Consumption vs. Production

Darren Rowse gave a great challenge in the ProBlogger post “Don’t be Paralyzed by Over-Consumption in 2011”. I was challenged reading the resolution his friend made, “I will be a producer, not a consumer.”

This resolution has many important applications for me.

  • I resolve to produce more of my own food in the summer because I’ve been entrusted with this beautiful Iowan soil.
  • p163743_s

  • I resolve to move more, so I can lose that extra ten pounds.
  • I resolve to produce more effective experiences for my students, rather than just read another great teacher blog post.

Of course, consumption is good too. After raising them, we need to consume those beautiful veggies. We need to consume calories, so we have energy to run our bodies. And all teachers know, we need the input of colleagues to plan productive school days.

Regarding the 21st century’s overabundance of information, and my last year’s inclination to over-consume. Here are my resolutions:

  1. I will not check Twitter or email until after I take my morning walk and write my 750 words, (The only Internet site I use first thing in the morning. It is a very refreshing way to brain dump as you begin your day. It gets you ready to produce!)
  2. During the school day, my Internet usage will be limited to the resources and communication necessary for me to be an effective teacher.
  3. I will not check my subscriptions on Google Reader until after a full productive day of teaching.
  4. Lastly, and most frightening, I will not just infosume, but I will join the educational conversation. I will write on my blog regularly and learn and share through Twitter (and in the halls at my school, of course). @mrsdkrebs

Infosumption in the 21st century, has the potential to put me into a tail spin of inefficiency and overindulgence. My head becomes obese with all the information, but since I’ve been considering the idea of consumption and production, I’ve done something about it. Now, I feel refreshed.

If you are still reading this little blog post, thank you, and I suspect you may tend to over-infosume, too. We must, as Darren’s friend said, dare to become a producer, and not just a consumer. In the last three weeks, I have become much more productive with information as a result of my four resolutions.  “I resolve to be a producer, yet rejuvenate with adequate and measured consumption.”

Photo: Royalty-free image from

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.

A Few of my Favorite Things

Diet coke and Nails.Inc.

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.

Privacy vs. Transparency

Screen shot 2011-01-22 at 5.14.42 PM

Twelve years ago I started a school web site. We were painfully careful not to show the faces of children in photos. We took large group photos from a distance or we showed the backs of their heads–only photos that were unidentifiable. Over the past decade, with so much of our lives online in Facebook, Flickr, YouTube and others, things have changed. We are not fully transparent, but we definitely have changed the standards of what is appropriate regarding privacy issues on school web sites.

Now I am trying to understand how much privacy I should maintain with my blog. Can my new friends help me, please? Will you answer any or all of these student blog and privacy questions?

  • Do you put up photos on your blog that identify your school?
  • Do you identify students by name in photos?
  • Do you use real names or netnyms (pseudonyms for the web) for your blogs?
  • Do you use first names only?
  • Do you link your blog and school web together?

It’s only been in the last two weeks, since the Kick Start Your Blogging challenge began, that I’ve felt like my students and I were developing an audience for our blog. I’m delighted and excited, but I’m also concerned about the privacy issue. I would love to get comments back from you about how you do it. Thanks so much!

Art: No known copyright restrictions. Source: New York Public Library

Avatars: Big Blue Creatures or Picassoheads?

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.

My Picture
My Picture

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 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.



Lego Avatar

Portrait Illustration Maker


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?

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.