Monday, December 30, 2019

Ten Blogging Activities for Kindergarten Through High School Classrooms

Whether your students are just learning how to type or they’re aspiring journalists, there are lots of ways to use blogging as a classroom activity. Edublogs offers a nice directory of active classroom blogs. Take a look through that directory to find some good examples of how teachers are using blogs in all grade levels from Kindergarten through twelfth grade. Some of my favorite examples are outlined below.

A Blogging Activity for Almost Every Classroom
Blogs started as a way for anyone to write and share his/ her thoughts with the world. A simple activity to promote that process with students is to have them write short summaries at the end of the week. Depending upon the age and ability of your students you can require more or less depth and detail in their summaries. The important thing is that students spend time thinking about what they've learned and pondering questions. 

Blogging Activities for K-2
One of the best ways to use blogging with students of this age is to have students write a sentence or two about a picture. You could start the process by uploading a picture then having students write one comment about what they see or what they think about the picture. One of my favorite examples of this activity came from Jennifer Lefebvre who had her students write about their class mascot which was a stuffed animal. Her students wrote about what the mascot did and what they did with the mascot.

In the fall of 2018 I worked with a second grade class that invited parents to participate in a modified blogging activity. The blog was established through Seesaw. Parents used the video recording function in Seesaw to record themselves reading books. Those recordings were then posted on the classroom blog for students to watch.

Blogging Activities for 3-5
I don’t think you’ll find a better example of using blogging with students of this age group than Linda Yollis’ Classroom Blog. The blog has the tagline, “Third graders learning and sharing together.” On the blog you’ll find lots of examples of students blogging including “Family Blogging Month.” During Family Blogging Month Mrs. Yollis invites parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, and uncles to comment on the blog. The blog post announcing Family Blogging Month even includes a video from students about how to write quality blog comments.

It is at this age that many students are introduced to reading news and current events. A site like DOGO News is a good place to find age-appropriate articles for students to read. You can post links to these stories on your classroom blog then have students respond to the stories with comments of their own. Depending upon your students, you may need to include some discussion prompts with the articles that you post for your students to read.

Blogging Activities for 6-8
This is a great time to start letting students have a larger role in communicating information about their schools. Creating a student council blog is one way that you can give students that increased communication responsibility. Let them post daily or weekly announcements in text or video form. Have them write about the decisions that were made in student council and how the decisions were made.

A blogging activity that I did with eleventh grade students that could easily be modified for middle school students is blogging as historical characters. Students in my U.S. History class wrote a series of blog posts in which they attempted to use the voices of delegates to the Continental Congress and the Constitutional Convention. After writing their blog posts they then had to respond in character to classmates’ blog posts.

Blogging Activities for 9-12
By the time students reach high school they are capable of managing and maintaining their own blogs. In doing that students are creating portfolios of their thoughts and their work. You could have students create their own blogs that will serve as portfolios of their work done in your classroom or for the work they’ve done in all of their classes. What’s important in doing this is that students should be writing a more than just simple “I did X.” They should write about the process and what they learned through the process.

My current (2019-20) computer science students use Google Sites to write updates about the projects they’re working on. This process forces them to stop and look at what they’ve done and what they still need to do. Having them blog about their projects in progress also gives me the opportunity to see where I might need to interject into their project processes.

When I taught a current events course for eleventh and twelfth grade students I made them all editors on a group blog created with Blogger. Every week each student was responsible for posting a news article or video of interest to them along with their own commentary about their chosen article or video. All students were also responsible for commenting on their classmates’ posts.

One more example of using blogs with high school students comes from my old colleague Pam Chodosh who used blogging as a publishing outlet for students in her high school journalism class. Obviously, anyone visiting the blog could read the students’ stories. But Pam was able to give her students’ work a bigger audience by getting a local newspaper to link to some of the stories. Those links provided students’ with a far bigger audience than any printed school newspaper could have.

This was an excerpt from a book that I've been working on forever and will, hopefully, publish in 2020. 

My Ten Most Watched Ed Tech Tutorial Videos in 2019

In 2019 I created and added more than one hundred new ed tech tools tutorial videos to my YouTube channel. That brought the total for my channel to more 1,000 videos. This morning I sat down and looked at the analytics for my channel. According to the YouTube analytics these were the ten most watched tutorial videos on my channel. As you look at the list you'll notice that some of them were uploaded prior to 2019 yet were still among the most watched of the year.

How to Create a QR Code for a Google Form


How to Add a Timer to PowerPoint Slides


How to Share Videos Through Google Drive


How to Use the Citation Tool in Google Docs


How to Add Your Voice to Google Slides.
Important Note: This method is no longer necessary as Google Slides now has a native feature for using audio in Google Slides.


How to Use Google's VR Tour Creator


The Basics of Creating a Quiz in Google Forms


How to Record Audio in Google Slides


How to Find and Use the Embed Code for YouTube Videos


How to Quickly Show or Hide Your Chrome Bookmarks Bar


Bonus Item: This is how to add audio to Google Slides with the new native audio tool.

Saturday, December 28, 2019

The Week in Review - The Most Popular Posts

Good morning from Maine where it's cold and dark at the moment. Fortunately, sunshine is in the forecast and we're going to play outside in some fresh air after a day of being stuck inside because of sleet and rain. There's nothing worse than a sleeting, raining day during school vacation week. But I probably shouldn't complain as we did have a beautiful day for Christmas. Overall, it has been a good vacation week. If you're on school vacation this week, I hope that you're having a good one too.

This week I announced that I'm offering a new section of Teaching History With Technology starting in January. I've updated the course for 2020 to include a section on making your own history apps. The course starts on January 8th. You can get more information about it here.

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. My Favorite New & Updated Tools in 2019
2. Burning Vocabulary - A Chrome Extension for Expanding Your Vocabulary
3. How to Add Alt Text to Images in Google Documents
4. How to Add & Edit Google Sites Image Carousels
5. Word Game - A Simple Game Vocabulary Game
6. Boclips - Millions of Ad-free Educational Videos
7. Two Easy Ways to Share Google Forms Without Google Classroom

I'll come to your school in 2020! 
2020 will be my tenth year of speaking at schools and conferences. Send me an email at richardbyrne (at) freetech4teachers.com to learn more about how we can work together.

Thank You for Your Support!
Other Places to Follow My Work
Besides FreeTech4Teachers.com and the daily email digest, there are other ways to keep up with what I'm publishing. 
  • Practical Ed Tech Newsletter - This comes out once per week (Sunday night/ Monday morning) and includes my tip of the week and a summary of the week's most popular posts from FreeTech4Teachers.com.
  • My YouTube Channel - More than 16,000 are subscribed to my YouTube channel for my regular series of tutorial videos including more than 300 Google tools tutorials. 
  • The Practical Ed Tech Podcast is where I answer questions from readers, share news and notes, and occasionally talk to interesting people in education. 
  • Facebook - The FreeTech4Teachers.com Facebook page has nearly 450,000 followers. 
  • Twitter - I've been Tweeting away for the last twelve years at twitter.com/rmbyrne
  • Instagram - this is mostly pictures of my kids, my dogs, my bikes, my skis, and fly fishing.

Friday, December 27, 2019

Practical Ed Tech Podcast Episode 25 - The Last Podcast of the Decade!

This afternoon I recorded my last podcast of the decade! I resisted the urge to use REM's End of the World as bumper music for the episode. Instead, I just went with the usual bumper music then jumped into some news and notes from the week followed by answers to questions from readers and listeners. I also threw in a little rant about someone getting upset with me for not answering his help request on Christmas Eve. (Note to self, don't check email on holidays).

Listen to episode 25 of the Practical Ed Tech Podcast right here or on your favorite podcasting network.



Listen to all episodes of the podcast here or find them on the following podcast networks:

Teaching History With Technology 2020

The primary means through which I'm able to keep this site running is through revenue from speaking engagements and sales of my Practical Ed Tech professional development courses like Teaching History With Technology. For 2020 I've updated the course to include new things like making your own history apps, creating green screen videos, and using the latest features of Google Earth in your history lessons.

The next session of Teaching History With Technology will begin on January 8th at 4pm ET. You can save $30 on the registration when you fill out the form on this page then register by midnight (ET) on January 6th.

A Few Course Highlights
  • Search strategies history students need to know.
  • How to make your own history review apps!
  • Creating virtual reality history activities.
Dates & Times for Teaching History With Technology
  • This course is comprised of five live webinars. The webinars will be held at 4pm Eastern Time on January 8, 15, 22, 29, and February 5th. The sessions will be recorded for those who cannot attend the live broadcasts.
  • You can receive a certificate for five professional development hours for completing the course. 


Register Here!