Student Blogging with Google Slides, Buncee, Microsoft Teams, & Canvas

But how can we be silent

As you know, I love to teach students several tools and then let them choose the one they prefer for different activities we do in class. It can be challenging to find the time for students to learn those new tools in this fast paced data driven world we’ve created. When you are in a smaller district and are the only one who teaches those subjects or classes, then finding time isn’t so hard. However, for those in larger districts who have to keep pace with all the other teachers of that class or subject, that’s when we have to think “inside the box,” as George Couros would say. How can we we still allow for student choice and creativity when time constraints mean it is hard to teach a variety of tools quickly?

When a fire burns inside us

The first thing we need to do is stop and take a couple of deep breaths. It will be okay. We can do this. Then consider what your objective and standards are for the activity. Recently, I stood in this very predicament. I always incorporate student blogging in my sophomore English classes. I have a little bit of flexibility in my new district to do this as well, but there are some time and tool constraints that I am not used to, so for now, I am simplifying the choices that will showcase student voices. I was reminded of the excellent work by Lisa Johnson (@TechChef4U) while listening to a the Shake Up Learning podcast by the amazing Kasey Bell. Lisa created a template using Google Slides for “fake” student blogging. I loved the idea so I signed up for her emails and received the code to download the template. My students have enjoyed creating their “blogs” using Slides, but I need it to go a step further. I need an authentic audience for my students who can provide feedback and reactions to their posts. They need to write for others and not just me. They need to write for themselves and not (just) for a grade.

‘Cause we’re a million strong and getting stronger still

I’ve written about student blogging with Google Classroom, Microsoft Teams, and even Buncee previously, so see those posts that are linked below if you want more information, but for now, let’s look at two new ways to get that authentic audience for students. Once students create a post using the Google Slides template mentioned above, here are my ideas for what to do next.

Buncee

Students can take that template and download it as an image. Then they can log into Buncee, and either create a Buncee that is the same size as the blog post that they downloaded, or they can open it via assignments if you added a premade template in that size there. You can create a template similar to Lisa’s via Buncee too, and assign that. It depends on the age of your students, so tailor this to suit your needs. Buncee and Google Slides both allow for students to keep creating/duplicating the current slide or page and add a new post without having to redo the template style. Sharing a Google Slide or Buncee page is easy too. They can both be downloaded as an image to share somewhere that reaches your target audience. In this case, I want the other sophomores to read and react to each other’s posts. Within Buncee, I would create a Buncee Board and have students share their Buncee blogs there. A Buncee Board is set up so that students add links to their Buncees, and the board displays them together. Students and teachers can add comments and reactions to posts on the board. It’s a beautiful and safe way for students to express themselves while practicing digital citizenship in a safe space.

This isn’t a blog post, but here is what it looks like when you make a comment on a Buncee within a Buncee Board. Students can add reactions and comments, and they can scroll and see all the slides too or focus on just a particular slide.

They’ll remember we were here

Google Slides (or Powerpoint)

If you want to use Google Slides but need a place to share them where students can provide feedback and reactions, Microsoft Teams is the next place I turn to for this. Within Teams, follow my directions on creating a channel for each student that I shared in this post, Blogging, Vlogging, and Podcasting with Microsoft Teams! Students can then download their slides individually as .jpeg or .png files and post them on their channel within teams. Then students can add comments and reactions, which is also explained in the blog post linked above.

With a million voices breaking silence till

Within Canvas, depending on how your courses are set up, create a discussion post for students to drop their first posts or each post in and require responses to others. Thanks to Kristi Daws, one of my tech guru go to people for how to set this up in Canvas. Here’s an example of how I set it up and what options students have when responding to my post:

Within the discussion post settings, you have several options to control what students can see and do, and when they can see or do it. Tailor these to fit the needs of you and your learners.

They’ll remember we were here

You could just as easily have students drop the shared link to their blogging slide deck, but then when you have multiple posts on multiple slides, students aren’t always specific with their feedback, which can confuse the author of the posts.

These are a few ways that you can simplify blogging, narrow some of the options so that students aren’t overwhelmed, and still provide authentic audiences for sharing student voices. For more information, check out these previous posts on blogging with students:

Headings are partial lyrics from Million Voices by BarlowGirl.

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