Sunday, September 18, 2016

Wild Weather Kitchen Experiments

Wild Weather Kitchen Experiments is a short series of instructional videos produced by The Open University. Each of the four videos in the series features a short lesson followed by directions for an experiment that you can carry out to see the lesson's concepts in action. The four lessons are on avalanches, tornadoes, floods, and dust storms.

Applications for Education
The videos in the Wild Weather Kitchen Experiments series probably aren't terribly engaging. That said, Wild Weather Kitchen Experiments could be a good place to find ideas and directions for activities that your students can do in your classroom. Depending upon the age of your students, you may have to modify some of the experiments.

Fun and Short Smithsonian Videos

Ask Smithsonian is a fun video series featured on the Smithsonian Magazine website. All of the videos in the series are less than two minutes long. Each video tackles a fun topic in science. Some of the videos address questions that are less serious topics than others. For example, on the first page of Ask Smithsonian there is currently a video about why humans kiss alongside a video about how anesthesia works.


Applications for Education
The videos in Ask Smithsonian could be useful as fun lesson starters. I would also consider adding these videos to my classroom website to display as "bonus" materials for students to watch and respond to for extra credit points.

5 Common Classroom Blog Mistakes

A classroom blog can be a powerful tool for improving communication with parents, for building a sense of community amongst your students, and for creating a record of what you and your students have learned throughout a school year. But you can only reap these benefits of classroom blogs if you maintain the blog and avoid some of the most common mistakes made in classroom blogging.

1. Making it optional:
If you make it optional for students and parents to visit the classroom blog, they'll generally opt not to view it.

2. Inconsistency:
It is better to post once a week on the same day than it is to post three posts in one week and two the next and four the following week.

3. Lack of purpose:
I often hear people say, "I don't know what we should blog about." Without a defined purpose for a blog it is hard to come with ideas for individual blog posts. If you identify a purpose, "weekly reflections on learning" is a good purpose, you will find it easier to come up with topics for individual blog posts.

4. Not publicizing your blog:
You might be thinking, "but my blog is public, isn't that enough?" In the old days of blogging, it probably was enough to just make your blog public. People weren't distracted by social media networks on their phones and in their web browsers. Today, you need to remind people that your blog exists. Schedule your blog posts to be automatically Tweeted, shared on Facebook, and sent in email.

5. Leaving out the visuals:
Apply the old adage of, "a picture tells a thousand words" to your blog posts. Putting an image or two into every blog post helps to draw readers into your posts. If you don't have a picture that exactly matches your blog post's topic, create one in service like Canva.

I'll be covering these topics and many more in my upcoming webinar series Blogs & Social Media for Teachers and School Leaders.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

5 Benefits of Having a Classroom Blog

1. Being authors on a blog gives students the opportunity to share their thoughts with you, their classmates, and their parents on a longer timeline than is typically feasible during a school day. Not every student is going to be able to quickly articulate his or her thoughts during a face-to-face conversation with his or her teacher. Having a place to write down his or her expanded thoughts after a conversation is one of the best benefits of inviting students to be authors on a blog.

2. Parents are privy to the comments and question that their children raise in regards to school. Parents often complain that their kids come home from school and say,"nothing" in response to the question, "what did you do in school today?"

3. Authoring a classroom blog can be a great way to create a record of what you and your students do in your classroom. By the end of the school year it can be hard to recall what you did in which week earlier in the school year. The blog's archive makes it easy to look back at the year.

4. Authoring a classroom blog provides students with a real-world audience for their work. Connect with another classroom or two to become blogging buddies. Students in each class then have an audience for their work that extends beyond the typical confines of a paper-based writing assignment or face-to-face classroom conversation.

5. A classroom blog can provide parents and students with a calendar of upcoming events and assignments.

Blogs & Social Media for Teachers & School Leaders is an online course that covers these ideas and many more in much greater depth than a blog post does. Learn more about the course on this page.

The Week in Review - The Most Popular Posts

Good evening from Maine where it was a beautiful day for walking in the woods and along the water. Max and Mason were very happy to get outside for long walk on a new trail. We saw plenty of colorful foliage throughout our walk. It was a nice reminder to enjoy the change of seasons. Wherever you are this weekend, I hope that you have time to get outside and relax too.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. How to Create a Check-in/ Check-out System In Google Forms
2. How to Create Simple Comics on Pixton
3. Symbolab - An Online Graphing Calculator and More
4. NEW Apple Teacher Site Offers FREE Professional Development
5. Campaign Comics Templates for Kids
6. Streamline Your Feedback Process in Google Docs
7. 7 Good Tools for Creating Timelines

Getting Going With GAFE, Teaching History With Technology, and Blogs & Social Media for Teachers will start in October. Graduate credits are available. 

Please visit the official advertisers that help keep this blog going.
Practical Ed Tech is the brand through which I offer PD webinars.
Storyboard That is my go-to tool for creating storyboards.
Haiku Deck offers the best alternative to PowerPoint.  
Pixton provides a create way to create comics. 
SeeSaw is the best platform for creating digital portfolios with K-8 students. 
Discovery Education & Wilkes University offer online courses for earning Master's degrees in Instructional Media.
PrepFactory offers a great place for students to prepare for SAT and ACT tests.
The University of Maryland Baltimore County offers graduate programs for teachers.
Boise State University offers a 100% online program in educational technology.
EdTechTeacher is hosting host workshops in six cities in the U.S. in the summer.
Buncee offers a great tool for creating visual stories.
My Simpleshow provides a great way to create explainer videos.