Keeping up with Classroom Blogs

For my second blog post, I decided to continue exploring blogs. This time I shifted my focus to Classroom blogs. Just like in my previous post, I’ve reviewed three blogs that show the power of using blogs in a classroom setting.

Ms. Cassidy’s Classroom – http://mscassidysclass.edublogs.org/
The second blog I explored was Ms. Cassidy’s Classroom.  This blog focuses on a classroom of six year olds in Canada. The design of this blog is simple, so it allows the reader to focus on exploring all the fun activities happening in this classroom.  Cassidy posts short descriptions of lessons and events in her classroom along with pictures and videos.
One of my favorite posts was titled “We Still Want to Learn.” After the New Year, students told their teacher what they still wanted to learn in first grade.  The blog post consists of a number of screenshots from Twitter where Cassidy tweeted students’ responses using the hashtag #2017learn. I think this was a good way to kick of the new year and could be used at the end of the school year to see if the students met their goal. The reason this post stood out to me is I have never seen an educator use social media in this way before.  Cassidy does not limit the blog posts to curriculum based activities sometimes she posts fun pictures like this one of pajama day.
I found Ms. Cassidy’s Classroom to be a simple yet effective way to share what was happening in this teacher’s classroom.  I believe that Cassidy created and posts this blog as a way to communicate with the parents of her students.  If I had a student in her class I would love to look at this blog and not only read about but see what my child was doing every day.

Curiously Collaborative – http://curiouslycollaborative.blogspot.com/

Curiously Collaborative is a blog about a middle school project-based learning classroom.  I was drawn to this blog because it did not sound like a “typical” classroom. The blog itself is very easy to navigate with short but detailed blogs and a few pictures.
The first post that caught my eye had to do with BreakOut EDU kits. The blog discusses how Breakout Kits encourage students to work together and think critically to solve a problem in the form of a game. I have been hearing about these kits for months and I was excited to read more about them. A second post actually detailed how the students were presented with a problem, had to solve several puzzles to open the Breakout box (all in 45 minutes or less). The blog discussed how students took different roles and how sometimes the roles switched throughout the game. A few pictures of the students in action were also posted. This blog convinced me that I definitely want a Breakout EDU kit for my library.  Another post that I found interesting discussed how the teacher purchased ten Kindles for students to use in the classroom. This gives students access to books in that they might not have physical copies of. I think this was a great solution to the problem of not having many high interest books in a classroom library.
Since I have never taught middle school I found Curiously Collaborative to very interesting. While the teacher does include some student pictures and work, this blog is definitely aimed at other teachers as a way to share ideas.

Mr. Geiman’s Unbounded Classroom – http://blog.elanco.org/ageimanla/

Mr. Geiman’s Unbounded Classroom is a blog created by a fourth-grade teacher.  I found the set-up of this blog to be fascinating. Geiman posts a small blog detailing a lesson from his classroom.  The students in his class all have individual blogs which he has linked to his home page. Students post written responses, stories, and pictures to their blog to share their learning.
In his most recent blog post, Geiman shares that his class recently learned about Martin Luther King Jr, Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott. He posed a question to his students asking them to think about why King picked the Lincoln Memorial as the location for his famous speech. In response to this question, one of the students posted this to his personal blog. In another post, Geiman shared that his students were practicing writing from a different point of view. The students chose to write The Three Little Pigs from the wolf’s point of view.
How amazing is this blog? I absolutely love the idea of having students create their own blogs as a type of online portfolio of their learning. I think this is a great teaching tool for any classroom teacher to use. I’m not sure how well it would work in my current library setting because of the sheer number of blogs to monitor. This is something I will definitely keep thinking about because I truly think the idea is just amazing.

Cougar News Blog – https://cougarnewsblog.com/

The final blog that I looked at was Cougar News Blog which is created by a high school Journalism class. The blog contains pictures, videos and posts written by the Journalism class to record what is happening around their school. I was very impressed with how professional this blog looks considering it is maintained by students.
The first blog post that caught my eye was the video of the school’s morning announcements. Two students shared information about the school, weather, lunch choices and up-coming birthdays. I was very impressed by the quality of the video, especially the scrolling bar at the bottom of the screen. It is obvious that this Journalism class uses technology often. Being a Media Specialist I was drawn to this blog post about a school book club. The post describes when the book club meets, the goals of the faculty advisor, and other general information. Courage News Blog even contains movie reviews that students may be interested in.
I was very impressed by this blog for many reasons. As I mentioned above I was impressed with the professional look and writing from a group of high school students. I was also impressed with the content of the blogs; subjects such as bullying, movie reviews were included with the school news. It is obvious that this blog is used often by students in the school. What a great use for blogging.

My biggest take away from exploring both Classroom and Library Blogs is that blogs can be used for many different purposes. I feel like almost every blog I have reviewed had a different purpose and/or audience. Overall the Library Blogs were aimed at teachers; either as a professional resource, as a way to share new books, or as a way to share student work. On the other hand, one of the Classroom Blogs was obviously made as a communication tool for parents. While another was almost an online digital portfolio and yet another was a student-created news blog for fellow students.  When I began exploring blogs I was only looking for ideas to use in my library. However, I have come away with new ways to communicate with colleagues and parents, lesson ideas, and a new appreciation for the power of blogging.
I hope you enjoyed reading about these blogs as much as I enjoyed exploring them.

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3 thoughts on “Keeping up with Classroom Blogs

  1. cnclark111 says:

    Kristy,

    After reading yours and other blogs, I am finding that I must be the only one that hasn’t gotten on board the Twitter train yet. Numerous teachers seem to have a classroom Twitter just for their classroom. I love the idea of the “We Still Want to Learn” post in Ms. Cassidy’s Classroom blog. I do a similar variation of it, where the students write a letter to me in the first week of school where they tell me all of the things they are hoping to learn about in fourth grade. They also tell me what they are most confident about in the upcoming school year, and what they are most afraid of. That way, I was able to tell early on who some of my students with testing anxiety were! I like the idea of using it mid-year though, or even having the students create a list of their New Year’s resolutions. If I end up figuring out Twitter, or classroom blogging, students could then post their resolutions online for parents to see at home! I would love to have more of that parent piece, which isn’t always as easy to get when activities are done paper and pencil.

    As an educator with absolutely no library media experience or background, I obviously have been looking at everything from a different perspective than a librarian would. You mentioned how great it would be to have students create their own blogs, but how difficult it would be to manage that quantity in a library setting. Our librarian has told me that he and one other special area teacher are the only ones who teach every single student in our overcrowded building, and so I can imagine the stress that would come with that responsibility.

    What if the idea of using a student blog to keep as a digital portfolio was created and maintained by the classroom teacher, who had already taught students about the process of blogging and let them use it for classroom assignments. The classroom teacher and media specialist could work together to design assignments and projects that could be completed online. Whenever you wanted the students to login to their blogs for media, they would already have that information and possibly had already began the task from the classroom. Reading, writing, math, and social studies all tie in so well to media instruction; collaborative planning could allow a partnership through the writing and researching process, for example. Teachers would then be in the loop and could help with the management and grading of their particular class, so that the numbers wouldn’t be so overwhelming.

    Overall, I love how organized your blog was. I like how you provided what key information was on each, and then inserted your personal takeaway and connections to your experiences. You mentioned an elementary and middle school blog, and then another fourth grade teacher’s blog. I was curious if you stumbled across any high school blogs, which I believe is a requirement of this assignment. Great work, Kristy! A very neat read!

    Like

    • kristyrubeck says:

      Corey,
      It took me awhile to get on the Twitter bandwagon too. I have a personal account that I use to follow friends and celebrities (lol). This year when I moved from the classroom to the media center I decided to create a professional account. I feel like I’ve had limited success with this. WCPS really uses Twitter a lot, so I feel like in that aspect I have been successful at getting my name and my library “out there.” However, I don’t feel like it has helped me connect with parents the way I thought it would.
      Being an Encore/Specials teacher is definitely a lot. We are the only ones who see every student (and do report card grades for all of them). I like your idea of finding a teacher to collaborate with.
      Thanks for the heads up about the high school blog (I totally missed that in the directions…going back to add it now)

      Like

  2. cougarnewsblog says:

    Hi, Kristy. Thank you for your kind words about our blog. I shared your post with my students and they were very proud. They did want me to point out one thing, though; we are actually from a junior high. 🙂 It’s great for the kids to know that people outside our school audience read and view their work, and that they really are producing content for a real-world audience. Thank you again and good luck with your master’s program!

    Like

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