To truly engage students, there needs to be a real audience for their work. The same can be said for teachers who want to showcase student products and share ideas with their peers. Whether your site is a classroom blog or a portal to individual student blogs, the goal is the same. How can you attract readers from all over the globe to comment and interact with your classroom?
Here are a few tips to get you started:
- Make sure you have activated the social media plugin on your site. This will allow your readers to share your posts with others.
- Promote your blog through your Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or any other social channels you belong to. Share each and every time you create a new post. If you are sharing through Twitter, include an educational hash tag. Ask your peers and family members to take a few minutes out their day to comment and encourage your students. They can even share on their own social media accounts to help your posts go viral.
- Add a Google Translate Widget to your sidebar to go beyond an English speaking audience. Educators from all over the world spend hours searching for great ideas to improve their craft. A great lesson can happen in any language.
- Ask other bloggers to add your site to their blogroll. This will increase the traffic flow and hopefully attract regular readers.
- Content should be relevant and engaging. Make sure you include embedded media, images of students in action, and anything else that will make your blog visually attractive.
- Provide examples of unique learning experiences. Sharing lessons that educators have seen a million times will not motivate readers to return to your site.
- Be concise. When readers are “blog hopping”, they won’t take the time to read lengthy posts.
- Invite readers to share their thoughts. Ask readers to comment by finishing your post with some simple open-ended questions on information you would like to know.
- Add your blog to Comments4Kids– Comments4Kids is a way for students and teachers to find blogs to comment on and to get their own posts commented on.
- Connect with other classes.- This resource was brought to my attention by Sue Waters, editor of The Edublogger. Click here for more information on The Student Blogging Challenges.
After implementing these tips, make sure to include a Clustr Map so that you and your students can see the results of your hard work. There’s nothing more motivating than seeing those little red dots all over your map. Students will work twice as hard if they know they are on a global stage.
Storybird is my new favorite Web 2.0 tool (except for Google Earth, of course) and have found alternative uses for it. This is the website’s great explanation of their concept:
What is Storybird?
Storybird is a service that uses collaborative storytelling to connect kids and families. Two (or more) people create a Storybird in a round robin fashion by writing their own text and inserting pictures. They then have the option of sharing their Storybird privately or publicly on the network. The final product can be printed, watched on screen, played with like a toy, or shared through a worldwide library.
Storybird is also a simple publishing platform for writers and artists that allows them to experiment, publish their stories, and connect with their fans.
I’d like to give a shout out to Mrs. Martin’s 5th Grade class at Windcrest Elementary! Today we co-taught a lesson on Matter using Wordle.net. The students brought their Science journals to the lab and used their notes on the different types of matter to create a word cloud. I like using Wordle because it’s free and students don’t need to create accounts to use it. I am attaching a “How to use Wordle” document in case you have never seen this tool before. One tip I have discovered is that it doesn’t always work in Internet Explorer. If you come across this problem, download Firefox and update your computer to the latest version of Java. Your ITS can help you with this if you aren’t sure how. Here is an example:
Here are some other ways you can integrate Wordle into your curriculum:
- Language Arts-Create a main idea and summary word cloud about a particular story-copy and paste the main idea in 2 or 3 times to make it larger than the details, practice spelling words or word wall words, character traits for the main character in a story
- Math-Type in different ways to make a certain dollar amount, factors of numbers or math facts
- Science-vocabulary words and definitions for any concept (Landforms-mountains, rivers, ocean, lakes, plains, basin…)
- PE-bones and muscles in the body
- Music-different genres or artists
- Social Studies-Indian tribes of Texas, Major battles of the Civil War, Facts about Presidents or inventors
Wordle -How To