Welcome back! I hope this week that started with an Eclipse & ends with a tropical storm has not been too tiring. In all of this, I started to think of all the students that are experiencing the eclipse with their educators and peers. What was it like in Oregon in the path of totality? Wouldn't it have been great if our Texas kiddos could of connected with other students to share this lifetime experience. So with that being said, this week I am focusing on Digital CONNECTIONS. How can students collaborate, communicate and create with other students BEYOND the classroom walls.
Probably the most convenient way of connecting since we are a Google Education Apps school. Each student; 2nd grade - 12th grade has a Gmail account so connection thru Hangouts is already set up. There are tons of request I see everyday thru a Google+ Community called Connected Classrooms: educators looking for classrooms to connect to. I enjoy the mystery hangouts the best & they work for any grade level. A lot of educators are conducting "Mystery" sessions where students can break up into four groups: researchers, note takers, inquirers (question-askers), and trackers—those that look for the possible locations on the map. They rotate through these roles and connect with another classroom somewhere in the world.
Free writing & or writing with given prompt on the internet. When students write freely consistently they can see their growth & if shared with their peers, educators or parents, WE can see their growth. Students as young as 3rd grade could start a blog-if you do not have technology for every student-no problem take turns blogging. Blogging can give the students an ownership of their writing & sharing with others can be exciting. The blogs can be completely private or you could share certain posts the students write. There are lots of free websites for education including EduBlogs. I have a free professional membership to give away if this something you'd like to try this year!
Students share so much information constantly throughout their day. As educators we can show them how to showcase themselves and their work professionally through the use of Electronic Portfolios. When I began teaching my students had to print their final projects for a portfolio binder, I'm so glad those days are gone! The last years in the classroom, I graded the portfolio electronically because my students were not only collecting their work but they were PUBLISHING it to share with me and others. Some of my 9th grade students continued their portfolio throughout their high school education & they took ownership & had pride in their learning. Imagine if students started keeping portfolios in elementary and continued to showcase their learning and share with friends, peers & educators.
There are multiple ways to create portfolios, it all depends on what the students or learners prefer. I personally feel that the portfolio design should be reflective of the student's choice...but we could give them a jumping off point: