Category: Blogging Challenge

Blogging with Apollo Bay P12 College students

Step 1: Go to the Global2 website by clicking on this link: Global2 Home Page

Step 2: Click on the link on the right hand side of the page, on the world logo, under where it says “Create your First Blog”.

Step 3: Add your site domain name – I suggest your student code (eg. gow005) or nickname. Choose carefully, this becomes part of your web address and cannot be changed.

Step 4: Give your blog a title, which can be changed at any time.

Step 5: Choose your privacy settings. I recommend that you choose “Visitors must have a login”, so only students and teachers who have registered with global2 can comment on your blog. Create your new blog by clicking on the “create site” button at the bottom of the page.

 

 

Step 6: Login to your email account, click on the link sent from global2 and activate your blog.

Step 7: Login to your blog’s dashboard and change your password (Go to “Home” and “My Account”) ensuring you remember your blog address and password.

Step 8: Log in and go to the “Appearance” button to choose a theme for your new blog.

Step 9: Go to “Add Post” and write your first post by adding a title and text. You may also like to add an image – remember it should be an image you have  created yourself or a creative commons image and not one copied from the internet.

Step 10: Fill in the following form with your details.

Blogging Workshop at Warrnambool College

Last Friday, 25 Year 7 students from Hawkesdale visited Warrnambool College to participate in a blogging workshop with about 130 of their Year 7 students. Our students have been blogging for up to four years, so they were able to act as peer tutors for six classes, over three hours. As Warrnambool College students are just starting their blogging journey, our students were able to assist them to change their theme, title and tagline, write their first post and some added links to their blogroll. Alannah and Anna shared their own blogs, showing a cluster map, “Sparklee” text and how they use text and images to share their learning with readers from across the globe.

This was a great opportunity for our students to share their blogging knowledge and demonstrate confidence and leadership skills. We hope that we can continue to connect with students from Warrnambool College, as blogging buddies and perhaps, in future, our students can assist to share their knowledge of the Ultranet.

Thanks to Greg Twitt and David Clift for organizing this exciting opportunity and also to our Year 7 students who did an excellent job. After the workshop the class was treated to a game of Ten Pin Bowling.

“I liked sharing my blog with Warrnambool College students – it was good to be able to help them start their own” Alannah, Hawkesdale College Year 7 student

“I couldn’t believe Hawkesdale have been blogging all that time, but once we were shown how, it’s not that hard really.” Warrnambool College Year 7 student.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Blogging Buddies at Warrnambool College

On Friday April 27th, 27 students from Hawkesdale P12 College will attend Warrnmabool College to assist their Year 7 students to start their own gloabl2 blogs. Mr Twitt has opened global2 accounts using the student code, as you can see at the ‘parent’ blog: http://wblcoll.global2.vic.edu.au/. Your tasks are as follows:

1. Activate your global2 account.

2. Login and change your password to something you will remember.

3. Change the admin email for the blog to their student email (under settings).

4. Change the title of your blog to something good.

5. Choose a good theme  and create a header if necessary.

6. Write your first post.

7. Add an appropriate image (creative commons or one you have taken yourself).

8. Add a widget (cluster map or avatar).

9. Add some links to a blogroll of other student blogs.

Global2 Blogging at Warrnambool College

Step 1: Go to the Global2 website by clicking on this link: Global2 Home Page

Step 2: Click on the link on the right hand side of the page, where it says “Make a New Global 2 Blog”.

Step 3: Add your site domain name – I suggest your student code (eg. gow005) or nickname. Choose carefully, this becomes part of your web address and cannot be changed.

Step 4: Give your blog a title, which can be changed at any time.

Step 5: Create your new blog by clicking on the “create site” button at the bottom of the page.

Step 6: Login to your email account, click on the link sent from global2 and activate your blog.

Step 7: Login to your blog’s dashboard and change your password (Go to “Home” and “My Account”) ensuring you remember your blog address and password.

Step 8: Log in and go to the “Appearance” button to choose a theme for your new blog.

Step 9: Go to “Add Post” and write your first post by adding a title and text. You may also like to add an image – remember it should be an image you have  created yourself or a creative commons image and not one copied from the internet.

Step 10: Fill in the following form with your details.

 

Some great resources for blogging:

 

Global2 Challenge – Collective Knowledge Construction

The final activity in the Global2 Blogging Challenge is to reflect and rethink our expectations of online teaching and learning activities. I have created the slideshow above to demonstrate some of the activities our students at Hawkesdale P12 College participate in. As we are a 1:1 learning environment, all our students from Grade 5 to Year 12 have nearly constant access to a netbook or desktop computer. This has been a steep learning curve for both students and teachers – in terms of classroom management, wireless access challenges, social networking opportunties, which sites should or should not be blocked, web2.0 tools available and changing expectations of students, teachers and parents.

I think that our staff and students have been learning collectively about how technology can impact on learning – just putting a computer in a child’s hands doesn’t necessarily improve their learning. Most students like using technology, but they prefer to use it different ways. Many teachers have discovered that netbooks allow learning to be more personalised – we can give students a greater variety of choices in their learning. Students can access, store and synthesise information quickly, allowing more time for evaluation and creation. Teachers are also learning to model appropriate use – from email and file storage to creating teaching tools using videos and screencasts.

We know that we need an appropriate use policy to be signed by students and parents at the beginning of each year, but we also need to remind students constantly about what appropriate use entails. We know that it is helpful if all students have agreed to have their images posted online and that it is helpful if parents have a good understanding of the benefits and risks of on online presence. We have found that it is easier for all teachers if we are open to learning from our students – often they can demonstrate better ways to achieve the same goals, rather than being restricted to the teacher’s method. We know that students and teachers need time to explore and practise with tools to be proficient in their use and that we can improve with reflection and feedback. It has been an interesting e-journey for the whole school and we hope that our students are developing 21st century skills that will enable them to be successful global citizens.

Global2 Challenge: Learning Collectively


Image created using WordFoto app for iPad

In a small, rural school, such as Hawkesdale P12 College, the ability to access resources from outside our remote location has been hugely beneficial. As well as communicating with students in all parts of the globe, teachers are able to form personal learning networks across continents and oceans. Teachers, students and community members can feel somewhat isolated from city life, without the great range of choice (shops, libraries, learning options, hobbies, medical and sporting opportunities) that are available in metropolitan areas. Through blogs, Twitter, Facebook and other online social networking platforms our community members have the ability to seek out others with similar interests, that they would otherwise never have the opportunity to contact.

In my school we have a Maths and Science faculty of just five teachers. We get on well and very quickly get to know each others preferred strategies and teaching philosophies. By joining online education communities (such as #vicpln on Twitter or the “Guide to Innovation” Ning) I am able to draw on – and contribute to – a much greater diversity of teaching experience. I certainly believe that effective professional development can occur as collective online learning – this has been consistently demonstrated by the Classroom2.0 forum, Anne Mirtschin’s “Tech Talk Tuesday” and “eLe@rning” on Wednesdays, as well as the Ultranet “Share and Tell” sessions. Each of these platforms operates on the premise that we all have something to contribute – everyone has different skills and experiences that others can learn from. By allowing different guests to present their own ideas and reflections, participants gain a wide range of perspectives.

Time and distance can prevent students from visiting museums, galleries, gardens, zoos and other places of interest. Many rarely have the opportunity for attending live theatre, dance or concerts. However, they can connect with like-minded people through gaming and other various special-interest forums. An example is the 365 project, which is a site where participants upload a photo each day for every day of the year and comment on photos of others. Several teachers at our school started the project this year and encouraged some of our students to join. As keen photographers they are able to share their work with others, view images from other beginners and experts, critique photos, ask for advice and contribute to discussions. This experience has allowed them to explore an interest and improve their skills outside school. Together the 365 community have built a resource of incredible images, together with information about cameras and how to create amazing photographs. These students have been able to take photos for the school magazine and enter photography competitions.

Another example of online collective learning has been the VCE Environmental Science Online course. This course has enabled students from four different schools to enroll in the subject, who would not otherwise been able to, due to lack of a willing and/or experienced teacher or due to too few students wishing to study the subject. We spend 90 minutes each week on Blackboard Collaborate (formerly Elluminate) and communicate via my blog, email, Facebook and Skype. These students are passionate about the subject – willing to take the risk on a trial in 2011 – and contacted me through my blog to request an online course. Ubiquitous access to technology has enabled them to connect with students of similar interests and support each other throughout the course.

Other students have taught themselves to play guitar using YouTube clips, create and upload animations and identify invertebrates, frogs and birds found on their farms. This ability to personalize their learning is motivating and increases the opportunities for students to develop skills for life-long learning. They are able to ask their own questions, contact experts and investigate answers. They can, as Sir Ken Robinson would say, find their “Element”. Teachers need to be very strategic and imaginative to be able to incorporate these types of learning within the scope of the VELS framework. I only hope that the new Australian curriculum will be flexible and open enough to allow teachers to facilitate online collective learning that matches the passions of our students.

Global2 Blogging Challenge – ReThinking Publishing and Transparency

global2 blogging challengex450

Students, classes and teachers at Hawkesdale P12 College have been blogging for the past four years, since Heather Blakey came to visit. We blog with varying degrees of success – none I consider to be failures. Blogging is the ultimate open-ended task, suited to all ages and abilities. As a digital portfolio it allows students to build up a chronological record of their writing and changing interests. It can be customized to suit individual students with a huge variety of templates, widgets, headers and colours available.

My daughter (aged 12) enjoys posting on her blog “to share with everyone” – although she doesn’t receive a lot of comments, she is careful with her writing because she knows she potentially has a global audience. She likes to choose widgets which express her personality and is constantly working to improve the appearance of her blog.

As a science and maths teacher, I have limited time to blog with my students in class. I do like them to produce digital products, such as slideshows, posters, quizzes and reports that can be added to their blogs. It was interesting that some students preferred not to add their slideshow of an eye dissection, because “people don’t want to look at blood on my blog”. Ideally, I think students should write at least weekly on their blogs and comment on their peers blogs. It would also be great if relatives, parents and teachers could comment regularly to encourage thoughtful blogging and reflective thinking.

Our school has started to focus more specifically on learning intentions, success criteria and making these explicit to students. I believe this is a powerful strategy for teachers and learners to improve learning outcomes. If we encourage students to state these learning intentions and reflect on their progress towards them on their blogs, students will be able to document their improvement over time. The development of this metacognitive process allows students to become more independent and improves their critical thinking – all valuable 21st century skills.

I think we can improve blogging at Hawkesdale by involving parents in the process. We are planning a parent information night when we will demonstrate the use of Facebook, blogs and other web2.0 tools. This is part of a proactive strategy to minimize cyber-bullying by assisting parents to monitor their children’s behavior online. We are also running a competition “What does my Digital Footprint say about me?” with prizes donated by local businesses. Students in three different age groups will submit artworks, writing, multimedia or songs demonstrating their understanding of appropriate online behaviour. This is one small way we can facilitate student thinking about how to behave online.

How does your school involve parents with technology learning?
What are some effective strategies to encourage students to behave appropriately online?
Why do you think inappropriate comments are more frequent on Facebook than on blogs?

Blogging Challenge #8: Building your Personal Learning Network – not just your readership

personal_learning_network

Although I have been blogging for a few years now, it is probably only in the last twelve months that I have been getting significant numbers of visitors from outside my own school. “Technoscience” was originally intended as a class blog, for storing links to resources, lesson planning, reflecting on practise and gaining feedback from students. It has developed a “split personality” now, with some posts directed towards my students and some towards my colleagues and peers. The Teacher’s Blogging Challenge has helped me to recognise this and decide to make the split. I will leave this site as my professional blog, for reflecting on my practise of teaching and for communicating with colleagues and I will start a new blog for my middle years Science students (link to follow!). As we are just starting a new school year, this is the best time to set up a new class blog for my Year 7 and 8 students. Hopefully, I can maintain my exisiting readership and build on my PLN (personal learning network) using the following strategies:

  1. Writing regular, informative and interesting posts, targeted towards teachers using technology, mainly with middle years Maths and Science students. Use these posts to encourage reader interaction with questions, polls, surveys, offers of assistance and requests.
  2. Using Twitter (@brittgow) often, to notify followers of new blog posts, good links and resources and to assist people I follow with answers to questions, requests for help and general feedback.
  3. Attend virtual and face-to-face conferences, as a presenter, moderator, assistant or participant, regularly throughout the year. I already plan to attend the “Toolbox for Environmental Change“(Melbourne), “World Environmental Education Conference“(Brisbane) and “Slide to Learn” (Gold Coast), as well as several online conferences.
  4. Frequently visit other bloggers and leave comments on posts that I  find relevant, well-informed and interesting. Make connections beyond blogging.
  5. Attend Professional Development opportunities via “Elluminate”, an on-line conferencing platform that allows participants to communicate via text chat, audio, video and an interactive whiteboard. The Victorian Education Department (DEECD) has an excellent program of PD at the “Educator’s Guide to Innovation Ning” and the virtual sessions can be booked for class use as well.

Even though I really like my clustrmap with lots of red dots showing visitors to my blog, building a personal learning network is far more important to me. These are the people I have met at meetings and conferences and then kept in contact with online, or the ones I have met online that I have connected with in some way – because we share the same interests, teach the same subjects, have similar opinions or ask the same questions. My personal learning network are the people behind the avatars, who respond when I send out a tweet asking for help, who comment on my photos and posts, share their resources with me and make me feel that I am part of a community. These are the readers and online friends I value. Sue Waters has created an excellent wiki, “PLN Youself”  about gaining the skills to build your PLN.

Many, many posts have been written on the subject of building your blog readership (different to building a PLN), and if that is important to you, here are some of the better ones, in my humble opinion:

Would you rather have lots of readers or a supportive PLN? What do you think is the difference?

P.S. I created the image above by copying and pasting the images and arrows into a Powerpoint slide, saving as a JPEG file (use the drop down box “save as”) then using Irfanview to resize to 450pixels wide.

Blogging Challenge #7: Searching for widgets

widget_comiclife

Image created using Comic Life

Activity #7 in the Teacher’s Blogging Challenge has been very timely for those of us with Globalteacher and Globalstudent blog accounts. When I logged into my blog this morning I found that my URL had changed from “brittgow.globalteacher” to “brittgow.global2.vic.edu.au”, but not only that, my header image had disappeared and so had most of my widgets! This is the part of the change required to consolidate globalteacher and globalstudent campuses, still under the umbrella of edublogs, but facilitated by the DEECD.

  1. So, my first step was to reinstate my header image. This image was created using “Irfanview”, free software that I use everyday to resize, crop, rotate and add effects to images. To create a panorama, like the one I have used, you download “Irfanview” then simply select “Create Panorama image” under “Image” and add the selected images from your pictures folder.
  2. Next I wanted to add a Clustermap – because the URL has changed, I need to start from scratch with a new clustermap. I added the HTML code for the new map and the code for the archived image to a “Text Box”. Why do I like my clustermaps so much? Well, they show me where my visitors come from and even though most people who visit don’t leave a comment, the clustermap shows me that lots of people drop by!
  3. The next widget is “Show Yourself” which provides links to lots of other places where my viewers can find me: Flickr, Twitter, YouTube, Skype, Delicious and Gmail. I noticed lots of people have this information in their “About Me” page, but here it is compact and easy to find.
  4. To add the “Twitter” and “Flickr” widgets I had to activate the Edublogs “Widget pack Plugin” – go to “Plugins” and check “Activate”, and the options should appear in your widgets. (Wow – it sounds like I have learnt to speak Geek!) Now you need to add your Twitter username and select how many tweets you would like to appear.
  5. To add “Flickr” photos is a little more tricky. You need to find the RSS feed, which loooks like the picture below, at the bottom of your Flickr page.RSS feed If you click on the icon, it will give you an API adress that you can copy and paste into the Flickr widget. Then select how many photos you would like to display.
  6. The last step was to add my nomination badge for the Edublogs awards – something I am particularly proud of. Sue Waters has a special trick for adding images to the sidebar in your blog. I have copied her method below:

“The easiest method is just open up a new post (Post > Add New). Grab the image URL and insert the image into the post using the Add An Image Icon. For the box that says Link image to you just add the URL of the page you want to link to. Once you’ve added all those details just click Insert into Post – to add the image to your post. Presto! Your visual Editor has just written the HTML code for you. Now just click on HTML tab and copy all of the HMTL code then paste into a text widget.”

I’m loving Anne’s metaphors for different parts of the blog and widgets really do give your blog legs – they link your blog with other blogs in your blogroll and with your visitors in Clustermaps and Revolver maps.  Some people don’t like the distractions of flashing, glittering and revolving widgets in the side bar, but students enjoy personalising their blogs in this way. So whether you choose a minimalist approach to accessories or go the full bling, widgets are a useful tool for linking your site with others and showing a little more about yourself.

What are your favourite widgets? Which do you think are most popular with students?

Blogging Challenge #6: Embedding a “Nervous System”

 

View more presentations from Britt Gow.

This post is in response to the Teacher’s Blogging Challenge Activity #6 Embedding Media. Back in December last year, Sue Waters asked “What tools do you like to use your students that can be embedded into blogs and other websites like wikis?”. She asked teachers to complete a Google form, itself embedded into the post, listing the top three favourite tools that we like to use with students. This got me thinking – “How can I narrow it down to three?” – and in response I wrote a post titled “My Top Ten Online Tools to Embed in Blogs and Wikis in 2010”. 

So how do we narrow down the choice of tools? Firstly, we need to be looking at the learning outcomes we wish to achieve. Nobody who ever bought a drill actually wanted a drill did they? They wanted a hole! (Did I read that on Twitter recently?). So instead of recycling the previous post, “My Top Ten Tools for Embedding”, I will focus on the learning outcomes that can be achieved with each type of tool, when students use those tools to demonstrate their understanding and skills.

wallwisher

1. Text tools to Embed – Wallwisher, Wordle and Tagxedo

Wallwisher can be used to gain and store feedback from students about a range of questions. It can used like an exit slip – “What are three things you learnt today?” or to plan for future classes – “What didn’t you understand about today’s lesson?”. Wordle and Tagxedo can be used to find out what students already know about a topic and the relative importance of different terminology in their mind. Find out more about how these tools can be used with students in the slideshow presentation embedded above.

 Simple-Machines-Rachel

2. Concept maps – Bubbl.us and Freemind

I am a great fan of mind-maps and have been using them since before my interest in web2.0 tools. Tony Buzan has been advocating the use of mind-maps for many years. His site lists the many benefits of mindmaps, which include reducing work load, increasing confidence, improving memorising and organisation and working more quickly and efficiently. So to find free, easy-to-use, colourful and accessible mind-mapping software on line has been fantastic. I use mind-maps to introduce a topic, giving students an indication of the scope of the unit of work and/or to summarize and revise a unit. Asking students to create their own mind-map helps them to make connections between concepts and organise their thoughts. By analysing the words students use and the connections between them, a teacher can determine how thoroughly a student grasps the concept. The image above is a screen shot of Rachel’s (Year 8, aged 13) mind map about Simple Machines. It clearly shows that Rachel has a good understanding of the different types of simple machines and gives examples of each type. She knows that there are three different categories of levers and that ramps and wedges are different types of inclined plane. I would be asking her where a ‘screw’ fits in and for a verbal explanation of how each machine reduces the force required to do work.

3. Audio Tools – Audacity, Podcasting, Voicethread

Recording audio allows students to practise reading, speaking and listening skills. In most cases, students should write a script prior to recording their voice, to ensure they can speak clearly, without hesitating and cover all the important information. If they are recording an interview, they should have thoughtful and informed questions to ask of their participant.  An exception might be if students are asked to briefly record their observations of a science experiment or quick “vox-pop” type recordings, for example. Audio files are usually uploaded and shared as links, rather than embedded in edublogs and globalteacher blogs. Although, I am rather envious of my friend Jess’s blog, Technolote, with her ability to embed Soundcloud files. Audio files can be used as an alternative to text with students who have reading/writing difficulties and are great for younger students and language learners.

 4. Digital Storytelling and Video tools – MS Photostory, Windows MovieMaker, YouTube, TeacherTube, Kahootz, Pivot

As with audio, students should write a script and carefully plan a storyboard prior to beginning recording. It helps if students are provided with a rubric and perhaps a past student example of the work required. If you can discuss your expectations with students prior to them starting work, you are less likely to have students waste time down the wrong track. Whether students use photographs, video footage or animations, they should keep the message concise, make sure the sound recording is clear (don’t try to record outside on a very windy day!) and be aware of copyright issues. The 60-Second Science Video competition was a great opportunity for students to produce a short video about a science concept of their choice. Creating a video requires students to think carefully about how they wish to present their information in a way that engages their audience.

5. Surveys, Quizzes and Polls – Google Forms, My Studiyo, Polldaddy

MyStudiyo_screenshot

google_docs_form

 If students can create a quiz, they can be developing a much deeper understanding of the topic than by completing a test on the same subject. They have to identify the important information and write the questions as well as knowing the correct answers. “MyStudiyo” is a fun tool for students to use to create their own online, interactive quizzes, using images and text, very quickly and easily.

Polls and surveys allow teachers to find out about their students and allow students to gather data about their peers. You can see an example of a survey I created using Google Forms on the “Survey” page of this blog. Creating a survey like this is quick, easy and very useful to get information from students at the beginning of a new year.

 First sign up with your gmail address (I recommend all teachers and students have a gmail account) and select “Google Documents”.  Then click on “Create New” >> and select “Form” in the drop-down box. You will then be able to type in the question and choose whether how you would like the questions formatted – multiple choice, checkboxes, short text response or paragraph text response, choose from a list, scale or grid.You can add as many questions as you need (unlike SurveyMonkey, which has a limit of ten quesitons with the free version) and edit as required. When you have completed the form, you are given the google_docs_form2option to send as an email or embed into web page. The embed option gives you a code, which you can copy and paste into the “HTML” window of your blog. Sometimes the size of the form may not align with your blog size, but the width and length can usually be adjusted in the code. Once students have entered the information, the data can easily be retrieved by going to the spreadsheet in your Google Documents.

I have found Google forms to be a very useful tool for collecting data for maths investigations (surveys for graphing and probability for example); self-assessment;  for end-of-semester and year surveys of my teaching practise; for award nominations and for gathering preferences for activities for school camps and excursions.

How do you think you can use embedded mindmaps, audio, video, quizzes or surveys in your class? How do you think your students can benefit from using embedded media in their blogs? Sue Waters surveyed  8 and 9 year old students and found out about the media they like most to embed on their blogs, which she wrote about in this post, “BeFunky, PhotoPeach and SketchFu – It’s what Student’s want to do!”.