Our Blogging Challenge

Edublogs student blogging challenge begins in March! We have been busy readying our NEW blogs for a global audience. We planned on using our 21Classes blogs (Techkids Blogging Community), but not everyone was able to comment.  Children and classes from all over he world are participating! So, we switched to Edublog Blogs!  Check out our new blogs using the links in the right sidebar.


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Amanda and Katarina‘s posts have both been visited by participating teachers . . . Mrs. Fennemore from Newfoundland, Canada and Mr. Wolfe from Birmingham, Alabama have left comments on their blogs!!!  Our class blog, Looking Glass,  has been visited by Mrs. Docherty from the UK and Room 15 from New Zealand.  Mrs. Burnette’s Class in Auckland, New Zealand has asked us to be blogging buddies.  This is a great way to develop our blogging skills and have an authentic audience!

Our new blogs are now public and that means YOU can also read and comment on student blogs.  I encourage you to visit and comment as you are able.  When we know we have an audience reading our work, we write and proofread more carefully.

Avatar Explorations

Avatars . . . to be or not on my blog?  Edublog’s Teacher Blogging Challenge was all about avatars in Challenge #4.  My avatar has always been a photograph of myself. As part of the challenge I explored a variety of free web-based tools to create a virtual version of myself.  See my creations below:

Avatars are perfect for MBS students to use because they help protect their identity.  Children should not be sharing personally identifiable information on the internet. Avatars make it possible for students to create a virtual self that represents their real self.  Students can be creative and express their interests and personality through their avatar.

After creating several different avatars for myself, I decided to add the one I created with Voki to the left sidebar.  Press the play button and hear my message.  I liked being able to welcome parents to my blog and suggest ways to use it to spark a discussion with their child.

What do you think of my new avatar?  Leave a comment and tell me what you think.

Before and After the Spring Clean

I ‘ve been participating in Edublogs Teacher Blogging Challenge since January.  This week’s challenge asked us to update and improve our “About Me” page and add one new page to our blog.  Pages give important information about our class or school.  I added pages explaining homework, word study, math, and science units.  Pages are located on the right hand sidebar . . . check them out!

When I looked at my “About Me” page I realized it was sorely lacking.  It gave a brief introduction to my family, including a picture, and told about how I spend my summers.  The picture was old and didn’t include my pooches, Moe and Bella.  The bio didn’t tell enough about me as a teacher or a person.  A google search would have probably yielded more information!

So I updated my page.  One “About Me” page that got my interest was on Sue Water’s Blog.  She included subheadings and categorized the information she shared.  I decided to follow this format for my page.  While Sue’s page has much more information than mine does, I like how she organized the information.

I decided to include information about the following topics:

  • Looking Glass Blog
  • Information about myself as a teacher
  • Information about my family and interests
  • How I spend my summer.

These summer moments with my dogs and a good book, while few and far between, are very important to me.  I think my new page is much better and contains more information for my readers. Check out my new “About Me” page and tell me what you think!!!  I have tough skin, so please be honest.  Is there something you wish I had included?  What would make it better?

Reading in the 21st Century!

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Our reader’s workshop has gone digital!  When I reflect on my own reading habits, it’s surprising how much internet content I read daily.  Our children live

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in a very different world than we grew up in. Today’s children have grown up with internet access from multiple devices. Several students in our class got iPodTouches for Christmas. Emal brings his in everyday to read his ebooks. He takes notes on digital sticky-notes while he reads. Today, another student told me she was selling her Nintendo DS because she got an iPod Touch, and it can do a lot more than her DS. Another student shared his new DS with me today and was showing me he had Skype on it and could video conference when wifi was available. It’s easy to assume in this technological world we live in that our children will learn how to read and write (yes, write!) on the internet. However, like reading a book or writing a story, reading and writing on the internet needs to be taught and practiced.

IMG_1512So . . . during independent reading, each child has a “netbook” day.  On their assigned day they have the choice to read online.  I bookmarked several websites for students to locate and read interesting articles on the internet (check out ‘Online Reading Links’ on this blog).  One very popular site is TweenTribune.  This website is designed for 8-12 year olds (i.e. Tweens) and contains interesting, current internet articles in all subject areas.  Students can comment after reading an article, but comments must be a minimum of 25 words. I approve all comments before they are posted.  This connection between reading and writing helps develop active reading strategies (ex. connections, questions) and critical thinking skills.

hindenburg 2I am also trying to weave digital content into guided reading too.  Students participate in guided reading groups every other week.  Recently, one group was reading about the Hindenburg disaster.  I shared with them footage of the disaster in an effort to bring their nonfiction article to life. Students then researched one survivor from the Hindenburg to learn their story. We are now in the process of creating a Voicethread (ask your child to share with you) where they assume the role of their survivor and tell the story from the survivor’s point of view. Stay tuned for a blog post in the near future sharing this wonderful project. Think about the deep level of comprehension and understanding these students gained from this technology infused reading group!


IMG_1517On the writing side, we have also started blogging about our independent reading in lieu of a hand written letter in notebooks. When we blog about our reading and share our thinking, we are writing for a wider audience. Not only will students receive comments from me, but also their classmates!  When I was growing up, there wasn’t an internet, let alone the ability to create internet content.  Once the internet became popular, I never dreamed I’d one day be able to publish internet content, but look at me now . . . I write comments, articles, and post resources on a daily basis.  This is the world we live in and it is the norm for our children.  I believe my job is to prepare them for this new world. . . .a new world that is evolving even now as I write this blog post!  Thank you for sharing your wonderful children with me!

Image Attribution: Flickr by History In An Hour Rupert Colley

European Pen Pals

Westfield Primary School

Read all about it! We received and responded to our first email from our our new pen pals from England.  Mr. Osler’s  Year 4 class attends Westfield Community Primary School in Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire, England.  They shared lots of information about themselves, and it was clear we had many common interests!

Westfield CP School has one class per grade with about 156 students in Years 1-6. Wow, we have more 4th graders at MBS than they have in their whole School!  Students wear uniforms and have great outdoor learning areas.  They have an herb garden and an outdoor food court.  We are enjoying getting to know our new friends, and look forward to learning more 🙂

Aerial view of Westfield CP School

Our classes will be corresponding every week or two, sharing our interests, new learning and projects. For example, soon we will be learning about weather and states of matter.  We will observe and record weather in both Vermont and England.  It will be interesting to compare the temperatures and precipitation of these two Northern Hemisphere locations.

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