Essential question:  What specific policies will help your district prepare students for current and emerging technology use? How can you help lead your district in creating these policies? 

Our District is so far behind in technology that it is hard to find a starting point. I think the specific policy I could help the district prepare with is the use of blogs in the 3-5 grade range.

Currently we have Moodle for all grades, and no one really uses it because they don’t know how. The district wants to develop a blogging program for all grades but the lack of computers and training is stopping it from happening. I believe that using blogs for the last year while not making me an expert, does give me an edge on most of the other teachers in the district.

Creating an acceptable use policy is an important part of any learning initiative that involves technology, be it a 1:1 program, BYOD environment, blending learning initiative, etc (Winske, 2014). Most students in the U.S. have technology at school and at home and there are places where that doesn’t exist. This is one of those places. The students here do not understand what acceptable use is, so if we were to throw them into a blog position, no one would know what to do, how to properly use it, and edict in writing. I believe that Acceptable use of technology will be the first main concern; the second will be the teaching of blogging.

For me, blogging is a big point because the only other policy that doesn’t exist yet is student portfolios. Blogging is doable using Moodle as the medium. Blogging is one of the best collaboration tools for students using technology. It is also one of the best tools for authentic writing. The NMC Horizon Project Report 2015 has this to say about authentic learning opportunities:

“Authentic learning, especially that which brings real-life experiences into the classroom, is still all too uncommon in        schools. Authentic learning is seen as an important pedagogical strategy, with great potential to increase the engagement of students who are seeking some connection between the world as they know it exists outside of school, and their experiences in school that are meant to prepare them for that world. Use of learning strategies that incorporate real-life experiences, technology, and tools that are already familiar to students, and interactions from community members are examples of approaches that can bring authentic learning into the classroom. Practices such as these may help retain students in school and prepare them for further education, careers, and citizenship in a way that traditional practices are too often failing to do.”

Student Blogs are engaging and provide them the opportunity to collaborate with others outside of their district. This is what makes them so useful in education. Believe me, Last year I would have been the one that said NO to blogs. I see the use, I have read the research, and I see the need. Students need to be able to use a real tool in education, and this form of collaboration is easier and faster than email. Below is a video by Paul Ellison at Teachers Network which is a quick video about the benefits of blogging.

Rebecca Muller also has a great video on the benefits of blogging at a second grade level.

Her blog is about a primary blogging community. You are connected to schools around the country and share blogs over the course of the school year. The program teaches how to write a blog, how to respond, and it provides students with a voice they may not have had before.

For the students at Whiteriver Elementary, this is what they need to understand that the world is not as small as they think. A class blog would put them into contact with a nationwide classroom, it would force them to write correctly, to think about what they say, and realize that others care what they have to say.

I really want this to happen. I want to use blogs, and I can use Moodle to start, but I cannot do what I want with the limited use of Moodle. I want to incorporate a student blog site that can incorporate video, images, sound, and text. I can see our students getting more out of this than using Sum Dog for math games.

I would be more than willing to create podcasts to teach how to create a blog, how to write a post, and how to respond. I would be willing to help other teachers start and use a blog in the classroom. I feel I have enough information to be dangerous! Lets play!!

References:

NMC Horizon Project (2015). NMC Horizon Report Preview 2015 K-12 Edition. Retrieved from http://cdn.nmc.org/media/2015-nmc-horizon-report-k12-preview.pdf

Muller (Producer). (October 23, 2013). The importance of our Classroom Blog. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xh3x0lACVDU

Teachers Network (Producer). (October 15, 2009). Blogging in the Classroom PROMO. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wGUtUY8H0nY

Winske, C. (February 17, 2014). K-12 TD Tech Decisions. Retrieved from http://www.k12techdecisions.com/article/creating_an_acceptable_use_policy_for_mobile_learning_initiatives

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10 comments

  1. akedtech · July 29, 2015

    You might consider Tumblr for blogging. Now it’s a wild world platform – but it’s something kids are quite into. I just started Tumblr myself and I took up Vine at the same time and feel overwhelmed, so I am scaling back (for now) just to Tumblr. But Tumblr is interesting in that people tell stories with pictures, Vines, reblogging of resources – very different from FB – impossible to control – but something kids are already doing with great enthusiasm.

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    • jnyboy1131 · July 31, 2015

      I looked at Tumbler, I like the site, but I need to teach the etiquette part first and a basic blog would be the best. Tumbler we can’t control what gets posted, so where I am at, it could get bad. I understand the overwhelming part, I am building my class website (which I just learned about) and am having a ball, but it can be overwhelming at times. I think I would like to use that platform after I have a handle on the basics! Thanks for the post!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. becca1ak · July 30, 2015

    A classroom blog is on my bucket list for this school year. My partner teacher has done one in the past, so I am hoping she is a good resource to help me bridge that, “I want to do this but I don’t know what I need to do get started” gap that exists in goals for me! Where do you suggest I get started? I have a set of iPads for my class as well as desktops and chrome books available. What do I need to do to make this happen??!!!

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    • jnyboy1131 · July 31, 2015

      Thanks for the post! There is a lot of sites to start with. The one that I like the best is kidblog.org. You have to pay, but it is only $36 a year for your class. You as the teacher have the ultimate control, you get to see all the posts before they go out so it is controlled.

      Scholastic has a great page to help teach blogging to kids, the web site is:
      http://www.scholastic.com/browse/article.jsp?id=3749958

      Edublogs.org is another great resource for beginners, the web site is:
      http://edublogs.org/curriculum-corner-using-a-blog-with-students/

      Starting a blog for students is not that hard. Everything you read shows how easy it is set up. The hard part is getting the school or district to buy into it. If your partner has done it, you are half way there. You have the “in person” resource and there is a lot on line. Good luck!!

      Liked by 1 person

      • jpboerger · July 31, 2015

        I’ve used edublogs before and recalled really liking it… before I up and moved away from that school district. I think you have to pay for a subscription for that? Maybe I am thinking of http://www.eduphoria.net/ – it seems like the ones you pay for are better because they lack advertisements?

        Good post John – Thanks!

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  3. janeblasingame · July 30, 2015

    I think you are on to something. Think about all the time students spend texting and Face-booking. We know they can write. Now, lets take that skill and use it in and guided education setting. I have not used Moodle, but from your description it sounds like a good venue for students to express themselves. According to Education Week Teacher “Blogging can offer opportunities for students to develop their communications skills through meaningful writing experiences. Such projects not only motivate students to write, but motivate them to write well.” http://www.edweek.org/tm/articles/2012/11/28/tln_curran.html.

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  4. jnyboy1131 · July 31, 2015

    Thanks for the post!! I think blogging is a great easy step for our students since we really have no technology for them to use. You are right, they can text, so they can write. They love to write, and I think it is a true authentic form. It forces them to write correctly because they could talk to people from all over the world not just the reservation. We can sort of blog on Moodle, it is like the forum we used to use on blackboard for most of these classes, you make a post, and others can comment, but it is limited to the school only. However as teachers we can put a link to a blog on noodle and the students could create a page and go from there. We don’t have a lot of technology at school, and there are not enough computers for all the kids but we could do it on a rotating basis. I know we could make it work if the district would let us.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Scott Roleff · July 31, 2015

    You are in a unique situation. If you are able to get this rolling, you get to teach the kids everything from blog creation, posting comments, and acceptable use. Using a resource such as kidblog sounds like a very wise thing to do. As kids learn the ropes, it will be good for you to have control, especially if kids try to venture into undesirable territory. A good acceptable use policy will be an important start. My district put together a very good policy before they attempted BYOD in their schools. It gave the kids an understanding of the rules, it gave teachers a chance to plan ahead, and it made sure the resources were in place before anything began.

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    • jpboerger · July 31, 2015

      Scott, do you have a digital link to the ASD acceptable use policy?

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    • jnyboy1131 · August 2, 2015

      Thanks for the post! I believe you are right, this is a great position to be in. Our district has an acceptable use policy, but no one has ever read it. The kids know the basics, but it is something that needs to be covered in PD’s so everyone is on the same page. Our students need a good sit down explanation of what the policy is, how it works, and why we have it in place. Then the district needs to spend god money and make this happen (I can always dream). At least they will have an idea of how to make this work when they are ready to roll it out.

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