Tag Archives: announcements template

Creating a 7th Grade Current Events GoogleSite in Social Studies with @CatherinGeorges

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Catherine Georges (@CatherinGeorges) is the 7th grade Social Studies teacher at The School at Columbia University. I have really enjoy collaborating with her over the years. Recently, she and I looked at a variety of digital spaces to host a Current Events Site for her students to curate weekly articles for their classmates. Initially, I was looking forward to using Posterous but upon closer examination of their Terms of Service, I learned that users have to be over 13 years of age. This doesn’t work for our 7th graders. We considered Blogger next, but it is not currently in the Google Apps for Ed marketplace yet. I also considered Edublogs and other sites before Catherine and I just agreed to set up a GoogleSite: https://sites.google.com/a/theschool.columbia.edu/7th-current-events-2012-13/home

Each learning group (7A, 7B, and 7C) has a page with the Announcements template, and Catherine created a calendar which lists three children per learning group per week who are responsible for adding an article to their class page. Students need to include the following when posting a Local, National, or International story:

1. Link to the article

2. Summary of the article (3-5 sentences)

3. Supporting image (with citation)

4. Google Map (using a Google Gadget)

5. One good leading question for classmates to answer in the Comments section below each post

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6th graders added Art posts to their digital portfolio created with Google Sites

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Yesterday, I was in Yoshiko Maruiwa‘s art classes to help 6th graders add three posts to their personal digital portfolio (created in Google Sites). Yoshiko takes photos of all their finished work and creates albums on The Gallery. (The Gallery is our internal photo server powered by Drupal.) Kids include an image of their work along with an artist statement that explains their process, idea, challenges, successes, curricular connections, and anything else they want to include to curate their work. For today’s class, the students made a post for their Art Self Portrait, Art Tessellation, and Art Circle Design.

To organize all the posts from their 6th grade year, kids created an Announcements page named 2011-2012. As each post is written, it snaps into place in the sidebar index and is arranged alphabetically. Hence, I have them title their posts starting with the subject. I like this better than creating a new page/section for each subject. This way there are less clicks to get to examples of their work, and there is no danger of having pages without any projects on them.

During the course of our discussion, we talked about:

  1. Their invisible audience – while access to the kids’ digital portfolios is limited to users on our school’s GoogleApps domain, everyone in the community has an account. At any moment, their work could be viewed by students, teachers, administrators, parents, and anyone with access to a username/password. This should influence what they write (informative without being super personal) and how they write (grammatically correct).
  2. Appropriate commenting – write a comment that is specific and/or can initiate a discussion. Something like, “I liked your use of color” or “I see you painted a guitar. Do you play any other instruments?”
  3. Inserting an image by linking to the URL of the image online rather than taking a screen snapshot or dragging a copy of the image to the desktop. By using the URL, students can simply point to something else online. The alternative is to copy/take/steal a version of it which is tantamount to theft (depending on how the work is licensed).

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Showing 5-8th graders how to set up personal digital portfolios using Google Sites.

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The kids arrived last week. Since then, I’ve been trying to schedule time with the 5th-8th grade classes to get them started on setting up a GoogleSite as a super simple space for their digital portfolios.

Before the first day of school, the other instructional technologists and I decided to have kids set up a GoogleSite that they could presumably start in 3rd grade and add to each year until they leave in 8th grade…or when the technology changes. (I managed to last one year using iWeb until I declared it was dead to me.)

This was my plan with the kids after our talk:

1. Create a new GoogleSite and name it their server name. Anticipating they’ll use these sites for consecutive years, we decided on a naming convention that will never change during their time at The School, like their username – mine is kblumberg.

2. Rename the Home page to About Me or About Karenor whatever their name is. Then they inserted an image taken with Photobooth and a brief autobiographical description about themselves – like a mini digital profile. I reminded them they could edit this endlessly from any location. We love The Cloud!

3. Create a new page, choose the Announcements template, put it at the top level, and call it 2011-2012. Belatedly, I realized they maybe could have called it “5th grade work” or something more specific, but it’s not the end of the world. Next year’s work will be on another new page (using the same announcements template) and titled 2012-2013.

4. Posts should include the subject first, like English R+J Podcast or Art Mosaic or SS Artifact Jars. Turns out posts are listed alphabetically rather than chronologically in the Sidebar on the left of the site, so I like that they can be organized by subject this way.

5. New Posts should contain an artifact like a link, photo, video, music file, slideshow, and/or something visual. They should put that artifact in context by using some sentence starters like the following: What is the artifact? What subject is it? What does it represent? Why did they choose it? What was the process? What was the most challenging part? What did they enjoy the most?

Here’s my example: https://sites.google.com/a/theschool.columbia.edu/kblumberg/home

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