Now is the time for voting for your favorites. You can vote once a day on every computer, so you can get all your votes in by December 13, 2011. There are so many excellent new blogs, individual blogs, teacher blogs, student blogs, Tweeters, free web tools and more, so you may need multiple days to get all your votes in! I know I do.
Welcome to the blogging world! Some of my blogging teacher friends have been creating resources for new bloggers, so I thought I would contribute my ideas. My simple advice is to get in there and start blogging, find your own way, and enjoy the journey.
Although I’ve been blogging for about 18 months, it’s just been in the last six months that my journey has become more engaging and rewarding.
The second thing that happened on my blogging journey is I realized I was unclear on the purpose of my blog. Was it for personal or professional reflection? Was it to give assignments and write model blog posts for my students? Yes, it was all of those things, and it was a little bit crazy. Along the way it became clear to me that I needed two blogs: one for professional entries and the other for classroom work. You are reading my professional blog, and you can find my student blogs at http://krebs.edublogs.org.
So, my advice is to get started and find your way. Maybe you’ll choose to join a blogging challenge and define your purpose earlier than I did. You are unique and your blogging journey will be too, so have fun with it and good luck!
Sheri Edwards recently wrote a post called “Five Tips for New Bloggers”
She also started a Diigo group you can join intended for folks to share information that will help bloggers. It’s called ebchallenge
Finally, here is a Voicethread started by Nancy Carroll to gather blogging advice from others:
I like that we call graduation “commencement” because commencement literally means beginning. As we graduate from the “30 Days to Kick Start Your Blogging” teacher challenge, I realize it is really the beginning. It is the beginning for all of us new (or freshly spiffed up) bloggers. An interview with my blog started this challenge, so I thought I would end the challenge with a final interview. But before my blog comes out, I wanted to show a word cloud of my blog over the past month. I am delighted with the big ideas and topics included.
Teacher Challenge Blog Posts in a Wordle
Well, Dare to Care Blog, why do you need readers?
Mrs. Krebs and all the fine educators who have been in this blogging challenge learned they have joined a conversation. They believe that they really do have something to offer in their listening to others and in their sharing of their own voices. According to my ClustrMap, in her first eleven months of blogging, she had about 450 visitors. In one month, as she participated in this awesome 30-day professional development program at Edublogs, she had 300+ visitors. From little over 1 visitor per day to 10 per day! Of course, we all know how that happened. Neither she nor I did anything new or exciting. There were no prizes, no gimmicks, her writing skills didn’t improve, nor did she have incredible new insights. It wasn’t the fancy widgets she put on my sidebar or the categories and tags she cleaned up. The only thing that really changed was she joined a community of educators willing to help each other by listening and sharing. It was transformational. Mrs. Krebs and I, her trusty blog, thank all of you!
How can we stay networked? How can the conversations continue?
I believe it will be more difficult without the regular prodding of Sue Waters, Ronnie Burt, Sue Wyatt, and Anne Mirtschin. However, it will be possible, if educators do a few things.
First, join Twitter, if you haven’t already. Follow the four educational leaders above and @mrsdkrebs. Send out tweets when you post a new blog entry. Follow educational leaders and read their blogs.
Second, dare to share. (Just a little play on my name there!) Write posts about incredible lesson plans, questions one has, cool new web 2.0 apps, genius student work, and any other professional and personal reflections. And write them regularly!
Finally, because there won’t be the handy “Posts of the Week” links to visit each others’ blogs, you’ll need to be proactive in going out to read others’ blogs. Have you found some favorite bloggers already? Add them to your reader or subscribe by email. Or add them to your blogroll and visit them regularly.
Why has this challenge been important to you and your blog?
My writer, Mrs. Krebs, asked me to yield to her on this question, so she’s taking over.
It’s an exciting time in education. According to Tony Wagner, American education is due for a major renovation. It’s happened just once before. Over 125 years ago, our school system was reinvented. It went from a one-room school house model to an assembly-line school system, the same factory model we still have today. American education doesn’t just need a reform, it needs a re-invention. I know it’s true. Students think education is irrelevant to their lives. They don’t believe the stale promise, if you work hard and get good grades, you’ll get a good job. I don’t want to waste any of my valuable time teaching in a way that is irrelevant. I want to be in on the conversation that is reinventing education. I don’t have grand ideas, but I do believe I can be part of the discourse. I am eager to listen and share and reflect. My blog has become a part of that!
Another snow day in the Midwest, along with teacher challenge Activity 7 on widgets, compelled me to go searching for snowflakes to lightly fall upon my blog. I didn’t even know there was such a thing until some of my students noticed it, and were rightly impressed. Now I can show them the code and let them put it on their own blogs. If you would like the snowflake code, in honor of the greatest snowstorm in U.S. history, you can cut and paste it from here:
The rest of my blogging time today was spent with a potpourri of widgets! I have seen some interesting things about QR codes, so I made one for the first time. (Is a QR code a widget?) I couldn’t figure out how to capture the HTML code (if there is HTML), so I didn’t put it in my sidebar. If you have the means to read QR codes, you may be able to scan this and read my profile. I don’t have a device that reads QRs, so I can’t check it out. Check out this video for some amazing educational applications of QRs at McGuffy School District. A good blog post by Kimberly at I Heart EdTech also gives uses for QR codes in educational settings.
Yesterday I saved an archive of my blog so I could monitor changes in my sidebar, before and after the big cleanup. I used Photovisi to make a collage.
It is a bit mixed up, but I think you can get the idea that it was full of widgets. The link sections were too long, as I had 21 students’ blog links listed. Those were moved to my new class blogs page. I removed extraneous widgets that were there by default, and I followed Sue Waters advice on what were must-have widgets. Additionally, I added a little note about my blog. I didn’t want my sidebar to be long and cluttered again, but I still needed to add some must-haves, and I did—an RSS feed chiclet and a subscribe by email box.
In addition, now I have useful categories, newly named and organized, and I kept the tag cloud. I also went back and tagged all my old posts, something I hadn’t done since I started my blog a year ago. The ClustrMap went to the bottom of the page, along with two other badges I’m proud of—we’re in the blog directory and I’m an Edublogs supporter.
I believe my sidebar is still less cluttered today than it was yesterday. Hopefully, it will also be more effective today than it was yesterday. However, as I drafted this post, I stopped midstream and added a Twitter feed widget.
My, what fun! OK, I must stop now, or I’ll be back to my meter-long sidebar. But, wait, how about Shelfari? And I’ve definitely been wanting to check out a grocery list widget, a springtime in Paris widget, and the ubiquitous Elvis classics widget. Oh, never mind! Really, I do need to stop widgetizing this blog!
What do you think about my new sidebar? Did I improve it with Activity 7? Any suggestions for making it better? Do you think it’s still too cluttered? I would welcome any comments from my fellow #ksyb friends! In addition, if you can read a QR code, will you please let me know if mine says anything?
Photo: By the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – Northeast Region. They have made it available with an Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) license. That means I was free to share and remix, which I certainly did. The puffin in the original photo was very stately and handsome, and he wasn’t blabbering at all.
I’ve also included a couple previously-created embedded media. I use SchoolTube to upload my videos. I like it best because all the videos are uploaded to a school site, with teacher moderators.
Prezi is an awesome webapp. I’m still trying to figure it out. That non-linear feature has so much potential! Here is one attempt.
Avatars. What are they? I had never given much thought to them until 2009 when the movie Avatar came out. I thought avatars were the little pictures we use to represent us on webpages, but then I saw that they were big blue critters. I was confused for a time, as I often am these days learning a new digital language. This post is about the little pictures I use to represent myself, not the James Cameron avatar.
I have one colorful picture that I use as an avatar for everything.
I do like that I have a familiar web presence. When I search for my username, I see much evidence that I am out there. Even on a Google image search, my colorful picture comes up–along with dozens of other unrelated images, of course.
For my colorful photo avatar I used Photo Booth on my MacBook. I do prefer a photo because I like to be a “real” person commenting on others’ posts. However, I like this playful image because it doesn’t look too stark or exactly like me, with all my middle age imperfections.
Just for fun, for this blog challenge I did create a new avatar. It was made on Picassohead.com. What fun to create! It is just another reminder to me that the world is having so much fun creating and using all these cool sites.
The Picassohead resembles me, with the one green eye and crooked lips. Not really . Actually, my hair is about the same length and color as on my Picassohead.
Every time I do something new on my blog, my students have fun looking up the new websites and trying for themselves. I’m sure they will certainly want to check out the new ways listed below to create their own avatars.
Some of the characteristics that make it effective: • It is provocative
• It dealt with timely illustrations to make his points
• It is intelligent and challenging
• I had to wait for the next installment
• It included extensive and appropriate illustrations and media
• He engaged the reader by talking to us familiarly
Miller’s end-of-privacy series, twenty or so installments, scared me when I thought of privacy as we’ve known it coming to an end. But it wasn’t Old Testament-scary prophecy. Somehow it was hopeful, as well. We are in a new world. It’s cloud-centric, no longer print-centric. We will need to embrace it and move on with life in this new realm. The blogs left me feeling hopeful.
I recently realized I have spent a year feeling like a private blogger on a world-wide blog. With the “Kick Start Your Blogging” teacher challenge, I’m realizing that there are some positives to letting go of my privacy as a teacher and embracing a new worldwide professional learning community.
Besides enjoying the warm, cozy house and baking chrysanthemum cupcakes, Mrs. Krebs also interviewed her blogs. She has two teacher blogs and around forty student blogs (with that number growing). Her blogs are a little over one year old, with hundreds of entries, and a little disorganized. She’s hoping the Edublogs challenges will help her focus…
When did you start?
It was a cold and snowy day in December, 2009. School was out of session, and that’s always a creative time for teachers. They are a creative bunch, and this one here, she can’t sit still and relax on an unexpected day off. Many blogs begin their lives on winter snow days in the upper midwest. (In fact, she interviewed me on the first snow day of 2011.)
How did you get started?
She had to go through lots of trial and error and asking for help from Sue Waters and all those willing folks at Edublogs. Actually, the first trial and error stuff happened back in October of 2009. (I just dug a little deeper into my archival drawers.) But it was that snowy day in December that she finally spent enough time on me to figure out what she was doing.
Why did you start?
When Mrs. Krebs hears about something, she wants to try it out for herself. She had a new exploratory class that was coming in the spring—it was going to be called “Publishing.” They were going to make a literary magazine and a yearbook full of junior high shenanigans and pictures and whatnot. She had been wanting to try blogging, so she threw blogging into her class too. I was happy to see it, because this is the 21st century, for Pete’s sake.
What is your most exciting moment?
Well, there have been many, many exciting moments during the past year. Let me list a few…
• The first post I got. That was back on October 17, 2009. That one was made by Mrs. Krebs.
• The first student post, back in January of 2010. That one was by Kelly, I believe.
• Then we had comments shooting back and forth all over that English room where we were meeting. That was exciting because the children were very engaged.
• There was that first post, late last spring that came from a student who was no longer in the publishing class, but he dusted off his password and logged on by himself to make a posting.
• It was an exciting moment when we got a Cluster Map, and then we could see where in the world people were looking at me—The Dominican Republic, Hawaii, Canary Islands and then folks in all those big continents too.
• When we got our first comments from other teachers and students, that was a really nice moment.
What would you do differently if you were to start today?
• I would have insisted she use tags on her blog entries. I think tags have lots of potential.
• Another thing, I would have reminded her how important each one of those names are as she was creating blogs. She didn’t need a blog named testblogscs, but that’s what she’s got now.
What kinds of posts do you get? What are your sources of inspiration?
The students and Mrs. Krebs usually become inspired with their writings and productions—poetry, essays, fiction, speeches, videos, etc. Mrs. Krebs always posts samples of assignments the students are going to do. Another inspiration comes when they find a new web tool (Glogster, Animoto, Wordle, Blabberize, etc.). They have fun posting the products.
What hints and tips can you give other bloggers?
One thing that Mrs. Krebs wasn’t prepared for is how her blogging habits would evolve. She started the blogs as e-magazines, a place to publish writing. However, blogging has so many more possibilities—classroom assignments, personal learning networks, student collaboration. She had only a small picture of how I could be used in her teaching. She hasn’t really figured out what her place is in the blogosphere, but she’s having fun trying. My suggestion for other beginners might be to have two blogs—one for teacher use and PLNs and a second blog for classroom assignments and to manage and moderate all the student blogs.
What are the future goals you have for your Edublogs?
Helping Mrs. Krebs figure out all my cool features and what she can do next.