Kathleen Morris (McGeady)
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Posts by Kathleen Morris (McGeady)
Topics covered include: tips for beginning bloggers, global projects with blogs, cyber safety, keyboarding, commenting skills, parent involvement and more.
Click here to find the podcast or look up “The Virtual Staffroom” in iTunes.
Unfamiliar with podcasts? A podcast is an audio file available on the internet that you can
listen to on your iPod or MP3 player, on your computer or over the internet. It is basically
like a series of radio shows. The word podcast comes from iPod and broadcast.
Podcasts are a fantastic source of self paced PD. Why not give them a try?
Cross posted from Kathleen Morris’ blog – Integrating Technology in the Primary Classroom.
Most of you will know how passionate I am about blogging in the classroom. Since I started blogging with my students in 2008, I have come to realise how enormous the benefits are.
The diagram below summarises the most powerful benefits I’ve found from blogging:
- Improved Literacy Skills: I wrote about the improvement in my students’ literacy skills in this post. Not only were skills improved, but engagement levels increased. Reluctant writers wanted to write for a purpose and students were using blogs to purposefully communicate and converse with others.
- Authentic Audience: In the traditional classroom, the only audience of student work was the teacher and sometimes classmates and parents. Blogs provide a much larger audience for student work and an avenue for feedback and self-improvement through commenting.
- Sense of Classroom Community: Creating a class blog requires teamwork and collaboration. Students and teachers learn and share their learning together. A real sense of classroom community can be developed through blogging and establishing a class identity.
- Global Connections: I have found this to be one of the most exciting benefits of blogging. Blogging can help flatten the classroom walls and we have got to know many classes across five continents who we call our “blogging buddies”. The benefits of these connections are priceless. A sense of understanding and tolerance develops and students can learn a lot about the world in which they live. We’ve used blogs to undertake global collaborative projects such as Collaboration Corner and the Uganadan Global Project.
- ICT Skills: Blogging assists students to become more ICT literate which is an important 21st century skill. Through blogging, we’re able to incidentally discuss many ICT skills such as keyboard shortcuts, researching online and troubleshooting.
- Home- School Partnerships: I have received many comments from parents and families who love using the class blog as a “window into our classroom”. Through commenting, families can be a part of what is happening in our classroom and have real time access to their child’s education.
- Appropriate Online Behaviours: Everyone will agree that teaching students to be safe online is an important issue. You can’t just do one off lessons on cyber safety. Cyber safety is not a separate subject. Through being heavily involved in blogging, my Grade Two class has opportunities almost every day to discuss cyber safety issues and appropriate online behaviours in an authentic setting.
- Confidence: I have found that students really take pride in their work that goes on the blog and want to do their best for their impending audience. Students can gain self-confidence from being part of a class blog and demonstrating their achievements.
Overall, blogging is a platform for everything. It is a fantastic place to start for teachers and students who want to learn about technology. Additionally, there are so many wonderful Web 2.0 tools out there which have so much more value when you can embed them in a blog.
Have you witnessed any of these benefits in your classroom?
What other benefits can students and teachers get out of blogging?
Congratulations to all Global Teacher and Global Student blogs shortlisted and to those who were nominated!
Thank you Mel Cashen for searching through and putting together most of this list for us.
A special thanks to eLearning of DEECD for both providing and supporting us with this blogging campus.
Here are our nominees and their appropriate categories.
Voting has started now, so please vote for us and show how proud we are of our bloggers who have such global influence and presence.
Please vote for your favourite blogs at Edublog Awards 2010 or follow the links below.
1. Integrating Technology in Primary Classroom by Kathleen Morris (McGeady)
1. Teaching Literacy in the Early Years by Kelly Jordan
1. 2KJ @ Leopold Primary School Kelly Jordan
2. 2KM @ Leopold Primary School Kathleen Morris (McGeady)
3. Middle Learning Unit BPS Rick Kayler-Thomson
4. Technoscience Britt Gow
5. The Brainy Bunch’s Blog Dale Mills
1. BB’s Awesome Blog (2KM)
2. Dhugsy (Hawkesdale)
3. Millie’s Marvellous Blog (2KJ)
4. Rhiannon’s Blog (2KM)
1. Teaching Literacy in the Early Years by Kelly Jordan
2. Integrating Technology in Primary Classroom by Kathleen Morris (McGeady)
1. Tech Talk Tuesday hosted by Anne Mirtschin
1. Bright Ideas (SLAV)
1. Bright Ideas (SLAV)
Who have we missed? Please add as a comment below. Other Victorian and Australia teachers have also been nominated so check out all the wonderful treasures in all categories at The Edublogs Awards 2010
Please spread the word and help put Victoria on the world stage!
At the start of Term Four, I launched an exciting global project with my grade two students.
As I have previously blogged about, I have found global projects to be one of the richest ways to use technology in the classroom.
My class has collaborated globally with others both informally and in a more structured way such as through our Collaboration Corner blog project with Mrs Yollis’ class and skyping with experts, however I felt like there was something missing.
I wanted my students to be able to use these global connections for a greater good; to raise their social conscience, help others and learn more about the world in which they live while acting collaboratively for a common purpose.
One day in August this year, I was reading my Runner’s World magazine, when I came across an article about a woman who ran to raise money for the women of the Democratic Republic of Congo. This article planted a seed and I got to thinking that I could have my students do a run/walk “alongside” their global buddies to raise money for children less fortunate than themselves.
It didn’t take long to find a worthy cause to support. The African Rural Schools Foundation strives to provide affordable education to disadvantaged students in Uganda while also supporting children who are affected or orphaned by HIV/AIDS.
The foundation is doing amazing work, running the ABC Divine Foundation Primary School in Mutundwe, Uganda, Africa. There are over 400 students who attend the school, about half live there and many of those are orphans.
Rev. Renee Waun, the founding sponsor of the Foundation from the USA, has been more than helpful in getting our idea off the ground. She has been an excellent link to the Ugandan students and has provided invaluable information and support.
When I shared the idea with some of the teachers of classes we collaborate with across the world, they were very keen to jump on board with the project. We have spanned our Ugandan Global Project across four continents- Africa, Australia, North America and Asia.
The partners of our project include
* The African Rural Schools Project and students at The ABC Divine Foundation Primary School in Mutundwe, Uganda, Africa.
* 2KM in Leopold, Victoria, Australia
* 2KJ in Leopold, Victoria, Australia
* Mrs Yollis’ class in Los Angeles, California, USA
* Mrs Ranney’s class in Los Angeles, California, USA
* Mr Salsich’s class in Connecticut, USA
* Team Toa, Shanghai International School, China
Mrs Yollis and her students made this fantastic video to launch the project.
To raise the social conscience and global awareness of our students through fundraising for The ABC Divine Foundation Primary School in Mutundwe, Uganda, Africa
Primary school “blogging buddies” from around the world will collaborate together to raise money to help purchase land adjacent to The ABC Divine Foundation Primary School in Mutundwe, Uganda, Africa. The land will be used as a play area for the school. Read more about the goal here.
We exceeded our goal raising a massive $20,000 and earning enough money to make a BIG difference to the lives of many Ugandan students.
Each class completed a one hour run/walk around their school or community at 10am on Friday 22nd October 2010.
The one hour walk signifies the effort the Ugandan students make to get an education. Many students travel long distances to get to school and some live so far away they have to stay at the school.
From the school director: “Many families in rural areas live in abject poverty, with no school within a 6-mile walk. In areas where schools are available these poor families cannot afford the fees, and so their children grow up without any education at all.” Read more from the school director here.
Students collected donations from their friends and families for completing the run/walk which have been passed on to the Ugandan school.
The Ugandan Global Project Blog has been a place for students to share and learn about each other. Posts have included: cultural and geographic information, “a day in the life”, songs, the run/walk events, time zones, currencies and fundraising efforts.
Through participating in this project, our students have been able to
• Help people less fortunate than themselves
• Develop their social conscience
• Improve their fitness
• Learn more about the world in which they live
• Develop their friendships with their blogging buddies
• Improve their understanding of different cultures and ways of life
• Improve their ICT skills
• Feel good and have fun!
Leave a comment! What you think about our global project?
Have you been involved in any global projects? What did you students get out of it?
I am currently in the process of introducing my Grade Two students to blogging. Our 2KM class blog is proving to be very popular with students and families.
As I have previously blogged about, I like to follow these steps when introducing blogging to my students.
This is my third year of blogging with young students and I am still learning all the time. In previous years I believe I progressed much too quickly from having students comment on the class blog to writing posts. My students never really learned how to compose a quality comment and I believe I didn’t set my expectations of the students high enough! I was happy for them just to be commenting.
This year I am taking a different approach. Inspired by the amazing commenting skills of Mrs Yollis’ Third Grade students, I am putting a lot of effort into teaching my students how to write quality comments on posts before we move on to writing posts.
By “quality comments” I mean
- writing the comment like a letter (greeting, body, closing, signature)
- using correct spelling, punctuation and spacing,
- reading over the comment and editing before submitting,
- complimenting the writer in a specific way, asking a question, and/or adding new information to the post,
- writing a relevant comment that is related to the post,
- not revealing personal information in your comment.
I really wanted to limit the “I like your blog!!!” or “2KM is cool” type comments and I am finding this explicit teaching of what a quality comment looks like is really working.
I am teaching students commenting skills through
- modelling and composing comments together on the IWB,
- teaching students about the “letter” format during writing lessons,
- giving examples of a poor/high quality comments and having students vote whether the comment should be accepted or rejected,
- having students read and comment on a post on our blog as part of a literacy rotation on the computer each week.
I collaborated with my teaching partner, Kelly Jordan on this poster “How Can I Write a Great Blog Comment?” to teach students about blogging skills. We will also send a copy of this poster home with each child.
Linda Yollis has written a fantastic article about how to teach commenting skills. It is well worth a read!
I have “borrowed” many ideas from Linda such as recording a screencast video that shows how to leave a comment on the blog. I recorded my screencast through Jing. I also used Linda’s idea of sending an email out to all parents to encourage them to leave comments.
As Linda says, “commenting is what keeps the blog alive” and “teaching and encouraging good commenting skills makes your blog more interesting for everyone.” I agree!
*Leave a comment if you have any more ideas about teaching commenting skills to students!*
Read Write Think is a site from the UK that offers a collection of online Student Materials to support literacy learning in the P-12 classroom.
While this site includes lesson plans and web resources, I have found the most useful aspect of the site to be the Student Materials. There are over 50 interactive resources that would be great to use on the IWB in any literacy classroom.
There are many “thinking tool” type resources that could be used as an after reading task such as a plot diagram, book cover creator, character trading cards, story map and timeline. Here is a Venn diagram a group of my Grade Two students made this week after we read a book in Guided Reading.
There are also some great “learning centre” type games for younger students such as Word Wizard, ABC Match, Word Family Sort and What’s in the Bag? My Grade Two students particularly enjoy Construct-a-word.
There are some limitations to this site such as the fact that some work can’t be saved although it can be printed and there is always the option to screen capture your work. Overall, Read Write Think has some great resources for all year levels.
Here are some quick tips to get the most out of your class blog that I have learnt through working with my class on the 2KM Blog. Leave a comment if there are any other good tips that I have forgotten!
- Encourage parents to be involved in the blog and leave comments. It may sound easier said than done but I have found that when students are involved in writing posts they are always keen to go home and show their work to their parents. I have also made this guide for parents so they know the basics of how to navigate the blog Your Guide to Getting the Most out of 2KM’s Blog
- Reply to comments. We usually try to write a reply when people leave a comment on our blog. Ensure you have the “subscribe to comments” plugin installed on your Edublog/Global Student blog so people can chose to be sent a notification email when new comments are posted on the entry.
- Use a variety of media on your blog. I started with just using text and photos but have extended on this to make the blog more interesting and rich with audio, videos and various web 2.0 tools (Voicethread, Wordle, Slideshare etc).
- Build a global audience. An important part of the blogging journey is learning is making connections and comment on others’ blogs as well as working on your own blog. Sue Water’s has a great list of class blogs from around the world on her Edubloggers Blog. This is an excellent place to find blogs that you can make connections with. My class has learnt a lot from the relationships they have formed with their global friends. My students also love checking out where their visitors are from on our Clustrmap. This is a great way to teach geography too!
- Keep updating your blog! While it does take a bit of work to keep your blog updated, it is well worth it! People will not keep looking at blogs that are seldom updated.
Most teachers are probably familiar with the Bloom’s Taxonomy model which details the six levels of thinking from lower to higher level thinking (remembering, understanding, applying, analysing, evaluating, creating).
Mike Fisher, an American instructional coach and consultant has come up with an interesting revision of the Bloom’s Taxonomy model based on 21st century skills. The model incorporates online tools that can be used to encourage each of the levels of thinking. Mike has created a wiki called Visual Blooms to share ideas on where various online tools could fit into the Bloom’s hierachy (obviously many online tools could fit into different categories depending on how they are used). This is still a work in progress but definitely worth checking out.
Many teacher’s already use the Bloom’s model when planning in order to foster all levels of thinking. I think Mike’s Visual Blooms model could be an excellent resource to assist teachers to plan units that help to develop students’ thinking skills while making the most of a wide range of online tools.
If you need student avatars for blogs, Voice Thread or other Internet applications and don’t want to upload photos of your students, there are a few options for creating avatars. I had my students draw a self portrait which I then photographed and uploaded (as above).
Alternatively, there are a number of sites you can use to build avatars and save them to your computer as an image file. The problem that I have found is that many avatar creator sites have innapropriate content for younger students (ads and images). Here are three avatar creator sites that seem to be suitable for children…
Be Funky – upload a photo from your computer, webcam, URL or photo sharing site and give it special effects. Photos can be saved as jpegs.
Build Your Wild Self - add all sorts of animal features to your character. The best way to create an image is probably to screen capture it. Alternatively you can email the image (you can then save it as a gif) or chose to print your avatar and right click to save the picture. All options would need cropping.
Mini-Mizer - create a lego avatar of yourself. Unfortunately you would need to do a screen capture of this too to save your image as you can only post your image to sites like Flickr.