Technology in the Classroom at BMS

Great Ideas from your ITRT - Heidi Overfelt

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Want to get your class engaged in writing?

Here are some great ways to engage your students with current events and writing across all subject areas (and they are all FREE!):


FYI: All titles are links. Click on them to go to the sites.

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The Smithsonian has searched the internet for news articles (from bonafide news sources) that would interest students and posted them with writing prompts. If you sign up for a free account with your students, you can have the students comment on a private classroom blog that only you can see and grade their responses. There are lots and lots of topics from sports to civics to science to, of course, history. Super cool.


If you don't want to take the time to sign up your class, have the students read the article (display it on your SmartBoard or have them go to the site on the ipads) and comment via pencil and paper. But I know they will be engaged by the content!

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Wonderopolis is a great resource for all subject areas. Kids submit questions and Wonderopolis answers one per day with articles and videos along with writing prompts, comprehension quizzes and more. There is a library of past questions that you can search to find topics in every subject. Explore the topic as a class for discussion or send the students to the site to write a response via paper and pencil (or Google Doc or Word....) The target student is a bit younger but there seems to be something to challenge everyone.
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The New York Times Learning Network is for a slightly older learner. The Times chooses one article from each day's news to highlight. It includes all sorts of resources including vocabulary building, graphic organizers to fill in online, lesson plans, back stories, videos. comparison stories and more. Once again, the student can read and analyze the story and then use the information as a springboard for their own writing - either on paper on using Word or Google Docs. There is a new article everyday but you are encouraged to search through the older topics that are grouped according to subject. What a great resource to show how reading and writing are important in the "real world"!
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A Blog! What a great idea! But that is too hard...

Use any of these resources to set up a student blog. Have the students read the article, watch the video and discuss the ideas via writing. Blogs are EASY to set up! You can use a service like KidBlog that is TOTALLY safe (only you see their responses and decide what to post) or even just share a Google Document. The students will LOVE "talking" to each other via the internet on the news or issue of the day. Think scholastic texts!


You can blog on anything - science experiments, the news, book chats, classroom behavior, health decisions, alternate histories - ANYTHING! Get students to practice their writing and typing in your subject area which will help SOL scores across the board.


I will be glad to help you set it up and sit in on the first few times. EVERY time I have done this with a class they were excited by writing and typed more than they have ever written before in class - from first graders to high schoolers. Just send me an email and I will be glad to help you set it up.

If you need any more help or information, make sure to email me at hoverfelt@bedford.k12.va.us anytime!