Blogging in the Classroom

I have a tab opened in my Firefox browser that I have not been able to close for several weeks because it keeps drawing me back to it. I figured I would post it here for my teachers to see as well in the hope that it will allow them to stop and ponder at the same time. The list is “20 Uses for Our Classroom Blog,” and it comes from Sheryl Forsman via Miguel Guhlin in San Antonio ISD. Thanks to you both. It is a great list that gives both wonderful ideas for immediate use and the opportunity to extend to newer ones.

20 Uses for Our Classroom Blog

Why did we create a classroom blog and how will we use it?
1. document our growth across the year
2. inform families of what we are doing
3. expand our audience
4. collaborate with other first grade bloggers
5. use another form of writing
6. learn about writing for an audience
7. learn about digital literacy
8. document favorite events of this year
9. integrate writing with other subjects
10. write book reviews
11. write journal entries
12. respond to class assignments
13. free choice writing
14. develop keyboard skills
15. communicate with each other
16. collaborate with reading buddies from other classrooms
17. collaborate with teachers from the university as blogging buddies pictures of our work
19. learn about visual literacy through the design of our pages
20. to have fun!

Now maybe I can finally close that tab.

ATPE Session – Social Networking: not just for kids anymore

Below you will find the presentation I gave at the ATPE conference in Austin titled Social Networking: not just for kids anymore. The focus of the session was how educators can use the power of social networks to create their own personal learning networks (PLNs). We discussed Facebook and MySpace, but we did not cover them in any depth since a lot of people are already using them personally.

While most of the slides are just visual representations of what I was talking about, it might help a few in attendance to remember some of that conversation we had. I am going to add a few more items here that we did not have time for in the sessions, though. As I said in the session, feel free to call, email, or comment below. I will get back with you ASAP (and generally it is pretty quick).

Find the links below for the sites we previewed. One thing to remember: A network is only as strong as each link in it. Jump in and enjoy the ride. You will learn so much from so many that you probably will never meet, yet, it will be some of the closest bonds you could ever create professionally. Consider it your education accountability group.

I want to thank Paul R. Wood for Skyping in to share with us how PLNs have changed the way he learns and does his job. He and his posse at Bishop Dunne are absolutely top notch educators in every facet. If I could just get them to move east just a little bit…..

When Paul and I had the connection issue during the second session, one of my other buddies from Texas just happened to shoot me a Skype chat at the exact instant I needed him (that seems to be how these PLNs work for us). John Maklary accepted an invitation to have a Skype conversation. He failed to ask if it was in the middle of one of the sessions. Which it was. Which worked beautifully. Thanks, John. I owe you some Q, buddy.

Then, one of the attendees made a valid point: those guys are not in the classroom everyday, so how would it work if they were and using Skype. So, I did what every person in my PLN would do; rely on the classroom teachers in my PLN to share. Pam Cranford, the 2009 TCEA Educator of the Year and fellow classroom blogger, answered the Skype call into her classroom. She grabbed her MacBook up and walked around her room and into the hall unknowingly demonstrating the power of a laptop, wireless, and a free program like Skype. Thanks, Pam!

I thoroughly enjoyed the two 1 hour sessions I was able to present. I look forward to future ones, and maybe even a longer session where everyone can get hands-on into building their own PLNs.

Skype: free audio, video, both or chat calls online Find me on Skype – WOScholar

Twitter Links: social networking in 140 characters or less Find me on Twitter – WOScholar

Blogs: online workspace

RSS: allows subscription to bring content to you

Delicious: social bookmarking – My Delicious account – Sabestian

Flickr: online photo storage

Want a blogging system for your class/campus/district? On the cheap?

photo credit: INCSUB

I have to say, James Farmer has done everyone in education an outstanding service by offering this new program of his. For just $195, he and his crew will have you set-up with your own personal WordPress MU site (you provide the URL) without all of the frustrations of doing it yourself (or trying, anyway). Then, for $25 a month, pSek will provide the hosting. That’s a steal for WPMU hosting.

Now, if you are serious about growing a much larger WPMU system, maybe this is a great start with a move to more bandwidth in the future. I kept looking for pSek’s plan for that type of growth. I do have to say, though, that with our bloggers using embed codes instead of storing media on our server, it has helped in many areas, not to mention embeding is a good skill for them to learn anyway. Maybe James will leave a comment below or blog a little of his own about how many blogs he thinks this platform will handle at pSek before you need to look for some increased power on the server and bandwidth. This might actually be all anyone needs.

What I do know for sure is that James can and will provide top notch support. There is no doubt about that.

If I were a classroom teacher just now looking to start blogging with my kids in a serious fashion and lots of control, this would be money well spent.