Monday, July 2, 2012

#ISTE12: Educational Blogging: Flattening the Classroom Walls! (Linda Yollis, Kathleen Morris)

  • Linda Yollis @lindayollis
  • Kathleen Morris @kathleen_morris

Notes (from presenters in bold, from me in italics):

  • Two teachers, one in Australia and one in America (Leopold and LA) 
  • Everything is moderated by the teacher... 
    • This is very important for me if I am going to have my students blog. I believe you can subscribe to posts as well as comments.  However, I think there is also a way for me to be an "author" on the blog.  My only concern with this is that it would become too much work on my part.  I would much rather just subscribe to each of my students' blogs and receive updates in my RSS feed whenever a new post or comment happens.
  • Benefits:
    • Authentic way to teach literacy skills 
    • Authentic audience from all around the world (use cluster maps) 
    • Global connections 
    • Can integrate Internet safety in authentic ways...discussions about online behaviors and being a responsible member of the Internet community
  • Parent participation
    • Family blogging month, virtual volunteers, commenting back
    • parent skyped in during session: "Better reading and writing skills, friends around the world"
      • I can see the parent involvement in blogging happening a lot more at the elementary level.  I think it's a great tool to keep parents involved and to continue to educate them!
  • Students EARN their own blogs once they participate on class blog, quality commenting, etc
    • Start with commenting
    • Then with posts
    • Then with own blog (parents or teacher is the administrator of those blogs)
      • I am still thinking about what I want to do for my students. I think starting by commenting on our class blog is a good place, especially as I am getting to know my students and there is so much to do at the beginning of the year anyways.
      • In the past, I have thought about assigning posts to students for each day/week summarizing what we learned or the important information. I have always felt like this would be one more thing on my plate to moderate, hence why I haven't done it.  I found it easier to just update it myself, that way I knew it got done and the info I wanted dispersed was correct and timely. However, I may consider it this year... we'll see!
      • I need to look into how to "easily" be the administrator of my students' blogs. It's not like I have an elementary class of 20 or 30. I have almost 200 students. Should I do this with all my students, or just start with Math Analysis this year, maybe doing Algebra 1 for the 2nd semester?
  • Global project examples
These are all great examples of using blogging to break down the walls of the classroom and connect with other classrooms around the country (and around the world!!)  While most of them seem to be best suited for the elementary levels, there are some ideas any teacher can glean from them.
    • Project 1: collaboration corner (joint blog)
      • Worked on projects together
      • What's for lunch and meet our school
      • Tools:
        • Fotobabble- picture uploading and then add audio to it
        • Voicethread-
        • Videos-
    • Project 2: Ugandan global project
      • 6 weeks
      • Every week was different focus topic on the blog
      • Raised $20,000 for Ugandan school
      • tools:
        • Stixy
        • Dropbox, hash tags on twitter, google docs to collaborate and stay organized
        • Slideshare
        • Wallwisher (simple virtual sticky note tool for reflection)
    • Project 3: our world, our story
      • Weekly topics, six or seven schools from different countries collaborating
      • Tools:
        • Sliderocket
        • Technologies used to connect: Skype!!!
      • Comment section is where blogs come to life**********
    • Project four: the tale trail
      • Creative writing
      • Wrote narrative together
      • One class would write the first chapter and leave a cliffhanger and the next class would pick it up
      • Made audiobook with slide rocket
  • How to get started with global collaboration
    • Comment on other peoples blogs!
    • - over a four week period, one class is focus, other three comment. At end, you can choose to continue with other projects or not
    • Student blogging challenge
    • All about building relationships!!
    • Look for similarities in finding connections (grade level, standard of writing, purpose, etc)
    • Be genuine! Make a connection with the person you are reading and commenting with
    • Be consistent
    • Focus (just pick a couple blogs to be visiting and commenting on)
  • Our tips for success
    • Start small. Have goals.
    • Prioritize. Don't get involved in too many projects or relationships at once.
    • Integrate. Math, reading, social studies must be integrated... Don't separate them!
    • Network.
    • Have fun
  • Privacy issues
    • Never use last name
    • Everything is moderated
    • Don't have students post personal stuff
    • Class guideline samples on their blogs
    • Never pair a face with a name
    • Check with district
I am still in the process of checking with my district for "rules" I need to abide by.  Everyone is on vacation until mid-July, it seems!  So, my "blogging ideas" will need to be put on hold until I hear back from them. I don't want to start something and then find out I can't follow through with it.

All of the information from this session was very informative and helpful in thinking about the things that must be considered when having your classes blog.  I hope it all works out this year - I think it would be a great "tool" to use in my classes to get my students TWIRLSing even more :)


  1. There are so may blog sites that it is a little overwhelming. Did they recommend which to use?

    1. Hi Michael,
      Thanks for the comment.

      From what I've heard, depends on your level of students. For elementary, I heard kidblog was good. I am planning on using Blogger (blogspot) with my high school students because it's very easy to set up. However, I am planning on having my students have public blogs (once I double check with all the privacy stuff).

      I've also seen teachers use Edublogs (more teacher control, I believe), and Wordpress(many more features, a little harder to get if you aren't tech-savvy)

      I would pick something that YOU are comfortable with and use because that way you are able to help the students when needed, and they see you using it.

      Hope that helps!



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