This time last year, I was attending the ISTE conference in Denver, Colorado. But, unfortunately this year I am #NotatISTE.

Even though I am not there in person, I can attend parts of the conference virtually. Here are some of the ways to do that:

1. Twitter – you don’t need to be a member of Twitter to take part in the conversations there. A great place to get ideas for use in the classroom, tools to use on your blog and other educators to chat with around the world.  You do need to be a Twitter member, though, if you want to include your opinion on any of the topics.

Follow hashtags on Twitter – #ISTE2017, #ISTE17, #NotatISTE2017, #NotatISTE17

2. #NotatISTE Google+ Community – this began a few years ago and now has thousands of teachers and educators around the world participating in this community. You have a chance to create your own avatar and include it on your own badge with ribbons. There is a Daily Challenge as well as a general challenge for the conference period.

3. ISTE unplugged live – sessions run by educators not attending ISTE and using the Blackboard Collaborate rooms for the presentations.

4. Periscope – follow educators as they video what is happening at ISTE. Check out #passthescopeedu and their weebly found here, Shelly Sanchez has part of the keynote here.

5. Follow Sue Waters who has created a great blog post about NotatISTE and how she makes the most of attending the conference virtually.

6. Flipboard – a way to curate lots of blog posts relating to ISTE

7. Livebinders – another way to curate resources from ISTE

Authentic audience

Political Officer of the U.S. Embassy provided a presentation for the 2016 U.S. Election Discussion Series at the Information Resource Center (IRC). He answers the students' questions including those on political party conventions, primaries and caucuses.

Creative Commons License U.S. Embassy Phnom Penh via Compfight

From my previous post, you will see reason 7 to blog is:

To give students a global and authentic audience

That is why I began blogging back in 2008 – I wanted my students to see there is a world beyond their small town. We began with a class blog, then each student had their own blog, all open to the world.

But the world was not coming to them; the only comments they got were from each other or from me their teacher and occasionally a parent.

How could I get a global, authentic audience to visit my students’ blogs?

Back in 2008, I didn’t have any contacts to other teachers around the world. The students didn’t have any relatives living in other countries.

Then I remembered Sue Waters, my mentor who had started me on my blogging journey.  I contacted her and she sent out a tweet to her educator friends on Twitter. I had joined Twitter 6 months previously but had not used it because I couldn’t really see any value to it.

Soon I had 3 teachers wanting to link our classes and to leave comments on student blogs. Here was the authentic audience, here was a global audience.

  • Mrs Smith – grade 6/7 in Canada
  • Inez – grade 6 students in Portugal
  • Mr Bogush – grade 7 in USA

But this would never have happened if I didn’t have that one person who had a connected personal learning network.

So how are you the teacher going to develop a network of other educators who can then help comment on your student blogs?

I will be writing another post on developing a PLN (personal learning network).

Reasons to blog in class

Following on from my Brekkie with a techie session, I have had inquiries from teachers about starting class blogs or blogs for particular areas such as STEAM within a school.

If you are still not sure why blogging is so good for both the teacher and student, then check out this infographic or image created in 2015 by Sylvia Duckworth who creates sketch notes.

Sylvia has now put 100 of her sketchnotes in a book, so check it out here.

Which of these reasons resonate with you in your classroom? Which do you feel are most important?

Why begin blogging in your class?

This Thursday, I will be running a Brekkie with a techie session at Launceston College. I have been asked to do this by Kent Poulton, my previous boss. It is to be a basic introduction to blogging with mainly primary school teachers. It is being held from 7.30am-8.30am before school starts. I have also invited Linda Bonde from Riverside Primary to come and talk about her blog.

What do I think is important to know before starting to blog with your class?

  1. What is a blog?
  2. How do other teachers use their class blog?
  3. How can you introduce it to your class?
  4. How does it work within the curriculum?

What is a blog?

How do other teachers use their class blog?

  • Share information and class news with parents, family and caregivers.
  • Provide students with a way to access assignments, homework, resources and information about their class online.
  • For global collaboration and authentic audience.
  • To inspire and motivate students.

Check out these blogs from Tasmanian schools:

Blogs from overseas (teachers blogging for a long time)


Made with Padlet

How can you introduce blogging to your class?

Show them the video above and use the student activity sheet linked here.

Create a display board related to blogging.

Do paper blogging with your students, put results on the display board for classroom visitors and other teachers, parents to see.

How does blogging work within the curriculum?

I have started creating posts relating blogging to the Australian curriculum but here is a quick list of possible ways:

  • value of strong passwords
  • privacy settings
  • multimodal reading and writing
  • digital safety
  • being a good digital citizen
  • embedding English genres for reading and writing
  • questioning skills
  • creating graphs, surveys, polls
  • creative commons images
  • using advanced safe searches online
  • chance for everyone to have their opinion heard

A blog works best when it is part of the daily classroom life rather than an extra add on.

All about passwords

This is the 2nd part of my series relating blogging to the Australian Curriculum.

Whenever students log in to the school internet or check emails or write on the class blog, they need to have a password. It is most important they understand the importance of a strong password.

As their teacher, you might decide on the password they use on the blog; younger students may use another password they already have for Study Ladder or Mathletics or Reading Eggs but these are often very weak.

The older students from grade 5 on should be starting to create their own passwords. Here are a couple of videos giving tips on how to create a strong password.

Sue Waters from Edublogs says a strong password:

  • Is at least 8 characters long
  • Is unique and different from your other passwords.
  • Doesn’t include terms that are significant to you like pet’s name, username, real name, date, phone number that are easy to guess or use complete words that make it easier for hackers who use dictionary attack programs.
  • Also avoid common word misspellings and words in which letters have been replaced by numbers or symbols because some dictionary attack programs also check for these.
  • Contains a combination of uppercase and lower case letters, numbers and symbols (keyboard characters that aren’t letters or numbers).

Students need to keep their passwords secure and again here are some tips from Sue Waters.

  1. If you do write down your passwords don’t label them ‘password’ or leave them in plain sight on or near your computer.
  2. Don’t use ‘Remember the password’ if you are sharing a computer with other people.  If someone knows your username, and you used ‘remember the password’, they just need to add your username to log into your account.   You can make sure your password has been removed after you log out by clearing stored passwords.
  3. Always log out of your accounts if your device is around others and make sure all passwords are cleared if someone asks to use your device.
  4. Don’t give your password to anyone except your parents or teacher- not even your friends or a sibling.

Things to discuss with students

  • What are weak passwords
  • How to create strong passwords
  • How to remember passwords

Connection to curriculum

F-2: ACTDIP005

recognising and discussing the need for cyber-safety when using online information systems, for example recognising that shared personal information can be used for undesirable purposes and that using a password is a means of protecting identity

3-4: ACTDIP013

considering ways of managing the use of social media to maintain privacy needs, for example activating privacy settings to avoid divulging personal data such as photographs, addresses, and names and recognising that all digital interactions are difficult to erase (digital footprints)

5-6: ACTDIP022

considering ways of managing the use of social media to maintain privacy needs, for example activating privacy settings to avoid divulging personal data such as photographs, addresses and names


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