Dare to Care

create, communicate, collaborate, and think critically

31/Dec/2011
by Denise Krebs
6 Comments

My Favorite Photo Tools

On this New Year’s Eve, I thought I would share some of my favorite photo tools. The reason? I have photos on my mind today because tomorrow I start a yearlong photo-a-day challenge!

And now, on to the tools…The first three are not only free and easy, but they are also quick, for you can use them with or without creating an account.

BeFunky.com

My go-to online photo editor is BeFunky.com. It is fast and has many features for making photos beautiful. Some of my favorite effects are watercolor, oil painting, impressionist painting, underpainting and cartoonizer. Here are some samples…

Impressionism Effect

Using the Cartoonizer Effect

BeFunky.com Watercolor Effect

BigHugeLabs.com Mosaic Maker

Mosaic making has become a favorite for me. When I want to show a linear progression between photos, I make a one row mosaic. I wrote a blog post about how to create a mosaic from a Flickr set–easy! Here are some of the different mosaics I’ve made this year.

Photovisi.com

This is my favorite for making photo collages and a surprise winner for making text posters. What a cool site! I’ve included some of both kinds of collages I’ve made.

Flickr.com

The most important tool I’ve discovered this past year is Flickr. I have been using Flickr Creative Commons pictures and teaching my students to properly use them and cite them. Thanks to Sue Waters at Edublogs for teaching me the importance of CC images and making it understandable with this post about enhancing posts with images from Edublogs Teacher Challenge.

We are getting much mileage out of Flickr now, both as consumers and now producers. We used it so much that I now have two pro accounts on Flickr. One is for my own personal photos, and the second is for my students to upload their photos. Here is a post that Shiann wrote about how we have become contributors.

More Photography in 2012

Last year revolutionized photo taking for me! I used to lose my camera or carry it in my purse with a dead battery. On the rare occasion that I needed it, it would not be available and I wouldn’t have known how to work even the simplest point-and-shoot features.  Now, I love to look for possible images, I have read the manuals that came with my cameras, and I rarely leave home without a camera with a charged up battery!

I will look forward to seeing what 2012 brings for me in new photography tools and skills as I take on the challenge of a photo a day.

What are your favorite photo tools to use?

Do you want to consider a photo a day in 2012 too?

How about joining a small group of teachers who will be encouraging each other in the challenge? We are the #T365Project group on Flicker. You are welcome to join!

05/Dec/2011
by Denise Krebs
2 Comments

Edublog Awards 2011

This past year has been an exciting time for me as a teacher and a blogger. I joined the Teacher Blogging Challenge in January and I never looked back.

Last month was my first time noticing the Edublog Awards, also known as #eddies, so I nominated some of the bloggers I’ve been privileged to meet over the past year. I was also nominated by two of my fellow Teacher Blogging Challenge friends–Tracy and Sheri.

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.

For me, it’s an added bonus, as well as thrilling and humbling, to be included on this list of nominated best teacher blogs.

30/Jun/2011
by Denise Krebs
16 Comments

Welcome to New Bloggers

Welcome!

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.

First, I became involved in Edublogs teacher challenges. It started with the Kick Start Your Blogging last January. Next it was 30 Days to Get Your Students Blogging, next, with my students, the Student Blogging Challenge in late March through May. Then I even became a guest blogger in the Free Tools Challenge. Currently I am lurking about the PLN Challenge. I’m hoping to begin participating, but, yikes!! There are too many opportunities to take advantage of all of them. However, as a result of the blogging challenges I have tried, I’ve discovered a whole world of educators out there connecting and collaborating. I’ve met some incredible friends like Nancy Carroll, Sheri Edwards, Lyn Howlin, Theresa Allen, Joanne Selig, and Kathryn Trask—educators from all over the world.

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:

12/Feb/2011
by Denise Krebs
22 Comments

Twitter Non-Guidebook: What NOT to Do

Have you ever wondered how NOT to use Twitter? Probably not, but I’m here to tell you. According to HowLongHaveYouBeenTweeting.com I have been tweeting for 1 year, 2 weeks, 3 days, 16 hours, 16 minutes, 46 seconds. Little do they know that I was really incubating in my tweetless nest for most of that time. My first tweet came out last October after two colleagues went to an education conference. They came back and told me that educators were using Twitter to stay connected and share resources. Oh, yeah?  I love to learn new things, so I hatched right out of my Tweet shell and chirped a message to  the whole world. To the world? Maybe not. Actually, it went out to my one friend who had become my follower. She probably didn’t even have her TweetDeck open.

My First Tweet
In the past three months, I have made some important Twitter mistakes. So, without further ado, here are my top unlearnings about Twitter. What NOT to do!

1.  Don’t tell anyone when you are talking to them.

No audience for this Tweet!

In the above tweet, in my make-believe world, I was part of a conversation with my NaNoWriMo novel-writing friends following @nanowordsprints, but I forgot to mention it in my tweet. At this point in my Twitter history, I still had one follower, and since she was not writing a novel with me, she didn’t know what I was talking about. After a few tweets like this and noticing mine were not showing up in the Twitter stream, I did finally catch on and began to reply back so my voice could become part of the conversation.

2.  Write about questionable activities.

Family of skinny dippers? Really?

Yes, one of my very first tweets was about skinny dipping. I may have used the dare machine on NaNoWriMo. I honestly don’t remember why I wrote a skinny dipping family into my novel and reported it during a word sprint. Anyway, after I had sent just a handful of tweets I went to Mrsdkrebs’TwitterWeighsATon.com. Here you can see my top five tweeted words, one includes someone I was word sprinting with–Jonny Boy. Since you can only weigh your twitter stream on this site once, that’s what is out there for all time. It’s pretty lightweight, actually–my Twitter didn’t weigh a ton at all, maybe just a shekel.  If I started over today, I probably wouldn’t go to MyTwitterWeighsATon and I may have thought twice about admitting I wrote about a skinny dipping hippie family.* Not such a proud moment in my profile building, or brand, as Angela Maiers calls it.  (*11-4-11 — I outlasted MyTwitterWeighsATon, but I still wouldn’t recommend tweeting about questionable activities.)

3.  Don’t properly use the four symbols in the Twitter language. RT, d, @, #

Misuse of the Hashtags

This tweet was sent when I first started to get it. I was so excited to say something to the people in the room with me as Angela Maiers spoke to us at a Digital Literacy Conference. “Brenda, Mary, Eileen, Stacy, Erin and Angela!” Here I come, world! I tweeted out. Stacy sweetly explained to me that using the hashtag in that tweet probably wouldn’t get all of my friends to see it. I needed the @ or mention symbol. Thanks, Stacy!

4.  Don’t leave any room for Retweeting.

Flickr CC Search Toy - So much to say, ran out of characters!

Yes, once in a while I have something valuable to offer. Like the tweets about word clouds, NEH Landmarks in History free with stipend summer workshops, and my new favorite the Flickr CC search toy. However, when you use every single one of your 140 characters to tell about the wonderful resource you are sharing AND put the URL at the end of the message, it’s a hassle for others to RT your great find. Especially when they are novices like me.

Now, not only did I want to share my What Not to Do Twitter Non-Guidebook. I do want to conclude with two more things that you should do. I’ve learned from the best of them…

Do Be Gracious to Others

So many people are out there to help us newbie Twitterers. They are playing nice in the digital world. Thanks for everyone who is patient with us when we make mistakes. (Number 7 on our class netiquette list.) Also, a big thanks to those who are teaching me good etiquette in a new medium. So, for those of you who haven’t started yet, go ahead and get an account.  Have fun, because even though I do the things in my Non-Guidebook, people are forgiving and kind.

NEH Landmarks Worshop

Ron retweeted this announcement about NEH Landmarks of American History workshop,  changing my hashtag to a more useful one. (Notice it had to be continued on deck.ly because I had hogged the 140 characters. Non-rule #4 above.)

Thanks from a fellow teacher!

Beverly offering thanks and reciprocation for our students’ blogging efforts.

A retweet from a new friend in my PLN

Nancy retweeting my blog post. How nice is that? I was nervous because it was my first attempt after the Kick Start Your Blogging Challenge ended. Not only did she read it, but she retweeted it. I receive other messages thanking me for following or commenting on student or teacher’s creative work. I’m learning from others in the Twitter community how to be patient and kind with others.

Do Read a Bit About Twitter

Usually, I’m pretty confident to just dig in and figure things out, but, for me, Twitter is one of those things that has a steeper and more slippery learning curve than some of the other tools I’ve used. Here are helpful posts that I finally read about three months after I got started. In the past few days, I’ve learned so much that I probably wouldn’t have had to write this post had I done the reading earlier.

Hashtags.org – To follow trends and figure out hashtags.
Twitter Wiki
Mashable Twitter Guidebook
Follow the links for Tons of Twitter How-to Posts – By Jon M. Reid
Topsy.com – An archive of all your tweets – even on skinny dipping
Angela Maiers’ Twitter Resources Library
Make graphs of all your Twitter stats.

Create a word cloud of your Twitter account with MyTweetCloud.
http://mytweetcloud.com/
Jessica Hische’s “mom, this is how twitter works” – Not just for moms!
http://tweetcloud.com/

What about you? Do you have other things to add to my What Not To Do Non-Guidebook for Twitter? What other important things are on your DO List for Twitter? I’m learning, so I’d love to hear more!

03/Feb/2011
by Denise Krebs
14 Comments

Class of 2011 KSYB Teacher Challenge Commencement

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

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!

Check out Iowa Future and Tony Wagner’s motivating talk:

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