Social Media & Collaborative Classroom

This blog contains a link to a VoiceThread I created regarding some instructional uses and downsides using social media & collaborative classrooms. The VoiceThread mentions social websites such as Twitter and blogging but there are more than just those two educators may use. Social media allows students to interact and network with others thereby increasing the learning experience exponentially.

Featured imageMany downsides using social media in collaborative classrooms revolve around monitoring. Many teachers do not have adequate training to identify when students are off-task while using social media sites.

If used properly in the classroom, social media offers a far reaching network of individuals and organizations to acquire knowledge in a least restrictive environment. It also provides students with opportunities to individualize their education by determining which content or individual to follow.


Voki Extension Activity for Module II – Part 3

The standard for this math demonstration is applicable to CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.5.G.B.4: Classify two-dimensional figures in a hierarchy based on properties. Click on the link to view the standard.

After teaching several lessons about classifying 2D shapes/figures, an extension activity could be “explain why squares are rectangles but rectangles are not squares.” A student may justify his/her thinking using a Voki.  This activity is for fifth grade but can be used by middle and high school teachers/students to teach or explain proofs in geometry. Click on the link below to view the Voki extension activity.

Voki Extension Activity

Creative Commons License
Geometry Extension Using Voki by Brian Halliburton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Educator Blogs

Educator blogs showcase some interesting and exciting things students are learning and doing in classrooms across the planet. These blogs allow educators and students to connect with one another in ways previously unheard of.  I found three educator blogs that promote digital citizenship.

Mr. Lamshed’s Class Blog

Jarrod Lamshed teaches boys in grades 6 & 7 at Hackham East Schools in Australia. It appears the last blogs by Mr. Lamshed and his students were in late 2013. The blog features links to other class’ blogs in addition to individual student blogs. The Message in a Bottle blog shows a picture of bottle that has washed ashore with a message inside.  Students were tasked to write their thoughts about the bottle. Many students wrote a creative poem about the bottle or message. Class assignments like this promote digital citizenship while creating a positive digital footprint. A great benefit of assignments like this is that the student’s work will live on for years, well after the class has ended. Another benefit of creating online content is the feedback/comments. Anyone signed in may make comments. This opens up a world of possibilities for students because the teacher no longer the sole person to make comments on student work.

Falcons Tech Blog by Mrs. Colbert 

Mrs. Colbert teaches in a rural town named Bryon, California. On this particular blog, Words of Wisdom, Mrs. Colbert prompted students to write about their reaction to one of three quotes. Students posted their thinking about the quote in the comment section of the blog. Assignments like this create a digital repository of students’ thinking. It also affords students to create smaller learning communities with students who share similar thinking by encouraging dialogue. Mrs. Colbert goes a step further by having students create their own survey using Google Forms. This gives students real-world experience at the same time helping them to leave positive digital footprints on the path of becoming digital citizens.

Ms. Cassidy’s Classroom Blog

Ms. Cassidy is a kindergarten teacher in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Canada. This blog features video and still shots of student learning. Although the kindergarteners do not write much, Ms. Cassidy is able to capture their thinking in a digital portfolio of their work. Clicking on a student’s name takes you samples of the child’s work. Many portfolios contain videos of the child performing a task. Blogs like this show effective ways educators may digitize student learning. Ms. Cassidy is able to keep her students’ parents informed of assignments, skills, and progress throughout the year. As an added benefit, the young students in Ms. Cassidy’s class will always have access to their portfolio. Students will get in the habit of reflecting and preserving documents online for future access while promoting them have an online presence. It goes to show, students regardless of their level are capable of leaving a positive digital footprint in a digital world. As an educator, this blog made me stop and think about the endless possibilities to blogging with little children by capturing the school year in some form of digital format.

Library Blogs

Library blogs offer best practice advice for both future and current practicing librarians. It goes to show there is more to school libraries than just books. In all of the blogs, using technology is front and center. Technology helps keep students interested in school while maintaining a positive attitude toward learning.

Continuously Learning in the Library by Shawna Ford

Shawna Ford, a librarian at Curtis Elementary School in Texas created this blog. The blogs are broken up into four categories: Library Happenings, New Books & Reviews, Teacher Resources, and MakerSpace & Maker Clubs. Of particular note, the Robotics, Coding, and Beyond blog posted on, 11 January 2015, highlights students’ interests in robotics and coding. Shawna’s class was able to use technology to chat with programmers via Google Hangouts. Students were able to ask questions to help them understand more about programming. This is particularly fascinating because it is a STEM project at its best. Students must rely on several skills to program a robot successfully. The topic of this blog coincides with the robotics project third grade students at my school are working on.

The Daring Librarian by Gwyneth Jones

Gwyneth Jones is the daring librarian at Murray Hill Middle School in Laurel, MD. Her latest blog, titled, Say Yes! To a School Instagram! makes the argument that schools should have Instagram. The purpose is to share what students are learning immediately with followers. According to the blog, a reason why schools should have Instagram is that 51% of high school graduates use Instagram daily. Moreover, 23% of teens indicate Instagram is their favorite social media. The blog goes on to claim that the targeted age group (K-12 school-aged students) does not use Facebook or Twitter as much as Instagram. Therefore, it makes sense that schools should create Instagram accounts. Gwyneth ensures students’ privacy is protected by getting permission before posting and tagging students on Instagram. The photos may be seen by parents and other teachers in real time to highlight student learning. In a way, Instagram is a conduit to help stakeholders stay informed about the exciting things students are doing in the school. Reading the comments further strengthens Gwyneth’s argument. One comment poster mentioned the lack of students knowing about a Follett Challenge. The librarian posted the information on Facebook, email, and put up flyers to no avail until she posted information about the challenge on Instagram. It goes to show, educators in this age must remain current on social media in order to disseminate information widely and quickly.

Never Ending Search by Joyce Valenza

Joyce Valenza is a blogger for School Library Journal (SLJ) and a librarian at Springfield Township High School. This particular blog, CS (Computer Science) First: for Middle School Libraries, and your CS Program shares innovative ways Google’s Computer Science First may enrich student’s lives by using technology to promote problem solving and coding skills. Schools facing budget cuts should find the initiative extremely helpful because the program costs nothing to operate. While the school provides the computers and access to the Internet, Google provides all the necessary training material. Computer Science First offers students with opportunities to design programs that center around their interests. For example, a student may design a program using mediums such as art, fashion, music, or gaming, etc. The initiative aims to promote digital literacy, math, and science skills while encouraging students to learn more about computer programming/coding. Google’s initiative also promotes partnerships by pairing schools with community volunteers who share a passion for teaching and learning.

Books not circulating?

If you are or plan to be a school librarian, chances are you are, you will have great books that just not circulating or have not been in ages. During SLM Collection Development class my, I learned a great trick to circulate books that have not been checked out in quite some time. The trick is relatively simple and probably common sense to veteran school librarians or individuals involved with marketing/merchandising, however to novice school librarians, such as myself, I was completely in awe and anxious to try the trick.

First things first, make sure your shelves are no more than ¾ full. Do not make the same mistake I did during my first year as a school librarian/media specialist and TES Librarysqueeze as many books that can possibly fit on the shelves. As you gain more experience in the realm of school library/media, you will develop a knack of knowing whether a book has circulated. If not, there are reports from your automated card catalog that will tell you the circulation statistics for books in your collection. Secondly, front face one or two books that could use a boost in circulation statistics on each shelf. Thirdly, sit back and enjoy how quickly students check them out.

I tried front facing books and it actually works! I am at the point where students are clamoring over one another to reach a book first so he or she may check it out.