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Blog Back To School: Cynthia Alaniz

CACynthia Alaniz
Blog Back to School
Position
: 4th Grade Teacher, Team Leader
Location:
Denton Creek Elem. School, Coppell ISD, Coppell, Tx
Number of students in district/school
: 10,000/507

On the first day of school in classrooms everywhere, teachers explain procedures, calm anxious students, and create excitement for the upcoming year. We also answer many, many questions such as, Where do we line up? Do we have homework? And how do we check out books? But in my classroom students will also ask, What is a blog? 

I began my foray into classroom blogging last year, so the lessons are new for me, too. After a full school year of independent study, reading tech tips, and maintaining a weblog, I am now more familiar with blogging and the lessons I now must incorporate into my usual beginning-of-the-year list. Blogging has had a great impact on my instruction. Because I have seen its power to generate excitement among nine-year-olds, I incorporate this Web 2.0 tool daily.

My classroom blog helps me build a classroom community.  I use it to communicate with parents, and to promote literacy, develop writing skills, and enhance content knowledge.  We recap our learning of the day, making it available to students who are absent, or those who need clarification.  We respond to books, comment on topics, and share our learning. One Web tool has so many uses!

But as with any other tech tool, I must model its use.  I first teach how to access our blog from a link on my school webpage. Once I show my students how to access the blog, I have them create bookmarks to it on our iPod Touches. (With the help of a QR code posted right outside my door, the blog is accessible to any parent, staff member, or guest with a smartphone.) 

After showing students how to access, I introduce its features.  Here I use terms such as post, comment, sidebar, and blog archive. For some, this will be the first experience with a blog. I show that a post can be various lengths, can incorporate links and pictures, and may have one author or several.  Above all, a post must be interesting!

On the first day of school, we will write a post together, and I will compose in front of them, modeling my process and thinking.  (As a writing teacher, I have ulterior motives. Blogging helps me nurture voice, create excitement about composing, and offer topic choice.) As we chronicle events, procedures, and science experiments, our blog becomes our own digital notebook---one that doesn’t tear, wrinkle, or stain. I will unashamedly and unabashedly use our blog to teach revision, idea, process, and organization. 

Our blog will extend our shared physical space into a virtual one. Together, the students will write, edit, and maintain the blog as a shared, co-authored publication.   Our learning goes beyond the calendar, beyond the clock, and beyond the four walls of our classroom.

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This is so great to see, Cynthia! Taking full advantage of a blog not only makes things easier for you, but it is an innovative approach that communicates well with your students and their parents. Love that you are using QR codes!

We have a lot of our users taking advantage of after-school engagement when using our software provided by http://www.ignitelearning.com to improve middle school education.

We also provide interactive software for teachers to use after class to have an innovative approach to giving students individual attention in an engaging way. These efforts could be communicated on a blog as well, which you seem to already have a strong-hold on!

Way to go!

John

Cynthia, thanks for sharing your experience with and enthusiasm for classroom blogging with students!

I have a few questions for you:

Would you mind sharing a link to your classroom blog?

Do you keep one classroom blog that is collaboratively built by you and your students, or do your students maintain individual blogs also?

What blogging platform do you use and why?

I am hoping the school district I work in will be able to use a blogging tool this year, and having your blog as an example as well as answers to my questions will be helpful in preparing for that. Thank you!

You can also reach me at @EdTechSandyK on Twitter. :-)

this is the link to our blog!

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in Best in Tech Today are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.