Today was a big day for the Tech Cafe. I was talking with our Technology Team at school and we decided that we really weren't engaging enough primary teachers (Kindergarten - 3rd Grade), so we decided to have 2 separate Tech Café's
today. The other LPS Tech Mentor in the building, Chavis, lead a Café in his room for Kindergarten - 2nd grade teachers and I led a conversation for 3-5th grade teachers. We decided that the needs of the grade levels were different and wanted to ensure that we are providing support for everyone. Even though we advertised the Café's with grade levels in mind, anyone was invited to attend either Café based on their interest.
Teachers in k-2 did not work in one-to-one classrooms, so their capabilities were very different. That conversation focused mostly on what teachers can do to engage students through technology with less devices. We shared ideas related to iPad apps, video newsletter creation, ways to partner kids around a laptop cart. I heard that conversation went really well and had good attendance.
In my room, we spent time talking about student blogs and symballoo. I understand that the two topics are very broad and not related, but the purpose of the Tech Café is to provide support based on teacher interest and requests. I'm going to summarize our conversations below in to separate sections.
Symbaloo is easy to create and very easy to manage/update. Here are the ideas I shared with teachers regarding creating/maintaining a class Symabloo:
- If the Symbaloo is going to serve as the place for all students to access links from, have them create a shortcut to Symbaloo on their tablets OR program it to be one of the tabs that opens on their Chromebooks.
- Color code the tiles by subject - or if you have a different Symbaloo for each class/subject color code based on topics.
- Consider adding the Chrome extension for Symbaloo which allows teachers to visit websites and adding the site to the class Symbaloo without opening up the Symbaloo every time. You can access that extension here.
That's pretty much it. The number one thing to keep in mind when setting up a one-to-one classroom is to let students know the place they will always access links for class from. You don't want to waste time every other day explaining where to go to get a link for a lesson.
Student Blogging via Kid Blog
- Dedicate a significant amount of time upfront teaching about blogging, safety, and what would be appropriate to blog about.
- Before working on KidBlog (or whatever online forum you use), have kids practice blogging on paper, and then do a commenting mini lesson where students post comments using notecards.
- Work blogging into the regular class routine: blog in all subject areas: math, science, social studies, reading and writing!
- "Blogging Circles:" Put students in groups of 5 or 6. These circles will always be required to comment to each other in their circle anytime any of them submit a blog post. Anyone can comment to anyone's post, but this ensures that every student receives some sort of comment.
- Allow students to blog about topics of their own choice in addition to academic topics. This will help them find more ownership in the process.
You can take a look at my class' blog here.