There are two websites that I use a great deal in my class. Edmodo and Kidblogs. I have chosen these two sites because they enable me to create an online collaboration space for students while still maintaining privacy and control. This year I have created all of the accounts for students and used Dinopass, a password generator, so that students have the same username and password for both sites. I put the information into a handy dandy spread sheet with their name and their assigned iPad number for the year. I know from experience that fifth graders lose passwords and logins easily so this helps me to help them when that happens. I can also share the spreadsheet with the technology teachers so that they have access to this information as well.
During the first weeks of school I’ll extend the same community building lessons that I teach in the classroom into our online space. Students need to be explicitly taught how to comment and collaborate online. They need to experiment and experience first hand how the typed word doesn’t always communicate what we intended it too. They need to make mistakes now so that I can help them be better digital citizens.
On a side note…never underestimate the power of a good spreadsheet. I use them for everything from checking in homework to keeping track of everyone’s inquiry projects. You can use them for tracking small group lessons taught, books used in mini-lessons, students you’ve conferred with. I make general ones to keep on hand for any purpose and subject specific ones. Spreadsheets rule.