Challenges with blogging

This is the next post in the #EdublogsClub series.

The thing I find most challenging about blogging with teachers and students is keeping the momentum going. Often students will start a blog as required by a teacher for perhaps a language arts or history unit. If time is not given during class, often these blogs go by the wayside very quickly. I find those students who blog about their passions are more likely to continue blogging even when the teacher is not there.

When I run the student blogging challenge (BTW next one starts first Sunday in March), again students, especially the older ones, often don’t write the posts or leave comments on other student blogs. It is only the very keen ones who do this regularly. Some students will do it though, if it is needed for assessment and bonus marks.

Teachers also need the momentum to keep blogging. I find if they use it as a normal part of the curriculum or as a way to connect with parents, the class blog is more likely to be updated. But if they see it as an add on to the already overcrowded curriculum, then the blog will sit there with very little added to it.

If teachers also have their students as contributors to the blog, then they can write posts about what is happening in class or things they are passionate about. This will also keep the blog going as parents and relatives are likely to leave comments on posts written by their own child.

Readers: If you have a class blog or website, how do you keep the momentum going? Who is the blog for? Who can post on the blog?

 

Free Web Tools

This is the next post in #EdublogsClub. It came at a very appropriate time, as this morning I was running a refresher course on blogging for teachers who have either been blogging for a while or just starting out.

I showed them three different web tools they can embed on their blog.   You can read how I ran the Refresher Day course here!

Padlet

The first tool I showed was Padlet which is like sticky notes but online.

The Padlet below was embedded into the Refresher Day post so the teachers could add a sticky note to share what they wanted to learn while allowing them to see how easy it could be used with students.

Made with Padlet

 

Add  your own note to the Padlet below to share your favorite tools you use with students.

Made with Padlet

 

Symbaloo

The next tool I shared was Symbaloo which you can use to gather resources or websites you often use in class.

In the top right corner of this blog there is a drop down menu under Tools to Use.

This links to the following three Symbaloo:

  1. Coding Sites – from an Irish friend of mine who I met through blogging.
  2. Digital storytelling – a symbaloo webmix which I created from lots of resources from other teachers.
  3. Image and sounds symbaloo –  I use with the blogging challenge as it has links for using images and sounds on your blog.

I’ve embedded my avatar creator symbaloo below:

Voki

The third web tool I showed them was Voki where you can create a talking avatar.  Great for text to speech book reviews and children soon realise punctuation is important.

If I make a free version without signing in I can only add a link to the Voki, but if I join and sign in, I can use the embed code.

I’ve embedded a Voki below:

Terms of Service and Education Versions

If you have visited these three websites I have linked in this post, you will also have noticed they also have Terms of Service and Privacy Policy links at the bottom of their home page.

If you are working with students under 13, it is always a good idea to check these as you might need to get permission from parents for students to use these sites. (Good way for parents to see how kids can be creative on the web.)

Also you will notice that both Padlet and Voki have school versions. If your school prefers to keep control of what students create and don’t like them having their work out in public, then you might be able to opt in for the education version.

Always check for a special education version whenever you look at new tools.

Refresher day

Welcome to the first refresher day for 2017. I am going to use the blog for the agenda and links for you to go to. So let’s get started:

Introduce yourself by leaving a comment on this post.

  • What is your name?
  • The school you work at?
  • Role at that school?
  • Grade or subjects taught?
  • What you want to do with blogging in your class or school?

On the padlet post board below, leave a sticky note about what you want to learn from today?

 

Made with Padlet

 

If at the refresher day with staff members from the same school, put together a list of ways to use padlet on your blog. Or work in a small group to do similar activity. Here is how a student, Ashlin, uses Padlet on her blog.

Depending on if you are a new class blogger or continuing a previous class blog, check where to go next:

Updating last year’s blog:

Remove previous students – dashboard> users>all users – tick box in front of names of students who have left your class then up the top bulk delete

Add new students in bulk – if you have more than 10 then use the form found up in the pages area of this blog – forms and letters. Once you email the form to me, I can add the students in bulk.

Add new students one by one – dashboard> users> blog and user creator Remember to give students username and password similar to what is mentioned in the forms section above.

Write a new post introducing the new year for school – perhaps mention what you expect to be doing with blogging etc throughout the year. Remember great posts will have exciting title, image or video included and a question at the end to answer in the comments.

Delete any widgets that are no longer necessary or that you get students to choose during class. Check out this new post by Sue Waters from Edublogs about widgets on class blogs.

New bloggers

If you don’t have a class blog yet, check with Sue to get one created.

Have a look at the following blogs. Each one is different in how they are used in the classroom.

Mrs Hennessy and her noisy bird use the blog to communicate with parents, mention what is happening in class and websites they could use at home.

Mrs Moore has a lot of posts written by her students – I usually visit the class at the beginning of the year, teach a few students about blogging then they become the experts for the other students.

This is my student bloggers blog where I write how to posts and answer any questions students might have about blogging. I used to have a weekly online class with students who had their own blogs.

Working at College level, Rob used the class blog to give instructions to students but also to showcase their work.

This teacher at Franklin primary had a blog about raising chickens, so you might decide to have a special blog for just a short period of time. At Princes Street Primary they began a blog about their garden.

Time to start setting up your new blog: In the pages above the header of this blog you will see Setting up blog. Here I have listed the steps you need to follow to get your blog organized. Many of these are one off activities. Get help from Sue or the more experienced bloggers if you get stuck.

The rest of the day is practical.

  • Ask questions about blogging
  • Look at other blogs
  • Write some interesting posts
  • Look at the teacher challenges especially using blogging with students
  • Find out some tools to use that have embed code for your blog eg padlet, YouTube. I have some in the pages section Tools to use
  • Check out the Help and Support user guide for Edublogs

Using images

Here's Looking at You

Russ Seidel via Compfight

This week’s prompt for #EdublogsClub is using images in blog posts.

I am not going to write a long post this time instead I am going to send you to some blogs and blog posts about using images.

I am personally taking part in a photo a day challenge. I have tried this for a few years and never made it all the way through the year. I use my iPad to take a photo then upload it to my blog via the Edublogs app. Write a bit of a post, add the categories and tags, then publish. I have chosen a them that automatically puts the first image in the post as the featured image. Thanks to Sue and Eugene (sorry I had Elliott) from Edublogs for their help in sorting this out. Keen photographers in your class, would be a great way for a group blog.

Mrs Yollis in California also takes part in a 365 day challenge with her students. She uses a blogger blog rather than Edublogs but she has students from around the world send in photos to her blog and leave comments. Click on the image to take you to the post and area to leave a comment.

When teaching students and teachers about images on their blogs, I use the post I have for the student blogging challenge. I use a lot of resources from various blogs around the world but I will leave it to you to have a look at the activities I get the classes and students to have a go at when using images. I rarely change this challenge other than to update to different student posts.

Student Leadership

20170130-140451.jpg

Sorry I am a bit behind with the #EdublogsClub prompts but time to catch up today.

No longer working in a classroom, I mainly have contact with teachers beginning blogging in their classroom. Some of them feel their students know more technologically than they do. So I also offer to teach a small group of students the basics of blogging then they become the class mentors and teachers for the other students.

The students are usually quick to pick up the basics and are prepared to have a go even if they make a mistake. As I am available 24/7 through comments on my blog or by using my email, students will quickly send me a message if they are stuck eg adding attribution for images or adding a video.

I then suggest they go to the excellent user guide here at Edublogs to see if they can find the answer. Often I give them the page to save them time. Within a few minutes, I have a reply back, saying thanks and they have worked it out ; “Check out my post on endangered animals, Miss W. I just added a video I found on YouTube.”

After a few months of being the class blogging experts, teachers often then ask if those students can have their own personal blog attached to the class blog.

This means a round of teaching the teachers how to use the My Class setup on the blogs where they can create their student blogs, moderate posts and comments all before they go public to the world.

Another form of student leadership I am involved in,  is inviting students to be mentors in the student blogging challenge I run twice a year for 10 weeks each time. These students look after a group of 10-30 students their age or younger. They visit the student blogs leaving comments and making conversations within the comment area.

Three of these student mentors were  asked to create posters for use at a global education conference ISTE in 2016. You can see their results in the image at the top of the page. These students were from Canada, New Zealand and Portugal. They connected with each other via email to make sure each poster was different, then contacted me about a week before I needed the posters. That is certainly student leadership. As teachers we make sure the connections are safe then let the students work it out for themselves.

 

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