Engage Students With Online Classroom Discussion Platform

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Collaborize Classroom. All opinions are 100% mine.

Collaborize Classroom: How would you like a free online learning platform for your students that is secure and safe?  Collaborize Classroom offers just that!  Teachers can extend classroom discussions in a private online community of students.  The online platform is safely structured to continue discussions, facilitate online learning groups, and allow students to share resources and engage in collaborative learning.

Watch a Collaborize Classroom Video to see how this happens:

This online collaborative learning provides deeper participation inside and outside the classroom as students are engaged in online discussions, activities, and assignments.  Students can share resources and engage in discussions that will result in a richer educational experience.

What’s great is that teachers can set up their Collaborize Classroom site in just minutes.  They just need an email address to utilize this free online learning platform that complements classroom discussions and encourages discussion, participation, and engagement.  Teachers can also create online lesson plans using free resources.  Here are some of the free resources available:

  • Do’s and Don’ts for Student Forums
  • Rethinking Your Role
  • Art of Asking Questions
  • 5 Activities with Collaborize Classroom

The platform is not meant to replace traditional instruction but helps to facilitate learning groups in a safe environment.  All of the sites are secure and have a password protected process.  The password is known only by teachers, students, and those who are invited to join the site.  All information and data is protected and safe!

Collaborize Classroom is free, allowing teachers to accomplish more than they could otherwise, and the free resources are a valuable addition to using this online learning tool.  The web-based technology provides endless possibilities for student learning.  In my opinion, this is a great way to encourage student engagement, especially those who are shy and don’t talk in class.  Most students are online at home anyway using social networking.  This platform fits right in with the way they communicate online socially.  And with the current economic crisis, the fact that this is free enables any teacher to use this platform.

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New Word World Episodes Beginning October 4th

This Monday, Word World will have more literacy lessons and advanced vocabulary words as they explore compound words, phonology, letter recognition, print awareness, comprehension and socio-emotional skills.  Here is a preview show clip on compound words.

Word World wishes you “a happy Fall full of WordBuilding!”

How to Teach Kids to Write a Paragraph

Credit: Free pictures from acobox.com

Writing can sometimes be a difficult subject to teach young students.  I have found that when teaching a new concept, it’s good to break it down into several steps.  I taught ESL students plus Gifted & Talented students in the same classroom for many years, and I found that most of them benefited from this.  There will be some students who grasp the concept easily or may already have the concept in place, and those students need to move on to enrichment activities.  But for those struggling with the concept of writing a paragraph, I have broken the concept down into smaller steps:

  • PREREQUISITE: The students need to know how to write a sentence.
  • DEFINITION: First, a child needs to understand the definition of a paragraph.  When we say that we’re going to write a paragraph, they may have no concept of that.  So, the first step is to explain and give examples of paragraphs.  Here is how I might explain it: “Today, we’re going to learn about paragraphs.   Can anyone tell me what a paragraph is? (I would say “good try” if they totally missed it, and if they got part of the answer then I would incorporate the correct part of their answer into my explanation.)   A paragraph is a group of sentences that tell about one thing.”
  • EXAMPLE: Let me share some paragraphs with you.
  1. Example of one paragraph:  “Kim’s favorite thing was to spend time with her dog. She played with her dog every day after school.  She fed her dog two times a day.  In the afternoons, they would go for a walk together. Kim liked her dog a lot! Questions: What did Kim like? (her dog)  What did she do with her dog? (played with it, fed it, went for a walk with it)  What is the paragraph about?  (Kim spending time with her dog)  This is a paragraph with a group of sentences that tell about Kim and her dog.”
  2. Give example of a non-paragraph:  “Now listen to this:  Luke liked to play sports.  The tree was green.  The clock stopped working.  Lions like to roar real loud. Questions: What is this about?  (Luke, a tree, a clock, and lions)   Is it a paragraph? (wait for answers)  No, because it’s not about one thing.  It’s about completely different things.”
  • WRITE A PARAGRAPH TOGETHER: “Let’s write a paragraph together about our classroom.” Have students tell facts about the classroom and formulate a paragraph on the board using their answers.
  • STUDENTS WRITE THEIR OWN PARAGRAPH: Have students pick something of interest to them and write a paragraph about just that one topic.  Make suggestions for those students having trouble thinking of a topic.  Walk around the room and help those students who are getting off topic.

Praise their work and find something positive to say about it.  Make them feel proud and take ownership of their work.   Those who are fearful of writing should eventually get to the point where they can write their own paragraph.

National Punctuation Day, September 24

Credit: Free pictures from acobox.com

National Punctuation Day was founded by Jeff Rubin back in 2004.  It brings awareness to this important but sometimes overlooked skill.  Knowing how to use correct punctuation is a skill that students need and will use their entire life, but sometimes teaching about it can be a little boring to students.  Here are some ideas to help make teaching about punctuation fun:

A Listing of the Most Used Punctuation Marks:

Fun Activities:

  1. The Punctuation Relay
  2. Wynken, Blyken, and Nod Poetry Punctuation Game
  3. Pin the Punctuation Mark on the Sentence

More Information:

Teaching First Graders How to Write a Sentence

First graders, as you know, come with varying levels of skills.  Some students will be clueless on how to even begin writing a sentence.  That’s when the teacher needs to brainstorm with those students. Here are some ideas that are good with first graders, ESL students, or students with learning disabilites:

  • Pick a topic to write about that is of high interest.  It’s close to Valentine’s Day, so I will pick Valentine hearts.
  • Discuss with the students, “Now what do we want to say about hearts?”  Let them share their ideas and write them on the board.
  • Pick one idea that is not a complete sentence such as “pretty and red.”
  • Explain that a sentence is about someone or something.  Ask, “What is it that is ‘pretty and red?’  Our sentence has to tell us.”   Hopefully, someone will say “a heart.”
  • Write the complete sentence on the board:  A heart is pretty and red.  Underline the two main parts of the sentence and show that the sentence is about “a heart” and “is pretty and red” tells about that heart.
  • Another student may have said, “a pink heart.”  So the teacher would ask, “What about a pink heart?  The sentence has to tell us something about this pink heart.”   The end result might be:  A pink heart is on the table.
  • Go through the other student ideas and work together to make sentences out of them.
  • Then give each student a heart-shaped piece of handwriting paper and let them try writing their own sentence.

Some students will be able to sound out words to write their own sentence, and some students will not be able to do that.  With those students, you need to work one-on-one:

  • Ask what their sentence is about.
  • Start with the first word, sound it out slowly for the student, and go sound by sound while having the student write the sound they hear.
  • Do this with each word until the sentence is finished.

Soon, when the students feel more competent in writing a sentence, discuss with them the following:

  • Sentences always start with a capital letter.
  • Sentences always end with a period or something else.  Nearly all their sentences will be telling sentences at this point.

Always praise their work and find something positive to say about it.  Make them feel proud and take ownership of their work.   Those who are fearful of writing should eventually get to the point where they can write their own sentence.

* If your students can write sentences, then you might want to read “How to Teach Kids to Write a Paragraph.”