Featured Blog of the Week: Blogging in the Classroom

This week’s featured blogger is Kate Chan who, as a teacher, uses BlogPad Pro with her students to support her foreign language teaching.

Tell us about your blog

Actually, I have two blogs.  One – my personal blog – is called GlutenFreeGobsmacked.com.  I blog randomly with gluten free recipes after being diagnosed with Celiac Disease in 2000.

The other blogs I write relate to my profession.  One is simply a website (powered by wordpress.org) to help my students.  TheMaxFacts.com (Named after our old dog, Max) has primarily been a place where I can post homework, supporting links, parent communication, etc for my classes.  I began the site a long time ago – but it’s most recent “blog” format is the easiest for me to update and maintain.  After all, I’m not a computer teacher/techie – but I love the ease of communicating with my students and their families this way.

I recently began (although it’s very random when I get a chance to post) a blog that I have been using to talk about my development and learning as a new classroom set of iPads instructor.  It’s really exciting – and sometimes exhausting! – and I found that sharing out has helped me connect with other educators who are doing interesting things in their classrooms as well.  (My blog is still complete in its infancy.  I don’t know where it will take me, but if you are curious, it can be found here:  profachan.wordpress.com)

blogging in schools

How much of your blogging do you do on your iPad?

I truly sought out a blogging platform for the iPad for my students.  I’m a foreign language instructor, I wanted to find a way for my students to share out as they began their language development.  Once I became a recipient of a classroom set of iPads, I needed to find an app that would support multiple users, multiple wordpress.com blogs, offline use (as we can lose internet at the drop of a hat).

I am slowly converting myself to blogging via iPad.  I have to find a way to be more efficient with images/media as many are on my laptop.  However, that being said, I love the ability to upload images via BlogPad Pro and have the app help me resize, etc.  Super Slick. My goal is to be blogging at least 3 times each week from my iPad in class to save myself time rather than blogging from a laptop or desktop after school/at night.

My students blog at least once a week. (160 students x 1 a week = just in my classes alone!) It was so successful last semester (or first trial run) that I have brought two more colleagues into the loop.  One will begin this fall with blogs for her classes and the other will roll out blogging for more of her students.  Having students write and post things suddenly brought about more focus and drive.  Students weren’t just repeating random silly sentences to bury in the middle of the papers in hopes that my midnight grading stupors would miss it.  Their work really developed over the course of our online blogging.  I will be doing it again next year and have created some benchmarks to help students see their growth through blogging as well.

blogging in schools

How many blogs do you have?

I mentioned mine earlier.  My students have created about 160 wordpress blogs.  My colleague began with 70 of her students last Spring and will add an additional 100 this year to the fold.  I will have another 135 new students this year (overlap of about 30 from last year’s classes).  The third colleague will blog once a week with her group of 150 as well.

That’s a lot of blogging!

blogging in schools

Which features within BlogPad Pro do you use the most?

Being able to import images and instantly resize/etc is a HUGE luxury.  Students have sometimes not finished their blog posts before class is over but they always get their images uploaded.  The few who have not finished with the images are at a complete loss for how to manage that side of blogging from home.  It’s just so simple with BlogPad Pro.  I just can’t say this enough about this tool for us.

In addition, being able to blog while offline, update/sync to live, format posts, log in/out with various users/usernames are all critical pieces that had us choose BlogPad Pro.  As teachers who use/integrate technology we *know* there will be hurdles and we are not going to sacrifice our curriculum for the “bling” of a techie-shiny thing.  Not wasting time on that stuff while trying to get students to focus on the task at hand (our content exploration/study) was essential.  These tools (offline blogging, etc) allowed our students to worry about their content first.  Just as good bloggers should.

There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that without such amazing support and communication I would wonder if I’d lost my mind trying to blog with my students.  Blogging individually and facilitating 160 + students (and colleagues/their classes) with blogging is a totally different world than just my own little world of GlutenFreeGobsmacked.com   It’s exciting to see kids “go public” with their skills (no matter what level they are with their language development) and “share out”.  It’s meeting them where they are.  Dino and Mary allowed and supported that to happen with grace, humor and amazing selflessness.

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http://www.GlutenFreeGobsmacked.com

If you use BlogPad Pro and would be interested in being featured please get in touch, we’d love to hear from you!

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