(2014/15 workshop begins in November 2014. These older pages will remain, but look for updated versions and new topics as the workshop progresses.)
Welcome to the launch of the BOCES SLS “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 some of the examples and readings that interest you.
- Finally, do the learning activity.
- And – Have Fun!
Have you ever kept a diary, a journal or some sort of file that logs your activities? 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.
Blogs take sharing one step further by allowing others to 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. We love free.
To learn more about blogs, take a look at this fun Blogs in Plain English video:
(If you can’t view the YouTube version of this video, you can view it on the CommonCraft Web Site.)
BLOGS IN SCHOOLS & LIBRARIES
So what can libraries and schools do with blogs? Some ideas include:
- 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 posts:
- Riley Elementary School KidBlogs – Librarian Molly Clark in collaboration with classroom teachers has elementary students blogging.
- Gwyneth Jones offers tips on blogging in Just Blog It! Blogging Tips & Ideas
- 8 Tips For Blogging With Students – “Blogging is a great way to promote reflective writing in class. The best way to get started is to jump in and try it out, and this list should provide some pointers to get you started.”
- New Teacher Boot Camp Week 5: Using Blogs – “Blogging is a wonderful way to motivate our students to write. Students can share their stories, thoughts and reflections on their blogs. Writing for a real and global audience makes blogging an engaging and meaningful experience.”
- 7 Things You Should Know About Blogging – this older document is still very relevant. (and the whole “7 Things” series is a very useful resource to know about)
Some 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.
- Never Ending Search (Joyce Valenza)
- Huzzah! (links to many student blogs listed under “classmates 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 (Grade 1 students)
- Free Tech for Teachers (Richard Byrne)
- The Unquiet Librarian (Buffy Hamilton)
- Student Blogging Challenge (have your students join the next one!)
- The Daily Dragon (Children’s Room)
- Librarian Nagler
- Library Door (Paige Jaeger)
- Algonquin Middle School
Chances are your organization or someone you work with has a blog already, ask around!
TOOLS TO EXPLORE
There are many different blogging tools to choose from! Shop around and see which site appeals best to you. These options are all free!
- 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.
- Blogger tutorials – great series of screencasts by a teacher
- Weebly – Very friendly drag and drop sort of interface. Use it to create a blog or take it further and create project websites.
- SCHOOL ORIENTED: ClassBlogmeister, EduBlogs, Weebly and KidBlog all have options to set up classroom accounts that are managed by the teacher.
- 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.
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. You can choose any of the blogging tools listed below, but if you’re new to blogging you might want to try Blogger. If you’ve already familiar with that and want to try something new, go ahead and try WordPress.com or EduBlogs or any other blogging platform that appeals to you.
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 thing and encouraging you to have conversations with your colleagues via comments on your blog posts.
DO THIS! –> Write down your account info. 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 and what you’ve learned during this lesson. Please title it “Thing 1: Blogging”. Feel free to write as many posts as you like, it’s your blog after all!
Step 3: Register your blog here
We’ll use the registration list to create a list of participant’s blog so everyone can read each others blogs and share their tips and ideas. Your weekly blog entries will also be the basis for earning continuing education credit.
Step 4: Finished?
Let us know you finished your first lesson by filling out this short form. You’ll need the URL of your first blog post to complete the form.
- 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.