Online sticky note services like Scrumblr are useful for brainstorming sessions in which students can quickly share a bunch of ideas with each other. The anonymous online format enables shy students to share their ideas without fear of criticism from other group members.
Thought Boxes is a task management service with a hint of mind mapping in its user interface. At its most basic Thought Boxes is a place to create to-do lists. You can organize your to-do lists into groups that Thought Boxes refers to as "trains." Your lists can include basic text notes as well as links to other sites. The "trains" you create in Thought Boxes are basically categories for your to-do lists. For example, in the screenshot below you will see that I created a train for tasks related to my teaching responsibilities.
What it is: Class Blogs is a fabulous new way for you to easily create and manage FREE classroom blogs! What makes Class Blogs so wonderful are all the extras that are built in. For example, with Class Blogs you can create a virtual classroom space. With just a few simple steps, you can create an online meeting space for your students to learn and discuss in. Blogs can be used to post assignments; when you post an assignment to your teacher blog, students can submit the assignment and a pingback will be sent to your blog. Class Blogs even has features that utilize SMS so that you can send a text message to students and the ability to host lesson plans complete with supporting resources! Class blogs really offers more than just a blogging platform, it offers many Learning Management System (LMS) solutions making it a great all-in-one tool! Here are just a few of the ways you can use Class Blogs:
- Class Blogs – Teachers and students can create blogs to help facilitate classroom learning or the blog can be an extension of the classroom conversation.
- Learning Logs – Learning logs are sites created by teachers for the purpose of creating online assignments for students. Students can then answer the questions and submit the assignments once they are completed.
- Learning Management System (LMS) – Teachers can create a blog and use it as a learning management system. Teachers can post online courses and students can submit their assignments (through blog posts) for the course online as well. These assignments can be viewed by the instructor, the instructor can submit feedback, and the instructor can grade the student’s assignment online. Both the teacher and his/her students must have blogs in order to create a successful LMS.
- Electronic Portfolio (E-Portfolio) – An e-portfolio is a valuable learning and assessment tool which includes but is not limited to a collection of resources and accomplishments that represent the individual. Moreover, it is the author’s personal reflection on the work included in the e-portfolio that creates a meaningful learning experience.
- Web Conferencing/Virtual Classroom – Teachers/professors have the ability to create meeting rooms or virtual classrooms from the backend of their site. You can upload your presentations, chat with students, public/private chat, webcam, and even share your desktop.
How to integrate Class Blogs into the classroom: Class Blogs has features that make it wonderfully useful for any classroom. Blogging gives your students a place to write where they have an authentic audience. An audience of one (the teacher) is SO 1995. To limit your students to that audience is a disservice. I find that when my students write in blog form, the enthusiasm to write increases, the richness of language increases, and the ideas are communicated clearly. Obviously that is a bit of a generalization, I have also had students who don’t want to post for an audience, it makes them nervous to reveal themselves to their classmates in that way. I let those students blog about topics they are “experts” on as they are building confidence in their learning process. Students can blog to reflect on learning; write creatively; write as if they were a historical character, famous inventor, or a favorite literary figure; to chronicle learning (e-portfolio style); or to invite others on a journey of inquiry with them.
Using this type of social media in the classroom is important. It helps students learn digital citizenship, Internet safety, and netiquette in an authentic environment that goes beyond the rules and actually lets them practice it.
The additional features of Class Blog make it the perfect place to organize your classroom. Post assignments in Class Blogs as a learning log, as students respond, your original post will get a pingback making it easy to track students progress. Class Blog also makes it easy to extend learning beyond the four walls of your classroom using the virtual classroom features. Create meeting rooms to extend classroom discussions, offer additional learning support, or as a place to prepare students for learning. Class Blogs makes it easy to include podcasts, videos, webcams, private chat areas, desktop sharing in your virtual classroom.
Tips: Class Blogs does not have an age requirement, this means that it is available to K-12 (and beyond) education. Registration does require an email address. If your students do not have email addresses, you can create accounts on their behalf. With Class Blogs you can create unlimited class and student blogs, unlimited free classes/courses, and unlimited free virtual classrooms.