Although this is my class blog, I have other blogs for different purposes:
What Else 2 Learn: Lessons, Lesson Ideas, Educational Slideshares for educators and families; images to connect, explain, share
AskWhatElse: Seeing is believing — a visual look into our classroom for family and class friends; images for attention and connecting
Ms Edwards: A bi-weekly newsletter on writing class for family; images connect, explain, share.
Pause2Play: A reflective blog on educational issues and pedagogy; images to connect, explain, share
WhatElse1DR: A classroom reflection; images to explain and share
One of my favorite image creators is Snagit for Mac or Windows. Snag a screen shot, import to the editor and create visuals for your blog. Below is a Snagit from a screenshot of a MindNode web. In the Pause2Play link, images were created to show the idea sheets for students to use.
That’s the trick about images: purpose, clarity, communication. My students in writing class choose images that match their writing ideas; it’s always their idea to add them. Then those students teach the rest of the class. It’s amazing how exact they can be, and how they can find images that work using Creative Commons.
I think its important to use images with students, to show them that sometimes it’s the words and sometimes it’s the image that focuses the reader on the meaning. Click below to see the poem on a picture from PicLit (directions at WhatElse2Learn).
Did you know that the WikiMedia Commons site provides all the attribution you need? Just click “use this file on the web” and up pops what is needed. I just created a Pics 4 Projects page for my students; the science teacher needed creative commons pictures for her class computer work. We expect attribution for all images at all ages.
So, how do you teach image use with your students?
Our students learn to protect their identities online while young. We use pseudonyms like Samuel Clemens did. You know he was the real Mark Twain.
Although we have created avatars on paper, we haven’t created online avatars yet. The Picasso Head perfectly presents a way to create our pseudonyms with pizazz. It is easy and fun. I’ve tried art creations before and, if I were only a tech class, the time spent playing would be acceptable. However, my class is writing with reading, so we don’t have oodles of time for play. This works for simplicity.
I created one in a few minutes that shows my personality. I spiked out my hair because every day is a bad hair day for me, my eyes could be wearing glasses, and my spider arms hold pen and paper.
Another way to make avatars is with a free mac download of Noble Avatar Generator. I used it years ago to create an avatar, which the kids say, “It looks like you!” (Well, I was thinner then…)
It is also easy to use and students can be wild or conservative in creating their avatar personas.
In Photo Booth on the Mac, filters allow you to generate unique images from a photo; I’m sure Windows users have similar programs (add them to our comments, please ).
I like avatars that look like the person or their personality. I require avatars to be carefully created with purpose — Why did you choose that image? How does it relate to who you are? This represents your person, so make it sparkle and make it sophisticated!
The important thing to remember is that as students grow into the age where they can be online on their own, that these avatars tell part of their story. When they are online (even with pseudonyms and avatars), they should always represent themselves in positive ways. As an adult, I need to take ownership and responsibility of my work; people should know who I am. Younger students create avatars to sparkle, but also to say, “This is me, and I have something to say.”
Although I tried to use the voice to record my words in this Voki, the recording skipped around, so typing worked better for me.
I added the tech tips page for students as we hope to start blogging soon. I updated the “Our Tech Beginnings” so it reads as a history page since it is two years old. I linked to the guidelines and pedagogy on our class blog so readers could begin the journey at the class site. And, I added more information to my About page to provide more background information. I still want to add to this, with information that links to our student pages and learning as we begin the student part of this journey.
Suggestions for Students:
Create an About Me page without personally identifying information but with specific information about yourself. You could write an ad, a recipe, a “right the world” page. Remember, personally identifying information you should not use includes names, addresses, phone numbers, emails, links to your personal social pages (Facebook), your photo. You can share our hobbies (but not where you do them), your favorite food (but not where you eat them), and your favorite music (but not links to your personal pages).
You may have a special project you work on; create a page for it. For instance, one student is researching Martin Luther King, Jr and may create a page on his research.
You may want to create a goals page: what do you imagine in your future, and how do you plan to get there?
You may want a purpose page: what is the purpose of your blog?
You may have favorite general links to tools or resources other students can use (like picassohead). These would not link to your personal work, but rather to the “create” page so others can try the tools with suggestions or tips from you (these would also make great blog posts — how-tos).
What do you think? Do you have any suggestions? Let us know your choice for adding pages.Photo Credit: Image created with PicassoHead
What makes an effective blog? What’s the magic that makes readers roll into your words?
Of course the effective blog is one that meets the purpose to which you need the information. As a teacher who needs support from beyond the walls of my school to keep me fresh, I wish for blogs with tech ideas, examples, and how-tos for lessons, strategies, and tech for the classroom. Fulfilling that wish is “Langwitches Blog: The Magic of Learning” written by Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano.
The titles offer the topic clearly. The content includes 5W+Hs of effective news:
Who uses the technology
What the technology is
When to use it
Where to include it
Why use it
How to do it
In addition, pictures, graphics, links, and sources are included to enhance the explanation and to allow follow-up. It’s written clearly so others can replicate the strategy used to integrate the technology.
If you want information about technology how-to in the classroom, search Silvia’s blog. She shares the “magic of learning” for others to learn. Do check it out and see if you don’t agree. And, thanks, Silvia, for waving your magic wand to sprinkle the world with your successful ideas.
I teach writing, and what better way to teach writing than to write for others — for real, and not just for “teacher.”
With the world moving into online openness, I also realized my responsibility as an educator was to guide my students into this world so they could traverse these trails with dignity and respect — of, by, and for them. Words by themselves can be misinterpreted, so thinking carefully about the message is important. We stress that in our “Net Etiquette.”
2. Your first blog was August, 2007. What challenges have you faced to “kick start” your blog?
Time and Habit: At that time I was a complete newbie, leery to jump into something without being an “expert.” it took encouragement and many discussions through webinars, twitter, and email with a growing Professional Learning Network to convince me to just start the habit.
Format: Do I have a class blog or individual student blogs? The answer to that question has evolved. First, I blogged. Next, older students occasionally blogged (book reviews and reflections and at Youth Voices). Finally, with an energetic group of fifth and sixth graders anxious to share with the world, we started class blogs at the end of the year ( Fifth Tween-Agers and Native Views ). As you can see, several platforms are available.
3. That sounds like quite a journey. What advice do you have for other teachers?
a. Just do it.
b. Start blogging with your students; no one is an expert.
c. Choose a starting point that fits your time and structure: i) class blog to which students only comment; ii) class blog with students also posting; iii) teacher blog and class blog for student posts; iv) individual blogs.
d. Think topics: current events — a great place for students is tweentribune
e. Lastly, but most importantly, give your students writing journals. Encourage their stories, poems, memoirs. Let them write every day at home and school. Let them decorate them. Celebrate what they write well — a great verb, a powerful description, a clever phrase. Allow them time to “comment” on each other’s journal entries, just like a real blog. Powerful. Low tech moves to high tech.
5. What about this challenge? Why did you choose this?
We have a challenge to improve scores at our school. Writing is key to thinking, so if students can think clearly in writing after reading on a topic from class or of their choice, students should improve both reading and writing.
After playing with many blogging platforms, I found that Edublogs provides this supportive environment — for students and teachers — by offering the platform and the techniques for implementation. This is where my students can flourish in a safe, supportive, positive venue. I just need that push for my consistency so I can guide their consistency. I’m ready to get them started, so this challenge, shared with my students, becomes a model of learning for them.
I think I’ll ask them to write, “Five Questions About My ___[title]__ Blog” How about you?