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YoungZine - Deepa Gopal

Grades
3 to 10
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Youngzine is news and more for the young. Enjoy the different articles, comics, videos, etc. without signing up, or you can sign up to have full access to everything ...more
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Youngzine is news and more for the young. Enjoy the different articles, comics, videos, etc. without signing up, or you can sign up to have full access to everything on this safe site, including teacher tools. General subjects include World News, Science & Technology, Our Earth, Society & Arts. For each class, teachers get a blog where they can post assignments and have students respond. Teachers can register their class for free. You can include specific articles and quizzes for each assignment. Comments are moderated to prevent inappropriate classroom content.

For each of your classes, you see a full report of each student's activities by going to your classroom tab. Youngzine also provides a safe "blog" environment for classrooms - a constructive, creative, and controlled way for teachers to create classroom assignments and foster discussions about current events! The blog can be completely private so outsiders cannot see student comments. Teachers control these settings.

tag(s): blogs (80), communities (40), news (258), service projects (22), summarizing (16)

In the Classroom

Have your students make comments on articles (public comments), take quizzes, rate articles, and participate in contests. You can create custom assignments and have students respond and discuss, right on Youngzine! This is a great way to assess student's understanding and create an arena for a discussion/debate between class students. Or, ask your students to summarize an article, as a way to encourage them to think and write.

There is also a tab for "U Write." This section appears to allow students to write about issues in their community, or programs they've heard about to help a suffering communities. You might consider having your students look at the different articles and decide on a community to help. Have them vote on the community they would like to help by using Votesy, reviewed here.

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Tumblr - David Karp

Grades
9 to 12
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Use Tumblr as an easy set-up, easy to use microblogging and blogging platform. Tumblr offers many ways to get content into your blog. Choose the text type of content for ...more
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Use Tumblr as an easy set-up, easy to use microblogging and blogging platform. Tumblr offers many ways to get content into your blog. Choose the text type of content for a more traditional looking blog post. Also choose to share photos, audio, or video. Use the quote, link, or chat option to share quick portions of text. Add additional context information to your post. For example, with a photo, add a caption; or for a link, add a title, description, or link. Edit posts in the dashboard, and add the content type and additional elements. It is best to stay with the plain text editor for ease of use. Create posts by email and SMS as well. Other ways to post content are available through the dashboard. Add posts by installing a Tumblr bookmarklet to your browser window. Use Tumblr to follow others and see recent posts from those people. Change templates and even customize templates. Find those you follow and those who follow you on the right sidebar. The Radar in this sidebar brings in the latest information being posted on Tumblr. This tool can be minimized by clicking the Hide link but does exist and may have inappropriate content. Use the Mega editor to make changes to a lot of posts at the same time. Find the permalink to your post by hovering over the post. The top right corner "folds down," and clicking there provides you the permalink. Note: Make additional Tumblr blogs after you make your initial one (click the + icon in the dashboard.) This allows you the option of making the blog private by password-protecting the viewing of the blog.

tag(s): blogs (80), microblogging (32)

In the Classroom

Use for posts that have visual elements such as photography and art. The ease of adding images to a Tumblr blog make this a great tool for the medium. Use for Family and Consumer Science to create a cooking or entertaining blog. Create a blog showing images from experiments or learning about the world around them in Biology with posts about pond life. Focus on genetic traits and the differences that exist including photographs of past ancestors to show traits. Create posts about elements and take pictures of items or objects that are made of that element. Or show images of various chemical properties. Create a Tumblr blog page for a specific historical figure and create posts that the person would make highlighting accomplishments, people they meet, etc. Note: It is highly recommended that teachers not allow students to make their own Tumblr blog for class but instead make a blog for ALL students in the class to use. The teacher can manage (and monitor) the blog.

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Penzu: Write in Private - Alexander Mimran and Michael Lawlor

Grades
4 to 12
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Penzu offers a FREE service to write journals or diaries online with exceptional privacy options. As an added benefit, you can add images or your own artwork as illustrations. There...more
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Penzu offers a FREE service to write journals or diaries online with exceptional privacy options. As an added benefit, you can add images or your own artwork as illustrations. There is a very short demo video on the home page. On Penzu you can keep everything completely private or share selective posts by email or URL. Perhaps share selections on a class wiki page? Don't have a wiki? See the TeachersFirst Wiki Walk-Through for practical management and safety tips for a class wiki. Note: Premium service is available, but this review is for the free version.

tag(s): DAT device agnostic tool (176), homework (43), journals (23), writing (367)

In the Classroom

A class journaling program has limitless possibilities. Engage students in discussions using a topic from current events, current social issues, independent reading, literature, and more. Any class using a journal can use Penzu. For example, science lab write ups or the problem of the week in math. Penzu can even be used for homework. Just think, no more lugging heavy boxes full of notebooks around! In language arts have students journal daily and harvest from their musings and ideas to create a short story or a poem. They can even use Penzu to develop their brainstorms and rough draft. For social studies classes, students can write posts and ideas about famous people or daily life in a time period being studied, then create a "diary" for the famous person in Bookemon or a poster about daily life. For either of these ideas, once they are ready to present a final project have them use Bookemon, reviewed here, or Easel.ly, reviewed here, to share with their peers and others and possibly add other media. See more ideas for student blogging/journaling at TeachersFirst's Blogging Basics for the Classroom. Share journals with parents as appropriate by URL. Be sure to respect student privacy before sharing.

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Weebly - Weebly

Grades
2 to 12
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Weebly is an easy, free website creator with tons of features for you to choose from. The easy, "drag and drop" elements allow even the novice technology user to create ...more
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Weebly is an easy, free website creator with tons of features for you to choose from. The easy, "drag and drop" elements allow even the novice technology user to create their own website. Besides the basic "drag and drop" features for the title, text, text with a picture, etc., the free version allows you to use cool items: photo gallery, slide show, YouTube videos, Google Maps, an assignment form, and lots more. They promise that the free service will remain 100% feature packed.

tag(s): blogs (80), gamification (89), microblogging (32), social networking (102)

In the Classroom

If you plan to have students create their own web pages, under your account, no email is needed for them, and they will have a special log in page. You will have to enter each student's name, username and a password. What's nice about Weebly is they will print out a list for you to give to students with their log in information. Though you can make your site private, you want to be sure not to use student's real names. Use a code or acronym. Suggestion: You can use the first two letters of the students last name, the first three letters of their first name, and if you have multiple classes, have them put the class period or code after the last letter. This works well if you're going to be grading web pages, since most grade books are in alphabetical order by last name.

Possible uses are only limited by your imagination! Create your own Weebly website for parents and students where they can stay updated about what is happening in your classroom, where students can submit their assignments, contact information, and anything else you might want to put on your website. You can add up to 40 students on one free website, so students can use their pages for projects and assignments. There is a free blogging tool that you may want your students to use for writing assignments, reflection, or reading journals, just to name a few ideas. You can have everything you need on one Weebly website! Find more specific blog ideas in TeachersFirst's Blogging Basics ideas.

Try using Weebly for: "visual essays;" digital biodiversity logs (with digital pictures students take); online literary magazines; personal reflections in images and text; research project presentations; comparisons of online content, such as political candidates' sites or content sites used in research (compared for bias); science sites documenting experiments or illustrating concepts, such as the water cycle; "Visual" lab reports; Digital scrapbooks using images from the public domain and video and audio clips from a time in history -- such as the Roaring Twenties; Local history interactive stories; Visual interpretations of major concepts, such as a "visual" U.S. Constitution. Imagine building your own online library of raw materials for your students to create their own "web pages" as a new way of assessing understanding: you provide the digital pictures, and they sequence, caption, and write about them (younger students) or you provide the steps in a project as a template, and they insert the actual content of their own.

After a first project where you provide "building blocks," the sky is the limit on what they can do. Even the very young can make suggestions as you "create" a whole-class product together using an interactive whiteboard or projector. Consider making a new project for each unit you teach so students can "recap" long after the unit ends.

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Blog Basics for the Classroom - TeachersFirst

Grades
K to 12
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This comprehensive tutorial gives all the details on using gated blogs safely in the classroom, including explanations of blogging basics, a TeachersFirst Step-by-Step on how to start...more
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This comprehensive tutorial gives all the details on using gated blogs safely in the classroom, including explanations of blogging basics, a TeachersFirst Step-by-Step on how to start one, complete charts of the features of several free blogging tools for teachers, and over two dozen ideas for how to use a blog with your students. Make "writing to learn" approachable and exciting. You will even find a customizable Blogger's Agreement to download and use with students and parents so everyone knows the expectations and consequences for your class blogs.

tag(s): blogs (80)

In the Classroom

You could use this step by step as the framework for a self-directed or "buddy" professional development project. Share it with your principal or professional development coordinator. USe the strategies and ideas here to start a blog for your class or for each student. Don't miss suggestions for a Teacher as Blogger so you can model blogging, too.
 

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