Tag Archives: blogging

Strengthening the Home-School Connection with Classroom Website

Communication is Key 

As teachers, we know it is beneficial to our students to have frequent, open communication with families.  We also know that this is time consuming (but well worth the effort).  An effective classroom website is a great way to help stay connected with families.

“So, What is the Best Way to Create a Classroom Website?”

This was a question that I was grappling with toward the end of summer break, while my boyfriend and I were vacationing in Savannah (it really is lovely there).  During our downtime, I was researching my options.  In the past, I had used Edmodo, however, I found that many parents didn’t take the time to set up accounts.  We also have a school Facebook page, so I post their frequently, and Edmodo just seemed a bit redundant.  Last year I tried out Kidblog  (see my post here) in addition to Edmodo, as a platform for displaying student work.  I found that Kidblog was a easy way to embed student work, but in 1st grade, we honestly aren’t going to blog in a traditional sense so having a blog of each individual kid seemed a bit unnecessary.

Assessing My Website Needs

As teachers, it is easy to keep doing the same things every year out of habit, but the Virgo in me always pushes me to do things better!  I wasn’t satisfied with my classroom website, and I was determined to find a platform that would suit my needs. So, I sat down and thought about what I was looking for in a platform, and I came up with this list.

  • User Friendly- I wanted something that would be easy for me to use, because at the end of the day, I don’t have a lot of free time!
  • Ability to Embed- A lot of the technology projects I implement with my students give you embed code, so I wanted to be able to embed student work directly into my website.
  • Privacy- My students privacy is extremely important to me, so that’s why in the past I leaned towards using platforms that required user sign in (Edmodo & Kidblog), however, I discovered this was a deterrent to the parents.
  • Easy to Access- I wanted the parents to be able to visit the website without having to log in.
  • Organized- In the past using Edmodo and Kidblog, things got disorganized.  It wasn’t easy to find what you were looking forward, as things get posted in chronological order.  I wanted something that looked more like a traditional website, with tabs.
  • Attractive- It obviously goes without saying, but I wanted it to be pretty!

So, What Did I Decide?

I began looking into Google Sites, but honestly found their templates a bit confusing (this is coming from someone who considers herself technology savvy enough to author a technology focused blog).  Then it dawned on me, WordPress!  I use WordPress for this handy dandy blog, so I was already familiar with the platform (user friendly, check!)  I honestly had it up and running in an hour!  You can obviously embed in WordPress (check!) It is easy to access because parents just have to visit the URL, https://missconroy1stgradeclass.wordpress.com/, or they can subscribe to my posts and they are delivered to their email!  (easy to access,  check!)  I also made a refrigerator magnet with a QR code (see below) that parents could keep around and scan to visit the website.  What is great about WordPress is that it allows you to set privacy on a post by post basis.  So I am able to password protect my posts that have student photographs or work, and I only give the passwords to parents (privacy, check!)  Wordpress had really cute education templates, so I think the website is attractive (check!) I also was able to make categories, so my posts about certain topics would show up under tabs, making the website easy to navigate and organized (check!)Classroom Website

Final Thoughts

I highly recommend using Word Press for your classroom website.  Please let me know if you have any questions or need help setting one up!  I am very pleased with the end result, and another added bonus is that Word Press gives you analytics, so you can see if parents are actually accessing your classroom website, or not!

#RockBottom

THUD!

I haven’t tweeted or written a blog post since April.  I want to apologize for my absence to all of my followers, and my PLN, particularly everyone in my @EDTechTLC and  the #blogamonth group.  When I started this blog, my goal was to write a post weekly, and it seems I can’t even post once a month! I won’t go into great detail about why I couldn’t keep up, but I will say  I had a particularly challenging school year, and I got stuck in survival mode.  Teaching is tough stuff!

Just Keep Digging

Have you ever heard of the saying, “Just when you think you’ve hit rock bottom, someone goes and throws you a shovel and tells you to keep digging”?  There were many times this school year when I thought I hit rock bottom.  Below I have compiled a list of tweets from some of my funny/sad/desperate moments that occurred during the school year.  Since I was too busy to tweet these gems at the time they were happening, I present to you all of my #rockbottom moments in 140 characters or less; I hope you appreciate my witty take on the ugly reality of being a teacher.   (For anyone interested in becoming a teacher, you might want to read over these well so you know what you are getting yourself into, this could be you in 8 years!)

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A Very Merry Unconference #EDCampPGH

https://sites.google.com/a/msbordner.com/edcamppgh/_/rsrc/1373337990743/config/customLogo.gif?revision=3

A Bit of Background

I first heard of EdCamp from a fellow blogger, Darin Johnston @AnIowaTeacher, in his blog post My #edcampMadWI Expereince.  His blog post had piqued my interest, and I recently had been to another unconference, Pod Camp Pittsburgh, #pcpgh8, with my tech-savvy boyfriend (who is the brains behind this blog operation).  We learned a lot at Pod Camp about blogging, search engine optimization and social media, so I figured trying a education-focused unconference would be a great way to learn more about current trends in education and connect with other educators.

So You Might be Wondering, “What is an “Unconference”?”

Yesterday, I attended the unconfence, EdCamp PGH, #edcamppgh, which is kind of like a professional development conference, except its not!  What makes EdCamp different than a conferences is that class offerings and schedule are completely determined by the participants.  At the start of the day participants jot topics they want to learn more about on sticky notes and post stick them on a piece of chart paper.  Then there is another chart with a table, where the session times are listed down the side and the available rooms are listed across the top. If someone feels they are confident in moderating the discussion they move the topic from the first chart and place it in a time slot and a room.  From there the organizers put the schedule up on the website, so participants can access it from our lap tops, tablets and smart phones.

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Introducing Students to Story Elements through Comics

Lesson Background

We read a delightful story titled Space Pup, about a super hero dog who rescues a bus that is stuck in the mud. I thought it would be fun to challenge students to extend the story by creating their own Space Pup adventure. I thought I could introduce my students to story elements by having them create a comic strip. Continue reading

Hats & Caps Number Sentences

Hats & Caps Number Sentence Example

Lesson Background

In math we have been working on understanding addition concepts. In reading we read the story The Hat. In this story Pam’s hat blows away and her friend Dan retrieves it for her. This week we cover the short a vowel sound, so in addition to the word “hat” students also had the word “cap” on their spelling list.
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Setting up Kid-Friendly Blogs with Kidblog.org

kidblog

We are all familiar with the writing process. We brainstorm. We draft, revise and edit. Then, we publish. Publishing writing in school usually consists of hanging the writing in the hallway, perhaps with a cute craft attached. Students see the projects as they move up and down the hallways, but really, who gets the time to enjoy and appreciate student work in the hallway?
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