By Jill Sceifers, Media Specialist at New Washington Middle High School
Like everyone else in our school district, I am constantly trying to find new and improved ways to elevate our students’ learning and increase test performance. I sign up for any type of training I think will be relevant. Many of the offerings today are through webinars, and I sign up, with good intention, eager to find another magic rabbit to pull out of my hat. It most often happens that I am teaching a class or some immediate need arises for a teacher or a student and I don’t get to participate in the live event. I always have the intention of going back to view the archived event, but I rarely seem to find time. I missed an event in early December, and I am thrilled that I took time to go back and view the archived webinar — I think I might have found a rabbit worthy of keeping!
Blendspace (https://www.blendspace.com) is an awesome multimedia tool which can be used for things as simple as: researching authoritative sources for instruction, planning lessons, and creating guided lessons for your students. This would also be a great tool for our students to find authoritative sources and put together their own Blendspace for a truly flipped classroom. It’s difficult for me to think of one content area that could not find a way to use this. If you’re looking for a great technology hook, or just technology to make your life easier, check it out, you can be a pro in 5-10 minutes!
Blendspace looks like a big, blank storyboard when you begin a new lesson. It then allows you to search sources like YouTube, Flickr, OpenEd, Gooru, Educreations, which already have great authoritative educational content, and it filters out all of the regular personal “junk” you tend to find when you search sources like YouTube on its own — the librarian side of me REALLY likes this! You search those sources and simply drag and drop the content into your lesson. You can click and organize your new content in any way you like — it’s that easy. It does do much more, and selfishly, I jumped right in and began making lesson plans for me with it from the start. You can also add text, links from Google or other sources, images, items from your computer drive, Google Drive, or even Dropbox. It also has a built-in feature to make your own quizzes which you can put with your lessons, but I have not tried that yet. Another bonus is that there are many different pre-made lessons in their Gallery. There are lessons organized by content area and there are even lessons that provide PD for teachers!
I also see this being an invaluable resource for students with needs or students of high ability. You could make a Blendspace for a lesson on Nouns, for example, in your classroom, and you could include sources to help those students who need a little more help or resources and/or include additional sources to your lessons for those who need that extra challenge. It’s also a great place to collaborate with other teachers or have students collaborate with each other for presentations. Our eLearning coach, Melissa Stewart has worked with PE teachers to put together Blendspaces on tennis and baseball tutorials; it’s truly functional for any content!
You won’t believe how easy it is to use! Teacher accounts are free and provide you with the ability to create unlimited classes of up to 35 students each and perform most all necessary functions. Like any other service, they do have Premium accounts which allow school-wide access and collaboration between users if you are interested in taking it a little bit further, but you get a lot for free. Check out this “Getting Started with Blendspace” video. (https://www.blendspace.com/resources) — it takes all of 1 minute, it’s really that easy!
For more ideas on how to use this awesome product, subscribe to the YouTube Channel @ https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCFQ1pcIktoMHYZzbk35-q1A
Now, tell me how you would use Blendspace in your classroom! Maybe your idea can help someone else!