Social Networking in the Classroom: Blogging, Part 3

This marks the 3rd and final entry in the Blogging in the Classroom Series! To catch up on the previous entries you can see Part 1 Here and Part 2 Here! As always please feel free to share comments below or by shooting me an e-mail at info@joshgunderson.com. Want to catch up? Check out the archives link! Next week I will continue with Part 3 which includes some great ideas to get your classroom blog rolling!

What it comes to blogging in the classroom I feel like the ideas are endless! I have to be honest that I’m a bit jealous that this platform wasn’t available when I was in high school! Across the curriculum there are a number of ways blogs can be introduced to the classroom. A student can use one blog over the course of the year, or even over the course of their career at an education institution. This creates an amazing portfolio of their work!

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Image courtesy of stockimages / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

So what are some ideas to get your kids writing!

Use Regular Writing Prompts
Put up a weekly or biweekly writing prompt for your students to respond to, setting a due date for the responses. Have them comment on one another’s responses to get a conversation going. Depending on your blogging platform, you can moderate comments before they are visible to ensure that nothing inappropriate comes through.

Respond To Class or Homework Readings/Discussions
Run out of class time? Post the topic of discussion onto your blog, letting the students know, and have the discussion continue. Ask students to discuss how a current reading applies to a student’s own life. This would be great for history classes and discussing how past events may mirror current happenings.

Current Events
Post a link to a current news article and ask students to respond with their thoughts and ideas. This is especially great if there is something that is going on that may affect their world!

Book Reviews
Ask students to write a review (positive or negative) of a book they read for pleasure, summer reading or a book your reading in class. If it’s a book they read for pleasure, perhaps offer extra credit for a review?

Free Write
Rather than investing money into notebooks (think of the trees!) have student do their free writing on a blog. This allows you and their fellow students to respond to their thoughts. Again, depending on the blog platform you choose, students can set entries to be viewed only by you.

Photo Blogging
Great for art and photography classes! Encourage students to share their projects only by uploading their photography or scanning in their artwork. Like with writing, this allows students to build an online portfolio for themselves and to share their work with the world!

Review Fieldtrips and Assemblies
As homework following a fieldtrip or assembly, ask students to react and review what they learned or saw. Did they take pictures? Ask them to include those moments in their entry as well. This allows students to work on their writing skills as well as getting feedback on these activities.

These are just a few ideas! A simple web search can find you loads more! Talk with your fellow teachers about how they would use blogging in the classroom and work together to create a blogging community!

Are your students already blogging in the classroom? Share your ideas for blogging in the classroom in the comments section below!

Josh Gunderson is an award-winning Bullying Prevention and Social Media Specialist. Josh has appeared on MTV, Comedy and National Geographic. For more information about Josh and his educational programs please visit www.HaveYouMetJosh.com

You can purchase Josh’s book “Cyberbullying: Perpetrators, Bystanders & Victims” on Amazon! Available in paperback or for Kindle.

Social Networking in the Classroom: Blogging, Part 2

Last week I introduced part 1 of Blogging in the Classroom. The response has been amazing. I thank you all so much for the e-mails! This week I continue to Part 2 where I will discuss the pros of blogging in the classroom! As always please feel free to share comments below or by shooting me an e-mail at info@joshgunderson.com. Want to catch up? Check out the archives link! Next week I will continue with Part 3 which includes some great ideas to get your classroom blog rolling!

Have you picked out your blogging platform? Now it’s time to move on to the pros of blogging in the classroom blog!

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Image courtesy of sixninepixels / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

One thing a teacher friend pointed out to me is how blogging can help with the federal mandate that literacy is to be a cross curricular activity. Try thinking outside the box for how students can use writing in each subject matter. A social studies class can blog about current events, science students can report regular findings on experiments, language arts classes have an entire world of possibilities! Now is a great time to start thinking outside the box!

Even math students can use their writing skills. I took a class in college called “Math for the Liberal Arts” (which translates into Theatre Kids that are Bad at Math but the Subject is Required). Rather than spending day after day doing math worksheets, we focused on one math formula or theorem and wrote a paper about it. It allowed for us to be creative and learn something at the same time (my paper of dimensions involves aliens from a 4th dimension- totally aced it)!

Blogging can also be a great way to give voice to students who may not feel they have one. This is one of the ideas that I presented in my pros and cons list of social networking in the classroom. Kids that are less inclined to speak up in class may end up being the best commentators on a discussion post made by a teacher or fellow student.

With technology being another cross curriculum requirement, blogging in the classroom helps students build skills they will be needing in college and beyond. In addition to building writing skills, blogging also builds typing skills, enhances their knowledge of working with media like photos, videos and, in some cases, HTML.

I also look at blogging as a fun way to enhance the creative process. Students will begin to look at the world in a new light- anything could be fodder for their next entry. It is a fun way to allow students to engage with one another and the world around them. Depending on whether your blog is private or public- it allows outsiders to stumble upon and share their thoughts on a topic. I’ve stumbled upon kids blogging about seeing one of my programs- not only do I read them, I’ll comment!

At the end of the day, blogging can also be a lot of fun! I do most of my writing on Tuesdays and set up a queue to get me through the week. I look forward to my weekly trip (read: hostile takeover of a corner) to Starbucks to take in the world around me (ie. eavesdropping on blind dates) and get my writing done! I think students would feel the same way once their start working to find their voice!

Are your students already blogging in the classroom? Share some of the pros that you have found in the comments below!

Josh Gunderson is an award-winning Bullying Prevention and Social Media Specialist. Josh has appeared on MTV, Comedy and National Geographic. For more information about Josh and his educational programs please visit www.HaveYouMetJosh.com

You can purchase Josh’s book “Cyberbullying: Perpetrators, Bystanders & Victims” on Amazon! Available in paperback or for Kindle.

Social Networking in the Classroom: Blogging, Part 1

A few weeks ago I introduced my new series “Social Networking in the Classroom” and the response has been inspiring! In the introduction to the series, I weighed the pros and cons of integrating social networking in the classroom. In the following weeks I discussed Facebook followed by Twitter. This week’s topic? Blogging!

This week’s topic is being broken into three parts! Why? There’s so much to talk about! This week’s entry will look at some blogging platforms I think are pretty awesome for the classroom environment. Next week I’ll talk about the pros of blogging in the classroom. In the third part I will share ideas for blogging in the classroom. (The other reason is that I wrote the whole entry and saw how long it was so breaking it into multiple parts just made sense to me.)

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Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

You might notice right away that I have avoided specifying one specific blogging platform to use. There’s a very simple reason for this, there are so many! I think it’s best to find what works best for you and your students. I’ve done a quick web search just to get an idea of the best blogging platforms for a classroom.

These are in the order that I thought of/discovered them and I promise I’m not getting anything special for promoting them…unless they want to give me something. Free Edublog? Hint hint WordPress!

WordPress- Since starting this blog back in June, I’ve really grown to love all that WordPress has to offer. The platform is simple to use and pretty straight-forward. It’s free to use though a premium account offers a few more perks but they aren’t important if you’re looking to keep things simple (I’m a simple user and paying $99 a year doesn’t seem worth it to me… I need that money to support my Starbucks habit!) The only drawback I would see with WordPress is that each student would need to create an account in order to become a contributor on the classroom blog. The perk I see with that, is that students are free to continuing their blogging once the class has ended!

Edublogs– Edublogs is exactly what it sounds like- blogs for education! The site is run by the people at WordPress and has all the same features!  The site is safe, secure, and for education only. While a simple blog is free, if you want to be able to embed video and HTML, you must pay for an upgrade. $35 will get you a year of Educator Pro and is great if you want to be able to facilitate blogging in your classroom and create accounts for students.  You can moderate students entries and comments with this feature as well.

Looking to connect the entire school? Edublogs offers that as well. Create a massive blogging community of students and educators. The cost varies by the number of blogs you wish to create. You can contact Edublogs for a quote. Not sure if Edublogs is a right fit for your school? They give you a free 30-day trial to give it a chance!

ClassPress- ClassPress is much like WordPress in its functionality. A one year subscription is the same at $35 with discounts if you subscribe with 5 or more teachers. Once you are a member you are able to create an unlimited number of students accounts. The site also automatically filters content in students entries unlike other which require you to actively look out for inappropriate language. One thing I really like on ClassPress is the drop-box feature which allows students to submit assignments digitally into one place. There’s no worrying about students misspelling your e-mail address. This also allows the teacher to upload files for download by students. Supported formats are Microsoft Word, Excel, PDFs and Powerpoint. Want the kids to have a record of their blogging at the end of the year? You can download PDF journals that can be printed, e-mailed or loaded onto a thumb drive!

Kidblog-While featuring all of the perks of the above platforms, Kidblog goes a step further to ensure the privacy of its users. Student accounts are private by default and the site is fully COPPA compliant, not requiring any personal information from students using the site. Comment privacy settings allow for filtering out unsolicited outside comments. As the audience is fully limited to those in the class, the site allows for the creation of password protected parents and guest accounts. As far as I can tell, the site is free to use but I’m not 100% on that.

Have you used any of these platforms in your classroom? Have any suggestions for other sites that can be used (I know they’re out there!)? I would love to hear more in the comments section below!

Josh Gunderson is an award-winning Bullying Prevention and Social Media Specialist. Josh has appeared on MTV, Comedy and National Geographic. For more information about Josh and his educational programs please visit www.HaveYouMetJosh.com

You can purchase Josh’s book “Cyberbullying: Perpetrators, Bystanders & Victims” on Amazon! Available in paperback or for Kindle.

Social Networking in the Classroom: Twitter

Over the past two week’s I’ve been introducing ideas for how to integrate social networking in the classroom. This week we’ll continue the discussion with the micro-blogging site- Twitter!

When it comes to social networks, Twitter is probably one of the least complex. Created and launched in 2006, Twitter is a micro-blogging site that allows users to send and read text-based updates limited to 140 characters.

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When it comes to uses in the educational setting there are many possibilities. One of the perks of twitter is that people do not need an account to access someone’s twitter feed (the exception being if the feed was only available to followers). If you wanted to create a classroom twitter account to post announcements, links to supplemental materials, or reminders the process is quick and simple.

From there, you have the world at your fingertips! I’ve compiled a list of some ideas I’ve found around the web and heard from others about using Twitter in the classroom!

Like I mentioned last week with Facebook, don’t require students to follow you on Twitter as many may not have accounts or may not be allowed to by their parents. Find other ways to share information with them if this is the case.

Keep The Conversation Going: Use a classroom hash tag to facilitate continuing discussions after class has ended. Use hash tags to create a specialized Tweet feeds to share information and discussions. I’ve been to many conferences where a specialized hash tag was used by attendees and presenters to share what they were experiencing. It’s a lot of fun! I even use the tag #JoshOnTour when I’m on the road so family and friends can keep tabs on what I’m up to! Students and educators will also use this tag to share their experiences during my programs! Tweetdeck is a great tool to help keep you organized!

Follow and Share: Use a classroom twitter to follow and share ideas with other teachers at school and all over the world! Maybe another classroom is learning about the same topics and a you can tweet ideas to one another. Stay in touch with other educators to discuss teaching trends, classroom ideas, or upcoming events and conferences.

Real-World Updates: Big news event going on? Follow hash tags and buzzwords to get a real time stream of news coming in from all over the world! (Again Tweetdeck is a great tool in these situations to help filter in content surrounding what you want to be tracking)

Share Links And Videos: Find an interesting article or YouTube video that goes along with a class discussion? Use the “Share on Twitter” option to instantly send the information out to your students. Discuss what you found the next day in class.

Classroom Tweeting: Watching a video in class? How about taking a field trip? Encourage students to tweet during these events to share ideas and thoughts about what they are experiencing. This can be helpful in creating discussions and sharing ideas. You might also find some of the shy students standing out in these discussions! Remember to create a hash tag to easily follow the proper discussion! You never know who might be watching! I’ve heard great stories of authors, filmmakers and even myself jumping into classroom discussions via Twitter!

These are just a few of many ideas out there. I also recommend checking out Edudemic’s blog post “100 Ways to Use Twitter in Education, By Degree of Difficulty

Have you used Twitter to enhance the classroom experience? I’d love to hear about it!

Josh Gunderson is an award-winning Bullying Prevention and Social Media Specialist. Josh has appeared on MTV, Comedy and National Geographic. For more information about Josh and his educational programs please visit www.HaveYouMetJosh.com

You can purchase Josh’s book “Cyberbullying: Perpetrators, Bystanders & Victims” on Amazon! Available in paperback or for Kindle.

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Pixar’s Lesson on Bullying: It’s For The Birds

It is a very well known fact that I am nothing if not a massive Disney nut! I love everything about Disney and the Pixar branch of the studios is no exception. From their shorts to their full-length features, there is a wonderful lesson to be learned.

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Pixar’s short film “For The Birds” teaches viewers a fantastic lesson on bullying. Check it out!

Here we have a group of birds choosing to shun an outsider. From there they learn, a bit too late, that their actions against someone else can have some pretty serious consequences for them!

This video can be used in a number of ways to teach a lesson to students (even adults) about the consequences of bullying!

Have you used this video in class? I’d love to hear the results in the comments section below!

Josh Gunderson is an award-winning Bullying Prevention and Social Media Specialist. Josh has appeared on MTV, Comedy and National Geographic. For more information about Josh and his educational programs please visit www.HaveYouMetJosh.com

You can purchase Josh’s book “Cyberbullying: Perpetrators, Bystanders & Victims” on Amazon! Available in paperback or for Kindle.

Social Networking in the Classroom: Facebook

Last week I introduced my all new blog series and in the introductory entry I talked about the pros and cons of introducing social networking to the educational environment. The series continues, looking at each network and it’s uses in the classroom!

Facebook, for all its flaws, is still on top when it comes to the world of social networking with over 1 billion users (665 million daily active users). Facebook isn’t going anywhere. It is even predicted that within the next two years Facebook will have created and introduced Education Accounts. But why wait?

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Bringing a social networking site into the classroom can, understandably, be a difficult decision for any educator. There are many factors to take into account including your own safety and privacy. The number one rule I will provide: Never use your personal account!

There are very easy ways around having to provide your personal account information to students. Creating a Page or Group for your classroom allows you to have conversations and share with students without giving them access to your information. They can send private messages through the page or hold conversations on the Page’s newsfeed.

I suggest taking the time to understand the ins and outs of both Pages and Groups to find out what works best for your classroom. From there it’s just a matter of what you choose to do!

Communication: A Facebook page or group opens up a common line of communication between students and the teacher as well as other students with questions. The digital environment can encourage more conversations and less cliques. Wallflowers are more likely to contribute and work together with others in this environment, allowing them a time to shine.

A page also allows for absent students to stay connected and up-to-speed with what it happening in the classroom while they are gone. The can participate in online discussions as a potential way to earn class credit without being there (establish and enforce a rule on this early on and stick with it! Students may abuse the right!).

A Page or Group on Facebook also allows parents to stay connected with what is going on in their student’s classes. Groups allow you to upload files so forgetful students have access to permission slips and other important documents via the internet and don’t have to stress about looking for it! This also allows you to share photos from class trips, classroom activities and other on goings! Parents won’t need to pry information from their kids in order to have a conversation about their day.

Apps: Facebook offers a large variety of apps that are perfect for the educational environment. There are 200 available apps, some developed by Facebook, others by outside developers. To save you from searching I found some great one’s through Brian Jenkins’ blog post at TeachHub!

Study Groups: Students use this popular application to work together outside of the classroom. They collaborate on group projects, share notes, discuss assignments, and help each other prepare for tests.
SAT Quest: This application prepares students for the SAT with short, five question SAT prep games. The questions become more difficult as students move to higher levels.
Quizlet: This handy tool is on of tne of the largest and fastest growing flashcard websites. Over 1 million registered users have uploaded tens of millions of flash cards. Flash card sets are available for a variety of topics including standardized test prep, languages, math, and science.
To Do List: Students use this application to organize their school assignments. Students can make multiple lists.
Zoho Online Office: Although it’s designed for businesses, this application is used by students to store their documents and class presentations online. They can then share their documents with other students. It’s a great way for students to manage their information.
Quiz Monster: Students create their own quizzes with this very popular application.
GRE GMAT SAT Vocabulary Flashcards: This application includes 5000 words students should be familiar with before taking the SAT. It also includes 1100 words for the GRE and GMAT tests. Students mark a word based on its level of difficulty. An easy-level word repeats after nine days and a medium level-word repeats after three days.

Once you’ve established how you plan on using Facebook in the classroom it’s important to keep with it! Educator Dr. Rachel Baum of Wisconsin describes Facebook in the classroom as a ladder approach:

Baum also offers up her own list of Do’s and Don’ts of using Facebook in the classroom:

Post Frequently: This keeps the conversations fresh and keeps them going. It begins to feel more like a discussion rather than notifications that can get lost in a student’s regular newsfeed.

Post More Outside Information Then Class Announcements: Though many students won’t read these, those who do are invited to deepen their experience in your class.

Connect What You Post To What You’re Teaching: In a few words, connect what you are posting (videos and articles) to what the class is learning and make it a part of the next class discussion.

Let Students Know You’re Looking At Their Work: A fine example:
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Don’t Make Facebook A Requirement: Many students may not be on Facebook either as a personal choice or the choice of their parents. Be sure to think of alternative ways to connect with students who may not be on social networks.

Don’t Be Afraid of Inappropriate Use: By introducing an educational aspect of Social Networking to students many educators have found that it has become less of a distraction and allows students to understand how to responsibly use this technology.

There is so much more to be discussed! Please use the comments section to share your own ideas, secrets or even do’s and don’ts you’ve discovered by introducing Facebook to your classroom!

Josh Gunderson is an award-winning Bullying Prevention and Social Media Specialist. Josh has appeared on MTV, Comedy and National Geographic. For more information about Josh and his educational programs please visit www.HaveYouMetJosh.com

You can purchase Josh’s book “Cyberbullying: Perpetrators, Bystanders & Victims” on Amazon! Available in paperback or for Kindle.

Social Networking in the Classroom: An Introduction

With more and more schools moving towards having a 1:2:1 environment, educators are trying to find the best ways into incorporate popular social networking sites into the educational environment. This entry marks the first in a weekly series to give teachers some ideas on how these web sites can be used in the classroom.

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Today, over 60% of educators are using social media in their classes in an effort to better relate and connect with their students. Rather than trying to keep students from accessing social media in schools, educators can take advantage of these site to enhance the classroom setting.

There are many schools of thought when it comes to integrating technology into classroom and it’s important to pay attention to the pros and cons when planning to do so. Many advocates feel that it is the natural evolution of education to begin to enhance learning with technology and social media while critics are calling for strict regulation and even reject the idea all together.

When considering to go ahead and use social media in the classroom it’s important to decided if the benefits outweigh the risks. To give an idea of what people are saying, I’ve compiled some of the pros and cons here.

PROS

Using the Tools They Know- Our students are already walking into the classroom with a working knowledge of the world wide web. They are already using many of these social  networking sites and by adding these site into the educational setting it may help aide them in creating smarter decisions online and create a positive digital resume.

Real World Uses- The internet has become a part of daily life along with the many social networking sites that are out there. By integrating these sites into the classroom environment, educators are helping students develop the skills they will need in the real world by way of effecting communication skills both online and in the real world.

Preparing Students- As students are preparing to enter the world of higher education or the workforce, a working knowledge of social networks can be a big help! With many colleges and universities engaging potential candidates through social networking, students who are savvy in the online world are at an advantage. Ditto for moving into the workplace. Many site today allow you to create you educational or professional profile to broadcast to potential educational institutions or employers.

Improving Student Communication- Students who may not be the most talkative in class may be inclined to participate more in an online forum. In this environment they are able to organize their thoughts and present them to their peers. Students may also be more inclined to ask for help through digital communication means.

CONS

Cyberbullying- With any technology the issue of bullying is a major concern. By bringing technology into the classroom there also the risk of bringing this behavior right along with it. Critics of social media integration argue that educators are inviting trouble into their classes by allowing students to be so connected. This is also an issue that can be easily avoided by educating not only ourselves about these issues but the students as well. Establishing rules and regulations from the word “go” is key.

Techno Distractions- Critics feel that instructors are inviting students the opportunity to goof off an not pay attention. Tools like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube can be a major distraction for students if not properly regulated. It is up to the instructor to make sure that the technology is being used for the purposed intended and not abused.

Social Interaction- I mentioned in my post yesterday about cell phones and the potential to stunt regular social interaction. The same arguments can be made for social networking. While the digital world can help increase communication from quieter students, it may also be stunting their abilities to interact in the real world. Students well-versed in the online world may find themselves at a disadvantage when it comes to college or even professional interviews.

IN THE END

While this debate will more than likely continue for quite some time, there’s no arguing the influence that social networks have over students today. Many of the most tech-savvy are already using these networks to collaborate and develop relationships. It is only natural that their educational environments get on board and embrace rather than reject these learning tools.

Josh Gunderson is an award-winning Bullying Prevention and Social Media Specialist. Josh has appeared on MTV, Comedy and National Geographic. For more information about Josh and his educational programs please visit www.HaveYouMetJosh.com

You can purchase Josh’s book “Cyberbullying: Perpetrators, Bystanders & Victims” on Amazon! Available in paperback or for Kindle.