This link provides a comprehensive list of easy to use audio tools, which can be used as an alternative to written blogs. Ideally, students should be making attempts to write blogs, however teachers can use their professional judgement and make decisions as to whether students would benefit more from an audio blog or written blog. Students using an audio blog will need additional instruction in how to use the audio software.
Students using the audio blogs will still have a student blog on the classroom blog page. They will upload their audio file (with teacher/aide assistance) to their student blog, where they can comment and receive comments on other student blogs.
Alternatively, teachers can source audio programs that translate speech to written text. This does provide opportunities for mistranslation or misinterpretation and is less optimal than an audio blog.
I personally recommend SoundCloud, as the program is easy to use and can be uploaded to media sites (blogs) and embedded into webpages in the same way students would copy and paste a link from a website.
Ms Cassidy’s Classroom Blog has been recognised by many educational organisations as one of the best classroom blogs in North America. The blog is organised and operates in a similar layout to Mrs. Goodwin’s Class (from a previous blog posting). The teacher, Kathy Cassidy is a passionate first grade teacher who reinforces the benefits of classroom blogging in this 2012 article. Key points of the article articulate seven reasons why she firmly believes in student blogging. The two reasons relevant to the context of the development of a classroom blog for the Geography and Technologies unit are the community and audience interaction and development of digital competence.
Community and Audience Interaction
- Student learning and thoughts can be read and responded to by the entire world (although teacher can moderate content)
- Students can give their peers feedback and engage in discussions about learning through comments
- Student learning can be scaffolded through interaction with the audience.
- Students learn how to be safe online, including what information is appropriate to publish online;
- How to protect your identity;
- How to interact with others in an online environment
Edublogs ia another student – friendly blog site offering similar features to Kidblog. Edublogs provide teachers with multiple classroom blog packages, designed to meet the needs of the intended purpose of the blog (See pricing options and inclusion list below).
Teachers are able to create a free classroom blog for their students when they establish a ‘pro blog’ for themselves at a cost of $39.95 per year. Using a student blog, students are able to choose and customise the layout and theme of their personal blog, write blog posts, embed digital media within blog posts, make their blog private, and blog from mobile/tablet devices. Teachers using the pro blog package have access to the same features as students, as well as the ability to manage and moderate content and blogs, receive personal email support, access statistics on site visits and use plugins and other advanced features.
Edublogs enables teachers to establish forums, discussion threads on particular themes, ePortfolios and wiki pages in safe and private environments for their students. Teachers can password protect their students’ blogs, block search engines or keep student blogs open for public access with Edublogs‘ extensive search filters.
Edublogs would also be an appropriate blog site to use for the activities in the lesson sequence, as the site support the upload of media files, provides opportunities for students to participate and communicate in online environments and is safe and secure through teacher moderation and site filters.
Find out more at https://edublogs.org/
Grade one teacher Karen Lirenman has been an avid user of Kidblog since introducing the idea to her students in 2011. In a blog entry posted in 2013, she reflected on how she has utilised the features of Kidblog to enhance her students’ digital portfolios. Karen has said that the simple process of being able to upload media (photographs as evidence of student work) resulted in an explosion of content and learning artefacts on student blogs.
Karen uses the student blogs as a method of monitoring student understanding (formative assessment) and says the option of creating ‘categories’ and ‘tags’ organises student entries and makes the formative assessment process easier as all related entries are grouped in the one place. As part of the formative assessment process, Karen says she often chooses to use the ‘private comment’ feature of Kidblog as a way of providing feedback to her students. Karen also says that she makes student posts private when it is evident that they have misunderstood the task or concept. This makes the post only visible to the student author and the teacher, and allows the teacher to track the student’s progress throughout the topic.
Karen’s advice from experiences can be applied to developing a classroom blog for the Geography lesson sequence:
- Teachers can establish categories for natural areas, managed areas and constructed areas
- Students can take photographs using the camera app on the iPads and upload the images into the appropriate category on the blog
Access Ms. Lirenman’s Classroom Blog here.
This link provides access to the classroom blog of a year two class in the United States. The teacher, Mrs. Goodwin, has clearly established expectations outlined in student – friendly language. Mrs Goodwin gives her students the freedom to blog about anything they like, and also encourages her students and students from other classes in the school to interact through commenting on each other’s blog posts.
The link leads directly to the home page of the classroom blog, where users and visitors are able to access individual students’ blogs or access the most recent blog postings from all class members. The format of the blog is very user friendly, as students are able to log in to their classroom blog and easily locate their name (organised by alphabetical order) along the left panel of the screen. Having a feed of recent activity on the home page may also provide students with clarity, inspiration or perspective of relevant events.
Kidblog is a well established blogging site developed by teachers, designed especially to be implemented in the classroom. For a low cost of $36 per year, classroom teachers are able to create unlimited class and individual student pages Kidblog is a safe, student – friendly blog site that will enable year one students to participate in and share ideas in controlled online spaces. Teachers are able to moderate and manage all user action within their classroom blog, so that students are only ever exposed to relevant and appropriate language. Kidblog does not have advertisements, which decreases the possibility of students becoming distracted or exposed to unsafe online content.
Kidblog would be a very appropriate choice of blog site to align with the Year one lesson sequence, as the site allows students to upload a variety of media files. Some activities in the lesson sequence encourage students to upload images of natural, managed and constructed areas, therefore making Kidblog a relevant option for Year one teachers to consider when selecting a blog site.
To learn more, head to http://kidblog.org/home/
This blog has been developed in conjunction with a year one geography lesson sequence, which requires students to share ideas about natural, managed and constructed areas of places in safe, online environments. The purpose of the blog is to support year one teachers implementing this lesson sequence in locating and establishing an appropriate classroom blog site. This blog will also review established teacher and classroom blogs, and will give year one teachers a snapshot of how they can implement their classroom blog.
The specific curriculum this blog is addressing is:
Digital Technologies: Work with others to create and organise ideas and information using information systems, and share these with known people in safe online environments (ACTDIP006).Participating in safe online environments, for example sharing ideas and information through intranets, messaging only to people they know, bookmarked websites and moderated online spaces.
Geography: The natural, managed and constructed features of places, their location, how they change and how they can be cared for (ACHGK005). Using observations to identify and describe the natural features (for example, hills, rivers, native vegetation), managed features (for example, farms, parks, gardens, plantation forests) and constructed features (for example, roads, buildings) of the local place, and locating them on a map.