Posts Tagged ‘blogging’

Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

Yesterday I was searching for a one word topic for today’s DigiLit posts, and Kimberley suggested “safe.” At first I was thinking about digital literacy safety as in how we teach our students to be digital citizens. But there are lots of resources already out there for that, rules to share with your kids like using a pseudonym or only their first name. Digital citizenship is important. We must teach it so that our students can work safely on the internet.

However, my gut is telling me that safety in the classroom is a bigger issue. How do we create an atmosphere in which our students not only learn, but they also thrive, in which they find a soft, safe place to land?

A growing, active classroom library: Two of my students have taken on the role of librarian. They have sorted and arranged the book shelves. They have claimed ownership. My students share books. They talk about books.

Soft pillows and blankets: I realized the significance this year when I brought in pillows, a blanket, and a kid-made quilt. My students curl up with these comfy things during reading time. Even the 5th grade boys love the feel of a soft blanket when they are reading.

Personalized notebooks: At the beginning of the year, the marbleized notebooks are covered. My students decorate their own and claim these notebooks. I do not grade these or even read them. Their journals are their own. A friend recently donated tiny notebooks to my class, so we decorated these for capturing Slice of Life moments.

A classroom blog with a special name: Our kidblog site is Mrs. Simon’s Sea. The site is kid-friendly and inviting. My students have learned how to navigate it, and they interact with their written words as much as their spoken ones. Blogging (Writing) is valued, honored, and shared.

Kindness: I insist on the practice of kindness. Probably the one thing that makes me angrier than anything is when one student is unkind to another. I also have to watch my own tone and words to make sure they are kind. Kindness leads to respect and when students feel respected, they can do amazing things.


This post strayed somewhat from digital literacy, but in truth, the beliefs of a classroom contribute to the success of digital literacies. I welcome your additions to this conversation. Please leave a link.

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  Join the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge.

Join the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge.

Here we go…first day of March. Time to begin a daily writing practice. The Slice of Life Challenge begins today!

This is my fourth year to join the challenge. When I first started, there were only two writing teachers at Two Writing Teachers, Stacey Shubitz and Ruth Ayres. Now there are six, Stacey, Beth, Betsy, Tara, Dana, and Anna. They make a pretty awesome team. At NCTE in November, I had the pleasure of meeting most of them. They are real people! That is the beauty of this blogging community. Everyone is real. We all support one another. We challenge each other. We engage each other.

If this is your first time, I understand totally how you feel. I still wake up at night wondering if what I wrote was junk, and nobody will like it. I still carry my phone with me all day checking my alerts for comments. That never gets old.

I volunteered to be a concierge for the classroom SOLC along with Linda Baie. (Linda is one of those blog commenters who keeps us all connected. I don’t know how she does it, but she’s been my top commenter for years. One day we will meet face to face.) Together we are here to help answer any questions you have about blogging with your class.

In my own classroom, I have set up a Kidblog site. I like this format, much like WordPress, and it allows my students to all post in a common area. I do not have to do any linking to an outside site. Anything that cuts out a step helps when posting daily. I have stored the SOL logo in my photo file, so I can attach it to every SOL slice.

With my students, I made two anchor charts: What is a Slice? and How to make a slice tasty. We will continue to add to these charts. They help my students verbalize their practice. I have set up incentives for different levels of accomplishment. For 15-20 slices, the student gets a pencil. For 21-26, a journal. And the grand prize is a book for 31 slices. I have only 12 students, so I am able to afford the prizes. Some teachers set up a celebration with food at the end of the month.

On Friday, March 13th, the Alliance for Excellence in Education sponsors a Digital Learning Day. On this day, consider joining me in a comment challenge. My students will be reading blogs like crazy and competing for a Crazy Commenter prize.

Here are a few things I have learned over the years about the Slice of Life Challenge:

  1. Write a day or two ahead.  Have some drafts ready just in case.  I preach this better than I do it.
  2. Add photos whenever possible.  I try not to post anything without a visual. Something more than just the SOL logo.  This appeals to the reader and gives you an anchor if you post to Facebook.
  3. Don’t quit.  Even if you miss a day or two, jump back in.  The prizes are nice, but in the long run, the value is in the daily practice of writing.
  4. Comment.  This takes time, so you may want to set up a method.  I usually click on the person above and below my name in the list.  I also try to return comments to those who comment on my post.
  5. Use your comments to connect to the writer.  We make friends by making connections.  I changed my tune this year with my students.  I once told them to make a criticycle (a critique sandwiched with positive feedback.) Now I feel the connection is the most important thing.

I started this round-up for Digital Literacy.  Here every Sunday, you can link their digital literacy posts.  We learn from each other.  Join in anytime.  On Twitter, @MargaretGSimon, #k6digilit.  Please leave your link in the comments and I will add to the post.

Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts


Cathy Mere writes about the growth of community through digital connections.  http://reflectandrefine.blogspot.com/2015/03/digilit-sunday-growing-communities-in.html 

Julianne slices about using podcasts to fuel writing.  https://jarhartz.wordpress.com/2015/03/01/sol15-day-1-listening-love/

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  Join the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge.

Join the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge.

Today I am celebrating my 500th post! I have been blogging for about three and a half years, but only in the last year did I commit to blogging 5 days a week. I connect to The Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge on Tuesdays, Spiritual Journey Thursday, Poetry Friday, Celebration Saturday, and even started my own round up on Sundays, DigiLit Sunday.

This blogging business is making me braver. I have connected with some of the most supportive people on this earth. Some of my blog friends have become collaborators, some writing partners. On Sunday, I had two Google Hang-outs with fellow bloggers. The first group I met with is working on a presentation idea for NCTE 15. The second group was a writing group I was invited to join. My heart was full after these two meetings with like-minded people who are passionate about their work with students, teachers, and writing.

Whether you read regularly or sporadically, whether you subscribe or link up, whether I’ve met you face to face or only through comments, thank you for being here. Thank you for reading my thoughts and scribblings, for being supportive in any way, and for giving me this space to be myself.


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