After just two months, there are over 2000 readers engaged in Blended Learning in Action! I am excited to announce the start of our #BLinAction book club discussions to help readers stay connected and share ideas about each chapter. We’ll take a deep dive into one chapter per week.
The book chats will run “slowchat” style with one thought and one question posted per day throughout the week. We hope you’ll join us in these discussions by following #BLinAction and contributing your thoughts, questions, and insights.
We will be sharing the conversation on our website blinaction.com. Thank you for reading and for contributing to this awesome thought cloud around Blended Learning in Action!
I’ve been in love with Shakespeare since college. However, the very thing I love about Shakespeare’s plays–the language–is the exact thing that alienates so many students. The language is foreign and the humor goes over their heads. I’ve tried a variety of techniques to hook my students from having them complete soundtrack projects for the plays to performing the scenes in class. These have helped to engage my students, but I still finding myself spending a lot of time explaining what words, phrases, jokes and put downs mean.
While teaching a course at Stanford this year, I was fortunate to cross paths with the creators of MyShakespeare. This is a fantastic resource for teaching Shakespeare in the digital age. The site is brand new and there are currently 4 plays available–Julius Caesar, Hamlet, Romeo & Juliet, and Macbeth.
The site has interactive full-texts of each play complete with footnotes and multimedia resources. Each play includes:
- Complete audio recordings that emphasize clarity and comprehension
- Contemporary translations to make the language more approachable
- Popup notes offering insights into literary devices
- Animated videos that explore the play and spark further discussion
- Performances of key scenes to bring the play to life
- Interview with characters about the events unfolding in the play.
It was clear watching my students navigate the site that they enjoyed listening to the audio recording, reading the modern definitions of archaic words, and engaging with the popups that provide explanations about what is happening in each scene.
The video interviews with the characters are high quality and entertaining. They provide insight into the characters’ thoughts, feelings, and motivations. These video elements are perfect conversation starters. They are also a great model for any teacher who wants his/her students to role play in order to learn more about the characters.
If you (or someone you know) is teaching Julius Caesar, Hamlet, Romeo & Juliet, or Macbeth, I’d recommend checking out MyShakespeare! It’s exciting when new, high-quality resources pop up for our favorite texts.
For years I’ve watched students lug cumbersome binders to each class–dutifully take notes and collecting large quantities of paper. I’ve often wondered how useful these binders are and how often students sift through their papers to review information.
This year, students in N.E.W. School traded in their traditional notebooks for multimedia digital blogs using Blogger. My goal was to get them using their devices to document their work in class–taking pictures and recording video. Then take that documentation and weave it into their notes, reflections, lab reports, etc.
Blogger, Google’s free blogging tool, is easy to set up. Students can organize their multimedia binders similarly to their traditional binders with tabs for different classes.
There are several benefits to using a multimedia binder. Students:
- can incorporate media to bring their work to life.
- share their work with an authentic audience.
- access their work from anywhere with a device and wifi.
- don’t have to carry around a heavy binder.
- don’t have to worry about losing their work.
Blogger is one of several tools students can use to create a multimedia digital notebook, but I like the convenience of having it tied to their Google Accounts.
Some learners need to write things down to process information. If that’s the case for some of your students, encourage them to write down their ideas on paper or a whiteboard, take a photo, and post that online!
During a station rotation lesson, one station was dedicated to setting up digital notebooks. Click here to view the Google Doc I designed with steps, explanation, and screenshots to guide students through the process of setting up their notebooks. If you are signed into you Google Account, you can click “File” and select “Make a copy” and a copy with automatically save in your Google Drive. Hopefully, I can save teachers time by sharing this!