Student Blogs for Learning Resources, Sharing, Peer Feedback, Projects and Display of work with open access for all grades and subjects.

 

Technology Focus

Combine the use of summarizing course work, allowing students to summarize work, create a space for projects, display student work and art (STEAM) or post the latest in your field with the use of online blogs such as Wordpress utilizing internet, and blogging web sites to improve education.

 
Description

There are now many ways to create blogs for students.   Some schools are using EDSBY where groups can be made and internally a blog can be formed within the school.

Public and free programs such as wordpress can be used, or if you or your board can put some money into it, squarespace is extremely easy to use.  The benefit of being a public forum is that parents can access and view their children’s work, other teachers can share space, students that want to review topics have them readily accessible, students that want to move ahead can do so; the scope of a project can be easily presented; the goal of having your work published on a blog will drive more detail students themselves.   

In addition, teachers may choose to contribute to, or students contribute to or the course utilizes existing public blogs such as Enterprise in Space Academy.

 
Level

The most important part of prior knowledge for creating a blog is simply being able to organize the writer’s thoughts and concepts.  From there, posting becomes easier and easier.  Some simple knowledge in using word programs, how to embed images or create them, how to embed videos such as YOUTUBE videos or interactive programs.  More advanced bloggers may want to create their own videos and add interactive feedback or quizzes, but these are steps that one may choose to use once their comfort level of blogging is addressed.

 

Audience

All levels of education can use blogging, from junior to intermediate to senior.   However, in the younger years this will need more teacher posting and editing.   As the levels and capabilities increase, more responsibility can be laid on the student for their editing, and even organizing the blog structure and organization themselves.

 

Tool Highlights

Wordpress use of blogs combined with the different methods to embed images or create web page styles using pdf and image files.
This document will be highlighting wordpress.

 

Privacy Considerations
  • When you create a blog, you are generally creating a public forum which has its pros and cons.  

  • If you feel you want more reference to student names or specific student images, you can password protect your blog so that it is not open access

  • Here is a layout of some pros and cons of leaving your blog open to the public, that should be considered before you create your blog space:

Pros of open access blogs

Cons to open access blogs

  • Open access means students have access to the education you are inspiring any time any place

  • When students are the ones doing the writing, they are driven to present their work publicly and make it something they are proud of

  • You can post items for class projects on the blog, which presents materials they need in an easy and open fashion

  • You add to education for the world at large, which can include helpful feedback

  • You advertise your school and community

  • Students can add their blog entries into their own applications for scholarships or universities; or it can be a talking point for references you want to write for them.

  • The work remains for years, without having to re-post and can be edited and modified as needed

  • You make your subject area cool!

  • Student privacy. Students usually must sign waiver with their school board if they allow public display of their children.  It can sometimes be time consuming to find out who has or has not signed such waivers so you may want to send out permission forms specific to a class if you will make use of their names or images

  • You are openly sharing your material and ideas, which not all educators are comfortable with.  Anything you share on the blog is open to the world, and if your blog space is free, so is the material you have presented and allowed available for download.

  • Since it is open to the public, as editor you must take more care to assure student work is not plagiarized.

  • Putting up a blog can be seen as work that is above and beyond what is necessary in the classroom or in other words “extra work”

 

 

Creating a blog space

Because wordpress is free, this will be further explained.  There are other options for creating blogs, but in popularity and utility wordpress is used a great deal.  Squarespace has made their site building extremely easy to use, but there is a cost involved, and wordpress improves their ease of use with every passing year, requiring little or no knowledge of html to create pages with their software.


Step by step instructions on how to set up a wordpress account are readily available online.   Wordpress itself publishes a page with step by step instructions called wpbeginnner (Editorial Staff, 2017). There are also videos available to walk you through the procedure step by step such as videos (Websitewizard.tv, 2014)


Relate your url with the topics you are aiming for.  You can change urls that are all related such as [school name]chemistry.wordpress.com  and [school name]physics.wordpress.com.

To create a squrespace blog, follow the steps in this editorial lesson (Editorial Staff, 2014):

 

Utilizing an existing blog:

There are many education sites where students can continue to contribute to, which as educators we can still grade and utilize and refer to.  One such blog is called Enterprise in Space Academy, which has a compilation of educational sources.  If teachers and students would like to contribute, they can sign in, and either contribute to forums or choose to contribute an article on a myriad of topics in science and the arts.  The idea of enterprise in space is to globally share and improve education and a number of educators and students have contributed topics. The National Space Society’s Enterprise In Space (EIS) is a NewSpace education program dedicated to providing STEAM education to all through the massive open online EIS Academy and with the help of an artificial intelligence tutor named Ali. The program's first Academy-wide project is the design, launch, and retrieval of a 3D-printed spacecraft carrying 100+ active and passive experiments from K-postgrad student teams from all around the world.   Eventually, this will all relate to microgravity experiment development, but in doing so, some students may lack in math, and courses are available, or art or a range of science topics.  (Thurber, et al., 2015).  A more detailed description of EIS education can be found here.

A sample of the variety of courses:

 

 

Creating Subject Divisions (pages vs. posts)

Every time you set up a new stream of topics, set up a new blog post.

As you add more content to your blog, you can add posts, or create pages that you can hyperlink in.  Choose to add Blog Posts first and site pages later.  When you create pages, embed them in your blog posts, but your blog posts will show on your front page.

 

Pages will not show up in your front page.  You can always create pages and link them within the blog by creating the page, finding the url and adding the hyperlink to images or words that your readers can click through

 

 

 

 

 

hyperlink.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Displaying Class artwork interactively

If you are displaying work of an entire class, you can create a table and add small images of each one.  You can then create a page, and hyperlink the images to the small images, so that viewers can then expand the individual images.   

 

I have created this with a wall periodic table.  On our classroom wall, we have a large periodic table on the wall.  As more elements are added, I take a small image, but require students to describe the element with referencing.  

On the front page of the blog you find this link:

 
When you click on the periodic table, it takes you to the interactive table:
 
 
 

When you then click on the elements that are present, you get the written report done by the student and a close up of their image. For example, here is a closer look at Helium:

 

It is a bit tedious at first, but this work of organization can also be assigned to a student as part of their communication or portfolio mark, since it does require a separate page for each individual image.  It is not, however, difficult; it is just a matter of putting in the time to organize the work.  Students and parents are extremely proud to find themselves part of this collaborative effort, not only on the wall, but in this public domain where their communication skills and knowledge are being displayed.  This drives them to a higher level of effort than a simple submitted assignment.

 
Some Big ideas in this project in Ontario Curriculum:  
  • Every element has predictable chemical and physical properties determined by its structure.  

  • Chemical reactions and their applications have significant implications for society and the environment.

How to embed images effectively.

Once you have created your blog, upload your image

 

inserting image.jpg

Making Web Page like pages without extensive coding

 

Instead of desgning an html file, convert student documents to images that you can insert into your blog.  If the document was designed on a powerpoint, simply save the pages as a *.jpg file.

 

More simply, you can take any image or document and convert it to an image using snipping tool:

 

Can Inquiry Projects be used with Blogs?

There are two strong examples of when deep inquiry were utilized in the exemplar wordpress blog:https://villanovachemistry.wordpress.com/

If an inquiry project is performed, the product of the project can be posted on the blog.  In the survival chemistry project and blog, which was written up in Chem13 News May 2017 issue:

 
Basically,  it’s a project where they must prove or disprove a choice of survival myths using chemistry in the wild such as “Help, I have nothing to drink except my own pee!”, which forces students to demonstrate distillation in the wild.  They first use assessment as learning in creating the rubric that they work from and their final products are displayed on the blog.
 

 

Some Big ideas in this project in Ontario Curriculum:  
  • Oxidation and reduction are paired chemical reactions in which electrons are transferred from one substance to another in a predictable way. (Many of the reaction scenarios)

  • The control and applications of oxidation and reduction reactions have significant implications for industry, health and safety, and the environment

  • Energy changes and rates of chemical reactions can be described quantitatively.

  • Efficiency of chemical reactions can be improved by applying optimal conditions. (almost all projects include this)

  • Technologies that transform energy can have societal and environmental costs and benefits. (e.g. exploring biofuels, creating other forms of energy)

  • Organic compounds have predictable chemical and physical properties determined by their respective structures.

  • Organic chemical reactions and their applications have significant implications for society, human health, and the environment.

  • The nature of the attractive forces that exist between particles in a substance determines the properties and limits the uses of that substance.

  • Technological devices that are based on the principles of atomic and molecular structures can have societal benefits and costs.

  • 2. The blog can be used as a part of the inquiry learning.  In this polymer blog, students are assigned various polymers and told they must explain this polymer to city council of a fictitious city termed Carbonville.  The map of carbonville is on the blog.  They must present the pros and cons, where the proposed site would be and create one page, which then is entered and hyperlinked into the blog.  Once this is done, in the last phase of the project, breakout groups are formed and assigned to look at different polymers and vote on which polymer they would choose unanimously to build of the 4 DIFFERENT polymers they have been assigned.

 

 

Some Big ideas in this project in Ontario Curriculum:  
  • Organic compounds have predictable chemical and physical properties determined by their respective structures.

  • Organic chemical reactions and their applications have significant implications for society, human health, and the environment.

Materials for these projects:

Materials for the blog really more project dependent. Using a free site like wordpress, the only things needed are computer and internet access, and some basic programs to modify images such as adobe, powerpoint, word or even paint should be used to make modifications.

 

Assessment strategy (for, as, of learning, rubrics (strands), peer evaluation sheets, other)

Assessment for learning:   Through a blog, you can easily embed quizzes that students are required to do.  For example, if you create a quiz on survey monkey, the hyperlink for the quiz can be added to your page.   You can also assign reading or parts of the blog which you will test with in the classroom when you are all together in the many innovative methods teachers use for assessment for learning such as games, throwing a ball around for key words, kahoot gameplays, puzzles or an in class quiz based on their reading.  When work is assigned, in essence this is a flipped learning situation.  

Assessment as learning:   Peer reviews can be used for the many projects used on the blogs.  In addition, students creating their own criteria before a final assessment can be formed.  For this project: (Monir, 2016) students were required to prepare individual rubrics within their groups early in the planning process.  This Rubric is an example of student created rubric.


Assessment of Learning:  Student blogs are an excellent way to mark for communication with rubrics.  A rubric for work such as this Rubric for demonstrations is one method to assess.

 

Next Steps/Extensions/Accommodations/Other Topics for this Tech Tool:

You can use moodle tools to create a large site like that created in EIS Academy.

Other drag and drop web sites similar to squarespace are popping up. An example of a biology university course utilizing squarespace here.

You can use e-commerce to sell products that students need or may need throughout the year for a convenient space.  

Include other possible applications.

In addition, accomodations can be incorporated in the blog space with either links to definitions of words or a linked page with pictures of many of the words used in the subject area.  

 

Additional Resources:
References
 
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