Dare to Care

construct, create, communicate, collaborate, and think critically

02/Feb/2011
by Denise Krebs
6 Comments

A Wall Full of Widgets

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:

<script src=”http://cdn.techknowl.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/snowflakes.js” type=”text/javascript”></script> or get it Techknowl.com

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.QR Business Card

 

 

 

 

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.

Yesterday's Sidebar

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?

27/Jan/2011
by Denise Krebs
4 Comments

Anna’s Genius

I walked into my classroom on Wednesday morning and saw my white board covered with messages. They were written by a genius. Anna had been in my room the evening before, as it serves as a dressing room for the cheerleaders at our home basketball games. She decided to Image from subscription iClipart for Schoolsleave a message for the junior high students I teach. One message became two, then three, and finally it became a whole book. A guidebook to life. How to live it to the fullest. Anna is a genius, and she had something to share with the world. Would that all our students were so passionate.

16/Jan/2011
by Denise Krebs
4 Comments

The End of My Private Blog

Recently I began reading Richard Miller’s blog “Worlds End, Worlds Begin.” I found the series he wrote about the end of privacy to be both prophetic and hopeful. It began with the first installment called: The End of Privacy: A Case Study (Tyler Clementi and Wikileaks)

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.

What effective blog posts have you read recently?

10/Jan/2011
by Denise Krebs
18 Comments

Snow Day Interview with My Blog

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.

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