Welcome to Thing 1 : Blogging!
This is our first topic in our 2016-17 “Cool Tools for School” learning program! Congratulations on joining so many of your colleagues on this learning adventure. To understand how the project will work, make sure you read over the About the Project page and the other links on the menu above.
READY TO START?
In this first lesson, we’ll explore blogging and you’ll set up your own blog to keep track of your progress through this learning program.
- Read through the introduction below.
- Explore 2 or 3 of the examples, videos and readings that interest you. (remember, you don’t have to explore everything!)
- Finally, do the learning activity in which you’ll set up a blog to chronicle your learning and reflections during the workshop.
- And – Have Fun!
Have you ever kept a diary, a journal or some sort of file that logs your activities, thoughts, ideas? Well, that’s simply what a blog (or “web log”) is. An online journal where you can write regular updates, or “posts”, about a topic – any topic! Write about your travel, your hobbies, your family, your work – anything that interests you.
Since blogs are usually public, other people can share their thoughts and ask questions through the commenting feature on your blog. It’s a great way to connect with other people interested in the same topic.
Blogs let you do all this without having to know anything about HTML or other web-page coding stuff. And best of all, you can do it for for free with tools like WordPress.com, Blogger, tumblr, Weebly and others.
And blogging is a huge opportunity for students to show what they are learning, share their work and make connections with other students around the world. Check out this video showcasing a schoolwide “blogfolios” project!
BLOGS IN SCHOOLS & LIBRARIES
Ideas for blogging in schools & libraries:
- Share news & professional information with other teachers and staff.
- Keep students & parents up to date on school projects.
- Share book recommendations and reviews.
- Get students involved – student writing projects, research journals, student portfolios.
- Read other people’s blogs to keep up on professional news and ideas.
- A book discussion blog for students and staff.
- Post research tips and tools for classes.
- and much more!
Some tips, ideas and examples:
- If you read nothing else, read these 3 posts:
- Blogfolios – Andrea Hernandez talks about this terrific project where each student in K-8 has a blog that also serves as a digital portfolio.
- Blogging with Students – Terrific series of tips from the folks at Edublogs. Lots of examples of student and classroom blogs.
- Thirteen Ways to Boost Student Blogging
- Empowering Students Through Blogging
- 6 tips to make the most of student blogging – Quick read with a good strategy for getting started with classroom blogging.
- How to Safely Connect Six year Olds to the World – Short podcast with Kathy Cassidy on classroom blogging with 1st grade. She’s been doing this for 12 years and knows how to make it work.
- Gwyneth Jones offers tips on blogging in Just Blog It! Blogging Tips & Ideas
Examples of library and school oriented blogs to explore:
- Edublogs Nominees & Winners – annual awards for best education blogs. Great resource to find ideas, inspiration and professional reading
- Class Blog List – Lots of examples of class blogging projects, arranged by grade level.
- 23 Great Library Blogs – July 2015 article with a list of some great library blogs to serve as examples
- Never Ending Search – Joyce Valenza’s School Library Journal blog
- Huzzah! – School blogging project with links to many student blogs listed under “class blogs”
- Bound for South Australia: Journey of a Lifetime – tracks the journeys of ships bound from England to South Australia in the 1830’s.
- Mrs. Cassidy’s Classroom Blog – Mrs. Cassidy has had Grade 1 students blogging for many years
- Free Tech for Teachers – Richard Byrne shares great resources
- The Unquiet Librarian – Buffy Hamilton
- Student Blogging Challenge – have your students join the next one!
Chances are your organization or someone you work with has a blog already, ask around!
There are many different blogging tools to choose from These options are all free. Pick one to create your blog for this workshop.
- WordPress.com or Edublogs – both of these services use WordPress software as their core. So if you’re familiar with WordPress already, these will be easy to use.
- Blogger – If you already have a Google account, you can use that to create your Blogger blog.
- Weebly – Very friendly drag and drop sort of interface. Use it to create a blog or take it further and create project websites.
- Tumblr – This service is very popular, particularly with teens. The focus is on posting and sharing photos, graphics and quick thoughts. But can also be used for blogging.
- Penzu – This is a simple, easy to use blogging/journaling tool. But at this point the only way to share posts is to make each one public on an individual basis. A bit awkward. (Entry sharing instructions here)
- SCHOOL ORIENTED: EduBlogs, (individuals can set up their own accounts for free, or educator can set up a class for $40/year) Weebly and KidBlog ($44/year with a 30 day free trial) all have options to set up classroom accounts that are managed by the teacher.
Your activity for this lesson, is to create a blog to keep a record of what you’re learning during this project. It will also be a way to communicate with and share with others who are participating in the project. Choose whatever tool you’d like to use, one of the ones listed above or any other blogging tool that you want to try.
Step 1: Pick the blogging tool that you like and create your own blog for the project.
Please note: You need to have your own blog to use for this learning project. Please don’t register your library or classroom blog for this project. We will be looking at your blogs to see how you’re doing with each lesson and encouraging you to have conversations with your colleagues via comments on your blog posts.
DO THIS! –> Write down your account info and keep it handy. Login, password, URL, blog name.
Step 2: Create your first blog post
Tell us a little bit about:
- who you are
- where you work
- why you’re taking part in this program
- what you’ve learned during this lesson.
Please title your post “Thing 1: Blogging”. Feel free to write as many posts as you like, it’s your blog after all!
*TURNING IN YOUR ASSIGNMENT
- Write & publish your blog post.
- Copy the URL for the post.
- Return to the lesson page on the CanvasLMS site.
- Use the SUBMIT ASSIGNMENT button in the CanvasLMS page and paste in your URL.
*Only for students participating in the workshop for PD credit hours through the Canavas LMS system.
- Take a look at the help files for the tool you chose to use.
- Ask around and see if your colleagues and friends know the answer. Next time you might know the answer for them! That’s the start of a really great Personal Learning Network.
- Really stuck? Leave a message in the comments box below and we’ll try to sort things out for you!
MORE TO EXPLORE
If you’re very familiar with blogging and want to explore a bit more, here are some ideas.
- Try a new blogging platform!
- Learn how to customize the sidebars of your blog. You might add a twitter widget, a Facebook widget (the Like Box is great if you have a Facebook page for your library or classroom), a GoodReads widget with your latest book suggestions.
- If you’re partnering with someone who is doing this project for the first time, help them set up their blog and get started with the program. Was it easy for them? Were there challenges?
- Start to outline a blogging project you might use with students, staff, parents.
- Or anything else that you want to try that’s related to blogging.