Tag Archives: common core

Reading Dailies: Daily Digital Reading Curriculum, Available Now

LESSONS FOR TODAY’S DIGITAL CLASSROOM

Contemporary classrooms need to engage students with digital tools—such as tablets and Chromebooks—and digital curricula. That was the intent behind Reading Dailies, a new digital curriculum designed to be delivered through tablets and computers. A teacher need only paste the lesson link into an assignment, and students can access a complete week of lessons that break down one of the Common Core reading standards and that include high-quality, complex, literary texts.

Reading Dailies, for grades 3–5, build students’ reading skills through weekly lessons that break down the skills students need to understand fiction and informational texts.

OVERVIEW

This supplemental reading program includes a Teacher’s Guide, 19 units, and 19 Checkpoint Assessments. Each unit and Checkpoint Assessment is available as an interactive HTML5 lesson or as a downloadable PDF, and each unit includes 3, 4, or 5 lessons designed to be completed in a single week. Each lesson takes about one day and requires students to read and reread a literary passage and write about it. A checkpoint at the end of each week assess students’ understanding of the main strategy, giving teachers the summative data they need to assess whether students have mastered the composite skills folded into one of the Common Core standards.

FEATURES

Reading Dailies offers students and teachers several features that make the program easy to use and convenient while still being rigorous.

 

Reading Dailies title pageMain strategy gives the overall big idea for students to understand

Skills show the smaller skills needed to master the overall strategy

 

 

 

 

instructionalsummaryInstructional summary allows teachers to walk through key instruction at the beginning of the week

Academic vocabulary is introduced at the beginning of the week and reinforced throughout the week

 

 

 

guidedcloserdgInstructional focus begins each lesson to establish clear focus

Quality literature can be found in each lesson to acquaint students with literary use of language and the vocabulary used in authentic texts

Focused responses provide students with scaffolding needed to delve into the text and understand it

 


responserubricResponse rubrics
give students clear criteria for what is required in a successful response

 

 

 

 

checkpointCheckpoint Assessments are summative assessments that afford students an opportunity to demonstrate mastery of each unit.

 

 

 

 

PACING

pacingEach unit is designed to be completed in a single week.

  • Start the week by introducing the unit and key concepts. Then allow about one day to complete each lesson.
  • Some students on their own may be able to complete a unit in less time, but the one day, one lesson pace allows time for students to work in small groups to discuss the passages and respond to them. Talking about the passages in small groups will benefit all learners and help them enrich their understanding of the passages.
  • Small groups will also support struggling readers and English Language Learners.
  • Throughout the week, encourage use of the academic vocabulary in the lesson in small-and whole-group settings.

To preview a G3 unit for free, visit http://store.greenlightlearningtools.com/product/rd301/

To preview a G4 unit for free, visit http://store.greenlightlearningtools.com/product/rd41/

To preview a G5 unit for free, visit http://store.greenlightlearningtools.com/product/rd501/

 

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Helen Beyne has years of experience in creating innovative curriculum materials in reading, ESL, science, and social studies. She writes about IWBs and free online resources for teachers.

5 Great Free Math Websites For Teachers

by Mary Kate Dempsey

free math websites for teachers

Image courtesy of artur84 | FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Technology is a great way to introduce variety to your math lessons. Below are some helpful websites that teachers can use as reference materials, for tutoring, as extra practice, or just for fun.

Khan Academy

We have talked about Khan Academy before. Khan Academy has thousands of K-8 educational videos to help students grasp concepts from basic arithmetic to calculus and organic chemistry. As a teacher, you can create a class and track both your students’ progress through skill assessments and how much time they spent working on the site. The site includes non-math subjects, but they aren’t the draw.

A+ Click

A+ Click is a great resource for students who need extra practice. Students choose either a grade level, G1–12, or a topic. Whether the student answers right or wrong, A+ Click will show you why the correct answer is correct (so even the lucky guessers will learn something). The site revised most of the questions in 2015 to align to the Common Core. Bonus: no sign-in required!

Wolfram MathWorld

This offshoot of the popular Wolfram Alpha online calculator has hundreds of free math articles on topics ranging from algebra to topology, including the history and definitions of math terms—fun for the math nerd in all of us! Many articles include helpful visuals such as GIFs and pictures. It is the perfect reference material when needing to go into more detail about a theorem or topic.

AAA Math

This site for students in grades K-8 contains short written lessons followed by practice items on topics from addition to algebra. In the classroom, ask students to answer a specific number of practice questions or set a time limit and have students tell you their score at the end. The site is also available in Spanish.

Math Dude Podcast

More for the audial learner, Math Dude is a weekly podcast most appropriate for high school students. Host Jason Marshall aims to make math fun with facts about the Juno Spaceship and the NCAA Tournament. He shares tips and tricks to help make math easier for kids who are struggling. The podcasts range from 6-10 minutes, making it a great bellringer.

What are some other math websites you love? Let us know in the comments.

Resources for Integrating Multimedia into your Classroom

by Erin Dye

Multimedia is a huge part of the Common Core. Two of the standards (RL.7 and RI.7, in most grades) explicitly call for analyzing multimedia, and other standards can be enhanced by the addition of high-quality multimedia. What do we mean when we say multimedia? It doesn’t only mean videos. It can be images, video, music, graphs, and interactives like infographics.

Unfortunately, the Internet is full of mediocre multimedia that isn’t worth analyzing. To find quality multimedia, check out trusted institutions that are known for high-quality content, such as museums or PBS Kids. Or start with our list below!

Literature

  • iBooks: While the best content is paid, keep on eye on the free section. If you are interested in a paid book, try a sample before you buy to make sure it has multimedia.
  • Google Play/Google Books: As with iBooks, most of the best content is paid. But many public domain children’s books include the original illustrations and the content is available without an Apple device.
  • Met Museum: The illustrated story “Marduk, King of the Gods” is great for younger kids. It features audio, sound effects, and pictures.
  • Storyline Online: One of my favorites is this collection of videos of celebrities (Betty White, James Earl Jones, many more) reading famous picture books.
  • Reading Rainbow: This subscription-based app for iPad and Kindle Fire is an extension of the classic TV show. A classroom edition is coming for fall 2015.
  • Library of Congress: A great, free collection of classic public domain books presented in a nice viewer
  • Edsitement Websites: This list of recommended websites from the National Endowment for the Arts includes many great interactives. Filter by subject for best results.

Informational

  • National Archives: Part of the DocsTeach collection, this site is a great resource for videos, plus virtual Google Maps tours on HistoryPin.
  • PBS Learning Media: Great repository for videos (such as a science series with Curious George) and interactive stories (includes some fiction for younger kids too).
  • Met Museum: This interactive Vincent van Gogh bio with images, maps, and more is great for a cross-curricular study of art and history.
  • Smithsonian Air and Space Museum: A fun interactive website about aerodynamics
  • MinuteEarth: Looking for great science videos? Try these short and informational earth science videos
  • FiveThirtyEight: This site applies statistics to everything from politics to sports to movies. Use it for engaging graphs and analysis for older students.
  • Teaching History: Need a site for history or social students? Check out these oh-so-helpful reviews of history sites.
  • Google Cultural Institute: Just explore this one. You’ll love it.

What sites are we missing? Add them in the comments below!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAErin Dye is Manager of Consulting Services for Green Light Professional Development and a Google Certified Educator. She has extensive experience creating digital materials for interactive whiteboards and iPads. She writes about technology integration and GLPD’s work in local schools.

Writing for an Authentic Audience: How to Get and Apply Great Feedback

by Amber Wilson

writing for an authentic audience

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Whether or not your curriculum is aligned with the Common Core, you know that good writing is well suited to its purpose and its audience. Likewise, you know that giving, receiving, and responding to feedback is an essential skill inside and out of the classroom. How can you incorporate these real-world practices in your pedagogy?

An authentic audience helps your students . . .

Write for a reason: To inform, to persuade, or to entertain. We often focus on teaching readers how to differentiate between text types, but writing assignments are sometimes less specific. Good writers are able to identify the traits of the writing modes, choose the best mode for the occasion, and create texts that are clearly and obviously persuasive, informative, or entertaining.

Get motivated: As discussed here and here, students are truly motivated by writing for real people.

Write to learn: Engaging fully with content (in all subject areas) requires a certain degree of processing. Encourage students to write before, during, and after projects and learning goals. In addition, your students will probably find that during the course of a unit or project, writing in multiple modes and for multiple audiences helps them process and connect information, leading to fuller engagement and deeper understanding.

Publish! One way is to have a class blog. See this previous post to learn more about getting started. You could also check out an alternate way to publish student writing, like pen.io.

Get feedback: Get on Twitter and tell the world that your kids have something to say. Use the #comments4kids hashtag and start the ball rolling. Then take the next step and guide students to read, understand, and respond to comments. For instance, ask students to perform self-assessment, then compare their assessments to feedback they received in comments. Or, encourage students to take feedback from comments into consideration as they revise and draft their writing.

Want to take it to the next level? Post about a book review and tag the book’s author, or post about a science project and tag a scientist!

Give feedback: Have student writers experience both sides of interacting with an authentic audience. Your students are probably already familiar with trading papers and giving feedback in class. You may also have worked with pen pals, or some other form of long distance communication. Get the best of both worlds by having your kids engage in a conversation about someone else’s published writing. Use #comments4kids to find student writing on a topic that your class is also writing, and invite your class to leave comments.

 

Let us know how you’re using online publishing and writing for an authentic audience in your class! Find us on Facebook, Twitter, or leave us a comment below.

 AmberAmber Wilson is a consultant for Green Light Professional Development.

Using Technology for Self-Reflection in the Classroom

by Helen Beyne

self-reflection

Image courtesy of samuiblue at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

At a time when yoga and meditation are part of the mainstream, terms such as self-reflection and metacognition have emerged as popular buzzwords even outside the field of neuroscience. The significance of these concepts is more than mere hype. Research has linked self-reflection to better emotional intelligence, higher confidence, greater mental flexibility, and even reduced risks of mood and anxiety disorders.

These benefits also apply to children. New research has indicated that teaching children how to self-reflect is a highly effective way to enhance learning. Keeping a journal is not the only way to help children self-reflect, however; the modern digital age offers a multitude of new and fun ways for you to implement self-reflection activities in your classroom.

WRITING

The cognitive benefits of expressive writing cannot be overstated, and there are a wide variety of digital tools you can use to take your students’ writing beyond pencil and paper. This approach also aligns with the Common Core State Standards for Writing, which requires students of all ages to use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing. You might have your class keep a daily digital journal or set up a classroom blog where students can post their entries and discuss them with others. Penzu Classroom offers free online classroom journals that students can join with a class code, and they can easily share their entries with the entire class or with just a few students for discussion. Storybird is another free tool that allows students to publish journal entries, stories, or poems online. For young children or students who struggle with writing, it might be useful to provide a template that asks them to reflect on their day, week, or recent behavior.

DRAWING

Drawing is another activity that can be self-reflective and therapeutic. Having students use illustrations to explain what they did that day or describe how they are feeling can be an effective way to help them express themselves artistically. You can try these drawing apps and have your students post their drawings online. You could even have your students create illustrations for their writing. Little Bird Tales is a great tool that allows students to upload their illustrations online and record themselves analyzing and discussing what they drew.

VIDEOS

Helping students record videos of themselves is another fun and easy way to help them self-reflect. Results of a recent study offered support for a concept known as instant video revisiting, in which children watch their activities immediately after they happen, reflect on them, and discuss them with a teacher. The study found that children are more reflective about what they have done when they explain what they are doing as they revisit video recordings. Apple’s iMovie or these movie-making apps make it easy for students to create, edit, and watch their own videos.

How else have you used technology to help your students self-reflect in the classroom? Let us know in the comments!

Helen bioHelen Beyne is a consultant for Green Light Professional Development. She has years of experience in creating innovative curriculum materials in reading, ESL, science, and social studies. She writes about IWBs and free online resources for teachers.

Reading and Writing Across the Curriculum: The Basics

by Erin Dye

reading and writing across the curriculum

Image courtesy of digitalart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

For more than thirty years, there has been an emphasis on using reading and writing “across the curriculum” to promote student learning—activities that come part and parcel with teaching ELA, but seem more difficult to integrate into a geometry class. The underlying principle is simple: purposeful reading and writing activities help students better understand and think critically about content, no matter the subject.

With many states adopting the Common Core State Standards to direct instruction—which includes a set of standards just for reading and writing about history, science, and technical subjects—there is a renewed emphasis on the inclusion of purposeful reading and writing activities both inside and outside of the ELA classroom.

Reading across the curriculum means more than reading an assigned chapter in a textbook. Students might also read related essays, letters, speeches, reports, and so on to better understand a particular topic. Students in an American history class, for example, might read an online excerpt from one of the Lincoln-Douglas debates to better understand how politicians viewed the issue of slavery before the Civil War, using a program such as Diigo to annotate the text as they read. To kick off a new unit in a math class, students could read an excerpt from John Allen Paulos’s Innumeracy: Mathematical Illiteracy and Its Consequences or Keith Devlin’s Life by the Numbers to answer that age-old question, “When am I ever going to need to use this?”

But reading subject-specific texts isn’t enough. To develop understanding, students need to produce related writing. There are two main types of writing activities that teachers can use to promote student learning in any classroom—“writing to learn” and “writing in the discipline.”

When students write to learn, they produce short pieces of writing that help them process the content that they have learned. For example, a student in a chemistry class might use a “learning log” (using a program such as Evernote) to reflect upon a week’s concept—recording their initial reactions and questions. These types of assignments typically require only a cursory review by teachers.

When students write in the discipline, they produce longer pieces of writing that also adhere to the conventions of a particular discipline. In an ELA classroom, for example, a student might produce a research paper that adheres to MLA guidelines. The chemistry student would develop a lab report to document an experiment.

Reading and writing can be integrated in any class to further student engagement and learning. Find ways to make “writing to learn” activities a regular activity in your classroom and ways to incorporate “writing in the discipline” activities as long-term projects, and you will make your students engaged, thoughtful learners.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAErin Dye is Manager of Consulting Services for Green Light Professional Development and a Google Certified Educator. She has extensive experience creating digital materials for interactive whiteboards and iPads. She writes about technology integration and GLPD’s work in local schools.

5 Sites to Publish Student Writing Online

by Helen Beyne

websites publish student writing

image courtesy arinas74 | freeimages.com

The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) require students to “use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing” beginning in Grade 4 and continuing through Grade 12 to publish digital content. Google Docs are a great way to encourage collaboration and to pique students’ interest in publishing their writing online. However, what are the best tools for your students to use to share their work safely with a broader digital audience? Here are 5 great sites to publish student writing online.

Blogger 

Blogger, one of the most commonly used blogging tools, is free and fairly intuitive. It offers a number of basic, colorful templates, and advanced users can customize their blogs even further. In the classroom, students can use Blogger to create their own individual blogs, or teachers can create a class blog and invite students to contribute. This user-friendly site is Google’s blogging tool, so students must create a Google account before they can use Blogger (if your school already uses Google Apps for Education, Blogger is an easy addition to the arsenal).

Kidblog 

For young students, Kidblog might be the way to go. Because teachers create accounts for each student user, students do not need email addresses to sign up. Teachers also have the option to assign and reset passwords, so instructors will not need to worry about younger students forgetting this sensitive information. The basic version of Kidblog is free, but its premium features are available for an annual fee.

Edublogs 

Edublogs is one of the safest places for students to publish their writing online. The site is equipped with content filters to keep their blogs student-friendly. Teachers also have total control over privacy settings, so they are able to share students’ work safely and responsibly. One drawback to Edublogs, however, is that its free version is rather limited. Users must pay a monthly free to enjoy all that the site has to offer, including embedded videos, mobile blogging, and custom domains.

Penzu

Penzu is a free online journaling site students can use to reflect privately or share their thoughts with others. If users choose to share their journals, commenting enables viewers to turn a static journal post into a conversation. Penzu Classroom makes it easy for teachers to start a collection of journals for students. Teachers can then use their own Penzu accounts to create assignments for the class, give comments, and grade students’ entries.

Pen.io 

Pen.io is the easiest way to post writing online. It is one of the few sites that do not require students to create an account. Instead, they simply create a unique URL, assign a password, and start publishing content. This barebones blogging tool lacks the fancy templates and other customizable content that comes with other blogging tools, but its anonymity is a plus for teachers who don’t want their students to publish their names online or those who require their students to publish their writing only few times a semester.

What do you think? Which online publishing tool is right for your classroom? Do you know any other safe sites for sharing? Add them in the comments!

Helen bioHelen Beyne is a consultant for Green Light Professional Development. She has years of experience in creating innovative curriculum materials in reading, ESL, science, and social studies. She writes about IWBs and free online resources for teachers.

What You Need to Know About Common Core Testing

guest post by Trisha Beck DeOre

common core testing

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Just the mention of the Common Core assessments often fuels anxiety for students, parents, and certainly schools, but it doesn’t have to. Here’s what you need to know to make sense out of the mayhem and start preparing your students for a successful testing experience.

What’s New About These Tests?

Under Race to the Top, the U.S. Department of Education awarded grants to two companies: Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (Smarter Balanced). Both tests 

  • assess Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts (ELA) and Math.
  • assess students’ readiness for college and career.
  • provide quick results that ultimately inform remediation and guide subsequent curriculum and professional development.
  • are computer-based and have been designed to assess higher-level thinking skills and proficiencies that previous tests could not. (Only Smarter Balanced features computer adaptive testing [CAT].)

Which Test Are My Students Taking?

States choose which test(s) to administer to their students; see the lists below. Some states have not yet chosen either test, though they may in the future.

PARCC: Arkansas, Colorado, District of Columbia, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island.

Smarter Balanced: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, U.S. Virgin Islands, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming.

When Do My Students Take the Tests?

Many schools around the country took field tests last spring to help prepare for the PARCC and Smarter Balanced tests. Full implementation of the tests begins in spring of 2015, although many states are opting to delay testing at least another year.

PARCC tests students in grades 3–11; Smarter Balanced tests students in grades 3–8 and 11.

How Are the Tests Structured?

PARCC includes two mandatory summative assessments and two optional assessments (diagnostic and mid-year).

  • The mandatory Performance-Based Assessment tests multiple standards and standards that are difficult to measure, such as writing and research (ELA) and real-world application problems (Math).
  • The mandatory End-of-Year Assessment measures reading comprehension (ELA) and conceptual understanding (Math).

Smarter Balanced includes one mandatory summative assessment and optional interim assessments (diagnostic and mid-year).

  • The mandatory assessment tests key skills and conceptual understandings in Math and ELA. It includes a Performance Task that tests multiple standards and standards that are difficult to measure, such as research and complex analysis skills.

How Can I Prepare My Students?

The spring 2014 field tests showed that preparation was key to successful tests—for districts, for schools, and for students. Schools need to ensure that they have enough bandwidth and available devices well in advance of testing. Students need familiarity with computer basics (drag and drop, typing for essay responses) as well as practice with their test’s formats. This familiarity eases anxiety and helps students focus on the content of the test without being confused by the format.

Keep in mind that both PARCC and Smarter Balanced are trying to make the tests as transparent as possible, and both have extensive sample test questions to help students get comfortable with the formats. Take a look at your state’s sample tests (see PARCC or Smarter Balanced), and give students ample practice in a low-pressure environment. And don’t forget: the goal of the tests is to make sure students know and can demonstrate their understanding of the Common Core State Standards. The more teachers and students work with these standards in class, the better they’ll do on the tests.

What additional questions do you have about CCSS testing? Leave a comment or ask us on Twitter.

Trisha Beck DeOre is a senior curriculum developer at Nieman Inc.

Integrating Multimedia: Drawing and Movie-Making Apps

by Jonathan Laxamana

drawing and movie apps

Image courtesy of rakratchada torsap at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

An underrated benefit of the Common Core State Standards is their emphasis on using a variety of media and formats to present content. This challenges students to think beyond the written word as they engage with class material in a creative and enjoyable way. Multimedia can be especially valuable for students who struggle with reading and writing, but every student stands to gain from extra visual and auditory elements in the classroom.

For younger students, drawing on paper has numerous benefits, ranging from strengthening hand-eye coordination to learning how to express ideas and feelings. Drawing on a tablet pushes this development to the next level as students also develop technology skills.

For older students, multimedia offers the opportunity to hone presentation skills while simultaneously collaborating with peers. Some video curricula recommend sharing student-made videos on the Internet (with parental permission, of course) so students can engage in a worldwide dialogue as they learn.

We recommend these (free!) apps to help students integrate multimedia drawing and movie-making into their schoolwork. 

DRAWING

Kids Doodle (Android, Apple: Free)

This app is great for younger students because it’s easy to use. Kids Doodle allows users to sketch on a blank canvass, or you can import photos for students to draw on. Kids will especially love this app’s neon and rainbow brushes, which help make their work extra colorful and vibrant. You can also play back students’ drawing steps like a movie, adding an animated element to their drawings.

Drawing Desk (Android, Apple: Free)

Students of all ages can use this app that offers different modes tailored to different projects: Kids Desk, Doodle Desk, Sketch Desk, and Photo Desk. Kids Desk allows younger students to create with a variety of colors, stamps, 3-D brushes, and even a magic wand. Doodle Desk is also great for younger kids because it features stickers and allows you to import images for students to work on. Sketch Desk features more advanced tools for older students, and Photo Desk is designed for photo editing.

SketchBook Express (Android, Apple: Free)

This app offers a variety of different drawing tools, colors, and functions, which make it especially engaging for artistic students. It’s a little less intuitive than other apps, however, which makes it better suited for older students. 

MOVIE-MAKING

Magisto Video Editor & Maker (Android, Apple: Free)

This fun app turns videos and photos into a movie, complete with music and visual effects. It also can analyze videos and photos, and even splice them together for you, making it a favorite among beginners. Also available as a Chrome extension!

PicPlayPost (Android, Apple: Free)

Kids will love this movie-making app because it allows them to integrate any of their own photos, videos, music, or GIFs into a full multimedia feature. Users can select a template, as well as choose from a number of Instagram-like filters and effects to perfect their images. PicPlayPost is the ideal app for making and editing creative montages that feature both photos and videos.

VivaVideo (Android, Apple: Free)

This app works like a video camera and allows users to turn their videos into professional-looking movies. One noteworthy element of VivaVideo is that it supports multi-capture modes, including normal, widescreen, fast-motion, and slow-motion. It also features stylish video effects, such as themes, filters, and transitions, all of which are completely free.

Do you use these or other media apps in your classroom? Let us know in the comments!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAJonathan Laxamana is Technology Manager of Green Light Professional Development. He has more than ten years of experience in producing educational software products, video, web-based content, and mobile apps. He writes about new hardware and software, troubleshooting tips, and everything iPad.

How to Start a Class Blog

by Hope Morley

class blog

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

A class blog is a great way to connect with parents, inspire your students, and meet the Common Core standards. The CCSS Writing standards require students to produce and publish writing on the Internet, as well as adjust writing for different audiences and purposes.

According to a study done last year by the Pew Research Internet Project, 96% of teachers agree that digital technologies benefit students by helping them share writing with wider audiences. Students are writing and reading a lot online, but that language often isn’t appropriate for the classroom. Increasingly, students are using the same general voice whether they’re texting their peers or writing a formal report. Many students are unable to distinguish when to adjust voice and tone for audience; others simply don’t know how. As students prepare for college and the workplace, however, attention to audience may mean the difference between getting a job and offending a boss.

How do you go about preparing your students for college and career while hitting those technology standards? With a class blog of course!

Getting Started 

First and foremost, get permission from your administration and parents before publishing any student work online. Set ground rules, such as no last names for younger students.

Choose a Platform

There are plenty of options out there, but here are a few good options for teachers and students.

  • Blogger: Google’s free blogging platform is user-friendly and easy to set up if you already have a Google account. This platform is best for one class blog. While it is fairly intuitive, save this platform for middle or high school students.
  • Weebly: Weebly is ideal for teachers who want each student to have their own blogs. The teacher creates an umbrella site for the whole class, and then creates individual blogs for each student. Weebly’s drag and drop design is intuitive and easy even for younger students. Weebly has the option to password protect your class blog, which is a great privacy feature.
  • Edublogs: Edublogs are made for teachers and provide plenty of protections for students, though most of the best features require a paid account. Paying teachers can easily monitor comments and blogs from a master account. Edublogs is powered by WordPress, which can be a difficult platform to master.
  • Pen: Do you want students to post their work online only once or twice during the year? Try Pen. This easy website allows anyone to post work online to a unique URL with no log in required.

Set Rules and Expectations 

Before mentioning a blog to your students, figure out what the rules and expectations will be. Are comments allowed? If so, what happens to students who post mean-spirited or offensive comments? How will students be graded? If there’s a rubric, share it with students. How often and when do students need to post? Should students be reading and providing feedback on each other’s posts? Put answers to all these questions in writing (hey, that sounds like a good first blog post!).

Start Posting 

Once you have a blog up and running, set a schedule for posting. Will students post a reflection on the blog every Friday about what they learned? Is the blog a forum for book reviews or short analytical essays? (Be aware that not all students have Internet access at home and should be given time in class or after school to post their work.) What’s the process for corrections?

Have students think about their audience when they post. Who might be interested in reading this work? Who might stumble on it from Google? Bloggers should always have their audience in mind before they start to write.

Do you use a blog in your classroom? Tell us about your experience in the comments!

Hope bioHope Morley is a consultant and social media coordinator for Green Light Professional Development. She writes about social media, conferences, and anything else on the web that helps both students and teachers learn. Follow her @GreenlightLT