Do We Need to Teach Social Communication?



I would argue yes.  So would Vicki Davis, writer for Edutopia.  Take her “quiz” and see what her thoughts are on the matter: A Guidebook for Social Media in the Classroom.

Vicki gives reasons why we need to be teaching social communication to students.  I would build on her views of teaching proper etiquette to also needing to teach to the world our students live in.  When I was in school, we learned to write.  So we wrote letters to one another and passed notes.  Were we breaking a classroom rule?  Yes.  But were we at least building on the concepts being taught to us about writing?  Of course!  If we don’t teach students how to write in a media they will utilize frequently on their own, will they independently practice the skills being taught to them on a frequent basis?

In the article Vicki gives several ideas for bringing in social media into the classroom which offer a vessel to teach social media etiquette and responsibilities.

Take a look and check it out!  Happy communicating!



Another NEA ‘C’ is Communication.  Regularly, we think of talking and writing as a form of communication.  Where does technology come to play here?

Twitter, Facebook, blogs, email, etc… people communicate more via technology than ever before!  Some would argue these are the main forms of communication for some people!  Students need to be able to communicate in these ways in order to be competent in 21st Century Skills and the world they will be entering.

How do you use these concepts?

Facebook: Create a class website, invite parents to friend you, have students write the posts and keep parents informed.  This website offers great tips on how to start a class Facebook page and keep it secure.  Using Facebook

Twitter: Create a class Twitter, have students post on their learning and share photos.  Connect with authors and high profile people to build authenticity in your work.  Check out this website: 50 Ways to use Twitter in your Classroom.

Blogs: Here is a fantastic PDF put together by the University of Michigan on using blogs in the classroom.  Using Blogs in the Classroom

Tools for Collaboration

20 Fun Free Tools for Interactive Classroom Collaboration– check out this website for a wealth of apps and sites to foster collaboration!

Diving into technology can be intimidating and time-consuming.  My advice?  Don’t get overwhelmed by creating an account for every website and downloading every app you think you might want to try.  Choose a few websites and/or apps that are versatile and can fit many needs (for example, which ones can you use to both collaborate and present?).

A few of my favorites are:

  • Educreations
  • Google apps (Drive and Photos in particular- if you download Photos on all iPads and create a universal Gmail account, students can screenshot their work on their iPad and automatically it is shared with all other iPads!)
  • Socrative
  • Farmyard (You’d be surprised the uses you can come up with for creating farm pictures!  I use this in math to model addition/subtraction/multiplication problems as well as fractions in a group.  They can screenshot the final image, import it into Educreations, and make a presentation!)
  • Twitter (Nothing is more motivating than knowing your work could be shared with the world.  Check out my class twitter page: @2ndGradeWarrior)

Good luck!



Today I highlight other C from the NEA’s 4 C’s for preparing students for a global, 21st Century education: Collaboration.  As adults, we are required to collaborate on many things.

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“Cooperative” may refer to working cooperatively with classmates or with others outside the classroom.  Consider this example from “Cooperative Collaborative Learning

“Second grade students in Washington, New Mexico, Texas, Oregon, Massachusetts, and Spain used the I*EARN (International Educational and Resource Network) e-mail network to communicate with students in Central America. Through I*EARN, the US and Spanish students learned of the impoverished conditions in Nicaraguan villages outside of Managua. Groups of US and Spanish students organized within their schools to raise money for the Nicaraguan villages. Teachers in these schools began to integrate information on Nicaragua and Central America into their curricula by asking students to write essays on Central America, its environment, economy, politics, etc., and to share these essays via e-mail with children in Nicaragua.

Peter Copen, Connecting Classrooms Through Telecommunications in Educational Leadership; October, 1995; pgs 44 – 47

For more information about the I*EARN project, sent mail to —



Apps for Presentations

There are a lot of apps out there for students to use in making a presentation.  Each has their own contributions and their own constraints.  Determining which constraints you can deal with or overcome and which contributions are most important to you is the first step to determining which app to use.

Here are a few that I am familiar with and enjoy using in my classroom:


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Little Bird Tales

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Creativity and Innovation


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In a recent post: Why Technology? I highlighted the NEA’s 4 Cs for preparing students for a global, 21st century, education.  In this post I address one of those Cs: Creativity and Innovation.  How do we use technology to address this skill?


  • Students research a topic and use an app to present their information.
  • Students demonstrate their knowledge on a topic by creating a video or slideshow.
  • Students practice fluency by presenting a book or poem they have read on digital media.
  • Students role play characters and video themselves conducting an interview.

Go to my post, Apps for Presentations, for suggestions of apps to use.


  • Create a digital story.
  • Create a tutorial for other students (i.e. how to add double digits).
  • Create a comic.
  • Bring a story to life using coding apps.




Why Technology?



Why do teachers need to integrate technology into their classrooms?

Think of it this way: in the beginning, mankind had only oral language to convey messages.  After awhile they began drawing pictures, and following that we developed a written language.  As each new component was added the old one didn’t disappear, but was enhanced.  Now, we could not only hear your story but we could also draw a picture to represent it and use written language to record it.  We use each one when appropriate and intertwined with one another, seamlessly.

Technology is just the next step in that list.  Like the others, it has been seamlessly integrated into society.  Is it not used isolated of speaking, drawing, or writing, but rather intertwined in them and enhancing them.  It should be the same in our classrooms.  We would never dream of taking out writing in our classroom in an area that was writing appropriate, so we should not take technology out (or fail to put it in) where it’s use is appropriate.

The NEA highlights four C’s for preparing students for a 21st global society.  They are critical thinking and problem solving, communication, collaboration, and creativity and innovation.  Technology can cover all of those skills.  Click the image below to go to the NEA’s guide on the “Four Cs.”

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Padlet is another useful tool for the classroom.  I use it to get collaborative feedback from students, as a way to hold students accountable for center work without all the paper, and as progress checks.

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It is easy for students to use.  If you set up your own account all you have to do is get a QR code for it, have the students scan the code and they are in!  They don’t even need the app on their iPad.

Here is an example of how I used Padlet in a lesson.  See the lesson here.

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Opinion Writing in Analyzing Literature


  • Listen to and respond to high quality literature
  • Use linking words in opinion writing to order reasons
  • State opinion with reasons and examples

Iowa Core Standards:


Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about grade 2 topics and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups.


Write opinion pieces in which they introduce the topic or book they are writing about, state an opinion, supply reasons that support the opinion, use linking words (e.g., because, and, also) to connect opinion and reasons, and provide a concluding statement or section.

Grade: 2

Technology: iPad and pre-made QR codes for stories and Padlet board


Download QR Reader onto iPads

Create a Padlet for students to record their opinions

Create QR codes for both stories chosen to compare and Padlet


Instruct students on opinion writing by use of mentor text and the gradual release model.

Introduce two book the students will be listening to on YouTube and direct them to the correct QR code for each book.  In my classroom, we listened to The Cat, the Dog, Little Red, the Exploding Eggs, the Wolf, and Grandma and Creepy Carrots.

Once students have listened to the two stories, have them scan the code that will direct them to a Padlet you have created.  Here, they will respond to the two stories by stating which they prefer and providing reasons for their opinion.  They will include linking words (e.g., because, and, also) to connect reasons.   Have them type their name in the “Title” so you can evaluate their work.

They will spend time looking at peer opinion and reasons when the class has all had a chance to respond.


Look at responses on Padlet to determine student mastery of skills.



Technology Integration Planning Cycle


Hutchison and Woodward have created a useful tool for effectively using technology in the classroom.  The Technology Integration Planning Cycle is used to guide the use of technology within instruction by keeping the focus on the instructional goal and considering the constraints and contributions of the technology to the lesson.  The image below is taken from The Iowa Reading Research Center’s blog “A Look at the Technology Integration Planning Cycle.”



For the complete article see:

Hutchison, A., & Woodward, L. (2014a). A planning cycle for integrating digital technology into literacy instruction. Reading Teacher67(6), 455-464. doi: 10.1002/trtr.1225