Persuasive Blog Posts: My Twins Show How It’s Done

Twins Trampoline Post Pic

As my students (and my own children) will attest, I spend a lot of time telling them to apply the skills and strategies they learn in school to the things they are passionate about at home in the real world. I implore them to actively create content using the learning strategies and technology tools introduced in class as opposed to passively consuming content as so many of their peers do for hours every day after school. For example, I encourage them to make their own video games instead of playing someone else’s games after school every day. I suggest that they film their own How-To Videos and post them on YouTube just like the ones that are searched for and watched by millions of their peers. I often ask them questions like, “Do you have a strong opinion about this topic? Then write a blog post about it.”

There are numerous ways to create and share in today’s tech-obsessed world, and as teachers (and parents), I believe we must model and demonstrate how this is done. Our students need to see how easy it is to create and share content with an authentic audience. The power to do this is literally in the palms of their hands.

While many of my students get a glazed look on their faces as I rant about the benefits of actively creating versus passively consuming content, I am aware that I am making sense to at least some of them. I’m proud to report that my twins, Ava and Emma, are in the latter group. They surprised me last weekend when they wrote a blog post using the writing skills and strategies they learned in school to persuade me to purchase a trampoline. Ava and Emma wrote this persuasive post on an iPhone using Notes, then copied and pasted it into Kidblog (a blogging platform that I use with my 6th graders). Ava explained that they chose to post it on the blog because they knew that as a “tech guy,” I loved the platform and they wanted to impress me. And they were right because I was blown away!

They accomplished so much of what I hope my students will do:

  • They wrote for a purpose, authentically. The idea came from them. It wasn’t another artificial teacher-generated assignment.
  • This is an excellent example of real world application of knowledge (writing skills and technology tools).
  • It’s content creation in it’s purest form, and it made a big impact on their audience (me).
  • They had an audience (me) in mind, and a goal had been set and effectively executed.
  • They formulated a persuasive essay using the writing strategies they’ve learned at school and selected the digital platform by which to share it.

Click the image below to read Ava and Emma’s persuasive blog post.

Screenshot 2017-06-04 14.52.46

Click the image below to read their thank you letter.

Screenshot 2017-07-05 17.05.56

Flipgrid for Literature Circles? Yes, Please!

Screenshot 2017-05-27 06.16.29

Flipgrid is a video discussion community that helps teachers amplify student voice inside (and outside) their classrooms. And it’s perfect for Literature Circles. This secure digital platform allows students to use video as a tool to respond to and connect with literature in a collaborative and secure environment.

Screenshot 2017-06-24 13.23.12

Teachers (or their students) can create “grids” for each Literature Circle book group and easily share the links in Google Classroom or on a class website. A join code is generated by the application and can be customized for each book group.

Screenshot 2017-05-27 06.11.06

Students can then submit video responses to chapters read and engage in virtual Literature Circle book discussions from anywhere they are, at anytime they choose. This component is especially powerful for busy middle and high school students!

Screenshot 2017-05-29 22.54.42

Students can view each other’s videos then “like” and respond to them; all within the secure confines of the Flipgrid platform. As you can see, they absolutely LOVE it!

Screenshot 2017-05-27 06.22.34

Teachers can monitor all student activity from the Flipgrid dashboard. Here, video responses can be assessed and feedback can be given to individual students or the entire group.

Screenshot 2017-05-27 06.24.57

Flipgrid is an excellent tool to add to your repertoire of Literature Circle tools. I highly recommend it! In fact, it is one of the tech tools I’ll be featuring in my sold out ISTE 2017 session,

Literature Circles 2.0: Technology-Infused Book Clubs in the Digital Age

on June 27th in San Antonio, Texas.

iste_badge_presenter_2017

Would you like to try Flipgrid Classroom for free this summer? If so, use the following code for an upgrade that is good until September 30:

LEEARAOZ

Click the image below to sign up for Flipgrid Classroom TODAY!

topLogo

P.S. Flipgrid is also an excellent tool for collecting and sharing Genius Hour reflections.

Screenshot 2017-06-11 07.38.32

 

 

 

Flocabulary: Engage Your Students Like Never Before

Blogger Image - PEMDAS

In my role as an instructional coach and technology integrationist, I spend a lot of time in many of the classrooms in my school district.

As I walked down the hallways of the beautiful Broadway Campus of Lawrence Public Schools last week, I heard hip-hop music emanating from the classrooms. And when I peeked into these classrooms to investigate further, I witnessed the following:

6th graders joining in a sing-along about Point of View in literature.

5th graders rapping about Order of Operations in mathematics.

4th graders enthusiastically rapping about food chains in science.

3rd graders bopping to the beat of multiplication facts 0-12.

7th graders dancing to a Current Events video, “The Week in Rap”.

What if I told you there’s an amazing website with a plethora of hip-hop vocabulary videos that facilitates this engagement? What if I added that the videos are aligned to state standards and include supplementary activities like interactive lyric pages, quizzes and graphic organizers?

Welcome to the wonderful world of Flocabulary, a website/platform that is taking the K-12 education world by storm one classroom/hip-hop video at a time. This exciting web-based application blends the coolness of rap with the rigor of vocabulary development. Students are highly engaged and motivated as they view and participate/interact with this awesome program.

Video Topics include:

SAT Vocabulary Review

Test-Taking Vocabulary Words for grades 3-8

Essay writing strategies

Research tips and tricks

Digital Citizenship

Social and Emotional Learning

Financial Literacy

Coding

The material is presented in a way that kids today can relate to. The videos are funny and the songs are catchy. Your students may not even realize they are learning as they watch these amazing videos. Try it out today by clicking the link below for a free 75-day trial.

Free 75-day trial

Blogger Image - Biggie

App Smashing For Educators: Leveraging Tools to Maximize Communication

My latest guest blog post on ImagineEasy.com

app-smashing-1138x492

Parent-teacher communication has always been a cornerstone for success in education.

For decades, schools have attempted to build and maintain this crucial bridge to lasting learning. Research shows that the stronger the connection between home and school, the greater the academic achievement can be for students.

Click here to continue reading.

CDxN5eJWgAE5ZFH.png-large

 

 

 

Snow Day/Winter Recess Learning – Five Interactive Presidents’ Day Activities

Remind Graphic

This winter I used Remind to send parents and students notifications of extra-credit learning tasks I had posted on my class blog. I encouraged students to continue learning when school was not in session. The list below is just one example of these interactive activities.

1.  Abraham Lincoln’s Crossroads – For Advanced Middle School and High School Students

bkg_header

Abraham Lincoln’s Crossroads is an educational game based on the traveling exhibition Lincoln: The Constitution & the Civil War, which debuted at the National Constitution Center in June 2005.

via Abraham Lincoln’s Crossroads.

2.  Kids Portrait – George Washington: A National Treasure – For Elementary Students

kids1

via Kids Portrait – George Washington: A National Treasure.

3. Presidents’ Day Exclusive Videos from History.com – For all students

Since my students are off this week, I embedded this video on my class blog with a short response writing task. I then sent a Remind notification to parents informing them of this extra-credit opportunity.

via History.com Presidents’ Day Videos

4. PBS KIDS GO! WayBack – Presidents: The Secret History – For all students

main

via PBS Kids

5. Presidential Trivia  – For all students

factMonsterhome

Presidents’ Day Quiz for Beginners

President’s Day Quiz for Experts

First Ladies Quiz

via Fact Monster