Kid Blog

This week I have been experimenting with blogging platforms which we can use in the classroom. One of these platforms is KidBlog. KidblKidBlogog is an online blogging platform for children. It is made for teachers by teachers. It allows schools and teachers to set up and monitor individual blogs for students. The aim is to support student learning and create a sense of online identity and community.

The advantages of Kidblog include the following: it is easy to set up, it has simple navigation, students do not need an email account,  it is advertisement free, you can connect to Google Drive which means it is easier to upload documents, videos and power-points, and the teacher has complete control. Students write and upload blogs, the teacher then reads and approves the blogs and publishes them on the site. A blog can act as a digital portfolio of students work throughout their time at school. One thing I liked about Kidblog is that there are no limits on the amount of content that can be uploaded so students can keep the same blog from 1st through to 6th year. Parents can also be involved with the blog. They are given access by the teacher so they can read and follow their child’s blog online. This is a valuable tool for parents who cannot always make parent evening or drop into the school at any time. 

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Blogging in class encourages peer assessment and group involvement. Students can read and promote each others work and a sense of community can develop. There are many different ways teachers can bring blogging into their classrooms. These include creative writing tasks – while this usually occurs in the English classroom the religion or history teacher could also make use of this method, set up a student book club – students read and publish their thoughts and opinions, pen pals – students can connect with other classrooms around the globe and write to each other – this could be extremely beneficial in religion class or CSPE, can be a digital portfolio- an ideal way to demonstrate learning growth through pictures, video, writing, and more and it could also be used as a notes and study aid. Students can write about topics they like or topics they find difficult other students can then comment and offer feedback and advice on what works for them when studying. 

Setting up on Kidblog is very simple and straightforward. A teacher can go to Kidblog.org and set up a administrator account. They create their class by selecting Click to Create a Class, they then enter username, password, and class name details. Keep in mind the class name you entered is also the blog name, for example, Ms Dunne’s Classroom blog. Select the grey Create Class button, Click the Add New Users button to add users individually or in bulk. The teacher can also access a join code so students can add themselves to the blog. The teacher can add multiple classes and keep them separate which is useful for teachers who want to bring it into multiple classes or subjects.

At the moment you can get a free 30 day trial of Kidblog and after that it is $29 per teacher per year. They also offer deals for whole schools or multiple teachers joining together, quotes available.
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One of the disadvantages to using blogging in the classroom in the time constraints. Teachers need to schedule certain time to set up these blogs and students need to commit at home or in their free time. Teachers also have to commit some personal time to approve and correct the blog posts. While this may sound like a pain the layout of kidblog makes this job easier than one would think. It is straightforward and easy to navigate. If a teacher could commit two-three hours a week to do approvals and corrections they would reap the benefits in class and in student production. As with all teaching methodologies it is important to rotate and not rely solely on the blog, this will also help with time management.

I cannot wait to start blogging with students and I will post about reactions and students opinions in a few weeks time. 🙂

 

 

NCCA Junior Cert Key Skills

The NCCA outlines six key skills that all subjects should develop in the Junior Certificate programme. These include managing myself, staying well, communicating, being creative, working with others and managing information and thinking. All of these skills incorporate the use ofdigital media in the classroom. Using technology in the classroom is a trend that is rapidly increasing in education. For this blog post I want to examine the last key skill and look at ways that we can develop this skill by using different technologies and digital applications in class. ncca

MANAGING INFORMATION AND THINKING

This key skill helps learners gradually improve their capacity to search for information from different sources. They also develop their skills in judging and discriminating between information types and sources and they develop strategies for organising information so that they can understand it and use it later. This skill also develops learners’ thinking skills so that they can become more skilled in higher order reasoning and problem-solving. (Juniorcycle, 2014)

The first thing that came to my mind when thinking of ways to incorporate this skill into the classroom was blogging. This skill is meant to enable students to engage with information and share it by use of digital media. What better way than starting a blog. There are numerous blogging platforms for schools and teachers including, word press, kid blog, 21 classes and many more. These platforms allow teachers to set their classes up on a blog where they can monitor the posts and feedback. Students can be given a task such as researching a key historical figure they use the internet and search engines to find information and then write a blog about the person to share with the class. This simple exercise improves a range of
skills students need to develop including research, critical thinking, analysis, managing information, presenting information and literacy.

Google Docs in another great resource that enables students to organise information. This is a  free Web-based application where documents and power-points can be created, edited and stored online. Files can be accessed from any computer with an Internet connection which means students can start work in school and finish at home without worrying about USB sticks or forgetting books/copies. Google docs also allows students to work together on the one document or project. Students can invite each other with an email address and they have permission to add to or edit a document/presentation. This introduces a whole knew approach to group work. The teacher if also invited can check who has done what work on the document to ensure all students are actively involved.

As a history teacher I have come across some amazing resources this year for the 1916 Commemoration that incorporate this key skill very well. they include a blog designed by the National Library. This blog looks at key personalities and perspectives during the time. Students can research the blog and find new information to engage with. To encourage students to compare sources there is a website that publishers rare photographs from the rising here . This website also has a dedicated section for schools to carry out online research.

The web is an amazing resource for any subject. Allowing students time to explore and discover not only encourages independent learning but gives students an opportunity to see opinions and ideas that before where restricted to a text book. This skill is not only something students need to learn to achieve good grades but it is something they can take out into the world. The world is becoming a technological place and if students cannot fit into this world when they leave school they will face difficulty. We have the resources to help develop this skill in schools it time we start using them.