Blendspace.com (now known as TES Teach) is an online tool through the education curriculum company TES.com. It is a tool that is used for collecting and bundling information for a multitude of uses. I have become a huge fan of using Blendspace because of all of its features but also because it is so accessible to the non-tech savvy teacher (a.k.a. ME), and very accessible to students across levels, grades, and subject areas. The goal of Blendspace is to enable teachers to “blend” multimedia seamlessly into the classroom in an efficient and effective way.
How does it work?
Blendspace essentially works by allowing the user to bundle information from a myriad of resources (including but not limited to): Google, Google Drive, DropBox, OpenEd, Gooru, YouTube, files from your own computer, and much more! I like to think of Blendspace as a means of creating virtual notebooks, but much easier to use than its counterpart LiveBinders.com. It has a very simple, “drag and drop” or insert type of interface that makes pooling together resources very efficient. All the user has to do is lick on “new lesson,” name the lesson, and begin inserting and sequencing resources in the “tile” spaces.
Ways to Use Blendspace in the Classroom
I started using Blendspace for its practicality and ease when I found myself teaching at school where I didn’t have my own classroom. I was teaching at the largest high school in the United States at the time, and we were squeezed into that building like sardines in a can. It will probably come as no surprise to you that this school is located in New York City. 5,500+ students on campus in a nine-story building! Just imagine those fire drills! But I found myself struggling to reset my digital lessons every single period as I floated among classrooms. I had to log out of the classroom computer, wheel my cart down the hall or to another floor to a different classroom to teach a completely different class. Opening and closing all of the documents I needed became too chaotic and stressful. That’s when I started using Blendspace to organize my lessons for class.
Instead of having to search for a particular YouTube video or a specific PowerPoint presentation every single class period, I bundled my resources together in Blendspace and created a sequential lesson plan for my different classes. Then, all I had to do was log into Blendspace at the beginning of each class period, select the correct bundled lesson for the class, and away we went! It simplified the process for me! So, using Blendspace as a means to deliver lesson plans with multimedia content is an excellent way to use this resource. But there are many other ways to use Blendspace in the classroom including:
• Flipped Classroom—Teachers can create lessons for students to access at home.
• Class Jukebox—Teachers can select various music videos to use in class for music-related lessons. This idea comes from Blendspace!
• Image Bank—Teachers and students can create a “notebook” or “scrapbook” of images that relate to a particular topic of study.
• Scrapbook—Teachers can share highlights from the marking period, semester, or year with a virtual scrapbook, and students can do the same.
• Video Bank—Teachers and students can use Blendspace to collect topical videos. Blendspace recommends even creating a collection of TED Talks videos for students and even teachers for professional development!
• Categorization Games—The teacher can create a lesson bundle and ask students to analyze what the multimedia items have in common. Students can also do this themselves and create their own categorization games.
• Virtual Field Trips—Teachers can take students on virtual field trips anywhere in the world!
• Presentation Games—Blendspace recommends giving students a topic and a time limit to create a Blendspace presentation about that topic to share with the class.
• Virtual Museums—Much like a virtual fieldtrip, teachers and students can create virtual trips to museums around the world, or students can even create their own virtual museums (like a Gallery Walk) about particular topics.
• Online Story Books/ Graphic Novels—Students can use Blendspace to create their own stories, and these stories can include photos and videos either from the interest or that the student creates.
• Web Quests—Teachers can send students on a Web Quest to discover information about new topics of study.
• “A Dozen Dilemmas” — This is a game suggested by Blendspace. In this game, the teacher presents various “dilemmas,” or real-world problems such as poverty that need to be resolved. Students can select a dilemma and then create a Blendspace presentation in which they provide solutions to the problem.
• Jeopardy—Create a game with Blendspace in which the teacher gives answers, and students have to write the questions just like in the game Jeopardy!
• “Crowdsource” a Lesson—This is also suggested by Blendspace, and for this activity, students each work together to create a lesson for the whole class to use.
• Vlog—Students can create a vlog of their experiences with a particular lesson or across a specific period of time.
• Multimedia Presentations—Students can use Blendspace to create multimedia presentations as a substitute for PowerPoint and Prezi.
• Professional Development – Teachers can create professional development sessions with in Blendspace that can be shared out to teachers online or can be used during in-service sessions.
Other Perks of Blendspace TES Teach
The other perks of using Blendspace include:
• Being able to create multiple-choice quizzes throughout a lesson bundle in order to check comprehension! Blendspace can even GRADE these multiple-choice quizzes for you! If you want to include open-ended questions or more involved quizzes, you can input Google Forms, or just simply attach a Word document.
• The teacher can set up classes, and students can have their own accounts! Once students have set up their accounts, teachers can TRACK what their students are working on. Students can also COMMENT alongside resources within each lesson. This tracking enables the teacher to have a record of where each student is in the lesson and what the student still needs to complete.
• Users can access Blendspaces that have already been created by other teachers and students—as long as that teacher or student has made it public. So, if you need a lesson on Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet, you can search Blendspace to find one that has already been created by another teacher and USE IT! Some of these can even be SAVED! Amazing!
Blendspace vs. LiveBinders & Evernote
As I mentioned previously, Blendspace can be used for the same purposes as LiveBinders. The difference is in the ease of use (Blendspace is much more accessible) and in the interface. While LiveBinders takes on a literal approach to looking like a virtual notebook with tabs, Blendspace uses a drag and drop system wherein teachers add content to “tiles.” It does not look like a literal notebook on the screen.
Evernote, on the other hand, is a tool more for being able to “jot down” notes on the go. It’s like having a little notepad in your pocket. It can also be used to “clip” excerpts from online articles for research purposes. While Evernote is a notebook system similar to LiveBinders, it’s really geared more for research rather than creating presentations.
All three tools can be effective in the classroom, and I love the idea of letting students choose which tech tools they will use! Try it out and see what you think! Have you ever used TES Teach in your classroom? Leave us a comment below and share how you've used this FREE resource!
About the Author
Meredith is the founder and creator of TeachWriting.org and Bespoke ELA. She has taught high school English for 10+ years in Dallas, Chicago, and New York City and holds a M.A. in Literature from Northwestern University. She has always had a connection to the written word-- through songwriting, screenplay writing, and essay writing-- and she enjoys the process of teaching students how to express their ideas. Meredith enjoys life with her husband, daughter, and sweet pups.