Well, it was an intense class, but almost all of my students should have their Weebly blogs up and ready to go. (I chose Weebly because I like how easy it is to add pictures and videos and other media that would make their posts more interesting.) Tomorrow I will have to review some of the requirements (some of them forgot to use tags and some haven't given me their links yet!), but I am just about ready to start connecting with others. Do you want to see what it looks like? Here's the Weebly site I'm using to make it easier for me to keep track of and for others to use:
Why did I feel the need to make a website that connects it all together? Because I plan to connect with other English classes (and this way I only have to send one site!). I hope to be able to touch base with Amber, last year's 8th grade English teacher, and have her students comment and interact with my students' blogs. I may even use my Facebook and Twitter connections to find others who are interested, so that my students have a bigger audience and their writing will become more meaningful to them. In the past, I have been the only one reading my students' writing and that is a tragedy. I've seen some great pieces in my years of teaching and now the hope is that some of that writing can reach others. We'll see if this works out the way I hope it will. For now, that's my plan and feel free to have your students check out what my students are reading. :-)
As I'm sure you all know, iOS 7 came out on Sept. 18. However, I know it's a rather big design change and that can be difficult to adjust to. To help you, I've found a couple of different resources to check out. Mind you, some of them use the iPhone, but for the most part, the features are quite similar to the iPad. I hope these help! If not, leave a comment detailing how I can better assist you.
iOS 7 Resources
The other day I was talking with Adriana A. and she was lamenting the loss of an important website. How many of you have been there? Or you've bookmarked a site at school only to come home and realize that you can't find it and you wished you had e-mailed the address to yourself? These are frustrating situations that you can avoid if you use a social bookmarking site. Now there are many options, but the one I use (and therefore know the most about) is Diigo. I have only been using it for a little over a year or so and I don't really use it socially, but that is an option. Personally, I use it to help me organize information and important websites that I could use in class. Organization is quite easy, too, because you can create lists (which I have shared with you on this site, too) and tags, so for example, I can bookmark a vocabulary site that I want to use in class under my "English (General)" list and then use tags like "vocab, vocab game, learning" and what not to help me find it quickly. But really, that is just the basics of Diigo. And telling you isn't as effective as showing you, right? So please watch the video below if you feel like social bookmarking is for you. They highlight some of the best features of Diigo and it's very easy to follow along.
So I hope you are all now well informed about social bookmarking and Diigo. If you join, find me at https://www.diigo.com/user/johnsonlesleya Maybe we can figure out the social aspect together. Happy web browsing!
I’m diving in head first, folks. I’m going to get my students blogging. Honestly, it’s something I tried last year but it didn't go so well. I didn't have a strong vision or idea what I wanted to do; I just knew that I enjoyed blogging and having people read my blog entries, so thought it would be motivating for some students to receive a wider audience. I think because I wasn't sure what I wanted to do exactly, that made it difficult for me and for students. I did give them direction and guiding questions along with my own example, but it seemed sporadic, unfocused.
Nevertheless, I have learned from my failure. I had a good idea, I think, and it fits into the SAMR model (though last year I think I was hovering around the Modification point), but this year I have done some more research and feel better prepared. I have even spoken with my colleague, Sergio, who uses Weebly and we have agreed that our students can create a separate page for my course on the Weebly site he had our students already create. That way our students have less to keep track of and will perhaps see a connection between their courses. (It’s always nice when you can do some collaboration, right? And who knows what possibilities this will create for us in our courses!) I'll keep you posted on the trials and tribulations of this new experiment. I fully anticipate that it won't be perfect, but I know I will learn from it as will my students. And who knows? Maybe they will get the bug to go above and beyond and make their own Weebly site dedicated to what they're interested in. I know my students already have a pretty good mentor for that kind of work. ;-)
This post is especially for Kinder and Lower Elementary teachers. As I'm sure you could guess, this is not my area of expertise; however, one of my best friends is an ELL elementary teacher, so I made sure to pick her brain this summer for some good apps. These are her recommendations:
1) Montessori Crosswords (https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/montessori-crosswords-spelling/id384334005?mt=8)
This app was SO COOL! Basically, the child is given an image and scrambled letters and the child is expected to spell the word. What sets this app apart from others is the fact that it helps students with phonics because it will pronounce the sounds of the letters. This game will most certainly help students' reading, writing, and spelling skills.
2) Lakeshore Tic Tac Toe Phonics (https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/phonics-tic-tac-toe-interactive/id465184366?mt=8)
This is another app that works on phonics but in a different way. Two students could play against each other as they work on their reading and spelling skills. The app opens and asks which team should go first and then you can see all of the questions. The mostly deal with the sounds of letters, so it's a great game for phonics. Since it's free, why not check it out for yourself? After all, it puts a new twist on an old favorite. (And you'll get to work on sharing and taking turns, too!)
3) Mad Math (https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/mad-math-2/id363485649?mt=8)
Have students work on their math skills (specifically addition, subtraction, multiplication, and/or division) while they play a game of Bingo or Bubble math or even just working with flashcards. It also keeps track of students' scores so you can see how they are improving.
4) Star Fall (https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/starfall-abcs/id395623983?mt=8)
Yet another chance for students to work with the English alphabet and to hear the sounds each letter makes. They get to hear the sounds in words, sentences, and games. I'm pretty sure they would like that, right?
5) Vocab-a-splat (https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/vocab-a-splat/id517271626?mt=8)
This game is meant to help students improve their site words. The words are grouped into categories and context clues are given as students build upon their vocabulary. They say there are 400 words in the game, so that would be a great start for anyone ages 4-6, don't you think?
So there you have it--teacher-tested and approved apps for Kinder and lower elementary. I hope you find them to be a great tool in your classroom. But as always, if any of you have any other suggestions, do let me know. I would be happy to feature them on this site so we can all learn and benefit from your success.
About the Author
Lesley is an English teacher who is passionate about using connectivism in the classroom and preparing students and teachers for using the tools that are available to them on a regular basis. This blog will focus on iPad apps and Web 2.0 tools that can enhance and diversify learning. Leave a comment and let me know what you think or what you'd like to learn about!