Teaching Functional Formats and Blogging in One Lesson

As I finished writing my last post, I noticed that the way in which I was formatting my post was reminiscent of a newspaper article.  I thought again, why exactly was I automatically formatting my blog post to resemble a newspaper print article?  It’s because of being taught functional reading formats in, what I would guess was around 3rd Grade, stuck with me.  I must have had a really great elementary school teachers.

So what does that have anything to do about teaching Functional Formats and Blogging all together?

What it has to do with is if you are teaching students about Functional Reading Formats, as the Standards of Learning dictate they learn, already, why not make it engaging to the students to allow them all to be on computers (which every student I’ve ever worked with yearns to do).  If you as a teacher is comfortable with basic blog set-up and editing of an online blog then you can use it to teach about what they really need to know which is the Functional Format standard.

In the end, the idea is, teach students to learn concepts and skills using the concepts and skills as tools, rather than as independently learned skills.

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Phones in Schools, The Responsible Approach

http://theinnovativeeducator.blogspot.com/2012/07/5-reasons-to-allow-students-to-use-cell.html

In Lisa Nielsen’s blog above a great debate is brought up on whether kids should have cell phones in school.

Agree with Lisa, that it is far less detrimental to allow students to utilize the technology they have available to them, rather than stifling it.

The best quote I got out of the article was one she made from a fellow blogger/tweeter Kevin Honeycutt, “”Students used to pass notes on paper.  We never banned paper.”

Not only have kids been passing notes, but making paper airplanes that disrupt the class, or simply balling up paper and throwing it around the room.  Ultimately it’s highly drastic to eliminate paper because of these distractions, so we teach students to be responsible with it.

Then the argument is made about cheating.  I completely agree that if a test or exam is easy enough for a student to either text a friend, or look up the answer then the test needs to change.  Teacher’s use scantrons for tests because it’s easier to grade and it resembles the standardized test they will take in the future.  Of course with all the ease of multiple choice scantron tests comes the same ease in cheating.  In the end kids don’t need phones to cheat.  Cheating happened well before the digital age and will occur well into it.  Teaching a student early on the value of their own work and the work of others will hopefully teach them why cheating and plagiarism is bad and not just against the rules.

Keeping kids “safe” is no longer a good enough excuse for banning personal technology.  In a world where they will most likely be using cell phones and computers in their daily professional life, they must learn to be responsible with technology not just kept away from it.

There’s a big bad world out there, the job of schools and teachers is to prepare them for it, not shy them away from it.

PiktoChart

I found out about PiktoChart from a tweet a got from @Edudemic.  They tweet a lot, but there are definitely some good finds if you pay attention.

Piktochart example comparison chart

Click to see Piktochart.com

Piktochart is a great way to visualize pretty much anything.  For a visual learner like me it’s an amazing tool.  The ability to drag and drop with this site makes it super easy to create awesome visuals.  There are many themes and ready-made tools to help anyone make a graphic like the one above.

I think believe this will be a very useful tool for me in visualizing a number of things in my classroom, not to mention it gives me a great idea for a lesson plan/class assignment or project.

New Kind of Visual

When working on my about me page I liked the idea of visually conveying the most important or interesting things about me.

I used Wordle.net to create a word cloud to make a far more interesting about me page then just listing a bunch of facts.

Image

For me the words are not the primary focus, and how they look, the way they are positioned, and generally the colors and shapes my words make add to who I am as much as the words do.

My review:

I really like this wordle site, and though I’ve only played with it a little bit, I can see this as a great icebreaker type tool for each student to make during class to help introduce themselves.  Also, wordle can be used as a project enhancer itself, using it for posters or projects that the students have to put together for assignments.  It seems there can be many applications for this site to be used in a classroom setting, and it help merge content with creativity.  Mixing content and creativity seems to always be a difficult thing to do on a regular basis in classrooms, thus making the content lack-luster and boring.  I definitely think I’ll be making use of this site in the future.