School Environment Evaluation

 When I found out the next assignment was going to involve an evaluation process, I immediately went back to my career in the Navy.  Evaluations are the key to success of every command.  Although dreaded, they provide valuable feedback on ways to improve, procedures to change, and new ideas to implement.  Evaluating technology in a school environment is very similar. Since this is a private school, many variables affect budgeting and planning.  Student enrollment is the greatest factor to consider.  The goal of the school is to increase student numbers so that each classroom has at least 24 students.  Due to difficult economic times, student enrollment has dropped dramatically over the past seven years.  Planning and budgeting is difficult with decreasing student population and increasing operating costs.

Twelve years ago, the school was awarded a very substantial grant to be used for the purchase of technology in the classroom.  This could have been the opportunity of a lifetime for such a small school.  Unfortunately, the purchase was made and that was it.  Maintenance is done on an as needed basis and the school is operating on Office 2003.  As the desktop computers began to wear out, the school purchased refurbished replacements and relies heavily on donations from local businesses who are upgrading.  It is very difficult for one person to maintain such a large number of computers when it is one of several responsibilities in the school but it must be done if the teachers are going to fully utilize what is available.

Demographics

 At Shetland Sheepdog Elementary (SSE), the student enrollment is approximately 130 in grades K-6.  The school is not culturally diverse and there are no English Second Language students currently enrolled.  A number of tuition scholarships are awarded annually to students whose financial situation would not normally allow them to attend SSE.  Approximately 15% of the students are from single parent homes.

Maturity Model Benchmark Filters:

 Conclusion:

This assignment was truly an eye opening experience.   After reviewing my findings, I would classify this institution at the Islands Stage of the Technology Maturity Benchmarks.  I believe the available resources are actively utilized although not always to the fullest.  It is my hope that existing technology can be upgraded and increased opportunities provided for the students and teachers.

Additionally, I would like to require all teachers at this school to complete a Maturity Benchmarks Survey.  Once the survey is completed, compile it into one comprehensive document to be analyzed. It would be most interesting to see their opinion of where this school stands and their vision of the future.   Finally, present the findings to the staff and begin an open dialogue of how they view the use of technology in their classroom in the future.

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Technology Use Planning Overview

Technology Use Planning

Technology use planning is often mistakenly defined as computers, and maybe initially years ago that definition was applicable. Times have changed.  In the 21st century, technology use planning must be defined as how to most efficiently integrate all forms of technology into schools and work places.  This takes careful planning and understanding.

Planners must identify goals and objectives of how technology is to be used to benefit the students.  An assessment of technology currently in place must occur.  During this assessment, it must be determined what is obsolete and what is not.  Anything obsolete must be purged.  Once existing technology has been streamlined, then research must be conducted on what to update.  When organizations purchase new technology, they must be careful to procure only those items that will truly be fully utilized in the classroom.

Upon receipt of new technology, training must occur immediately.  All hands must attend.  If only a few select teachers possess the knowledge, what is the point of having technology in the classroom?  Administrators must provide adequate time for all staff members to receive training.

Those on the planning team must also decide the longevity of the plan.  Will it be short term, one to two years, or long term, five years or more?  Some items fit into the category of short term, whereas others are long term.  Regardless of the length of the plan, everyone must realize technology is constantly evolving and plans may have to change.

The final aspect, frequently overlooked is the maintenance and upkeep of technology.  Just providing access is not the answer.  Equipment and software must be maintained on regular maintenance schedules.  The annual budget must allow for unexpected costs for items that are broken or simply wear out.

National Educational Technology Plan 2010

The National Educational Technology Plan 2010 provides administrators, teachers, and technology planners with the most up-to-date definitions of technology.  This document asks questions and gives answers to such things as to what students need to learn, how students learn when using technology and multimedia.  A set of standards was included from the International Society of Technology in Education (ISTE), which I feel will be useful at my school when justifying the increased integration of technology.  These six standards are the framework of the 21st century student. They include:

  •  Creativity and innovation
  • Communication and collaboration
  • Research and information fluency
  • Critical thinking, problem solving, and decision making
  • Digital citizenship
  • Technology operations and concepts

Included in this document is the definition of the Universal Design for Learning (UDL).  This design addresses all students including low-income, minority, English language learners, those with disabilities and early childhood.  The goal of this design is to provide equal access for all students.  Children who are given the opportunity to have access to technology in the classroom in all subject areas, have more of a chance of being successful as they progress through their education and into the workforce.

If we, as educators, truly want our students to be successful, then we must empower them.  This means to provide them access to technology through an authentic learning environment.  States, districts, and private schools must adopt a set of concise standards on how to best achieve this goal.  Taxpayers must also be educated on the importance of technology in the classroom and that it does cost money.  This must be done if the United States is to continue to be competitive internationally.

  John See Comments

The longevity of technology use plans depends on the facility.  I do not think there is a definitive answer to short or long term plans.  When creating a plan, the users must evaluate the goals and objectives.  Planners must ask the users exactly what is the expected outcome.  By dividing a plan into both short and long term plans, I believe expected outcomes may be achieved.

Short term plans involving applications are relevant.  Considering the speed with which applications are changing, it would be very difficult to project goals and objectives long term.   Planners must be knowledgeable and realize updates will be necessary on a frequent basis.  Long term plans are also required.  Certain items such as computers should be able to be placed on a long term plan as long as there is a regular maintenance plan in place.  It must be understood; maintenance is not optional and has to be included in the annual budget.

Upon reflecting on See’s comment which states “effective technology plans focus on applications, not technology?” I have to agree.  Should I have been asked that question two months ago, my answer would have been the opposite.  I did not realize how many applications are readily available with a little bit of research on how to best integrate them.  One example is how to utilize Google drive in the classroom.  I have been able to provide training to our staff, demonstrating ways to use this free application.  What amazes me is that it has been available for two years and we are just now getting onboard.

Technology is obviously an integral part of any use plan.  Unfortunately too often an emphasis is placed upon it and applications are overlooked.  As educators, we must speak with the planning committees, providing them with research on the importance of both technology and applications.  I am in a unique situation where I have an administrator who has an open door policy and is willing to listen.  I do not have all the answers but I am willing to help find solutions.

Technology Use Planning Experiences

My experience with technology use planning in education is somewhat limited.  I have been teaching five years but after spending twenty-two years in the Navy managing large budgets, I listen carefully to conversations regarding budgets within our school.  I know we have a very limited budget for technology.  Several issues truly caught my attention.  One issue I have noticed is we tend to be reactive instead of proactive.  We actually have quite a number of student computers in our school.  The problem is that maintenance seems to not always be considered a top priority.  Managing a large number of student computers is a difficult job, and I do appreciate the work our technology manager does however too often there are technical issues.

Another personal experience I have had was I was using a seriously outdated computer that had become an impossible burden.  Not one to complain, I dealt with it and one day I was told I would be receiving a replacement.  Unfortunately, the replacement is not compatible with several applications I had been using daily.  This was two months ago and I have learned to work without the use of many tools I had become accustomed to.  I find this unfortunate since I firmly believe more research should have been done with the possibility of a higher quality upgrade.  As with anything, hindsight is often 20/20 and I have begun to spend more time talking with the administrator and tech manager.  I am hoping to ask questions and provide possible solutions.  If nothing else, I am getting them to think outside the box.

References

Graduate Students at Mississippi State University.  (2002).  Guidebook for developing an effective instructional technology plan.  Retrieved from:  http://www.nctp.com/downloads/Guidebook35.pdf

See, J.  (1992).  Developing effective technology plans.  The Computing Teacher, Vol. 19, Number 8.  Retrieved from:   http://www.nctp.com/html/john_see.cfm

U.S. Department of Education Office of Educational Technology.  (2010).  National education technology plan.  U.S. Department of Education.  Retrieved from:  http://www.ed.gov/technology/netp-2010/learning-engage-and-empower

Digital Divide

Definition: 

Technology is an amazing tool used in all aspects of our daily lives; however as with anything “new”, resistance arises. Digital divide is defined as “an economic inequality between groups, broadly construed, in terms of access to, use of, or knowledge of information and communication technologies” according to Wikipedia.

Problem and Solution:

Many factors contribute to digital divide, those being primarily economics and education.  As I was reading various articles during this project, I was immediately inundated with statistics.  Children whose family income is under $20,000 are less likely to have access to technology outside of school.  Those children who are from homes where the annual income is greater than $75,000 have a distinct advantage over those with less.  Regardless of the economic status of their families, students who are provided with real-world learning situations will benefit from the integration of technology in school.  So where does the real problem arise?  Maybe we should look within ourselves.

Being an educator is not an easy job.  The stresses of daily classroom life can quickly overwhelm even the most seasoned teacher.  The children in our schools are often victims of circumstance, but we must ask ourselves, “What can I do to make a difference?”  First off do not be afraid to take learning to the next level.  Learning never stops.  The next level is simple, actively participate.  Yes, stepping out of the box is spooky but just take that step.  Start small by learning how to integrate text, photos, video, and audio into daily lessons.  Will there be speed bumps?  Absolutely!  Some of the best lessons learned are from mistakes.

As educators do we always continue to better ourselves for the benefit of our students or do we become complacent?  Ask yourself, “Am I an integral part of the digital divide?”  Find ways to break this trend.  Teaching is a consuming occupation both physically and mentally.  Exercise is the answer.  By continuing to improve our skills through professional development we will slowly begin to fill the divide and even out the inequality.  On-line classes provide one solution.  Readily available and usually adaptable to any schedule, the only barrier is the individual.  Once skills have been mastered, share the knowledge with other teachers and staff.  One of them may be inspired to follow in your footsteps.  Collaboration is a valuable tool to diminishing our contribution to this issue.  Will it completely solve the problem?  Probably not, however if educators do not actively engage themselves in finding a solution it will only fester.

Are teachers the only catalyst in digital divide?  No, many other factors weigh in.  Household demographics, geographic location, race, physical and mental disabilities are also major parts of this equation.  Challenge yourself to become part of the solution and not another wedge in the divide.  Don’t resist change.

Reflection:

I honestly did not know where to begin with this project.  After reading numerous articles and journal entries, my head was spinning with statistics.  Narrowing my focus down was difficult since I could go in many different directions.  I actually drafted and smoothed up two presentations and then after a rather difficult and frustrating staff meeting, created a third.  The first two were filled with statistics and solutions that I really had very little control over.  The third and one listed above however is a different story.

Nothing frustrates me more than those who will find fault with every new idea presented.  I understand that not everything is perfect but if you allow yourself to get stuck in a rut, life will pass you by. The same goes for education.  Technology is happening now!  We must educate ourselves in order to educate our students.  If one is unable or unwilling to authentically utilize technology in the classroom, then what good are we doing our students?  We become part of the divide and help facilitate the inequality.  Aren’t the other contributing factors enough?  I quit and I can’t are two of the easiest phrases to use.  I challenge my students to say “I won’t quit” and “I can”, shouldn’t we do the same?

As you can probably tell, I get angry with people who find fault with everything and do nothing to find a solution.  So, I will continue to learn, share with my colleagues, and keep my comments to myself.  I will integrate as much as possible into my classes being careful to not step over the line.  My students deserve every opportunity I can provide them with and that includes taking them into the 21st century, not living in the past.

Annotated Bibliography: 

Gibbs, M., Dosen, A., & Guerrero, R. (2009). Bridging the digital divide. Urban Education, 44, 1, 11-29.  doi: 10.1177/0042085908318528

I was fortunate to locate an article that reflects what I have witnessed during the past five years I have been teaching.  Coming from a twenty-two year career in the Navy, I am very familiar with training and the importance of it in the daily performance of a job.  I have been more than a little frustrated at the lack of professional development.  This article confirms the importance of professional development and the effect it has on students.  Training must be made available for educators of all levels of experience.  Schools where technology is not readily available and maintained are contributing to the digital divide.  The purpose of Bridging the Digital Divide Programs is to help begin to fill in the gap that exists in our schools.  By increasing both teacher and student access to the internet, all will benefit greatly.  Teachers must take the time to attend workshops in order to gain necessary knowledge to share with the students.

Livingstone, S., & Helsper, E. (2007). Gradations in digital inclusion: children, young people and the digital divide. New Media & Society, 9, 4, 671-696.  doi:  10.1177/1461444807080335

Focusing on internet access, both in the classroom and at home, this article states that middle-class children have obviously more access than their less fortunate peers.  Limited access accounts for the major factor in lack of use. Another factor to consider is that many parents are concerned with internet safety and impose strict parental controls.  Many parents are also deficient in the skills necessary to assist their children with internet usage.   In order for children to become proficient users of the internet, it is important for them to have authentic access.  The classroom provides an equal opportunity for students of all socio-economic groups’ access to technology.

Images are from Clipart

Artifact 4 – Google Drive

Overview: 

Continuing to keep up with the ever changing tech world takes time but this is essential to the success of our students.  Google has been moving and shaking the tech world for some time and I have just been introduced to Google drive.  This online tool is a very valuable tool in the classroom.

Objective: 

The objectives for this artifact are:

  • to have the students identify the five applications available to them on Google Drive
  • to create assigned writing projects in Google drive and be able to share with their classmates and teachers
  • to turn in completed work using Google forms

Lesson Plan:

All Saints Catholic School

Google Drive

Grade Level

  • 3-6

Subjects

  • Technology
  • English/Language Arts

Time Frame

  • Initial lesson will last 30-45 minutes (This lesson plans is suitable for instructing teachers how to integrate Twitter in the classroom also.)
  • Additional mini-lessons will occur as usage increases

Common Core State Standards

  • W.CCR.6 – Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others.

Brief Description

  •  Integrating Google drive in the classroom will provide the students with an opportunity to work on assignments from school or home without interruption.  Students will be able to create documents, presentations, spreadsheets, and then turn completed work in using a pre-established form created by their teacher.

Objectives

Students will be able to:

  • create assigned documents, presentations, and spreadsheets to be published using Google drive
  • turn completed work electronically
  • collaborate with peers in group projects
  • communicate with their teacher from school and home in the event of absence

Keywords/Vocabulary

  • document
  • presentation
  • spreadsheet
  • form

Materials Needed

  • Student access to Google drive
  • Smartboard or type of projection equipment
  • Teacher access to the internet

Lesson Plan

Teaching students how to best utilize Google drive will be an ongoing lesson throughout the school year.  An Acceptable Use Policy will be read and signed by each student and their parents/guardians prior to any access to technology in the school.  Initially, students will be shown how to log in to Google using their assigned user name and password.   Once they have mastered this process, the teacher will demonstrate how to use Google docs and then turn in the assignment using Google forms.  A short writing prompt will then be assigned.  This process will be repeated for initial introduction to spreadsheets and presentations.

As this will be an ongoing process throughout the year, mini-lessons will be delivered as will one-on-one assistance as needed.  Since children are naturally curious, much of what they learn will be through hands-on experience.

Assessment

Students will be assessed on their ability to

  • create documents, presentations, and spreadsheets ready to be published
  • turn in completed assignments using Google forms

Reflection: 

Google drive is a completely new resource for me and I have to give one hundred percent credit to Dr. Schroeder for introducing me to it.  The school where I teach is small but has a sufficient supply of computers for our students to utilize.  Unfortunately, we were relying on something called the “transfer server.”  In its time, this server was state of the art; however, times have changed.

During my first few months of teaching I tried to use the server but experienced epic failure.  Not knowing why I could not have all of my students on the server at once, I backed off having my students using the computers.  I later found out the transfer server could only accommodate four to five students being simultaneously logged on the server at once.  This immediately explained why I was having issues.  My next problem was how to get an entire class on the computers.  I tried to stagger the students but that led to assignments that took forever to complete.  Over time, computer usage in my class dwindled down to the occasional Power Point presentation or brochure made through Publisher.

Finding this horribly frustrating, I almost admitted defeat which is totally out of character for me.  Then I enrolled in the Master of Educational Technology program at Boise State University.  This is where I began to find answers to my nagging technology issues.  At the beginning of the semester I was feeling totally overwhelmed and completely lost.  Doubt began to wash over me but then there was an “ah ha” moment.  Actually there have been too many of those moments to quantify.  Google drive was a huge awakening for me.

Initially I was apprehensive but then I began to realize how useful Google drive would be in my classroom.  Then I remembered what happened when I downloaded Google Chrome in October.  I managed to disconnect my access to the Smartboard, the Accelerated Math scanner, and printer.  I was gently chastised for this and told not to use Chrome.  Needless to say this was turned into an example of what not to do for the other teachers.  Since that time I received an upgraded computer and was granted permission to use Google Chrome.

Fearing disaster, I asked before implementing Google Chrome on the student computers and was told this time to go for it.  I did not ask twice.  Placing one student on each of the computers in the classroom and library, the 4th grade conducted a massive download of Google Chrome.  It was so cool to watch the students doing this.  Once this was completed, I pulled them back in the classroom and walked them through Google docs.  The rest is history.  We have been using Google docs to create research documents and most recently poetry.  The poetry was first placed in a document; then the students copied and pasted the text into a presentation slide.  Next the students were able to choose the background and type of font. I then took each slide and created one large presentation for everyone to enjoy.  The students were so proud of their product.  Seeing their reaction to something so simple, serves as a catalyst for me to continue to share with not only the children, but the staff as well.

References: 

TeachThought Staff.  (2012).  A case study:  Using google drive in the classroom.  [Web log post].  Retrieved from http://www.teachthought.com/technology/a-case-study-using-google-drive-in-the-classroom/

TeachThought Staff.  (2012_.  5 simple ways to use google docs in the classroom.  [Web log post].  Retrieved from http://www.teachthought.com/technology/5-simple-ways-to-use-google-docs-in-the-classroom/

Artifact 3 – Acceptable Use Policy (AUP)

Overview: 

Allowing students to have access to various types of technology in the classroom is a wonderful learning opportunity.  Before access can be given to any student, they must understand what acceptable use it.  The use of technology in the classroom is a privilege, not a right.  By having both the students and parents/guardians read and sign an Acceptable Use Policy, all parties are held accountable.

Objective: 

The objective of this artifact is:

  • To provide students and parents/guardians with clearly a defined acceptable use policy

Reflection: 

Providing our students with a safe learning environment is the most important part of education.  Students must feel safe in all aspects of their school day.  This includes keeping them safe while using technology in the classroom.  As I began to integrate more technology in the classroom, I realized our school did not have an Acceptable Use Policy (AUP).  Realizing the importance of this I took action.

An AUP outlines clear expectations and guidelines for the use of technology in the classroom.  It is important that both students and their parents/guardians are aware of these.  After viewing several examples of AUP’s from other schools, I drafted and presented a copy to our principal.  I explained the importance of such a document.  My proposal was readily accepted and is in the process of being disseminated to our students and families.  Below is a copy of the AUP I drafted for use at All Saints Catholic School.  (I will input this when I return to school 4/8/13.)

References: 

Mitchell, B. (2013).  Acceptable use policy – AUP.  About.com Guide.  Retrieved from http://compnetworking.about.com/od/filetransferprotocol/a/aup_use_policy.htm

Sauers, N. (2011).  5 strategies for 1 to 1 classroom management.  1 to 1 Schools.  Retrieved from http://1to1schools.net/2011/03/5-strategies-for-1-to-1-classroom-management/

Artifact 2 – Tweeting With 4th Graders

Overview: 

Using Twitter was a completely new and foreign experience for me since beginning EDTECH 501.  Initially I was very uncomfortable with Twitter but have slowly begun to embrace it, seeing the positive uses in the classroom.  Not quite sure how exactly to integrate it, I saw my opportunity with the selection of Pope Francis.

Objective: 

The objectives for this artifact are:

  • students will be able to discuss Tweets received.
  • students will be able to describe how Twitter provides the user with short bits of information.

Lesson Plan: 

All Saints Catholic School

Tweeting with 4th Graders

Grade Level

  • 3-6

Subjects

  • Technology
  • English/Language Arts

Time Frame

  • 30 minutes (This lesson plans is suitable for instructing teachers how to integrate Twitter in the classroom also.)

Common Core State Standards

  • W.CCR.2 – Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.
  • W.CCR.4 – Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
  • W.CCR.6 – Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others.
  • R.CCR.7 – Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.

Brief Description

  •  Using social networking in the classroom is a relatively new concept, especially when integrating in the classroom.  Twitter is defined as micro-blogging.  Tweets, similarly to texting, are limited to 140 characters.  Word choice is extremely important when using Twitter.

Objectives

  • Students will be able to draft two Tweets per week.
  • Students will be able to describe how Twitter provides the user with short bits of information.

Keywords/Vocabulary

  • Twitter
  • Tweet
  • retweet
  • micro-blog
  • hashtag
  • follower
  • avatar

Materials Needed

  • Student access to a word processing program such as Microsoft Word, Google drive
  • Smartboard or type of projection equipment
  • Teacher access to the internet

Lesson Plan

Ask students about what they know about Twitter.  Explain that Twitter is defined as micro-blogging.  Each Tweet is limited to 140 characters, which is similar to texting.  Next, ask the students to compare blogging to micro-blogging.  They will need to make a list of at least three differences between the two types of social media.

Tell the students that the class will be following Pope Francis on Twitter.  Make sure they understand that Tweets received from the pope are public Tweets, not specifically sent to our class.

On the Smartboard, pull up the login page of Twitter.  Walk the students through the login process using the class Twitter account.  Show the students the difference between the home, connect, discover, and me tabs.

As a group, draft a Tweet to be sent to the pope, including the class hashtag. For a continuing project, students will draft a minimum of two Tweets per week in their composition notebook.  Random students will be selected to post their Tweets to the pope.

Assessment

  • Students will be assessed on their ability to
    • draft and post timely Tweets
    • use proper writing conventions using Twitter

Reflection: 

Deciding to use Twitter in the classroom has been a difficult decision for me as I was not sure how to effectively achieve it.  I researched several different approaches but kept coming up with issues as to why it was going to be a challenge.  Initially, I wanted to allow the student’s access to Twitter but quickly found several families were not comfortable with this type of Internet access.  I finally saw a ray of light when Pope Francis was selected.  I decided to create a classroom account and Tweet the pope.

Finding the correct hashtag for the pope had its moments however after filtering through several, that I knew for a fact could not be the pope, I found the right one.  I explained the process to the students, walking them through on the SmartBoard.  The children were surprised at the similarities between Tweeting and texting.  I also had to explain to the students that Pope Francis was not personally Tweeting us, but rather it was a mass Tweet.  The looks on their faces was priceless.  Several children ask me throughout the day, “Did the pope Tweet us?”  I then pull up our account and check with the students watching so they can learn.  Learning is best accomplished by doing but I am not sure our parents are ready for complete access for their children.

References: 

Bisaillon, K. (2013, March 27).  Re:  How social media sharing makes the world a better place [Web log comment] Retrieved from http://www.teachthought.com/social-media/how-social-media-sharing-makes-the-world-a-better-place/

TechThought Staff.  (2013).  8 simple social media strategies for your classroom.  TeachThought.  Retrieved from http://www.teachthought.com/technology/8-simple-social-media-strategies-for-your-classroom/

Artifact 1 – Blogging in the Classroom

Overview: 

Providing our students with various opportunities to experience technology is imperative.  Unfortunately many teachers view technology as an additional burden and one not necessarily worth pursuing.  Although I am still learning and will continue to learn, I have decided to expose my 4th graders to as much as I possibly can as I learn new skills and approaches to education.  Blogging in the classroom is one way I hope to achieve this.

Objective: 

The objectives for this artifact are:

  •  students will be able to summarize at least three events that occurred during their day through descriptive writing.
  • students will be able to write about their perspective on a given discussion topic using applied writing conventions.
  • students will be able to demonstrate their knowledge of keyboarding by posting three entries weekly.

Lesson Plan:

All Saints Catholic School

Blogging in the Classroom

Grade Level

  • 3-6

Subjects

  • Technology
  • English/Language Arts

Time Frame

  • 30 minutes (This lesson plans is suitable for instructing teachers how to integrate blogging in the classroom also.)

Common Core State Standards

  • W.CCR.2 – Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.
  • W.CCR.3 – Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and sell-structured event sequences.
  • W.CCR.4 – Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
  • W.CCR.6 – Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others.

Brief Description

  • Blogging in the classroom provides students with an opportunity to publish their thoughts online.

Objectives

  • students will be able to summarize at least three events that occurred during their day through descriptive writing
  • students will be able to write about their perspective on a given discussion topic using applied writing conventions
  • students will be able to demonstrate their knowledge of keyboarding by posting three entries weekly

Keywords/Vocabulary

  • blog
  • online publishing
  • post
  • discussion

Materials Needed

  • Student access to a word processing program such as Microsoft Word, Google drive
  • Smartboard or type of projection equipment
  • Teacher access to the internet

Suggested MaterialTitle:

Teach Yourself Visually, WordPress (Second Edition)

Author:  Janet Majure

Date: 2012

Publisher:  Wiley

ISBN:  978-1-118-19787-5

Lesson Plan

Check for background knowledge by asking if anyone has ever heard of the term “blog” and what it means.

A blog is a Web site on which an individual or group of uses record opinions, information, etc, on a regular basis.   “Each entry in a blog is known as a post, and the usual presentation of posts is with the newest entry at the top of the screen.  Post is also what you do.  That is, you post a new post to your blog.”  (Definition is from Teach Yourself Visually, WordPress)

Provide several examples of blogs for the students to view and ask them to write down the differences they see.  Explain that blogging has many different uses.  For staff members, point out the following possible uses:

  1.  Share materials, news, downloads, links, and more
  2. Facilitate online discussions and collaboration
  3. Create a class publication that students can easily publish to and that can be easily edited
  4. Replace class newsletter and stay in touch with parents about what is going on in class
  5. Allow students to blog so they can share their work and thought
  6. Share lesson plans
  7. Integrate videos, podcasts, and other media
  8. Get feedback or gather information

On the Smartboard, walk the students through existing classroom blog.  Point out the chronological order of the posts and where comments can be inserted.  Students will be shown where editing posts occurs and how to publish their work.

To check for understanding, students will each write down three events that occurred the previous day in their composition journals.  Provide the students with an example to follow.  Posts should be kept short and to the point.  Collect the journals and ensure each student understands the assignment.  Make corrections as necessary.

Return composition journals, draw sticks, and have the students begin to post their thoughts.  Initially, the posts will take longer since keyboarding skills are not as developed.  As the year progresses, posts will take less time.  Allow at least 7-10 minutes per post.  This may sound terribly time consuming but is worth the investment.  Students will take pride in ownership of their blog.

Assessment

  • Students will be assessed on their ability to
    • draft and post timely entries to the classroom blog
    • use proper writing conventions
    • describe classroom events using vivid writing

Reflection: 

After initially learning how to use WordPress and many mistakes later, I created a small blog for my students and their families.  It started out as comments about what we were doing in the classroom and then I decided the children needed ownership.  I then created another aspect in which the students vote on a discussion topic.  Once this is decided, I have students post their view points to the discussion topic.  I have only had time to post one discussion topic however we have voted on a new topic and it will be posted when we return after spring break.

A number of my students follow the blog at home but I have not received any comments from the parents.  I do not know if this is because they do not know about it or are uninterested.  My goal is to have the students and their families actively participate in our blog.  This would not only provide the students with an authentic experience in blogging but also share with the parents something they might not be aware of.  To view our blog, please go to http://ascs4th.wordpress.com/ .

References: 

Jackson, L.  (2012).  Blogging? it’s elementary, my dear watson.   Education World.  Retrieved from http://www.educationworld.com/a_tech/tech/tech217.shtml.

Walsh, K. (2009).  Blogging in (and out of) the classroom.  Emerging EdTech.  Retrieved from http://www.emergingedtech.com/2009/05/blogging-in-and-out-of-the-classroom/