Thursday, February 8, 2018

10 Blog Post Ideas for Your School Blog

"I don't know what to write about" is one of reasons that many people cite for not regularly updating their school or classroom blogs. One of the ways that teachers and principals can avoid running out of blog post topics is to think about the questions that parents frequently ask during parent-teacher conferences or during open house nights. That's what I did to generate the following list of ten blog post topics for school and classroom blogs.
  • How to manage your child’s web use.
  • How to talk to kids about cyber safety.
  • A list of new books arriving in your library or classroom.
  • 5 fun, free educational activities to do at home. (Exploratorium's Science Snacks is a great resource for that).
  • 5 local field trips to do on rainy days.
  • 5 local field trips to do on sunny days.
  • A glossary of Tween vocabulary.
  • 5 things parents should know about Facebook/ Twitter/ Instagram/ Snapchat/ YouTube.
  • 5 tasty and healthy snacks to send to school.
  • How to talk to kids about bullying.
Don't have a blog, but want to start one? The Ed Tech Starter Kit includes a webinar that will help you get started. 

The Ed Tech Starter Kit

Throughout the year I host I many professional development webinars on Practical Ed Tech. Recently, I bundled some of the most popular of those webinars into one package that I call the Ed Tech Starter Kit. The webinars selected for inclusion in this package cover topics and skills that can be applied to almost any classroom.

The Ed Tech Starter Kit provides you with four hours of professional development in the form of four on-demand webinar recordings. The webinars included are:
  • Search Strategies Students Need to Know,
  • Fun With Formative Assessments
  • Google Forms & Sheets for Beginners 
  • How to Build a Classroom Blog. 
All webinars are accompanied by printable handouts for your reference.

The Ed Tech Starter Kit costs just $50 and you have unlimited access to view the materials whenever you like as often as you like. That's a 50% savings compared to purchasing the webinars individually. In this package you get them all for half of that cost.

What's Covered In the Ed Tech Starter Kit?

Search Strategies Students Need to Know
In this webinar you will learn why informational searches are the hardest types of Internet searches for students to conduct. You will learn how to help students break-down complex search topics into manageable pieces then put the whole picture together. You’ll learn how to help your students save students tons of time by thinking before searching. And you’ll learn how to develop instructional search challenge activities to use with students of any age.

Fun With Formative Assessments
In this webinar you will learn how to use free tech tools to create and conduct fun, engaging, and informative formative assessments. Whether you teach elementary school, middle school, or high school, you will come away from this webinar with fun formative assessment activities that you can do tomorrow.

This webinar addresses the needs of teachers who don't have computers or tablets for every student. And teachers who do have laptops, Chromebooks, or tablets for every student will learn some new ways to have students use those too.

Google Forms & Sheets for Beginners
Google Forms and Sheets can complete all kinds of tasks for you, if you know how to use them. Once you’ve learned the basics of Google Forms and Google Sheets you will be amazed at how these powerful tools can streamline processes for you. Those streamlined processes can free up lots of time for you to spend on the fun aspects of teaching.

How to Create a Classroom Blog
Over the last ten years I have helped hundreds of teachers create blogs and websites. Whether you've never created a blog before or you have started a blog only to see it fall to the wayside, this webinar is for you. This webinar covers how to pick the best blogging service for you, how to get students involved in blogging while also protecting their privacy, and how to actually create and manage a blog.

About the cost: Whenever I publish a post about my professional development webinars I get asked something along the lines of "if they're not free, why do you advertise them here?" The reason is that while the tools that I share and the methods that I share are free to implement, my time for teaching isn't free. Additionally, there are a lot of costs associated with hosting webinars. Finally, the sales of these webinars helps to keep Free Technology for Teachers running.

The Chemistry of Gluten

My local grocery store has a whole section of gluten-free bread. I'd wager that your local grocery store has the same. What is gluten? What's its role in your favorite loaf of bread? Those questions and more are answered in a recently released Reactions video titled The Only Video You'll Ever Need to Watch About Gluten. Reactions is channel produced by PBS Digital Studios and the American Chemical Society.

On a related note, Foodskey is a site produced by The University of Nottingham who also produces the Periodic Table of Videos. Foodskey is a set of fifteen videos about the science of food. The videos cover topics like nutrition, food security, and crop technology. I've embedded the video about broccoli below.

Common Craft Explains Blockchain

Turn on any of the 24/7 cable news networks today and you're likely to hear about Bitcoin and or blockchain. Bitcoin is in the news because of its wild fluctuations in value over the last year. Blockchain is what makes cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin possible. If that seems clear as mud, you should watch Common Craft's new video titled Blockchain Explained by Common Craft. The video does a great job of using a concept that we're all familiar with, ownership of physical property, to explain the Blockchain concept.

After watching Common Craft's video about blockchain, watch this video from Financial Post to learn how the blockchain concept is applied to Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

Applications for Education
Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies can provide good examples of the relative values of currency. I'd include it in a lesson about where the value of a currency is created. The end of the Financial Post's video raises a couple of points about potential problems with cryptocurrencies. Ask students to discuss and propose potential solutions to or safeguards against those problems related to the relative value of currencies.

A Large Collection of Virtual Chemistry Labs and Lessons

I didn't plan for this to become "science week" on Free Technology for Teachers, it has just worked out that I have a backlog of good science resources to share. Chem Collective is another good science resource.

Chem Collective is a project designed and maintained by Carnegie Mellon University's chemistry department and the National Science Digital Library. On Chem Collective you will find virtual labs for chemistry experiments, simulations, visualizations, tutorials, and auto-graded problems. Students and teachers can search the site by resource type or by chemistry topic.

Applications for Education
Chem Collective offers teachers the option to create their own Chem Collective pages containing resources and activities that they have selected from the Chem Collective library for their students.

Chem Collective offers free software that you can install on Windows and Mac computers to run virtual lab experiments with or without Internet access.

How to Create a Multimedia Quiz With Microsoft Forms

Microsoft Forms offers a good way for Office 365 users to create multimedia quizzes. The quizzes that you create in Microsoft Forms can be automatically graded for you. One of the features of Microsoft Forms that I actually prefer to Google Forms is the layout of images used as part of question prompt.

Watch my video embedded below to learn how to create to a multimedia quiz in Microsoft Forms.

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