fantastic Contraption

Keyboarding Practice-
http://www.learninggamesforkids.com/keyboarding_games.html
Dance Mat Typing
Krazy Keyboarding for Kids
Type Racer

Creative-
Pixie Parent Guides- free resource for parents (grade and subject specific). Pixie is wonderful, creative software that we use at school. It can be downloaded and used free for 30 days at http://www.tech4learning.com/pixie Tech4Learning also has a parent purchase program if you are interested in purchasing their software at significant savings.
Tux Paint (free download)
National Gallery of Art - some great interactive tools for creating and learning about art

Digital Storytelling-

Mixbook
Book Builder

Have a wonderful summer! Learn, create, share...

12Sep/100

Blogs- More Than a Shiny New Tool

All teachers at our school are using a new online platform this school year to communicate with students and parents. We are using a blog platform that enables non-Web Designers to publish and edit content more easily.

The word "Blog" comes from "Web Log" which is an Online Journal. Wikipedia defines a blog as:

A blog (a blend of the term web log) is a type of website or part of a website. Blogs are usually maintained by an individual with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video. Entries are commonly displayed in reverse-chronological order. Blog can also be used as a verb, meaning to maintain or add content to a blog.

Most blogs are interactive, allowing visitors to leave comments and even message each other via widgets on the blogs and it is this interactivity that distinguishes them from other static websites.

A blog format distinguishes itself from a static website (like Edline was). It allows a two way communication between the teacher and her students, the students between each other and even for parents to leave comments that contribute to learning.

David Warlick, author of "Classroom Blogging- A Teacher's Guide to the Blogosphere" (p.15-16), says that blogs are important for educators to take notice, because of

the direct and conspicuous relationship between blogging and literacy. It is about writing and reading- communication. If we can tap into the sudden notoriety of blogging as a cool thing to do, given our students authentic assignments of finding, reading, and evaluating blog-based information within the context of curriculum and then make them bloggers, communicators with a broadening audience, then we may o a more effective job of teaching literacy, both in the traditional sense, and within the context of an emerging new definition of literacy in a a networked, digital information environment.

Creating a blog is a process for our classrooms, teachers and students. As they are learning the nuts and bolts of blog lingo and logistics, such as posts, pages, categories, tags and widgets, they are also learning to use this new media as a way to extend learning beyond the classroom walls. Teachers are scouting the web to find age appropriate and curriculum related links that will allow individual students to deepen their knowledge of a topic, practice or extend specific skills taught in the classroom. In addition to links that connect to outside resources, the blog becomes a journal of individual entries/conversations by teachers and students that are displayed in reverse chronological order.

The format of a blog naturally invites to reflective thinking. This may happen in the classroom as a whole group activity, when teachers use the site to go over past assignments, classroom happenings or questions that were posted. It may happen when students use the blog as a source to review content discussed in class that day, or when they had time to digest and share their ideas, questions or doubts when they are more comfortable (for some) and not in front of the entire class. The reflection can also happen as a conversation starter at home between parents and students to look back on what was discussed in school. As teachers and students are learning to embed images, audio, video and other media into their blogs, the dreaded parent/child interchange of "What did you do in school today?- Nothing!" will be something of the past. Parents will be able to share learning conversations and events from their child's classroom and visit/re-visit with their child virtually from home.

A blog is more than a shiny new tool!

By blogging, students not only are "going on a website" to look up their assignments, but they are learning to read and write with hypertext, they are writing to an authentic worldwide audience, lessons about online safety and etiquette are organically woven into lessons. Reading and writing becomes a tool to authentically communicate with classmates, teachers as well as readers from around the world. Learning how to tag, categorize, link and find information is an increasingly important skill in the Information Age. Our students, from Kindergarten on, are being exposed to these skills by being part of building a learning community on their classroom blog.

Will Richardson, author of the book "Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts and other Powerful Tools for the Classroom", identifies six traits that support blogging as a tool to improve students learning (p.27-28)

  1. Weblogs truly are a constructivist approach for learning
  2. Weblogs extend the walls of the classroom.
  3. Blogs archive the work that teachers and students do, facilitating all sorts of reflection and metacognitive analysis.
  4. A weblog is a democratic tool that supports different learning styles.
  5. Weblogs can enhance the development of expertise in a particular in a particular subject.
  6. Blogs can teach students the new literacies they will need to function in an ever expanding information society

A blog is more than "just" a tool. It is more than a buzzword that you are hearing more and more in the mainstream media. A blog allows teachers to address critical skills and literacies while differentiating instruction in a digital medium that most of our students today are very comfortable with in using.


    The blog platform does not replace parent-teacher conferences, face to face conversations or private emails concerning individual students. The blog platform is a venue that allows school-home communication to extend and support existing communication venues. A blog, that in the beginning might be only a "replacement" for the "Friday Folder" and "Edline" with homework assignments or upcoming events shared, will evolve into a virtual place for collaborative work, shared ideas and conversation. Please have patience with us, as teachers are learning alongside their students to communicate in new forms. As we are moving ahead in the process of creating, maintaining and evolving with our classroom blogs, we will gradually invite more voices to become part of the classroom learning community.

    Blogs will connect us to a global classroom. All our classroom blogs are public. Anyone in the world with the URL (Web Address) can visit and read our blogs. This is done intentionally to encourage global communication and collaboration. Currently, all blogs "only" allow comments from registered users (our students). Part of the process will be to open commenting up to the world, always with a degree of"protection" in the form of comment moderation by the teacher before a comment is made public on the blog. This open policy is vital in making connections with other classrooms and curriculum content-related voices from around the world. It provides our students with an authentic audience for their writing, ideas and points of view.