The Ultimate Digital Classroom: Kick off your Year with Beneylu School8 min. reading
For those teachers who haven’t yet heard of it, Beneylu School is the ultimate digital classroom for elementary students, kitted out with the best apps for teaching, collaboration, organization, learning and communication.
Everything from every-day writing, and writing to colleagues, parents and peers, to secure web searching and flipped classroom teaching, is do-able and available with the platform. Discover more here.
My first action on Beneylu School is to create students’ accounts and keep a copy of the list of their details safe in my planner. I stick each student’s password and username into their parent-teacher contact book along with a note to assure parents that the site is 100% secure.
It works beautifully simply. The teacher creates his or her account and signs their class up. They then receive their students’ passwords and usernames and those of the students’ parents.
Only those whom the teacher grants access can access the digital classroom. But once I’m signed up and my class has their passwords, I hear you ask, what can I do with Beneylu School, especially in this back-to-school season?
Well, I’m Véronique, a year 6 teacher who’s been using Beneylu School for 8 years, and I wanted to share my three top tips with you regarding this.
1. Write an Article on the Blog
The Blog app allows my students to get stuck into the very essence of communication. They write pieces that will be read by their fellow classmates and by their parents, and not just by the teacher who’ll mark them.
The rest of the class are able to leave comments and replies to the blog post by signing in with their accounts.
For your students, comments on their posts serve as a sign of its success. There’s nothing quite like seeing other people’s appreciation of your work when you’ve worked really hard on something.
All this isn’t to say that we should abandon writing on paper with pens and pencils, but the Blog at least offers us a response to the question: ‘what would be the best way to go about this written activity?’
You have flexibility and your students have agency, and having the ability to leave and share comments creates community. Parents are happy, too, as they’re kept updated with classroom life all while seeing their children’s progress in writing.
Back-to-School idea—Get the Kids Writing on the Blog:
One idea for an activity to get your students writing on the Blog at the beginning of the year is to write topics on the whiteboard and ask each child to choose one of them for their first blog article of the year.
Potential topics might include:
- My family
- Last weekend
- What I am reading at the moment
- My favorite game
You’ll find that your students will come up with ideas super quickly!
2. Go on a Quick Tour of the World with the GPS
Here’s an idea for your next Geography lesson! Add the GPS to your Beneylu School class and ask your students to:
- Locate the country they’re in
- Locate their town
- Locate your school
You can then save these places in the GPS app in order to visit them again quickly in future.
As they visit their town, the students can note all the footpaths, signs, lights and pathways. They can even trace journeys from the school to the local supermarket, library and swimming pool!
Why not put the children in teams and have them use Streetview to create a list of directions for an alien who wants to walk from school to the nearest post office?
The winning team is the one who writes the clearest instructions and who finishes writing their directions the quickest!
Children with friends or family living abroad might like to visit those places on the GPS and present them to the rest of the class. And if your class is partnered with another school, why not pay their town or country a visit?
The GPS is great in that it complements the other apps so well. For example, why not have students ‘visit’ a place or country of interest on the GPS and then write about their ‘trip’ on the blog?
The possibilities are endless!
3. Write Poetry on the Blog
If your students are suffering from writer’s block, why not try typing instead?!
Ask them to create acrostic poems using the letters of:
- their first name
- their birthday month
- their favourite animal
- the words ‘Our School’
I often give them writing prompts to help them out a bit. I’ll write these on small pieces of paper and place them in a box for the students to take out. Sometimes, though, they don’t even need the prompts.
They’ll usually be brimming with ideas and ready and rearing to type their poems onto the blog.
The students love typing their poems directly into the blog, particularly because they are able to correct their mistakes, erase, go back and pause in order to continue later.
In other words, the blog allows students not just freedom of creativity, but it also teaches them autonomy and lets them work at their own pace. It really is a great tool.
And so, there we have it: three ways to get started with Beneylu School at the start of this new year.
I hope these ideas have been useful to you! If you have any questions or queries, please leave them below in the comments and I’ll get back to you.
From one teacher to another, I can honestly say that Beneylu School is a worthwhile investment. Sign up here, and show your colleagues at school how great it is.