Sunday, 28 May 2017

Student blogging: getting kids hyped about their global audience

I have been thinking about ways to encourage and motivate my learners to share their learning on their blogs.  This is something that is expected in Manaiakalani, however I feel that my learners are not really interested in it.  We have learnt about what to include in a blog post as well as writing blog comments. Now I have turned my focus on helping my learners to want to share their learning on their blogs (rather than me telling them).

Click here to view the Google Drawing that was used for this lesson

The motivator

A student at another Manaiakalani school received a comment from a famous author.
Before we started looking at our blog statistics we discussed the idea of a 'global audience'.  To motivate my learners, I shared with them a blog post from an ex-student from another school.  In her blog, she wrote about a recipe that was inspired from a book she had read. The author actually found her blog post and commented on it! This was a powerful way to illustrate that sharing your learning online can be exciting and gives you a global audience. We also discussed the importance of sharing enough detail in your blog post and using labels, as this helps people to discover posts.

Looking at our stats

First, we all had a look at our statistics. I had my own blogger dashboard up on the SMART board, and asked students to figure out where they could find out how many blog views they have. I was surprised with how pleased they were with how many views they had. We discussed that the more we shared, the more views we would get, as well as reiterating the importance of quality blog posts with labels.

Next, I asked them to see if they could figure out where to find out which countries the viewers were from.  After some investigating, learners hopped onto the Audience section and were surprised with the results. The students exclaimed over the countries. Some had visitors from more than 6 different countries.

Infographic time

Now that the learners were feeling motivated and proud of their blog statistics, it was time to share it on their blog. I decided to introduce the class to creating Infographics.  When we learnt about Infographics in the MDTA, I had created one about my global audience (read about it here). I used my infographic as a model of how they could present their statistics. My learners loved the look of the infographic and were eager to begin creating their own.  We used Canva, as I have found it to be easy to use and very effective. I also like how you can upload your own images for free on Canva, which is something that you can't do on other infographic creators.

Angel's blog post

Sione's infographic

Summing it up

I was a little nervous to introduce a new way to create a DLO, however this was the perfect opportunity.  The students loved using Canva, and some grasped the concept of using less text and symbols better than others.  This is something I can continue to work on. The class was really engaged in this lesson and they loved seeing their statistics. I do think they felt pretty empowered and motivated. I am hoping this will motivate them to want to share their learning (instead of me always telling them to). Stay tuned!

I also decided to create an updated infographic about my global audience, enjoy!

Using YouTube & Google Docs to Teach Recount Writing

For writing this term, our main focus is on Recounts.  I am trying to make my lessons more engaging and meaningful for my learners.  After using YouTube for poetry & learning about acceptance, I decided to use videos as inspiration for recount writing.

We have covered the language features used in recounts and we have learnt the acronym TREE to remember the structure of a recount. So this week we have narrowed our focus to the first paragraph of a recount - the 'Reveal' paragraph.

I chose to break my teaching down like this as I have found that the majority of my class struggles with writing. My thinking is that breaking down a recount into more manageable chunks will allow them to have a deeper understanding of each section. I also choose to break up my class into two groups.   This is because I want to make sure everyone is participating in the sessions.  Oftentimes, certain learners will share and contribute while others will remain quiet.

This week we used Google Docs and YouTube to learn more about the 'Reveal' Paragraph.  To start with we discussed the key components of a reveal paragraph - a hook to grab the reader's attention and the 5ws. Then we had a go at identifying the Ws and the hook in an exemplar paragraph.

First up, a vlog!

click here go to group 1's collaborative Google Doc
Then, we turned to the interesting bit! We used Google Docs as an online form of a modelling book.  Each student had their Chromebook and editing rights.  First we had a go at writing a reveal paragraph as a class.  I chose to use a vlog about her first bungy jumping experience.  We watched the first minute and discussed what we saw. We brainstormed as many answers to the 5ws as we could.  Then, we worked together to write our paragraph. Lastly, we added our 'hook'. After sharing each other's 'hooks' we combined the best ones and added to the beginning of our paragraph.

click here go to group 2's collaborative Google Doc

The Present: pair paragraphs

Next the students worked in pairs to write another 'Reveal' paragraph. I chose to use The Present. I felt that the students would find it easier to write about The Present because we have already used The Present to learn about acceptance (& more). Since we were only focussing on a 'Reveal' paragraph, we only used the first 30 seconds. Again, the pairs brainstormed 5ws and then began writing their paragraphs. I decided to get my students to choose the Ws that they felt was important with setting the scene.  I have found that sometimes recounts can get a little boring, as there is too much focus on addressing all the Ws (ie On the 21st of June on a cold afternoon, I was playing PlayStation... boring!). Instead, we chose fewer Ws and also elaborated on some of  ideas.

Going it alone

Lastly, students had a go at writing their own Reveal paragraphs. I was able to get up to this with G1 but am planning on finishing this lesson with G2 next week.  I was pleased with the quality of the paragraphs.  Students were also adding in interesting hooks, which helped to grab the reader's attention.

Pair/individual follow up task

The follow up task was Revealing Paragraphs. This involved a number of steps.  First, students had to unpack a reveal paragraph by identifying the Ws. Next, they added in an interesting title.  Lastly they found ways to improve the paragraphs by making them more interesting by adding in a hook and some extra description.

Summing it up

Overall I am pleased with how this went.  Both groups were able to create some interesting reveal paragraphs.  I think using YouTube really helped, especially with my lower writers. It was also important that the students planned out the Ws before writing their paragraphs.

Using Google Docs was useful as all students could collaborate on the same document during our guided writing session.  I had the Doc projected up on the SMART board, so was able to discuss the paragraphs as well as address any errors. It will also be something that we will be able to return to, unlike writing on whiteboards that will disappear after the lesson.

I did notice that my class struggles with correctly using dialogue.  I will work on this next week before I continue onto teaching the 'Events' section of a recount.

Wherever possible, I will definitely be using Google Docs as a form of modelling books as well as using YouTube to help students in writing.

Monday, 1 May 2017

Life Lessons with Short Films & Nearpod

Last term I did an awesome lesson which used two of my favourite apps - Youtube and Nearpod.  As the term was coming to an end, I felt that my students needed to be reminded of the importance of acceptance, kindness, non-judgement and tolerance.  I was talking to one of my workmates, not sure of what to do on a Friday. She said that she often used YouTube as a starting point for writing.  She uses CGI short film animations.  This got me thinking about how I could use film to help teach some concepts that I felt my learners were forgetting.  Then I remembered The Present.

The Clip

The Present is a very powerful clip that my kids loved! We watched it twice before beginning our Nearpod. I chose to let it run through without stopping or asking questions because I wanted them to take in the film as a whole.


My first activity on Nearpod was using 'Collaborate' where students had to retell the most important bits of the film.  I was impressed by the level of engagement.  As always, I use their ideas as a starting point for further discussion/elaboration.


The next activity was an 'Open Ended Question'. This was an inference question, which asked students to think about why the mum wanted to give his son a present. The next activity was a 'Collaborate' asking Why did the boy get so angry when he noticed what was wrong with the dog? The students were able to come up with some insightful ideas for both questions.


Next, students shared their opinions on the boys reaction to dog, and whether it was right or wrong.

Author's Purpose

Lastly, students shared their ideas about what the message was that the author/creator was trying to tell their audience.

Creating a DLO

After all the discussion that was drawn from the Nearpod activity, my learners created DLOs to share their learning.  I let them create anything they wanted. They created Comics, Google Drawings, wrote poems, recounts and wrote explanation pieces.

Summing it up

Overall I was pretty pleased with how this lesson went.  My learners were really engaged and it created a great opportunity to discuss being grateful, kind and non-judgemental. They loved the film and Nearpod helped them to feel eager to share their ideas with the class.  Creating a DLO was a great way for me to see what they took away from the lesson. It was cool to see the broad range of DLOs created.