Digital Bytes

SAMR Evaluation of Student Blogs

November 2nd, 2013  |  Published in COETAIL 4, COETAIL Online 13-14, Latest Posts, Lessons  |  4 Comments

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Teaching MYP (Design) Technology, I always try to embed technology into learning and teaching in my classroom. While I feel that most of my units and lessons are in the modification and redefinition areas of technology integration, there is always room for improvement.  Every year groups of students are different, technology is constantly changing, and I am trying to improve the learning that goes on in my classes, so my technology integration and teaching changes constantly.

While I don’t have time this week to go through all of my units and really analyze them using the SAMR Model, I definitely think I will pull out the graphic when I am writing new curriculum and when I am reflecting on my units to see how I’m using my technology and how I can transform my instruction.

One important part of my MS Tech Coordinator job (and one of my favorites) is “managing” the student blogs (which they also use as a digital portfolios).  When I started my position three years ago, the school was just starting to use digital portfolios in the middle school.  I have had a lot of input on our handbook (which we are currently re-evaluating) and the implementation of the portfolios in our middle school.

At first, the blogs were just substituting the large folders students would use to present their work at their student-led conferences in May.  That first year, students were just posting work as guided by their teachers in classes and they ticked categories of the Learner Profile and our mission statement because it was required.  Very quickly, I learned that this was just a chore for students and it really wasn’t promoting or encouraging any more learning, communication or connections.

Photo Credit: giulia.forsythe via Compfight cc

Last year, I started planning lessons for advisory teachers to help students create portfolios that “celebrated their work, showed growth and demonstrate progress towards fulfilling our schools’ mission statement”.   I have encouraged parents to read their child’s blogs and comment.  I have created a Blog Round-Up (inspired by Paula and Jabiz) to showcase great blog posts to our community.  This has encouraged students to write good posts and they have been able to connect with people all over the world in their posts, which inspires them to post more.

The students blogs are a way for students to publish their best work, but it is also a place for them to connect with others.  This is an area that I need to continue to work on, especially with other teachers.  I have blogged for over six years for both work and our family.  I read a lot of blogs.  Many of my colleagues don’t.  I need to help them assign more interactive assignments and allow kids to use their blogs as a way to share their thoughts and learning.

The student blogs at my school are improving year by year, but we can continue to do better.  I’m curious to hear what anyone else does out there with their student blogs or online publishing that supports more effective tech integration.  I really enjoyed the Edutopia article: Why Integrate Technology into the Curriculum?: The Reasons Are Many.  What really resonated with me was the part that stated, ” to effectively integrate technology it must deepen and enhance the learning process through: active engagement, participation in groups, frequent interaction and feedback and connection to real-world experts.”

What do you do at your schools?

What has been successful with your school blogs/digital portfolios?


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  1. Hi Julie, completely off-topic here, but you may want to consider increasing the font size for your blog. It’s displaying quite small (the user can obviously increase the size in their own browser alternatively). It may be in your dashboard under “appearance”?

    And back on topic – at ISManila we have implemented digital portfolios for HS students using Google Sites. We’re still working with students to get these up and running; essentially it’s our first year of running these as a HS. They work very well as a platform to launch conversations with parents; it’s so great to pull them up and show tangible pieces to discuss. Our MS and ES are also blogging but in different ways.

    • Julie Lemley says:

      Hi Brandon,
      Thanks for reading my post. In Course 3, I updated my blog, and while I liked this theme, I did realize that the font was a wee bit small. I just played around with CSS and it looks bigger on my end, hopefully for my readers too!

      Here’s an example of a 7th grade student blog: link to
      and a grade 10’s blog: link to

      I’d love to see one of your student blogs, if they are public. I always like seeing different/new ways of doing things.


  2. Hi Julie,

    Thanks for your reflection on the implementation of blogs at your school. As I’ve mentioned before, we’re just kicking off this year with a whole school approach (more or less) to blogging. It’s interesting seeing how teachers are choosing to use it. Some are doing informational blogs, many are blogging with their students, and some have gone whole hog with their students having their own independent blogs. Our primary school still has mostly private blogs, which I think is disappointing. It would go a long way to moving these students up the SAMR chain if they could interact with visitors from around the world. Anyway, rant over.

    Right now we are not using the blogs as portfolios, but I am hoping we will make that switch next year. Right now they are either informational or process oriented, but I am hoping they will become complex showcases soon!

    Thanks for sharing,

  3. Hi Julie,

    We’ve been doing e-portfolios since I got to this school about 4 years ago. Maybe they started the year before that? Not sure. But anyway, they are used how you are describing yours at the beginning. Just substituting. It is a final product for the end of year student led conferences and a wonderful platform for that. However, it would be great to do more. There is no reason that the students can’t be sharing this all the time with their parents who can see their ongoing additions. I love that idea.

    We use Google sites to host our e-portfolios with only in-house access. Anyone is our community can access the students’ portfolios. I do not question this at all as many people feel it is a security risk to be open with names and school connections. For some people it is. The security concerns are valid. I do think that opening up comments for parents and other community members would be an excellent addition to the portfolio process.

    Thanks for the great ideas!


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