Blogging, Vlogging, and Podcasting with Microsoft Teams!

 by Laura Steinbrink, posted in education

TURN IT UP!

I have written two previous posts where I talk about how to use Google Classroom as the hub for student blogging and authentic feedback in a safe place. My original post, Blogging with Google Sites? Google Classroom to the Rescue! Let the Commenting Begin! focused on using Google Sites with Classroom to connect students and give them a platform for authentic feedback. More recently, I updated this idea in Google Classroom STILL to the Rescue: Blogging, Vlogging, and Podcasting! where I broadened the scope of how students can express themselves through the various tools now available. Continuing to broaden my own horizons, I explored Microsoft Teams as a hub for students to receive authentic feedback from peers and am very excited about the amazing potential that it has.

GIRL!

Let’s Get Started! First, create a Team just for this purpose. It needs to be separate from the Team you use for your regular classroom assignments and activities. Set it up with a title that is easy for students to distinguish from your normal class Team, and also reaffirms the purpose of this new Team. Create a channel for each student, and then invite or manually add your students. Adding a channel for each student is easy.

Click the three dots next to the title of your Team.

After clicking the three dots next to the title of your Team, a drop down list will appear. Click Add channel.

I’M WORKING HARD, YOU’RE WORKING TOO

Now fill out the channel name for the student you are adding. Create a channel for each student joining the Team. Each time you click Add channel, you also have the option to feature the channel in the channel list. Up to 10 channels can be featured. You can use this to highlight student blogs each week, bi-weekly, monthly, or however you wish to do it. While all channels are available to students, only 10 channels populate in the column for students to see as they work in Teams. They can access the other channels too, making this prime real estate for you to use to empower student voices.

By clicking the checkbox here, the channel you are creating will show up in the channels list when students open Teams.

WE DO IT EVERY DAY

Once you have created a channel for each student and have added students or had them join through a code or invitation link, students can now click on their own channels and add the link to their blog. I suggest having students create a blog on a site or with a tool that they are comfortable with first, and then they can feature posts where they write, vlog, or create a podcast. The site or tool chosen needs to be able to easily embed or feature a variety of post types, including audio and video. My students learn how to use Google Sites, Wakelet, Adobe Spark Page with this purpose in mind. Microsoft Sway would also be a good tool for this. Once I teach students how to use each tool, they can then decide which tool suits them best for their blog site.

FOR EVERY MINUTE I HAVE TO WORK

Create an assignment which will provide students with the blog post prompt. Include rubrics, either as a resource for the assignment or by using the built in feature within Teams. To assist with saving time when grading the blog posts, have students submit their posts by a simple copy and paste from their blogs into a Microsoft Form. You can attach the Form via a link to the resources for the post prompt. This will save you a lot of time. Having one place to view and grade instead of clicking through each blog to read, view, or listen to each post is so worth the little extra time it takes to create the Form. This doesn’t require a lot of extra work from you students either. It is simply a copy and paste of either the text or of the link to their video or audio product.

The form does not have to be fancy or take much of your time to create.

I NEED A MINUTE OF PLAY

Now let’s let the commenting begin! Teams allows students to reply directly to the post dropped by the student on their channel. You can also reply. Students should be taught how to give actionable feedback so that they can help their peers become better writers. This is a safe space to develop writing and analyzing skills. Teams makes it easy for students to respond in a variety of ways, including emojis, gifs, praise, attachments, and more. Digital citizenship skills can be practiced here in a safe environment, providing teachers with the opportunity to provide support and instruction as needed.

Example of what sending a praise could look like in response to the blog post.

DAY IN DAY OUT ALL WEEK LONG

Teams allows students to interact in ways that mimic social media, providing guided practice on how to respond appropriately to others. Students read posts, current or older posts, written by their peers, and then they respond by commenting or “replying” to those posts. A lot of magic can happen when we let students access the creativity of their peers and then provide feedback. Teaching students how to be assessment capable learners helps them develop into adults who can assess their own work, revise, and turn in better products.

THINGS GO BETTER WITH ROCK

If you haven’t tried Teams yet to allow students to provide feedback on the work of their peers or with students from another district, state, or country to help improve the quality of work, then I strongly encourage you to dive right in and try this. There is a lot of power packed into Microsoft Teams, and we should harness that power for our students. Always consider the needs of your students first, and if blogging, vlogging, and podcasting is something you want to try, then start setting up your Blogging Team and get started!

HEADINGS ARE PARTIAL LYRICS FROM THE SONG TURN UP THE RADIO BY AUTOGRAPH.

**Interested in writing a guest blog for my site? Would love to share your ideas! Submit your post here.

Looking for a new book to read? Many stories from educators, two student chapters, and a student-designed cover for In Other Words.

Find these available at bit.ly/Pothbooks  

Why Making Time for Reflection Matters: 5 Ideas to Try

Some recent ideas I have shared, by @rdene915

Reflection is an important act that regardless of your profession or role, is something that we all need to take part in regularly. On a daily basis, the interactions we have, the actions we take, and the decisions we make, likely have an impact on someone else, ourselves, or otherwise that we may never be aware of. Personally, reflecting was not something that I had always done. As a student in high school and growing up, I had a diary that I wrote in quite often, which at the time, I didn’t realize that I was in fact reflecting. But looking back now, that’s exactly what I was doing.

As a teacher, for many of my beginning years, mentors would ask for my thoughts on a lesson that I had taught or my principals would discuss their observations with me and ask me to reflect on my lesson. Whether it was to reflect on the choice in the activities I had used in my lesson or they offered additional questions in order to help me think through my methods and set new goals. But other than those experiences, reflecting was not something that I could say I did on a regular basis. I was not intentional about it and did not fully realize the importance of doing so for many years.

Why We Must Practice Reflection

In order to bring our best selves into our classrooms each day, we must evaluate our own practice and use a reflective process to grow professionally. We also need to help our students develop these skills and because of our role, it is important that we model reflection and provide different ways for our students to reflect as well. Not only will we help them build their skills, become self-aware and develop a greater understanding of their interests and needs, but we will also provide them with learning experiences that will benefit them in the future regardless of where their education takes them or which careers they pursue later on in life. Doing this will also help us continue to engage in the practice ourselves, and enable us to reflect with our students by asking for their feedback and working on goals together. However, not everyone feels comfortable expressing themselves in the same way, which is why it’s important to have different options available for engaging in the practice of reflection.

Here are some ways that you can incorporate reflection in your daily practice as well as include it as part of the work you do with students and colleagues. There is an idea here that can match your interests, needs and even time and place constraints,

  1. Old-fashioned pen and paper. Take time to jot down thoughts at certain periods throughout the day. For some people, trying to remember to write notes down throughout the day can be overwhelming, so instead pick a specific point in the day where it can become part of your routine. Grab a notepad or a special journal that you use, anything that makes sense to you. Make the effort to write down at least one thing or a few things each day and then the next day review your thoughts. See what you could change, if you want to change anything and how you can improve a little bit from the prior day. I used this practice with my students years ago, as a daily journal entry in Spanish and gave them questions to consider as prompts. It can also be a good practice to include in your daily activities.
  2. Blogging has become a great outlet for many educators to share the work they’re doing in their classroom, to express challenges or frustrations, or share positive thoughts or anything in between. Incorporating blogging into the classroom is also good for students for many reasons beyond just simply enhancing their writing and literacy skills. By using digital tools for this purpose, we can also promote peer collaboration, digital citizenship skills and it helps to build a solid online presence. Students can build their reflective skills with their peers and develop communication skills and better understand the importance and power of feedback.
  3. Podcasting can also be effective for reflection. Create your own podcast and invite people to listen to your thoughts, respond in a thread or simply create a podcast just for your own purpose of listening and reviewing. There are many free tools out there to use including Anchor and Synth, and who knows, it just might be something that you decide to pursue on a more regular basis and share with other educators in your PLN.
  4. Voxer is a walkie-talkie messaging app that can be used for anything ranging from recording voice memos for yourself, participating in synchronous or asynchronous discussions, connecting with other educators from around the world. It can be used for participating in a book study, having a topic and engaging with colleagues about specific discussion points and reflecting together. Voxer makes it easier to “think out loud” and then be able to process your thoughts. It is also a convenient way to communicate to meet everybody’s schedule and location. Students in my classes have also used it for their project-based learning to share ideas with me and to reflect on the work they have done and to ask questions and feedback.
  5. Videos. There are a lot of options out there for recording oneself while teaching, Swivl, as well as some online web applications that school districts can use. Although it can feel uncomfortable, especially watching yourself teach, it’s really good to be able to analyze your teaching practices, evaluate your rate of speech, how well you explained ideas, the involvement of your students, and many more important components of teaching. Having a video recording of a lesson or lessons that you’ve taught, are great ways to reflect because it gives you the chance to go back and really focus on key parts of your lesson delivery. You can also use these videos to share with a supportive group and use as a way to give one another feedback

Reflecting is important for all of us because it’s how we evaluate our actions. We can explore who we are, whether looking at the qualities and traits that we convey to others, our behaviors and how we interact with other people. It’s important that we continue to understand ourselves and to work on bringing our best selves to our families every day and to those with whom we work. When we work on this together, we will have it become a regular part of our daily practice and will continue to grow. We will also empower our students and those we lead with this powerful practice for personal and professional growth.

 

**Interested in writing a guest blog for my site? Would love to share your ideas! Submit your post here.

 

Looking for a new book to read? Many stories from educators, two student chapters, and a student-designed cover for In Other Words.

Find these available at bit.ly/Pothbooks  

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