Bringing Technology into English Classrooms

Back to School 2009 Presentation: 21st Century Classrooms (PDF)

Using Blogs in the ELA Classroom

What are blogs and how can we use them in education?

Reading and Subscribing to Blogs

  • Will Richardson in his book Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms points out that teachers need to become readers of blogs before using them with their students. The first step is to take some time to just read some good Weblogs. A good place to find some that might interest you is the "Find New Blogs" list at Bloglines (
  • Google has a Blog Search

Recommended Blogs Written by Educators:

RSS Aggregators

  • Two aggregators which allow you to subscribe to blogs:
    • Google Reader: Google Reader constantly checks your favorite news sites and blogs for new content. Whether a site updates daily or monthly, you can be sure that you won't miss a thing.
    • Bloglines: With Bloglines, you can subscribe to the RSS feeds of your favorite blogs, and Bloglines will monitor updates to those sites. You can read the latest entries easily within Bloglines.

Keeping Students Safe

  • Teachers are obligated to teach students responsibility, appropriateness, and common sense as students publish to the Web.
    • Schools and libraries are required by the Child Internet Protection Act (CIPA) to filter content that is accessible via the Internet. In addition, CIPA requires that schools monitor the online activities of minors and to have a policy in place that addresses the "safety and security" of minors when online. (CGB System Support Office, 2005)
    • Parental Approval for students to publish online is important. Link to Sample Blogging Letter to send home with students.

Creating Our Own Blogs

  • Edublogs or Blogger? Advantages of a blog site set up for educators:
    • Ad free
    • Increased privacy options
    • Greater teacher control
    • Easier to have unblocked at the district level

Using Wikis in the ELA Classroom

What are wikis and how can we use them in education?

  • Wetpaint wiki on using wikis in education

  • Weebly allows users to create a free website and blog

Creating our own wikis at

Online Research

Online tools have revolutionized the research process, making 3X5 notecards and manilla envelopes definitely "old school."

We need to admit to our students that googling (using search engines) has become a credible way to research information. Case in point: On CNN Your Money Show, host Ali Velshi interviewed Richard Sloan, co-founder of Start-up Nation, who advised business people to "Google like mad."

VELSHI: You have a few tips, Richard. It's your passion. Take stock, taking stock of your skills and commit to your concept. Test drive your concept, but you know what I like? Google like mad. Your fourth point. What do you mean by that? There's free research out there.

SLOAN: Well, look, you've got to have the passion and that's going to be all about playing to your passion and you have to take stock of what your real resources are. You have to make sure you have a tight concept and you want to test drive it with other people, but Google like mad means you have information available to you today to be strategic, to be smart, to make great decisions in strategies based on all that data that's available to you by being a good googler. Pull in that information, use it, incorporate it into your strategy and you'll have much better chances for success.

  • Learning to Ask the Right Questions is the key to effective research. Jamie McKenzie's "The Question IS the Answer" at his From Now On Website contains a wealth of information on asking good questions.

  • Online Citation Machines: Son of Citation Machine and KnightCite Citation Service generate citations from data that users enter. These services allow students to spend their greatest effort writing their papers instead of laboring over citation formatting. Library databases like EBSCO now have a feature that creates citations for any article accessed.

  • Online library databases like EBSCO make it possible to locate magazine, newspaper, and journal articles from any Internet accessible computer. Many also contain images and primary source documents. Check with your school librarian for the user names and passwords for the databases your school can access.

  • Online bookmarking sites like make it possible to bookmark websites from any computer and have them available anywhere by logging into your account. Students can collaborate with peers by sharing their bookmarks. Users create a free account for themselves.

  • Google Docs allow students to record ideas and create drafts of their work and save them so that the documents can be accessed from any Internet accessible computer. Students can also share documents with others and collaborate on projects.

  • Wikis are great places to post assignments and links for students. PBWiki and Wikispaces both offer free wikis for teachers. Students can also build wiki pages for a research project. Check out the Discoveryisms wiki.

  • Intel has created a database of assessment tools that teachers can access for free. Rubrics can be personalized and saved to the user's workspace or printed as they are.

Portable Applications for USB devices make it possible to carry your data with you where ever you go. Download Mobile Firefox Web BrowserDelicious toolbar, Google Notebook extension, and Zotero (a Firefox extension that helps you keep track of your information and cite it.)

and install it on your USB so that you can install the

Student Projects

Digital Storytelling in Secondary ELA Classroom

  • Extension of a memoir writing unit
  • View samples and resources from BBC Capture Wales site
  • Talk about how it has to be about the story and then finding images that help tell the story.
  • Discuss elements of a good story.
  • Write a 200-250 word story and save it in a project folder on the desktop.
  • Find 5 or 6 images that help tell the story; save them to project folder.
  • Open PhotoStory 3 and import your pictures.
  • Record story using the PhotoStory3 narration tool, clicking through the images and recording the chunk for each image.
  • Find music at . Save it to the project folder.
  • Import audio file and images into Photo Story3 to create video.
  • Create title and credits. You can do this in PhotoStory or in PowerPoint. Powerpoint slides can be saved as a jpeg (picture file) and then imported into Photo Story.
  • Make sure that story length and pictures match. PhotoStory will cut off the sound file when the last picture has displayed. To change the length the pictures are on the screen, use the Customize Motion button on the Narrate Your Pictures window in Photo Story.

Other Resources


Educational Uses of podcasting:

Understanding Podcasting

Finding, Subscribing, and Listening to Podcasts

Podcasts for Educational Use

  • T.E.D. Talks

Free Tools for Creating Podcasts

You will need to download LAME MP3 encoder to convert your file to an mp3 format. (Because of software patents, Audacity cannot put this encoder inside their program.)
  • Free Play Music
  • Gabcast
    Sign up for a free account and record audio files using your telephone. Each recording can be up to 60 minutes in length. You dial an 800 number, type in your channel number, channel password, and record your episode. The episode is saved as an mp3 file to your account where you can download it to your computer and open it in Audacity.
  • Edublogs Posting podcast episodes to a blog creates RSS feed for them so that others can subscribe to them.

How to Cite Podcasts : Name of author, host or producer (if available). "Title of podcast." Date of podcast. Podcast. "Title of Podcast show." (if different than title of podcast). Title of larger site (if available). Date of download.


Mondello, Bob. "Charlton Heston, Old-School Gentleman, Dies at 84." 8 May 2008. Podcast. "NPR Movies". National Public Radio. 10 April 2008. <> Source: Library, Univeristy of California, Berkeley. Retrieved July 15, 2008 from