Tagged: #ksyb

Reflections on the Teacher’s Blogging Challenge

Well, the Blogging Challenge is over and it has been a busy time reflecting on ways to improve my blog, completing the challenges and reading and commenting on new blogs. To keep tabs on all the new members of my personal learning network, I am dedicating this post to them:

Penny Bently – Cloud 9  – Penny is a fellow maths and science teacher active on Twitter, Flickr and Facebook.

Lois Smethurst – My ICT Journey – Primary Teacher Leading Teacher for ICT, Masters of Information Technology in Education, Teacher Professional Leave investigating IWBs, pedagogy and coaching, Intel Master Trainer, host of R U Connected and much more….

Yvonne Osborne – Visual Arts at Taylor’s Lakes Primary School – Creative and artistic blogger from Melbourne, Victoria.

Jeff Trevaskis (Mr T.)  – Webmaths – where Mathematics is tastier than pavlova (in northern Victoria).

Kay McGriff – Mrs. McGriff’s Reading Blog – Language, poetry and reading.

Theresa Allen – CSRN Technology – Technology teacher and coordinator for the Cathedral of St. Raymond School in Joliet, IL.

Miss Kay Tea – Miss T’s Reflections – A primary teacher from New Zealand with 36 years experience.

Christy Berry – BerryArt – A creative and connected art teacher who mixes art and reading.

Malyn Mawby  – Love2Learn – An active and engaging writer also on Twitter at @malynmawby

Laurie Fowler – Fresh Fowlers – An  asst professor at the University of West Alabama who teaches technology to pre-service and in-service teachers.

Jodi Woodward – I’m Still Learning – Great blog for tools in primary classes @Jodiwoo on Twitter

Lydia Schultz – Book Frontiers – An active school librarian and past English teacher on Twitter at @librarylady90

Tracey – Mrs S Online – Active and creative blogger with great “how-to’s”.

Jee Young – Teach to Inspire – An international educator teaching in Seoul

Anna Bring – Teaching Swedish – A swedish/maths/special needs teacher working in Norway (@anna_bring)

Mr. Carson – Learning With Mr D Carson – A thoughtful writer with links to all his Year 7 student blogs

Janelle Wilson – Stretching Forward – A middle years science teacher with a special interest in Space

Glenda Morris – The Groovy Librarian  – A teacher/librarian at an all-girls school in Melbourne, Victoria.

Nancy C. – Teaching is Elementary – A blog for teachers, parents and those interested in using technology in education.

Mrs D. Krebs – Dare to Care – A conversation about 21st century skills

Carol Satta – WCS Library – Library blog to encourage reading at Webster Bible Church and Webster Christian School

Michael – A Relief Teacher’s Journey – West Australian primary teacher with great enthusiasm for blogging.

Kim Lepre – Edquests – Great new blogger with lots of excellent links to tools and prestigous blogroll

These are the dedicated teachers who participated in the blogging challenge, wrote wonderful reflective posts and who I visited and left comments to. I hope I can continue to connect with passionate educators like this, who go the extra distance to improve their practise and share their work, their thinking and their learning. I’ve tried to mention you all, but I will keep adding as I find you all again!

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

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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

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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

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 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!”.

“Worth a thousand words”

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Image created in PhotoFunia

“Different people get different things out of the images. It doesn’t matter what it’s about, all that matters is how it makes you feel.” ~ Adam Jones
 

Kick Start Activity 5” in the Teachers Blogging Challenge One is all about images – “The Eyes of the Blog”.  This post is in three parts – (1) Creating Images (2) Finding Images and (3) Using Images. One of the biggest advantages of digital technology is the ease with which we can capture, store and transfer images.  “Facebook”, “Twitter” and many other social networking sites are introducing new ways to share images, and the ease with which this can be done can have unpleasant consequences. However, it also provides great opportunities for learning and makes the internet an ideal medium for me and other very visual learners.  Many of our students will have their learning enhanced by the effective use of images. One of my most favorite things to do is search and find a pertinent image to match a blog post or illustrate a presentation. 

(1) Creating Images

I like to use my own photographs when I can, and I am building a resource of these images by participating in the photo-a-day 365project and posting iPhone photos directly to my Posterous site. If you haven’t used Posterous before, it is a really simple blogging platform that allows you to post text and images by email. There is also a posterous app that allows you to quickly and easily post directly from your iPhone. There are several picture editing apps for the iPhone/iPod/iPad as well, that allow you to crop, rotate, resize and add effects. Chris Betcher has written an excellent review of twelve apps available from the iTunes store at “Snap Happy”. 

Here are a few more apps for photos and images that I have used:

sscropsueyCropsuey allows you to crop, rotate, flip and save images to your album.

 

sscomic_touchComic Touch (from the same company as Comic Life) allows you to create cartoons from your images by adding speech and thought bubbles with your text inserted.

 

ssinstagram Instagram allows you to create vintage effects (like an old polaroid) from your own photos, link to all your different social networking sites (Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Tumblr, Posterous etc) and share your images. With one touch, you can post your image to all these sites simultaneously.

ssFlickr Flickr allows you to search, view, post and organise your Flickr photos.

 

ssphotocard

Photocard has a range of spectacular photos from Bill Atkinson that you can send as a digital postcard. You can also use your own images.

 

ssdoodle_buddyDoodle Buddy  and

 

ssdraw_freeDraw Free allow you to create, send and save digital images you have drawn with virtual pencils, paint and crayons.

 

 

(2) Finding Images

creative commons brieflyWhen I can’t use my own images, I usually use “Creative Commons Search” or Flickr . But it is still important to check that the owner of the image you are using has licensed it for your use.

The image at left shows four different categories of Creative Commons licensing that an owner of an image may choose.  If you are using images from Flickr, it is good etiquette to leave a comment under the image, linking to the post where you have used their photograph or digital image.

Finding images on the internet for classroom use is problematic for many educators, for reasons such as copyright privileges, inappropriateness and wasted time searching. David Kapuler has written a guest post at the TechLearning TL Advisor blog listing the “Top Ten Sites for Images and Clipart” , which links to free options for image searches, suitable for student use. Note that the comments also have a number of free sites available, including Stock.xchng and Wikimedia Commons.

Photos8 is another excellent site for free photos and wallpapers, with over 12,000 images in 24 different categories. Sam Mugraby, a photographer and creator, has made these photos available for both commercial and non-comercial use, as long as you agree to his terms and conditions.

(3) Using Images in Science: Student Actvities

Images are very useful for teaching and learning about classification. Ask students to find images of:

  •  Each of the five Kingdoms of living organisms (Protists, Bacteria, Fungi, Animals and Plants);
  •  Five classes of vertebrates (mammals, birds, fish, reptiles and amphibians);
  •  Monocotyledons versus Dicotyledons;
  •  Five food groups (Carbohydrates, Fats, Proteins, Vitamins and Minerals) 
  •  Different types of Simple Machines 

 and construct a Table or a Venn Diagram.

Students can also use Bubbl.us mind-maps or a Glogster poster to display the images they have collected. Images can also be used to create Digital Stories – but that’s a whole new Blog post!

How Many Different Ways to Create an Avatar?

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Collage created with Photovisi

An avatar is a very important component of your on-line presence, used to identify you in social networking sites such as blogs, Voicethread, Facebook and Twitter. As an adult, I prefer to use a photograph of myself so people can recognise me, but our students should be using images that represent them, but they cannot be identified from. At the beginning of the school year, it is a fun activity to ask students to create their own avatar and save it, so it can be used throughout the year on different sites. Here are some different ways to create an avatar, which usually need to be resized to about 100 x 100 pixels (you can use the free software “Irfanview” to do this):

Using your own Image:

  1. Draw a picture of yourself in “MS Paint”, or another simple drawing program such as “Doodle”, and take a screenshot. This one is especially good for primary students.
  2. Draw, paint or sketch a picture of yourself on paper (or ask a friend to!) and take a photo.
  3. Use a photo of yourself taken from an unusual angle – your foot, hands or back of your head for example.
  4. “Be Funky” at  can be used to alter a head shot. You can change the contrast, make an etching, convert to black and white, crop and rotate the photo to render the image unidentifiable. “Be Funky” has a huge number of free options, as well as the premium offerings. (Bottom middle)
  5. “PhotoFunia” is another great site with lots of options to alter your own image. You can become a criminal on a “Wanted” poster, a billboard star or an artist’s model.

Cartoon Avatar Creator Sites:

  1. “Build Your Wild Self” (bottom right) is a really fun one for young students and animal lovers – you can create avatars with animal parts, like elephant ears, giraffe legs and crocodile tails. I think this is my favourite one to use, but it is Flash-based, so it can’t be used on Touch devices (ipods, iphones and ipads.)
  2. “WeeMee” for cute cartoons (middle image), but you do need to register with an email address.
  3. “Doppel Me” for comic representations (top right), again you need to register with an email address.
  4. Make a Lego avatar (top left) is a good safe and simple to use site for younger students.
  5. Portrait Illustration Maker is another good, safe site for school students. (bottom right)
  6. Portrait Icon Maker  – Very similar to the above – safe, free and suitable for students.
  7. Simpson’s Character Creator – Fun, but students need to sign up and agree to advertising.
  8. Diary of a Wimpy Kid avatar creator –  For fans of the book – Go Wimp Yourself!
  9. Picassohead – Very artisitic, easy to use and safe for students.
  10. Create your own Superhero – safe and good for middle to senior school students (need to register and sign in).
  11. The Edublogs Student Blogging Challenge has a more comprehensive list (including some of the above sites).

To make this a more meaningful activity for students, ask them to create two or more avatars, using different methods and then review the products and processes. Which avatar do they like best and why? Which site or process did they enjoy using the most and why? Which do they think would be the best for junior primary/middle years/senior school students and why?

Blogging Challenge #3: Add some Muscle to your Blog!

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Leonardo da Vinci’s “Study of Human Shoulders and Arms” – Try this picture as a “Jigzone” puzzle here (and see if you can beat my time!)

 Today’s challenge is all about how pages can add “power, flexibility and weight” to your blog. New blogs tend to have just two pages (the “Journal” and “About Me”) while some others, like  Anne Mirtschin’s class blog “E-Journeys with Technokids”, have over twenty different pages. As you can see, my blog is somewhere in between, currently with six pages.  

Mrs Yollis  won a “Lifetime Achievement” award and was runner up in the best class blog in the 2010 Edublogs awards. I really liked Mrs. Yollis’ “Meet Mrs. Yollis” page, which included a photo of her as a child as well as some professional and personal information about what she enjoys and her achievements. As well as some contact details and professional achievements, Anne Mirtschin’s “About Me” page has some great multimedia, including a slideshow and Voicethread. 

After browsing around some of the blogs mentioned in my previous post, I have decided to do a little page maintenance with my blog, here at Technoscience. I plan to:

  •  Add a childhood photo or slideshow to my “About me” page
  • Add a “Professional Development” page, listing courses completed and achievements
  • Combine the “1:1 program” and “21st C Learning” into one page
  • Delete the “Year 7” and “Year 8” pages (this information can be found by selecting the appropriate category)
  • Add a “Survey” page, with a Google form embedded to find out more about my students at the beginning of the new school year. What are their strengths, interests, fears and abilities? What do they hope to achieve this year and what equipment and resources do they have available to them?

I have been reluctant to delete pages prior to now, because I will lose some of the valuable comments that have been contributed. However, I may be able to re-name the pages and maintain those comments. That should keep me busy until Challenge Activity 4 is released!

Advanced Activity 2: Effective Posts

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Image Source

Andrew Williamson (@willie42 on Twitter) writes a blog at Globalteacher, called “Split Three Ways”, which contains one of the most memorable posts I have read. The post, “Ultranet Down” had 24 lengthy comments, and 4 tweets, which I would consider to be effective writing. I think that the five effective characteristics that this post demonstrates are:

  1. Clear, simple and topical title.
  2. Written for a specific audience and purpose.
  3. Written with passion for and knowledge of the subject.
  4. Gives the audience an insight into the author’s character.
  5. Shows good research and a thoughtful approach.

 I think that knowing your audience and what you want to achieve when posting will improve your writing. A successful post on a class blog, which gets lots of comments from students and parents, will be quite different from a successful professional development blog post. The reason that Andrew’s post drew such passionate responses, was because there were many Victorian educators thinking along similar lines and it was a topic that many teachers involved with technology were concerned about.

P.S. Andrew’s blog also has a great header image and avatar, clean and easy to read formatting and an interesting title. I always like to add an image to my posts, because I am a very visual learner and it helps me to remember the content at a glance. The image in this post is a creative commons licensed image from Flickr.

Down Blog’s Memory Lane

Tagxedo

This post is my response to the Teacher Challenge, supported by Edublogs, Kickstart Activity 1:  Ten questions to ask my blog. The image was created in Tagxedo, using the text from this post.

1. Good Afternoon Mr. Technoscience. Now tell me when and why you started blogging?

My first post was in February, 2008 and I have been posting regularly since then, with over 260 posts to date. I was encouraged to start blogging when Heather Blakey visited our school for professional development. I saw blogs as a good place to collect all the many science, maths and other educational resources online, together in one space. I have been encouraged by Anne Mirtschin and Jess McCulloch, both keen bloggers, as well as comments from other teachers and students.

2. Has it been difficult to keep blogging regularly?

 I usually post two or three times a week on each blog (I have five blogs now!) during the school term. I have a blog for each class I teach, so it is my lesson planning, resource storage, reflection space, as well as the place for my students and I to find links to content, tasks and extension activities. So it is not difficult, it replaces some of my pen-and-paper planning and is a resource for students who are absent and other teachers who may be interested.

3. Why did you create separate blogs, instead of different pages on your blog?

I found that it was more difficult to edit pages than post on the front page and most of the time, people just look at the most current material anyway. I could have created separate categories for each subject, but then the posts were moving down the front page too quickly. So now I have Biology, Environmental Science, Technomaths and “Photo a Day” blogs as well as Technoscience.

4. What do you like most about blogging?

I really like having my own space on the internet, where my students, as well as their parents and other teachers, can see the work we have been doing in class. Blogging helps to organise my thoughts and plan for the week ahead. It gives students a launching platform to the world wide web – a familiar place from which they can start to explore the vast array of resources available, with a specific task in mind. It is a place to celebrate student achievements (videos, slideshows, text and images of their work) and a place to gain feedback about their learning. It is one of the places, together with Twitter, where I can meet other teachers.

5. Which are your favourite tools to embed in blogs?

 I regularly use Irfanview to crop, rotate and resize images for my blog. These images are my own photos, creative commons photos and diagrams from Flickr or sourced using Creative Commons Search. I also often use Voicethread, Slideshare, MyStudiyo (quizzes), Google forms and YouTube to embed content I or my students have created. You can find links to these sites in the column at right.

6. Which of your posts have been the most popular?

According to which posts have received the most comments “Steep learning Curve”, “Porshe versus Volvo” and “Test-driving the Volvo” have been the most popular. “Like knitting with a knife and fork” was also an interesting post. The thing that these posts all have in common is that they are my reflections on teaching and learning with technology. I am always grateful for the positive feedback I receive from colleagues and teachers from other schools.

7. What have been the most challenging parts of blogging?

 In the beginning, the most difficult tasks were the ‘behind the scenes’ technical aspects – how to add widgets and links, embed code, manage comments and add an avatar. Now the biggest challenge is maintaining my readership – keeping the content interesting enough to attract an audience and have readers return to the site. I also find I am getting more spam comments, which need to be managed.

8. What have been your most exciting moments?

Receiving a comment on my first post (very encouraging), receiving a comment from a fellow maths and science teacher in Lima, Peru, requesting participation in a global project and being nominated and short-listed in the 2010 Edublogs awards.

 9. Where does your future lie?

I think that I will continue to blog as long as I teach, and possibly even after that! I believe blogging is an essential tool in my professional development, improving my teaching by thoughtful planning, gaining feedback from students and teachers and regular reflection on teaching and learning. Although the Ultranet is designed to host teacher and student blogs, I will be running my global teacher and edublogs sites outside the ‘walls’.

10. What would you say to teachers who don’t blog?

Blogging won’t suit all teachers, but technology is nothing to be afraid of – it is a neutral tool that can be used for both good and evil. Many of our students are very tech-savvy and expect to be constantly communicating and connected to the world beyond the classroom walls. Keeping a blog doesn’t need to be something extra on top of the daily teaching load, it can replace a professional learning journal, lesson planning diary and task sheets for students. Give it a try and you might even get the blogging bug!