Friday, November 8, 2013

Blendspace (Formerly EdCanvas)

I discovered Blendspace (formerly known as Edcanvas) last year when my students and I first received our Samsung Galaxy tablets.  I believe I came across the resource on either Edmodo or Twitter when we were just diving into using our devices in the classroom, and I was trying any web tool I could fit in. At the time I was toying around with the idea of starting some flipped class and blended learning styles and was really getting away from the whole stand up and "deliver" the info to your students.

I always questioned the thought of me just giving them the information that they were responsible for learning.  How would they learn if I just gave it to them?  Shouldn't they be discovering?  Even if it was just introductory info.  I mean, I always remember myself as a student and the things that I remembered most, were research projects, papers I'd written, information that I discovered on my own and was not just fed...   

Anyways, we started to go towards a more independent/partner discovery based introduction to the material we would be working with.  My theory was, that the students would be more invested in what they were being exposed to, and therefore have a better chance of retaining the information.  My thoughts were also that this technique and practice in school would prepare the students to be able to complete the same type of work at home independently, when we eventually would completely venture into the flipped classroom style.

I remember the first lesson I used Blendspace for.  In word study/grammar, the lesson told me to engage the students by reviewing or telling students the definition of an analogy.  I knew there had to be a better, more engaging way to go about it.  Even though the curriculum only allowed for a few minutes, I felt that my students would benefit from more time being spent on going through a few different resources and finding the answers to the questions themselves.

I gave the students the questions up front so that they would have a purpose to their work, and it wasn't like they were just "watching some YouTube videos" to see what they could learn.  I gave them a QR code which linked them directly to Blendspace.  They loved it and were completely engaged:  They were also prepared for the discussion that followed their independent study.

I have included links to some of my lessons here.  

I felt that Blendspace was the perfect web tool to organize the digital content that I wanted my students to review.  It is simple, clearly organized, and allows them to have direct access to the right materials, when we don't have the time for them to Google and determine their own resources. 
Blendspace allows teachers to quickly search any topic in various forms of digital content through either YouTube, Google, Vimeo, Flickr, Educreation, or Gooru with one simple click.  You can link websites, articles, upload files- documents/pictures, insert from Dropbox, or from Google drive.  You can drag and drop resources, and add text or a quiz.  There are different templates you can use to display the resources and you can purposefully put it in the order you want the kids to view it.  You can view and copy other users' lessons that have already been put together:  The resources are endless and I personally think it's genius!
Students researched Cinco de Mayo and put together a presentation that we shared with a 7th grade class from Iowa via Skype which led to a friendly, cultural discussion and tons of learning!

 I also used Blendspace to put together some resources on Project Based Learning for one of my assignments for my Gifted and Talented certification this summer.

This year, I have many plans for Blendspace.  When my students start taking their tablets home in a few weeks, I will be organizing their digital content in Blendspace and they will access it through Edmodo, which now has a Blendspace app directly linking the two so it is that much easier to deliver content to your students!  They will also be using Blendspace to find and organize their own resources for research, projects, genius hour, etc., etc.!

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