January 22, 2013 by Mrs. Schmidt
Edmodo is an excellent platform for creating connections between classrooms in different parts of the world. In the past, I’ve always had “snail mail” pen pals for my 3rd grade students, but once I found Edmodo, I realized it was the perfect place for online pen pals. So last year I created the Edmodo Pen Pal Project in conjunction with the Global Classroom Project.
How Does It Work? Classrooms are grouped into age appropriate clusters of 4/5. The teachers of those students will create an Edmodo group for that cluster and take turns providing discussion topics for the children. Sample topics might include favorite foods, holidays, school subjects, free time activities, sports, etc. Upper grades might discuss current events or topics for a certain historical event. Teachers in a cluster may decide to put students into small groups for a book discussion or to collaborate on a writing project.
Join Now! The next round of the Edmodo Pen Pal Project will begin in February and run until about May. It is appropriate for students ages 7 to 18 and will help students learn to respect and appreciate the opinions, cultures and customs of others. To get more information and sign up visit the WIKI page.
November 22, 2011 by Mrs. Schmidt
Jake G – Best Student Blog
This year I started an after school Blogging Club in my school. The group was composed of 4th grade students who had Kidblogs in my homeroom last year and were very excited to have their own Edublog this year. The students joined the Student Blogging Challenge and I also joined as a mentor. We only met once a week for an hour but we accomplished a lot in that short time. The kids enjoyed setting up their blog with widgets and having an avatar. Their favorite widget was the Clustr Map which tracked visitors to their blog. It was so exciting to see those red dots show up saying that other countries had visited. They were a bit disappointed that they could not embed anything in their free Edublog accounts, but they just added links instead. Some of their favorite parts of the challenge were the games like the Zoom story and Pick 3. They also liked the creativity posts where they got to use GoAnimate and This is Sand. The club is going to take a break for the Christmas holidays, but I think we will start up again in February to be ready for the 2012 Challenge in March. These students will be able to fine tune their blogs and write better posts.
My students and I want to nominate Jake G’s Blog for the Edublogs Awards 2011. Jake wrote 53 posts and received 152 comments since he started his blog in September. I was Jake’s mentor and I really enjoyed reading his meaningful posts. He also did a fantastic job decorating his blog with widgets. My students think his blog is creative and fun. We think that he worked very hard on his blog this year. He is a dedicated blogger! Keep up the good work Jake!
October 31, 2011 by Mrs. Schmidt
Last Spring my students and I participated in the Flat Classroom “A Week in the Life” Project. It was an amazing experience for us to work with students and teachers from 4 different countries. After that, I made it my goal to continue flattening my classroom walls and providing my students the opportunity to reach out and connect with students around the world. This year I began doing that with our Flat Stanley project. We joined the Global Read Aloud to share our predictions, book chats, stories we wrote, etc. We then wanted to make our own paper Stanley’s to mail out. Instead of just sending Stanley’s within the USA, I went on a mission to find classrooms outside of our country to do exchanges with us. With the help of the Global Classroom Project, I was able to locate classrooms in Canada, New Zealand, and Romania to get us started. What was so incredible was how quickly a few of those teachers jumped on board to create wikis for us to share photos, videos, maps, and information about our countries. In Edmodo, we are able to have discussions with some of them too. Far away places like Calgary, Auckland, and Bucharest became real for us as we saw their photos, heard their voices and chatted with them. What was eye opening to the children was not only our differences but our many similarities too. We love watching the videos to see their classrooms and hear the differences in their voices! We had to make 2 sets of paper Flat Stanley’s because we were so excited to get started and didn’t want to wait.
We are not just exchanging paper dolls, we are exchanging culture and customs. Technology has allowed us to become friends with people on the other side of the world. I get just as excited as my students do when we find some new information on one of the wikis. I had to wait until I was in my 40′s to make these connections. I wonder if my students realize how lucky they are to be having these experiences now. Hopefully, by exposing the children to different cultures this early in their lives, it will lead to a life of acceptance and respect for other people and their countries. After all, it is our differences that make us unique and special. If the world were full of the same person, it would be a very dull place.
Please check out the links below to visit our wikis and see the learning and sharing that is taking place.
September 1, 2011 by Mrs. Schmidt
This year we are implementing the Common Core Standards for ELA and Math in my Archdiocese. It is a bit overwhelming for the teachers. I wish they had chosen one subject at a time. Luckily, my principal had us join up with some nearby schools at the end of last year to begin reviewing the ELA standards. We got some lesson ideas from the Common Core Maps. They help a bit but some of us do not agree with the selection of books chosen in these maps. We are also going to use our regular reading text and just jump around to follow the standards. The standards are a bit open ended which is good in some respects because it allows a lot of time for enrichment with technology but it also makes them a bit vague to me. I am hoping that we will have a lot of in service opportunities to help us make this changes. If you know of any good websites to help us with this incorporation, please share them!
All of our lessons are now to revolve around the “Essential Question” of the lesson. What are essential questions and how do you write one? Here is an answer to that from Mary Alice Osborne.
I see many examples of essential questioning for upper level students but I am teaching 8 year olds. So I am still struggling with bringing it down to their level as we still work on many basic skills at that age. Can anyone share some ideas for essential questioning with younger age students?
August 18, 2011 by Mrs. Schmidt
I created my first classroom blog in August 2010 as a way to keep in touch with other classrooms that we were meeting on Skype and to share photos and info with the parents of my students. I started with a free Edublogs account to see how things would go. I began posting photos of things we were doing in the classroom and writing posts and story starters that my students would comment on in class. After a month or so, I upgraded to a Pro account so I could embed videos and have more widgets. The parents and students were really enjoying it.
The best widget that I added was the Clustr Map. My students loved seeing where people were logging onto our blog from. It became a geography lesson to figure out the location of each new red dot. In just one year our blog has received 2,247 hits! Our Clustr Map now looks like this:
As my blog moves into it’s second year, I get excited thinking about my journey and the new friends we will make. Because Edublogs has now reached the 1 million mark, all basic blog accounts will be advertisement free. Thank you Edublogs for creating this wonderful learning platform to help my students and I flatten our classroom and make connections with others around the world!
August 11, 2011 by Mrs. Schmidt
I began making connections with other teachers a few years ago when I started using Skype in the classroom. My students and I were trying to meet one 3rd grade classroom from as many different states as we could. It was so much fun to see their classrooms and hear about our similarities and differences. The main website that I used for those connections was Around the World with 80 Schools. If you are new to Skype, this is an awesome website to get you started with the how to’s as well as making connections with other members. Because of our Skype calls, I was able to “meet” some great teachers and hear about the fun things that they were doing in their classroom. During that first year, we were able to connect with 17 difference classrooms as well as 2 authors in just 4 months. I was also inspired to create my own classroom blog to keep in touch with these classes. This is a blog about my first adventures with Skype. If you are interested in other websites to help you find Skype connections, check out this Skype page on my Exciting Technology wiki. This past year, we began doing Mystery State Skypes which was so exciting! I can’t wait to try Family Feud Skype Style this year!
Last year, through the Around the World with 80 Schools website, I was contacted by Nancy Von Wahlde, a 3rd grade teacher at the International School of Prague in the Czech Republic. After a fun filled Skype between our classes, I learned about a wonderful global collaboration project that Nancy had participated in called “A Week In the Life,” a Flat Classroom Project created for students ages 8-10. I signed up my classroom and we worked with over 300 students from 4 different countries last spring. Students were put into teams to discuss their similarities and differences in 6 categories: School, Language and Clothing, Environment, Leisure Time Activities, Food and Celebrations, and Transportation. At the end, each group created a final project showing photos and videos about their topic and uploaded it to our project wiki. My students and I had a wonderful experience and I look forward to taking part in the project again this year. During the project, the teachers had weekly Elluminate meetings to keep things running smoothly. As I result of that, the other Flat Classroom teachers are now a part of my PLN. We also Skyped with many of the classes involved, including a class in Korea, which was so much fun!
Another way that I have found to make connections is with Epals. It is a website where teachers from all over the world can find email pen pals for their classes. You can work together on projects like “The Way We Are,” Natural Disasters,” “Holidays and Celebrations, and “Digital Storytelling,” to name a few. My 3rd grade students connected with a Year 4 class from St. John’s School in Dapto, Australia last year. We had so much fun sharing about our lives and customs. They told us about celebrations for their first Australian saint and we told them about Thanksgiving. As we were in the snow on Christmas, they told stories of a celebration at the beach during their summer time Christmas celebration.
A final collaboration tool that I’d like to share is Edmodo. I would describe Edmodo as a secured online learning environment. It is a Facebook like site where kids can have a profile and avatar. Teachers set up groups and allow only the students he or she chooses to join the group. You cannot access the group at all without a code. I had heard about Edmodo but I thought it was inappropriate for my 3rd grade students. However, when I started using it as a part of the Flat Classroom Project, I realized its potential. The students could easily connect and chat with the other project members in different parts of the world. Using Edmodo, we shared photos, videos, podcasts and more. This past summer, I found out that Edmodo is also a great place for teachers to connect and share ideas too. I found a class from England for my students to get to know this fall. Edmodo is also a great way for students to collaborate with their own classmates on group projects as well, both in school and from home. Many teachers are having their students submit projects through Edmodo, thus helping their classrooms go paperless.
I have listed a few more collaboration type websites on the Connecting with Others page of my Exciting Technology wiki
July 26, 2011 by Mrs. Schmidt
I started taking part in Eluminate webinars about a year and a half ago when our Archdiocese started offering them for free. They were weekly meetings where the same Web 2.0 topic was discussed at 2 different times. It was so nice to be at home in my PJ’s discussing technology use with teachers throughout 5 different counties of PA. For those first few sessions, I was too scared to talk. I just listened and learned. This past school year, even more classes were offered and I signed up for all of them. Our diocese also created a Ning where teachers who took the classes shared and asked questions afterwards. As I began to use the new Web 2.0 tools, I started to see the benefit of speaking up in the webinar to share an idea or ask a question. It felt good when other teachers were interested in hearing about what I was doing in my classroom. I also learned a lot from ideas that teachers shared in the back channel chat during the presentations. I met some of these teachers at a summer workshop lasts month. Because of a sharing session, I was asked to give a workshop on blogging and other Web 2.0 tools at a local school. My first paid speaking engagement!
When I took part in the Flat Classroom Elementary Project this past spring, we also used Eluminiate for our weekly meetings. It was fun to plan our steps and share ideas with teachers around the world. I enjoyed and looked forward to these weekly sessions and the connections that I made. Our Flat Classroom Project has ended but I am still networking with these teachers through blogs and Twitter. I also hope to set up some classroom connections when school resumes in September. So although I didn’t know it, these meetings helped to build my PLN.
I love Jo Hart’s idea of the “unconference!” Choosing a different topic each week to chat about sharing ideas and experiences is a great idea! I will have to try one this summer. I just did a similar one with a teacher from the Flat Classroom Project. Theresa had myself and one other AWL Project teacher join in on her weekly Skype group call with other tech teachers in her district. It was fun to share my experiences, but I also learned from ideas that they shared. Maybe I should start something like that with teachers in my Archdiocese.
July 5, 2011 by Mrs. Schmidt
I first began using blogs when I created a classroom blog at the beginning of the school year last year. I used it to share photos, events and projects with parents and students. I would sometimes post questions related to our school work and students would comment to answer them. The kids got excited about seeing our dots increase on the ClustrMap widget, letting us know where our visitors where coming from. We added a Visitor Comment Post asking visitors to leave us a message. I began seeing comments from extended family members living in other states and countries. One relative logged on from Germany and left a comment telling us about the city of Berlin and the European Union. Another dad traveled for work so his son asked him to log on from other states to “get us more red dots!” The father did that but also took it one step further by posting trivia questions about each new place. The students and I had fun researching to find answers to his questions. This blog was taking on a whole new learning aspect that I never expected! Posting our blog on the International Blog Directory also helped us to get more traffic. In early March I learned about Kidblogs and set one up for each of my students. The kids had so much fun writing their own posts! It also became a place for us to showcase our Web 2.0 projects. We then joined the Student Blogging Challenge. That was a great way for the children and I to learn more about blogging but the best part was the connections with other students. The children were so excited when others around the world began reading our blogs and it made them work harder and really think about what they were posting. Before we left school for summer break, I had to assure the kids that I would leave their Kidblogs up. They want to continue blogging over the summer. I promised them that I would run an after school blogging club next fall where I would give them their own Edublog account to use in the September 2011 Blogging Challenge.
So for me, starting out with a classroom blog was a great way to ease into blogging. When I began the Teacher Challenge last month, I was comfortable enough with blogging to create this personal blog. I am now experiencing the same excitement as I learn from and make connections with other teachers around the world. The other day I created a Google Reading account and download the Flipboard app for my iPad. I am enjoying reading the blogs of other educators and getting new insight into the world of education. It is like taking a mini workshop everyday!
One person who really inspired me to start blogging with my students was Mrs. Linda Yollis. Mrs. Yollis is a 3rd grade teacher from California whom we met on Skype. Her classroom blog is amazing and often wins awards for best blog! Check it out here. She also created a video with her students about writing quality comments.
Even though I haven’t been reading teacher blogs all that much until recently, a blog that I have learned from over the years is the Cool Cat Teacher Blog written by Viki Davis. I like the way Viki gives step by step instructions for using new types of technology.
How did you get started with blogging? What have you learn from it? Do you have a favorite blog that you like to read?
June 30, 2011 by Mrs. Schmidt
This week, Sarah Poling encourages us to take baby steps when building our PLN so as not to get too overwhelmed. Connecting with other teachers around the world and learning about new Web 2.0 tools really excites me. Once I do start to get caught up in all of the learning, it is hard to pull myself away. My struggle will be to ONLY spend 15 minutes a day and not neglect my family and my housework:) Since I do like to dive in and stay there exploring, I think I need to set a weekly time of an hour or so that I can devote to my PLN.
Here are the ways that I have built my PLN so far.
1. Skype – My students and I like to do one time Mystery Skypes with other states throughout the year. The children don’t know what state we are Skyping. Each class asks and answers a set of 10 questions and then we try to guess the state. At the end we ask spontaneous questions. We keep a journal of our learnings and color a map showing each state we meet. Sharing blog addresses allows us follow up connections. We also love to meet and share info with other countries as well. That is sooo exciting!
2. Google Groups and Nings – I use these for connections with teachers in the Flat Classroom Elementary Project and the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
3. Blogging – I started a classroom blog last summer and took part in the Student Blogging Challenge in March. My students and I loved the fact that others around the world where reading our blogs. This challenge and this new teacher blog is helping too.
4. Twitter – I just started using this as a result of this challenge and I love it! I can jump on when I have time and put in a hash tag to search out different topics.
5. Google Reader – Today, I signed up for an account and started adding my favorite websites. I haven’t been a blog reader in the past but I think the Google Reader will help me to make the best use of the time that I have to learn from fellow educators.
June 30, 2011 by Mrs. Schmidt
Check out this video that someone shared with us at ISTE. Is this what the books of the future will be like? Amazing!