Tag Archives: Blogging

eMINTS Weekly Update

Welcome to the 2012-2013 School Year with eMINTS! The Weekly Update feature resumes beginning today. Updates are published weekly on Mondays except for holidays.

eLearning for Educators: Fall registration is now open until Wednesday, Sept. 19. The Fall 2012 semester is from Oct. 3 – Nov. 20, 2012. Courses cost $150 per course. Optional Graduate Credit is available at an additional fee of $100 per credit hour through the University of Missouri-Kansas City or University of Missouri-St. Louis. A limited number of scholarships are available. You can even apply for a scholarship that reduces the cost of an e-Learning course to $75 by filling out an online form. Scholarships are limited to one per applicant. Limit 3 scholarships per one district. There are three NEW course offerings this semester:

  • Thinking Critically with Data (all)
  • Going Mobile K-12: Capturing the Power of Smart Phones, Tablets, Apps and More (all)
  • Flipped, Upside-down and Blended Instruction for the K-12 Classrooms (all)
  • Some of the additional courses available for the Fall 2012 semester are:
  • Algebraic Thinking in the Elementary School (elementary)
  • Beyond Your Schoolyard:  An Intro to GPS, Geocaching and Google Earth (all)
  • Classroom Management (all)
  • Differentiating Instruction:  Empowering All Learners (all)
  • Early Childhood: Creating a Language-Rich Environment  (early childhood)
  • Google Tools for Schools (all)
  • Heart of Science Instruction (secondary science)
  • Improving Reading and Writing in the Content Areas (secondary)
  • Instructional Approaches for Teachers of English Language Learners (all)
  • Leading Schools in a Web 2.0 World (administrators)
  • Special Students in Regular Classrooms:  Technology, Teaching and Universal Design (all)
  • Teaching Writing in the Elementary Classroom (elementary)

To see the complete list of courses offered this semester, go to: http://www.elearningmo.org/register/fall-2012/.

Share the Good News: Do you have something special to report about your school or classroom? An honor or award that has been presented? Share the good news with your eMINTS colleagues across the US and world by sending details about the good news to emints-info@emints.org.

New eThemes for the Week of August 13, 2012:

  • Africa: National Parks – These sites are about Africa’s National Parks. Learn about the animals, the climate, and the purposes behind why National Parks play an important role in Africa. Includes a link to an eThemes resource on the continent of Africa.
  • Circus Acts and Animals – These sites focus on circus animals, acts, and performers. There is historical information about circuses, plus photographs, audio files, and video clips.
  • Teaching Tips: “7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens” by Sean Covey – These websites are about Sean Covey’s “7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens.” There are summaries of the habits, as well as advice and lesson plans for incorporating the 7 Habits into the daily lives of teens. Includes a link to eThemes resource, Goal Setting.

Updated eThemes for the week of August 13, 2012:

  • Literature: “Dear Mr. Henshaw” by Beverly Cleary -These sites are about the book “Dear Mr. Henshaw” by Beverly Cleary. There are several hands-on classroom activities including how to make a lunch box alarm. Students can take online quizzes over vocabulary and events from the book. Includes eThemes Resources on Beverly Cleary and letter writing.
  • Literature: “The Monkey’s Paw” by W.W. Jacobs – These sites are about the short story “The Monkey’s Paw” by W.W. Jacobs. Includes full text of the story, quizzes, lesson plans, and vocabulary worksheets. There are also links to games about short story elements and a booklist of other horror stories and books. Includes links to eTheme resources on Story Elements and Character Traits.

Become a Blog Contributor: Share your insights and thoughts with eMINTS blog followers and fans. Contribute to the blog and community learning by submitting a blog post, resource link, online tool or teaching tip.

Monica Beglau is the Executive Director of the eMINTS National Center.

Access/Share Google Docs in Edmodo & the Power of My PLN

Edmodo and Google Users…

I guess I am a bit behind in the game because I just realized you can access your Google Docs in Edmodo now. This new feature came about in March and allows you to Sync your Google Docs (Drive) with your Edmodo Library. That means you can share documents with your Edmodo groups and students can easily turn-in assignments completed via Google Docs.Find the instructions to do this at the Edomod Help site. FYI all users will need to link their Google Docs account with Edmodo before and sharing of docs with users or groups takes place.

Wondering how I heard about this new feature of Edmodo??? Maybe not but here’s the power of my PLN…

I found this blog (while I was browsing Pinterest one evening). It’s by a Digital Learning Coordinator in the Chicago Public Schools > Teaching like it’s 2999 . I first pinned her idea to my “learn” Pinterest board and then visited her blog and found that what the author, Jennie Magiera, blogged about was so connected to what I do so I added it to my Google Reader.

One day this week Google Reader showed that the author had posted something new to her blog called More Ideas to Googlize Your School. That post linked to a Google Doc that she was going to share at a presentation she was doing with teachers. As I scanned the doc I noticed a reference to “Edmodo’s Google Doc integration” so I did a Google searched for edomodo google docs and came up with the link that I shared with you all above.

Isn’t that so cool…in a nerdy sort of way 🙂 In what ways do you “harvest” great teaching ideas from the web? And a big shout out to Jennie Magiera for sharing her ideas and more with us all.

Brooke Higgins is an instructional specialists, Cognitive CoachingSM Trainer, and sporadic blogger for the eMINTS National Center. This post was originally posted at the Higgins’ Helpful Hints Blog.

What About Tumblr?

Of all the blogging services out there, Tumblr is maybe the one that’s least like a traditional blog. At times, it feels more like a glorified Twitter feed. Tumblr feeds off sharing links and media while also offering a quick way to get a written post published. It’s design is simple, but limited. This allows for immediate posting and reposting. Tumblr’s interface also encourages following fellow Tumblr users to follow and share each other’s work.

Tumblr’s emphasis on the social has made it less attractive to teachers hesitant to introduce social media to their classrooms, but this is exactly why Tumblr deserves a chance. Because of the immediate nature of this tool, teachable moments, classroom discussion, and all of the many great moments that happen in real-time can exist on Tumblr. Of course, one must consider how to best utilize this popular social media tool to support learning.

First, Tumblr should be embraced as a collaborative learning and community-building tool. Not only should students have their own Tumblr blogs for collecting thoughts and resources, but they should follow each other. Tumblr has a unique dashboard design where the blogs users follow are part of a feed they can read and repost. If a classmate shares resources, quotes, or media that help another student’s understanding, that post can be marked or shared again. The sharing of resources and ideas is effortless using Tumblr’s social nature.

Teachers should also keep close track of what their students are posting on Tumblr. This can be done by following students much in the same way I suggested above for students to follow each other. However, searching through a Tumblr feed can be a bit unwieldy. Since this is a blog, adding each student’s feed to an RSS reader such as Google Reader is an easy way to keep track of student activity on Tumblr.

One of the biggest benefits of using Tumblr over other blogging services is the ability to easily share media and other resources. The interface for composing posts allows for users to publish text, photos, quotes, links, chats, audio, and video. Additional text, media, and hyperlinks could be added to any post, but this design encourages quick collection of resources, advancing classroom discussions. Tumblr also offers a browser bookmarklet for instant posting whenever a great resource is discovered.

For additional tracking, it’s important to really promote tagging posts. Tagging allows posts to be organized in multiple categories. Tags make it easier to search for content where Tumblr’s enormity can seem overwhelming. Of course, if you’re familiar with tagging, you understand just how valuable this feature can be to organizing any blog’s content, particularly one that encourages more frequent posting.

What Tumblr encourages is discussion and sharing while not requiring so much writing that students grow burnt-out. It’s benefit lies in immediacy and community by simplifying its structure and interface. This makes for a fun, social tool for classroom engagement.

Zac Early is an instructional specialist and blogger for the eMINTS National Center.

Tuesday’s Tool: KidBlog.org

If it wasn’t already obvious, I am a huge proponent of blogging, especially in the classroom. There is no other online tool that provides space to be thoughtful and reflective while also including the audience in the discussion. Add to these communicative properties in blogging the ability to link to related resources, embed multimedia, and revise as often as necessary. What you have is a powerful online tool that only gets better with age.

Blogging is a big part of my perspective on my work and life. I blog here, but I also blog for my community and for fun. I find the interactions and dialogue that happens on my blogs are invaluable to my growth as a lifelong learner. This is why I encourage teachers every school year to start their own blogs and to even get their students involved in these blogging projects. When teachers started their own blogs or assigned their students to submit posts or comments to these blogs, I felt my promotion of the medium was successful.

Then, I read Krissy Venosdale’s post on blogging. Krissy recently came to the realization that her students didn’t have their own blogs even though they often blogged on her classroom space. It’s a simple observation but rather insightful. Just as we try to provide some ownership for our students in the classroom in the form of determining classroom norms or providing more choice in the form of student-led inquiry, to not give each student his or her own blog goes against this philosophy. After all, students take more ownership and pride in their learning when they are able to take some ownership in the learning environment.

Krissy, never one to make proclamations without providing some solutions, suggested that Kidblog.org is a suitable tool for giving kids their own blogs. KidBlog is a safe space where email addresses are not required. The results for Krissy and her students was apparent:

My kids are writing.  They are excited.  They have a forum.  A place to voice their opinions. A place to reflect.  A place that is theirs.  It’s really, really theirs.    Now they are learning.  The etiquette of blogging.  The power of getting your message out for others to see.  The importance of polishing writing before you publish.   The excitement of engaging in discussion comments.  Their writing is no longer stuffed in the back of desks or at the bottom of bookbags.

Isn’t that what we want from our students? Isn’t this how excitement for learning translates in the 21st century?

Now, not only will I encourage my teachers to blog, but I will promote students writing on their own blogs as a way to go further with a tool that has enormous learning potential.

Zac Early is an instructional specialist and blogger for the eMINTS National Center.

Friday 4ALL: What I Learned on my Summer “Vacation”

This has been the craziest summer I have ever had.  I did a couple of presentations, went to SpaceCamp, visited the White House, saw the final shuttle launch, traveled with my family, and through it all have been continuing my doctoral coursework. I think I literally blinked and it’s over.  I’m ready though.  A new year is here.  I’m thinking of ways to make this the best school year ever.  I don’t want to take any of my summer experiences for granted, nor have them be a waste of time.  Each one of them taught me something.  As I start the year, I’m thinking about how to make it a great one.   So, what did I learn on my summer vacation?


1.) Final Shuttle Launch:  “Teach this year like it’s going to be your last.” Watching the final launch and the final landing of the space shuttle taught me to teach this year like this is it.  Don’t wait to take that risk and try something new.  Just go for it.  Don’t wait for opportunities to come your way, find them.

2.) White House: “Accept that there are things you cannot change, and stop complaining about them.” As I listened to President Obama answers questions from all over the world, I realized how many problems and issues there really are in our country.  There are things everyday in our world, and schools, that we cannot change.  But, we have full control over ourselves.  This year I’m going to seek to learn and improve myself.  It’s really the only thing you have full control over, right?

3.) Space Camp: Set your alarm everyday to get up an inspire kids.” It doesn’t matter WHAT is on your lesson plan if you you’re not there to inspire kids.  Find out what they love to learn about, support them, mentor them, help them.  Provide experiences where they can struggle and help them find their way.

4.) Doctoral Studies: “Be open, be honest, be authentic.” After ten years in education, and lots and lots of classes, I’m having authentic discussions about ‘change’ with some amazing people in my cohort and realizing that change IS possible.  But, it’s not going to happen without difficult discussions. It’s not going to be some magic-wand experience where everything gets better.  It’s going to take some open, real dialogue.  So, don’t be afraid of it, embrace it, listen to others, share your thoughts, and make a difference.

5.) Twitter: “Never underestimate the power of collaboration.” People you’ve never met are willing to help you.  Learn to rely on others when you need to, and more importantly, learn to be there for others when they need you.  Share. Collaborate.  Truly collaborate.  Open your door to the teachers you work with and open your door to the global community on Twitter.

6.) Blogging: ”Keep learning…forever.” Stop. Think. Reflect. Repeat. Learn something.

7.) Reading. “Education is about Passion.”  I read the book “Passion Driven Classroom” in June.  I’m still thinking about it and what it means.  I ‘m going to have discussions with my students in the fall about their passions.  It’s also about embracing your own passions and sharing them with students.  Telling kids about your hobbies just might inspire them to share theirs.  Don’t overlook the value of learning what kids truly love to learn about.  The passion driven classroom is one in which kids LEARN.

8.) Traveling with Family:  ”I love my family.”  They support me.  They make me laugh. They are the reason I keep going.

I also learned that my dog loves pickles and was once again reminded that I truly love my job.  I’m pretty sure those things have no relation to each other, but I also know that I am excited to make this the best school year ever.

What did you learn this summer?

Post by guest contributor Krissy Venosdale of TeachFactory.com. Veteran eMINTS teacher, gifted education teacher, Tweeter, photographer….. and that’s just her day job. Original post August 2, 2011 on TeachFactory.com.

Monday Message: Guest Blogger – Krissy Venosdale

We are excited to announce this week’s Networked Teaching & Learning blog will be hosted by guest blogger, Krissy Venosdale. Krissy has been a teacher for more than 10 years, she’s a veteran eMINTS teacher, and now teaches 3-6 gifted education in Hillsboro, MO. She writes at the Teachfactory.com blog sharing her creative ideas, projects she works on, and her beliefs about teaching, learning, and so much more. Krissy’s main passion is teaching and her students. She hosts their classroom website, A Great Day to Learn. The site is the hub for everything happening with her students including projects they participate in and even ones she hosts.

The poster above is just one example of her creativity at work. Krissy creates lots of classroom posters and decorations using Photoshop (another one of her hobbies). She shares some posters through her blog and publishes them on Flickr under the Creative Commons license allowing anyone to download and print them for classroom use for FREE.

On top of all of this, Krissy is a wife and mother who enjoys spending time with family, traveling, and photography.

We thank Krissy for all that she is sharing this week and look forward to other guest bloggers in the future. If you are interested in being a guest blogger on the Networked Teaching & Learning, please submit your ideas here.

Tuesday’s Tool: WordPress

This is the year. This is the year you finally start that blog you’ve always talked about writing. Well, or maybe you’ll at least consider managing a blog or possibly setting up your own space online. The tool you should consider for doing this is WordPress.

First, you should know that there are actually two kinds of WordPress. The first is a hosted blogging community of twenty-five million or so blogs. The second is the open source software you can download for free and host your own WordPress site and/or blog.

At WordPress.com, once can create, write, and manage a blog using one of the internet’s most popular blogging tools for free. Being part of the WordPress community of bloggers, it is easy to network with other bloggers with a similar purpose. This can be especially important when looking for outside input. Also available is the ability to add links and various widgets to the side, top, and bottom regions. Finally, a WordPress blog, unlike many other services, provides the option to add additional pages. This is where you can put policies, contact information, or any other content meant to be more static than blogs typically allow.

Head on over to WordPress.org and you’ll find a community of users looking to improve the open source softerware that powers WordPress blogs. Download the software and host your own site, customizing it as you see fit. eMINTS is currently undergoing a makeover where we will be using this software for site design and management. In fact, the blog you are reading right now is created using this software.

If you’re not sure about joining the WordPress community or hosting your own site, there is an option specifically made for educators. Edublogs is a community similar to WordPress.com, but it exclusively features educator and classroom blogs. There are options to run a blog for free, pay for premium services, and even an option for entire schools, districts, or colleges. It basically gives you the option of using a great tool like WordPress without the worry of an unfiltered audience.

Any of these WordPress options provide a significant amount of choice for teachers. One can add several contributors or authors, limit who can see the blog, and moderate comments in a fashion that works for anyone. There are many themes out there form which to choose that are all largely customizable. The possibilities are endless with a WordPress blog.

So, what are you waiting for? It’s time to start blogging on WordPress!

Zac Early is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center.

HD_Links: SnackTools Free Web Apps

SnackTools are free and easy to use web applications designed to create and publish multimedia widgets. These widgets work seamlessly with websites and blog sites including Weebly, WordPress, Blogger, Facebook and many more.

To make your own custom Flash widgets, simply create a user account and look at the tutorials and examples. You will see how quick and easily you can be creating your own interactive flipbooks, banners, slideshows, and more.

Below is a complete list of the tools and their features along with preview images. To see the interactive examples I created for my website/blog visit the Helpful Hints Blog.

BannerSnack – A high quality gif and flash banner maker with transitions & effects.

PhotoSnack – Professional quality photo slideshows with as many pictures as you like & templates.

PodSnack – Custom web audio players with playlists, progress bar players, and mini players.

TubeSnack – Custom video players and playlists from your server or YouTube.

QuizSnack – Online surveys & polls embedded into your website or blog with real time reporting.

FlipSnack – Make perfect flip books from any PDF with a customizable look and size.

How might you use these tools to enhance teaching and learning through your classroom website and/or blog?

Brooke Higgins is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center. You can read more at her blog Higgins Helpful Hints Blog. Special thanks to Debbie Perkins, eMINTS Instructional Specialist for sharing this great resource.

Thursday’s Tip: Top-10 Ways to Use Social Media in the Classroom

Created at Wordle.

For this week’s tip, we’re bringing you a list of top-10 ways you can use social media in your classroom.

10. Social bookmarks like Delicious (still around), EverNote, and Diigo are great ways for groups of students researching a topic to gather and organize their resources. You can set up an account for an entire class, a small group, or one for individuals who share and follow their peers’ research.

9. As mentioned earlier this week, there are many new uses for YouTube (and other social video sharing sites like Vimeo). Channels can be created. Response videos and creative annotation and tagging can add another interactive level to the video sharing process.

8. Google Reader (H/T Brooke Higgins) can be a great way for teachers and students to follow particular resources as well as share in a community. A teacher can create a bundle of important resources to which he wants his students to subscribe. There is also the share feature where students and teachers could share interesting articles or blog posts they find in their own readings. The comment and search functions can also come in handy with Google Reader.

7. The new Groups on Facebook make it even easier to communicate with students and parents without having to give up privacy via friending. There are many more privacy safeguards for the new Groups, but there are also several new features that make Groups more community-friendly. Now, when comments are made on the new Groups’ walls, that same content shows up on every member’s feed and sends a notification. This insures that every member sees all the wall posts. Also, there is a group chat that allows more than one participant at a time, great for online class discussion. Documents, pictures, videos, links, and events can all be managed in one place.

6. Teachers and schools often complain about the cost of out-dated textbooks that don’t match student needs as closely as they should or are limiting in their scope. A great way to combat this is to write our own textbooks using wikis. Not only could a wiki be used to display a teacher’s notes, but there are multimedia capabilities as well as commenting options. Even better, students can be involved in writing their own textbooks. A wiki-created text could be revised and edited from year to year without the cost of a new textbook series eating up valuable space in a school’s budget since wikis are often free or very cheap for premium, ad-free packages. Oh, and there’s a wiki out there with directions for writing a textbook.

3.-5. Google Docs provide several great options for collaborative classroom work. Here are three:

  • Google Docs has its own presentation feature, much like PowerPoint. In fact PPT files can be uploaded to Google Docs and converted to an online presentation. Students working from different computers or locations can easily contribute to the same presentation. When presented to the class, students can chat during the presentation and the discussion shows up on a side panel.
  • Collaborative writing has never been easier than with Google Docs. Using the word processing feature, students can contribute to the same document, insert comments, chat about the direction of the document, and access older drafts. Plus, the document can easily be converted to a PDF or website.
  • Data collection and online tests quizzes are easier now with the addition of Google Forms to the Docs suite. A form can be set up to gather any data (surveys, quizzes, blog submissions 😉 ) and it’s all gathered in a tidy spreadsheet that can be easily converted to charts and graphs. Plus, multiple users can gain access to the results, as with any Google Doc.

2. Photo sharing sites such as Picasa and Flickr offer great opportunities not only for sharing and commenting on one another’s images, but also several other useful features. Tagging and/or annotation images is a great way to demonstrate understanding and to encourage contributions. Both offer some editing features and allow video uploads.

1. Blogs. Well, what else would you expect from a blog? Blogs are a tremendously underused social media tool. Collaborative writing, online publishing, interactivity between readers and writers, easy to manipulate HTML code with multiple options for embedding media… The possibilities for blogs is endless. Plus, blogs can be used alongside many of the tools already mentioned above.

How do you use social media in your classroom? Feel free to comment below or link back to this post.

Zac Early is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center.

Thursday’s Tip: The Classroom Blog – An Instructional Tool

powered by Fotopedia

I have heard a lot of teachers ask “Why should I blog?” and “Why should my kids blog?” In response I often say “So you want to know why you should write?” …..that is really what blogging is all about. A blog has simply taken the old journal or “Author’s Chair” to a new level….a global level. No longer are students and teachers thoughts and ideas meant for only them to hear, think about, and learn from. Now the world can read them and respond to them and everyone can learn. So when it’s time for writing in your classroom, don’t say….”let’s blog” say “let’s write”!

Edublogs has put together a Teacher Challenge for blogging, a 30 day free professional development challenge to help teachers increase their blogging skills while collaborating with a global teacher community. For more information check out the Teacher Blogging Challenge.

Other sites that may help you improve your class or teacher blog include:
Do you have a class or school blog?
Blog Ideas

So good luck and start writing!