Posts Tagged reading

Encourage Reading – Share your book shelf!

Want to promote literacy but are not a Language Arts teacher or librarian? Don’t have time to do book talks in the middle of math class? Want to share a good book with those around you? Would you like to prove to your students you do do more than grade papers and think of ways to torture them with homework and projects?

I have known about Shelfari for a while now, but hadn’t really thought of it as a way to show students what I am reading. While reading another blog, I was struck by the idea that you can actually add this to a TeacherWeb page and share good books with students. It would look like the one I have below.

Shelfari: Book reviews on your book blog

How do you do this?
Step 1: go to and sign up for an account.
Step 2: Add books to your shelf and divide them into “I’ve Read,” “reading Now” and “I Plan to Read”
Step 3: On your home page – Go to the “More” tab and choose “My Widgets”
Step 4: Create a Widget by clicking on the link.
Step 5: Choose a JavaScript Widget (TeacherWeb will support it.)
Step 6: Select a list to be displayed on your shelf and click “Customize your Widget.”
Step 7: Select the design and size you want. I recommend setting the width to 100% as this will make the widget resize itself based on the space available. Click on “Save and Continue.”
Step 8: Copy the widget code provided.
Step 9: Open the teacherweb page in Edit Mode and paste in the widget code. Save the changes.
Step 10: check out your own virtual bookshelf!

Anytime you update your book list on Shelfari, it will update the shelf on your TeacherWeb page. This same method works for most any type of web page.

So what are you reading?

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Blogging in Literature

Teachers struggle with getting non-writers writing and non-readers reading.  But why should those students practice a skill they struggle with?  Why will another book and another essay help when so far it has not made a difference?  We know that more practice helps, and that you can’t improve unless you work at it, but sometimes we have to approach kids and assignments from a different point of view.  We need to find out what they are doing and see if we can make that a hook into their learning.  Blogging and online communication is one of those hooks.

What does blogging do for your students:

  • Provides a real world situation for kids – authentic learning.  They are no longer writing just for you, but for the world.
  • “Research has long shown that students write more, write in greater detail, and take greater care with spelling, grammar, and punctuation, when they are writing to an authentic audience over the Internet.” ~ David Warlick
  • Encourages reflective writing – Something about seeing your work online and knowing that everyone can see and read it causes you to think harder about what you want to say.  Reading comments about that writing can spark new thoughts and new ideas that would not have been there otherwise.
  • Blogs are a great equalizer.  Student’s opinions and voices can be heard they same way adult voice can be heard giving weight and value to the thoughts and opinions being expressed.
  • Parents can access the student writing at a moment’s notice and see the progress their student’s are or are not making.
  • Student get feedback on their writing from more than just the teacher or a peer reviewer.

What are some ideas for using Blogs in Language Arts classes:

  • Literature Circles – students can answer questions about a book the class is reading and provide insight on plot and character developments
  • Original Writing – students could keep their own blogs and record their writing throughout the year.  At certain points the students would have easy access to look back over how their writing has developed over time.
  • Reflective Writing – Students could reflect on class topics, lectures, novels, or discussions.
  • The student that never contributes due to shyness or not wanting to look “smart” can now contribute without having to speak in front of the class.

Examples of Blogs in Language Arts:

Grading Blogs:

So how do you assess what students do on a blog?

Here is one teacher’s solution:

My solution was to design a blogging rubric that would enable me to attach a grade to something I previously had had only a gut feeling about. I assigned excellent, satisfactory, and unsatisfactory to

  • How well students’ blogs integrated the concepts and principles from class discussions and activities;
  • How effectively students’ writing conveyed their understanding of the content
  • Students’ use of higher-level thinking (analysis, synthesis, and evaluation) in their blogging; and
  • How well students’ blogging entries demonstrated a personal connection with the topic and applied course readings.

Taken from” “Log on to a Blog” –

So are you willing to give it a try?  Do you have any other ideas for using blogs in your classroom?

Word of Caution: When having student’s publish online, you must remember at all times to be safe!  Using full names, posting emails, or giving out personal information must be off limits at all times.  For more information about thinking through these issues, please see:

and talk to your campus technologist to make sure you have thought through everything!

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Getting a New Perspective on the Written Word

October is Computer Learning Month

I had a dream last night that got me thinking about “perspective”  and how to give students different perspectives on what is being taught.  Our students are what some call “digital natives” and are wired differently than students of the past.  Think of all the ways they can get and send information in a moment’s notice.  So how can we tap into that part of their thinking and get them thinking about school and the subjects being presented from a different perspective?  How can we start to speak their  digital language?

With this thought in mind I bring you this post: Perspectives in Writing and Reading

So often as a history teacher I would present textbook reading as here it is and answer the questions at the end.  As I began to understand the importance of engaging students before, during and after reading, I used questions, discussions, paper and pencil, drawing, etc. to help get the students to see the information in a different way.

With technology I am amazed at what the other options can be!

To demonstrate some of the ways that a reading passage (fiction or non-fiction) could be presented using technology, I took the school’s weekly newsletter and ran it through several options.  These activities could be used as pre-reading hooks or as a post-reading assignment for the students.


The first is a web site called “Wordle.”  Wordle takes text and makes a word cloud out of it.  The more a word is mentioned, the larger it appears.  Think of it as a tag cloud for your reading.

Students could also upload their own writing and see what words they are using the most and how their writing is coming across.  For a list of ideas on this, please see the Tech Ed Know blog.


I used Inspiration 8 to create a web of the information as well:

Blurbs in Inspiration


Pictures are another great way to tell a story.  I took the same key words, found pictures to illustrate those words from flickr and made a short movie using photo story.


For Ridgeview Teachers: Here are a few wordles that come from history or literature.  If you are able to identify what text they come from and leave your guess as a comment to this blog, a prize will be awarded.   There will be a prize per entry, so you don’t have to know them all, just guess on one!  Click on the picture to see a larger image.

Entry 1:

Entry 2:

Entry 3:

Entry 4:

Ideas?  thoughts?  Suggestions?  Please share in the comments section.

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