“If you had $3000 to buy tech equipment for your genius hour program, what would you buy?” Thanks, Rhonda!
I just had to write a blog post to answer that question. To tell you the truth, I’m not sure this list is exhaustive or that I won’t think of something additional tomorrow, but for now a couple things immediately come to mind.
First, I hope you already have access to great Internet connectedness and laptops for your students. If not, I’d start there with extra bandwidth and a small set of laptops or Chromebooks or iPads.
If I had enough computers for at least part time access for students, then I would get:
A pro account on Edublogs and pro accounts for any other tools that you and/or your students love. They can each have their own snazzy blog and join a world-wide authentic community where they will grow in reading, writing, presenting, and 21st century skills.
Video recorders and editing software.
A huge collection of Legos Mindstorms robotics, software, and Legos for students to tinker and create.
How about you? What would you do with $3000 to buy tech equipment for your genius hour program?
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!
My favorite things and people are many! Do not be concerned that the Diet Coke made the top of my list. It’s not my favorite of all. My family and friends and food are actually more favorite. However, I am practicing some new ways to use images in my blogging challenge, so I used a picture I found on Flickr in the Creative Commons. Jenny, The Style PA, decorated this classic glass Diet Coke bottle and is sharing it with the world with an Attribution-Non-Commercial 2.0 Generic license. Thank you, Jenny!
I also tried something new, which was adding a gallery of my own photos to my blog. It was quite easy and actually saved a step from how I usually do it. To upload a gallery on your Edublogs, just upload images to the gallery and do not push the “Insert Into Post” button for each one. Instead, when you get them all in, scroll to the bottom of the gallery and “Insert Gallery.” You can experiment with how many to have in each row. I found five was too many.
I have lots of wonderful favorites in life. Here are just a few.
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.