Showing posts with label Web 2.0. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Web 2.0. Show all posts

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Best Thing About Computers

Hey Reading Workshop students, share your opinion!

You can see the results HERE.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Collecting Information the Easy Way

I need to collect blog titles and URL's from students to post links in the sidebar.  Looking for an easy way to do this without having to type and link each blog, I decided to use a form from Google Docs.  This will put all of the information in a spreadsheet and make it easy to copy and paste.

Check out the right sidebar for links to all of this year's Reading Workshop students' blogs.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Wallwisher, A Great Web 2.0 Tool

My teaching neighbour, Mrs. Jayne Stevenson shared this great idea and Web 2.0 tool to allow students to post comments and/or answer questions.  

Post Edited on April 28, 2011.  

Although Wallwisher seems like a great program, there are problems.  Students tried repeatedly over the last two days to access the program.  After several million error messages, I changed my mind about Wallwisher.  The first requirement for any web 2.0 program is reliability.  The inability to post makes this program frustrating, and not at all worth using until the glitches are worked out.

Monday, November 1, 2010

How Technology is Making Students Better Writers

Have you used Twitter lately?  Currently there are over 160 million registered users.  More  than 90M tweets are written per day.  Yet this communication tool that so many people have found so useful is similar to one that many teachers claim is ruining students.

It used to be adults worried about kids spending too much time watching TV, but those days are gone. Today, teachers worry about another type of screen time. Kids are either texting, IMing (instant messaging), or else on social networking sites like Facebook. Many educators are concerned about the impact technology is having on students' writing.

Should they be concerned? Is all of this time texting ruining the writing of students?  Some teachers feel that the slang, or casual language used extensively in texting and IM'ing will have detrimental long term effects. Most seem to ignore the fact that kids today are writing constantly. In fact, putting thoughts into written words is part of the natural lives of kids today. Anyone who cannot share their thoughts through texting is at risk of becoming a social outcast.

Students don't see the constant use of slang as a problem.  They know the difference between casual language between friends and formal language used in school and business.  According to Pew Internet's Teen Writing Survey, 83% of students feel there is a greater need to be able to write well in order to be successful now when compared to twenty years ago.   They also found that 85% of students write in school at least several times each week.

Another worry, especially at the secondary and collegiate level is how students spend class time texting instead of focusing on the lesson being taught. However, forward thinking instructors have begun to use this to their advantage by engaging students in real-time dialogue and assessment.

In many classes today, students are participating in online learning and communication using blogs and wikis, web-based collaborative projects using Google Docs, and various other computer uses throughout their school day. Often students are much more motivated in class where video and interactive Smart Boards are integrated into the curriculum.

Obviously, the students of today have lifestyles, both in and out of the class that are much different than in the past. Although some educators are concerned about the affects of these changes, some are embracing the changes and celebrating the advancement of education. Their goal is to open doors and encourage students to push forward using every tool available for a more interesting and challenging learning environment.

Everyone changes their spoken language based on the audience.  At a very young age children learn to speak differently to their parents than they do to their friends.  Doesn't this make it only natural to expect the same in their writing?  When students walk into a classroom spending hours each day putting their thoughts into words, it can only make them better writers.

Image from

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Nothing Like a Blog to Get Them Working

Walk into the Reading Workshop classroom and it is so quiet.  Students are intensely focused on their screens.  About the only sound is the pecking on keyboards.  Occasionally someone will ask a peer for help, which is quickly given because the helper wants to get back to their post.  At times, students will skim through their book, looking for correct spelling, or a detail that will support a point. 

Students created their blog the first week of school.  A lot of the second week was spent learning the basics of Wordpress and blogging.  As students begin posting, once again the value of integrating technology into the curriculum shows.  Discipline isn't an issue.  Everyone wants to get a post written so their peers can read it and comment on it.

Fake reading during SSR is limited.  Let's face it, if you know all of your peers are going to read what you write, you better make sense.  And how can you write about a book if you haven't read it and/or don't understand it?

Technology contributes in many ways to the success of students in Reading Workshop.  The greatest benefit though is motivation.  Students are working, doing their best to produce a great blog.  And with the way they are working, I have no doubt they will succeed.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Why Book Talks are the Perfect Assignment

I think I found the perfect assignment.  Students volunteer to do it, and they mostly complete it on their own time.  In fact, there is a waiting list to do it next. They do their best because everyone will see their output.  When they do well, their work is showcased and saved for future students to attempt to emulate.

There are many skills involved with this assignment as well.  Students must read  a book, which is part of their Read at Home assignment.  They must comprehend the book, summarize it, and analyze for the most exciting part, which will hook future readers.  Students must consider the details and understand the characters.  

After all of this, students must present a book review in a practiced and polished way that will encourage others to read the book.  In their presentation and the preparation, they must use correct grammar.  They must have an exciting introduction, body, and closing.  Students must use many Web 2.0 skills  including researching and video editing, to create a final piece of work worthy of sharing worldwide.

Supplies needed are minimal.  Start with a good book.  Add a Flip video camera.  Download Openshot Video Editor.  Set up a YouTube account and you are ready to go.

This is the perfect assignment.  Students want to do it, work hard, do their best, use a lot of different skills, discuss great authors and books, and produce a final draft to share.  Then, when they finish I can brag about them and show off their work.  Whose next?

Image from

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Stormbreaker Book Talk

Stormbreaker, the exiting book that starts the Alex Rider series is reviewed by Josh, a Reading Workshop student.  To see all of the book talk videos, you can visit The Reading Workshop Book Talk Wiki page.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Under a War Torn Sky Book Talk

Micah shares Under a War Torn Sky by L.M. Elliot in this book talk as part of his class in The Reading Workshop.  To see all of the book talk videos, you can visit The Reading Workshop Book Talk Wiki page.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Spy X, The Code Book Talk

This book talk by Micah features book one in an adventure series.  Find out about Spy X, The Code by Peter Lerangis.  To see all of the book talk videos, you can visit The Reading Workshop Book Talk Wiki page.

Thanks for sharing an exciting series of books, Micah!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

I Am the Wallpaper Book Talk

This book talk by Cierra features the realistic fiction, I am the Wallpaper written by Mark Peter Hughes.  To see all of the book talk videos, you can visit The Reading Workshop Book Talk Wiki page.

Great job to Cierra for her enthusiastic presentation!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Notes from the Dog Book Talk

The Reading Workshop presents another book talk.  Justin shares Notes from the Dog by Gary Paulsen. To see all of the book talk videos, you can visit The Reading Workshop Book Talk Wiki page.

Good job Justin!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Student Blog Project Rubric

The students in Reading Workshop just completed an interdisciplinary project for social studies and language arts.  They had to research and write a blog post about an ancient Egyptian or Mesopotamian leader. 

We discussed grading and this is the rubric students created.

A  Follows guidelines
    Interesting/draws in the reader
    Writing has a sense of style
    Provides background information that is on topic and correct
    Provides several supporting details
    Correct PUGS (Punctuation, Usage, Grammar, and Spelling)
    Cites sources and does not plagiarize

B  Follows guidelines
    Provides background information that is on topic and correct
    Provides several supporting details
    Correct PUGS (Punctuation, Usage, Grammar, and Spelling)
    Cites sources and does not plagiarize

C  Follows guidelines
    Provides a few pieces of background information that are on topic & correct
    Few supporting details
    Two - Four mistakes with PUGS (Punctuation, Usage, Grammar, and Spelling)
    Cite sources and does not plagiarize

D  Does not follow guidelines
    Provide little background information that is on topic and correct
    Few supporting details
    Errors with PUGS (Punctuation, Usage, Grammar, and Spelling)
    Does not Cite all sources

F  Plagiarizes
    Little sign of effort
    Not posting on blog

These are the project guidelines:

1. Introduction explaining project
Help the readers understand what the post is about/the focus

2. Identify person and civilization (river)
Give background information about civilization
(Several important facts that explain the civilization)

3. Explain the impact on development of civilization
Include details supporting what you see as the impact
(Should have 2 – 3 details that explain what the impact was and how it effected civilization)

Schooled Book Talk

The Reading Workshop presents another book talk, this one by Katie that is from a great Gordon Kormon book, Schooled from the realistic fiction genre. To see all of the book talk videos, you can visit The Reading Workshop Book Talk Wiki page.

Thank you Katie!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Harry Potter Book Talk

The Reading Workshop presents another book talk, this one by Kasi for all of the fantasy fans, and especially those that love Harry Potter.  To see all of the book talk videos, you can visit The Reading Workshop Book Talk Wiki page.

Great job, Kasi!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Ella Enchanted Book Talk

Beth shares a book talk for all of you fantasy lovers. Watch as she describes Ella Enchanted written by Gail Carson Levine. To see all of the Reading Workshop book talk videos, you can visit The Reading Workshop Book Talk Wiki page.

If you enjoy fantasy, fly into Beth's recommended book, Ella Enchanted.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Travel Team Book Talk

If you are a sports fan, this book talk shares a book you might really enjoy.  Jake is discussing Travel Team written by Mike Lupica.  This is the latest in the series of book talks by students in The Reading Workshop.  To see all of the videos, you can visit The Reading Workshop Book Talk Wiki page.

Thanks Jake for sharing a book with a great story!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Dairy Queen Book Talk

In dramatic fashion, Hadley shares her thoughts about one of The Reading Workshop's favorite books this year.

Enjoy her book talk about Dairy Queen written by Catherine Gilbert Murdock.

Thank you for the exciting book talk of a great read Hadley!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Takeoffs and Landings Book Talk

Students in The Reading Workshop are continuing to learn and progress with their efforts of sharing their video taped book talks.  Our hope is to build a video library that students can browse as they search for a book to read.   

In this video, Hannah Hop shares one of her favorites Takeoffs and Landings by Haddix.

Thanks for sharing a great book Hannah!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Student Blog Rubric

As the grading period ends, Student blogs must be assessed.  For those striving for excellence, here is the expectation.

Student Blog Rubric

Basis for Scoring

--------------------= =

4 or A

  • Concise (3 -4 paragraphs) with a specific focus
  • Shares thoughts, ideas, or opinions
  • Opening grabs the readers' attention while introducing the point of the post
  • Specific details support the main idea
  • Has a "So What?", theme, lesson, or specific point that attracts the readers' attention
  • Demonstrates detailed understanding of the blog topic
  • Positive tone engages the reader
  • Picture that supports post with attribution
  • Spelling, punctuation, and capitalization is correct

The rest of the rubric can be found at The Reading Workshop Blog Rubric.

For examples of students' blogs that earned a 4, check out these sites:
Hannah's Hideout
Hadley's Planet
Ian's Corner
Bethanie's Word
Hannah's Hangout
Katey's Corner
Kaitlyn's Cave

Sunday, January 10, 2010

What a Teacher Hopes for from a Student Blogger

Hadley has written 45 posts since September 17.  Most students in Reading Workshop write one or two posts a week.  Hadley has averaged four posts a week.  She writes cleanly and in an engaging style that tells a great story, and sparks many questions.

That's not the only thing that sets her apart.  She gets what matters.  Her posts share her thoughts, ideas, and opinions.  Posts often make the reader laugh and lots of times makes them smile. Her writing style draws in the reader. She posts regularly, writing in the evening after school, on weekends, and snow days.  She reads many of her peer's blogs, and comments on them.

Here is an excerpt from the post A Gray/Brown/Non-white Christmas
 Q :I hate it! I hate it, I hate it, I hate it! What do I hate?
I don’t get it. Do the snow Gods hate me? Was Elvis trying  to tell me something? I don’t know! I do know one thing, though; I WANT SNOW!

Another example from Team Laurelville
In the classroom, there are lots of places for good sportsmanship. Like when your worst enemy gets mentioned because he/she does a good deed, makes a great blog post, or when they get their named mentioned on The Reading Workshop, you should say “Great” or “I like the post” or something like that since they did a good job. Maybe since you did that to them, when you do something you’re proud of, they might treat you the same. The Golden Rule can work with more than just adult life!!

For a great read, and an excellent example of what a student blog should look like, just visit Hadley's Planet.