Post # 1 of 10: Turning Journal Writing or Free-Writing ‘Online’

There are several ways to turn the process of journal writing or free-writing from an ‘offline’ activity to an ‘online‘ activity, all of which are simple to achieve and easy to manage.

Use one of the web2.0 tools below to start a classroom blog.  For more advanced users, use the tools below to create independent blogs for each of your students.

Here’s a list of commonly used blogging tools:

  • Kid Blog – designed for each student to have an individual blog within a classroom blog created by the teacher
  • Edu Blogs – designed for each student to have an individual blog within a classroom blog created by the teacher
  • Blogger – designed for individual blogging
  • WordPress – designed for individual blogging

How to set up and use the blog for student learning:

  • All the above blogs are set up in more or less the same way.  Some are designed to be use as individual blogs while others are designed for groups of blogs to be created and administered by a teacher
  • All blogs need an email address to register, and you’ll be prompted to select a title for your blog.
  • My advice is to keep the blog title simple and easy for your learners to remember.  A blog title such as “Technology Trooper’s Of 21st Century Learning” may not be the best title because in order for your learners to access the blog they’ll have to type something similar to the following into the URL box in the browser,
  • When choosing a blog title keep it short and sweet
  • You’ll also be asked during registration for a username and password.  Both pieces of information are required to access, manage, and control the blog once it’s live

Two Types Of Blogs And How To Use Them:

1. Teacher creates one blog for the entire class and creates content and learners to comment and respond to

  • There are numerous ways to use a blog as an ‘online’ writing tool
  • In its basic form one blog is created, a class blog, and the teacher acts as the administrator of the blog
  • As an introduction to blogging, perhaps the first half of the year, you set the content of the blogs and your learners respond to your posts
  • A post can be defined as content you create and insert (post) into your blog
  • Content can be text, images, video, audio, or a file

See example below:

2. Teacher creates a class blog and then creates individual blogs for each learner in his/her class.

  • This technique is regarded as blogging in its pure form.  Learners generate their own content for their blog.
  • Students comment and interact with each others blogs as well as the teachers blog
  • Students also comment and interact with blogs of other classmates

Administering The Blog:
I realize it’s super important to monitor the content that is posted on a class blog or an individual’s blog.  All of the above blogging tools offer a variety of security options to make sure inappropriate content never makes it to the live blog.  I prefer to select the option which enables all comments go through the teacher to be approved before they are posted to the blog.  This ensure the blog represents the school and all its students in the best possible way.

See example below:

Content Ideas For Your Blog:

  • Respond to a picture – How does the picture make you feel and why?  Create a story around the picture.  Create a personality for the person in the picture based on what the person looks like
  • Post a video from YouTube and ask learners to response.  What is Shane Koyczen saying about Canada? Use examples from the poem to support your thinking
  • Post a debate question from idebate.  Split the class into two groups, for and against, and have them post on their initial views followed by their responses to others comments on the blog
  • Use the blog as a math journal for personal reflections and word problem examples.

Guest Post: Netbooks In The Classroom

Thank you to @MissBartel for being the first guest blogger to appear on Roaming Educator. You can reach Miss Bartel at suzannebartel (at) gmail (dot) com.

You can read the full article here: My Experience With Netbooks In The Classroom

Here’s the blog friendly version of My Experience With Netbooks In The Classroom:

Having a 30 netbooks in my classroom has increased not only my students engagement in learning but my own as well.  Seeing the students so excited about learning is inspiring. The netbooks have changed the way I teach and put ongoing professional development consistently at my fingertips.

Here is a summary of some of my challenges, successes and suggestions from the past year:


  • District Policy: My biggest challenge with the netbooks has been having to go through our District Tech team for any changes and updates.  As tech is not a priority in my district, many of these roles have been cut and the tech budget has been discarded.  I wait up to 3/4 months just to have a ‘flash’ application added or updated on the netbooks.  I meet a lot of resistance in this area – when I have a problem (like the sluggishly slow wireless speed when all 30 computers are being used) that If know is easily fixed, I am told that there is no solution and no attempt is made to help out.  It would be great if the District was willing to give the ‘Tech Teacher’ on each staff the ability to make some of these simple changes.
  • Windows Updates: Window’s updates now need to be initiated by us on each computer and this takes a lot of time.  (this ties into the District Policy challenge)
  • Screen Size: Small screens make ‘artistic endeavours’ such as movie making or picture editing difficult.
  • Internet Expectations: Setting clear expectations of allowable websites for students and maintaining this expectation for all students.
  • Staff Buy-in: Although It’s wonderful having the netbooks in my classroom all the time, I would love to see other teachers embrace them as well.  It has been a challenge to gain staff acceptance of this new technology available to them.

Greatest Successes

  • – I stumbled upon this website in my search for tips on teaching online safety.  Small groups of students interact through ’email like messages’ with ‘experts’ in the UK in regards to Internet Safety, Bullying and other topics like this.  I’ve never seen my class so engaged in reading, writing, collaborating and oral discussion with their peers.  An amazing experience!
  • Blogging with KidBlog – – A great place to host student blogs.  You can change the settings so that all comments/blogs must be approved by the teacher.  Very engaging for students.
  • Student Collaboration with Primary Pad – – I used Primary Pad as a collaboration tool with in my class as well as with a class in the UK.  The two classes were able to communicate and complete projects together using this website.
  • Professional Development
    • – This blog has a newsletter that you can sign up for that I have found extremely usefully.  Once a week they email you a newsletter about one web tool to use in your classroom.  It gives you step by step instructions that are easy to follow.  They’ve given me some great ideas for the classroom.
    • Twitter – I mentioned earlier, this is a great way to gain endless resources to use with your class.
  • Google Wow!  This has opened up my world of collaboration with students and colleagues!  I’ve used it to plan team teaching for engaging lesson with a colleague.  Students create their projects on here and then share them with me.  I edit student writing on Google docs, create online quizzes, teach data management using the forms, create online worksheets for students to complete – the possibilities are endless!
  • Other – other tools I’ve enjoyed using – Wordle, Voicethread, Rhyming Poetry, and Scratch (free animation creation software)

Suggestions for schools interested in using Netbooks

  • Bandwidth – Consider that you will have 30 students using wireless internet at the same time and make sure you have enough bandwidth to make this feasible    .
  • Permission to Change Netbooks – Have a staff member who has admin permissions and is capable of installing simple programs onto the netbooks all at once (ie. Windows updates, flash, screen readers, and open-source software etc…
  • Student Passwords – Use simple passwords for students!  This is important for primary students
  • Transportation of Computers – House the netbooks on a portable cart so that they are easily transported around the school and can be easily charged at the same time.
  • Teacher Training – Give a school-wide workshop about basics in teaching students how to use the netbooks or have a staff member go around to each class and team teach to help encourage others to use netbooks.  Not all teachers are comfortable with new technology and need to be shown how to use the technology and why it will be useful in their classes.

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