Category Archives: blogging
These days most classrooms have digital cameras and/or devices that are capable of taking photos. But what happens to those photos?
Do they stay on the teachers hard drive or school internal server never to be seen again?
If a picture can tell 1,000 words, how much richer will your learning stories be to your students and their families if they are out in the open for everyone to see.
Enter photosharing sites like Picasa, Photobucket and Flickr.
These websites are places for you to store, share and most importantly organize photos publicly with your community.
I’ve been using Flickr since 2006 to store my 10,000 image strong photo collection. I pay around $25USD a year for a terrabyte of data. When I became a responsible for a class it seemed logical for me to have a class Flickr account to share photos with my parents.
Here’s five reasons you should be using Flickr to share photos online.
1. Sharing without clogging up inboxes
Rather than sending out photos as attachements that get lost with other bits of mail, Flickr is a great way to keep your photos organized and easy for your students and their families to enjoy. When you upload your photos, you can sort them into albums or sets. I keep my photos organized by event. You can even keep the same photo in several different sets so you could potentially have a folder for each kid as well as events.
2. Making space for reflection
When my class has big events, like say cross country, rather than sit through a long boring slideshow through a central monitor they can gather around a screen and talk about those moments with their friends. Sharing moments becomes a lot more realistic and the kids can skip past pictures that don’t hold their interest.
3. Ease of publishing.
Flickr has mobile phone apps (the iOS one rocks the house) and an inbrowser upload where you just dump photos and publish. However the big draw for me for me is posting via email. If kids have a photographic home-learning task, then you can create a special email address and the student can simply email the flickr account and the image is automatically uploaded.
4. Ease of sharing
Being away on camp, I could easily share images back to school and to my parents of camp without blowing my 3G connection. Flickr enabled my photos to be shared across the school community even though I was away from school. What’s more when the kids are writing a recount of a class event, they can go to flickr find a picture of the said event grab the code, and then embed the image into their story bringing that event to life for the child.
5. Library of creative commons images
One of the most awesome things about Flickr is that you can enjoy other people’s photos. Because my students already know about Flickr and how to embed photos, they can search out creative commons images for other tasks using Flickr’s search opening a vast library of images available for reuse. Obviously with anything on the internet that kids can stumble upon offensive content. Posting nasty stuff to Flickr is strictly against the community guidelines but it doesn’t mean that this never happens. There are precautions you can take though. Every photo has a place where you can flag the image as inappropriate or you can simply report a user or content to Flickr. The site is also monitored quite well and Flickr will shut down accounts that break the rules.
Before you jump in…
Obviously you do need to check your school’s policy on posting student images online before launching and account. I’m pretty lucky that in the past two years I’ve only had one student’s image not able to be published and that was only for a term.
There’s also an issue around blockage as a lot of internet filtering services block Flickr because it is a social media site (in fact Flickr was blocked at my school for a number of weeks when the filtering software was changed which annoyed me to no end).
Don’t forget about money. Personally I consider the cost of pro account worth it in terms of the amount of storage you receive in comparison to the free version but it’s up to you.
Finally don’t forget to have a conversation with your community about how you licence your students images.
A call for help went out. A Year 7/8 looking for that final class to make a Quad blog. For those not in the know, Quadblogging is when a group of 4 classes visit a spotlight class’s blog each week. You can find out more about the international version here and the New Zealand version here.
This is my third attempt at quadblogging. After two non-starts, I was a bit apprehensive about Quadblogging Aotearoa but figured what they heck give it a go.
This time around my class has been very fortunate to have been paired up with some awesome class blogs which has made all the difference in our experience. Based on previous experience here are some tips for those new to Quadblogging.
Set aside time in the day for blogging
In my experience, you need to set aside time for blogging in class. I tend to let the kids have 10-15 minutes at the start of literacy to look at posts and previous comments before making their own quality comment. It is important that kids understand what a quality comment looks like. Make sure you showcase comments before letting the kids loose.
Updates, keep em coming
If your blog is the one being showcased, it is important to have at least one new post a day. There’s nothing more frustrating for classes to put time aside for blogging only to find that there isn’t any new content for the kids to comment on.
Showcase your class/school
Got something unique or different about your school or classroom? Showcase it! My students were fascinated about a girls-only school and also the number of Macs in the class. A case of what is mundane for you might be really interesting for kids in a different school.
Lots of photos and videos
My students are highly visual learners. They love being able to look into other schools and classrooms and see what’s going on. What makes blogging such an effective medium is that you can have those images right by text. ‘What’s photopeach?’ one remarked today.
You can never have enough comments
While my students enjoy reading other student’s work, what my kids really love is people commenting on their work. Audience and authenticity gives kids will drive kids to produce far higher quality writing then any other inducement I know of.
I’ve been in been in the blogging doldrums of late. I haven’t published many posts and even my weekly reflections have felt like a chore.
When I think back to my first year of this blog I usually posted 2-3 times a week, last year I dropped to between 1-2 posts a week and this year blogging has been a strictly once a week deal. In fact my weekly reflections are the only reason that this blog is being updated at all.
It isn’t like I don’t have anything to write about. Part of the problem is that I’ve been so busy doing stuff that I haven’t really had time to stop, think and write about what I’ve been up to. I thought that my 2nd year might be a little less overwhelming then last year. However to my surprise this year has been more frantic. While things in the classroom are progressing well, this first half of the year has been insane.
The Apple Distinguished Educator institute in Bali, Google Teacher Academy in Sydney, three educamps and ignition have meant I’ve spent a lot of weekends away from home. Don’t get me wrong I feel so incredibly privileged to have enjoyed some incredible opportunities this year. I feel like I’ve learned more in the last 6 months than I have in the previous two years. But the problem is mind is in near constant overdrive trying to process all these incredible learning experiences.
Lots of half-written posts.
In fact I looked in my drafts folder and was surprised to find I had over 100 posts languishing in draft form. Some of them just a few sentences, half-formed ideas that I need to transform into something coherent and then actually publish.
Then there is another group of posts languishing in draft because I don’t want to publish them. I can be ranty at times and my propensity to call a spade a shovel can make for good stats but the problem is I am interacting a lot these days with people who read my posts. To be clear how write on my blog is no different to me in staff meetings or in the classroom. But of course being a bit more out in the open, always carries that inherent risk of a major SMOG (Social Media Own Goal) which has made me a lot more risk adverse these days. I’m also a lot less likely to infuse details of my life into posts which means I don’t publish nearly as often I should. I’ve had a few instances of longing for the days when people had no idea who the person was writing these inane posts.
So what is this point of this ‘Leave Brittany Alone’ post?
This blog has gained a far wider readership then all the rest of my writing put together. I’ve blogged for over a decade as a stranger in a strange land, a returning from my OE trapped in New Zealand now what, stepmum and traveller with next to nobody reading my work.
The fact that some people read and comment is cool, that’s pretty much why bloggers publish their writing. But then I was hit with a gradual realisation that ‘oh crap people are actually reading what I’m writing, I need to watch what I say.’ A classic case of Betham’s idea of the panopticon in action, the perception of surveillance leading to changed behaviour.
But truth be told what I write here is really not all that important.
And I need to get back to blogging like nobody is reading.
November has been a busy month for me. With the end of the year fast upon my I had reports, OTJs and just to add to the madness I also made my sister’s wedding cake which would be difficult at the best of times but she lives in on a different island than me. Thus blogging has been extremely light this month with not much time for posting and thus less people reading.
I was surprised to see a sudden spike for a post I wrote back in May, however given the topic was on the dire shortage of teaching jobs and this being hiring season I suppose the two go together.
Right on to the stats.
Posts: 7 (doh!)
Page Loads: 5350 (178 hits a day)
Biggest day: October 14 (178 hits)
Most commented on post: Has twitter killed the art of blog commenting?
Top five posts:
- Too many teachers, not enough jobs547
- Should students call teachers by their first names?351
- Are teachers born or made?161
- New Zealand Registered Teacher Criteria – E portfolio130
- Weekly Reflection: What is 21st century assessment?119
Top five referrers
Coming up in December
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As a blogger there’s nothing I love blog comments. Short comments saying ‘right on,’ long rambly comments tearing apart my arguments, thoughtful comments, comments with links, comments from friends, comments from people I’ve never met.
The comments section is what makes blogging so addictive.
Through commenting I’ve struck up friendships and often use the comment section on other people’s blogs for inspirations for my own posts. Commenting takes your thoughts and ideas to whole new level.
Yet these days, my posts don’t seem to gather as many comments. To be fair my writing is a bit flat these days, yet I’ll often have people retweet or respond to a post on twitter which leads me to wonder.
Has twitter killed the art of blog commenting?
Could social media channels like twitter and facebook be killing blogging?
Certainly there’s a lot more outlets competing for my online attention since I first took up blogging in 2003.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who can spend hours clicking through wikipedia entries, I literally wake up in the morning and check my Twitter feed. Facebook, although not as addictive as it was in the early days, has its uses and I’m getting mildly obsessed with pinterest. All these social media channels for content leaves less time to respond thoughtfully to content.
A lazy retweet here, a like, a repin.
While content may be the catalyst, it’s the conversations by the community that often make the content. Maybe it’s just me, but Twitter seems to be taking more of the conversations from the initial blog and making them 140-character bites.
I’ve seen some amazing posts be tweeted, and the conversation remain on Twitter. Points and questions raised in the post start the conversation rolling, but instead of via the comments section on a blog, they take place in the little blue bird’s nest.
There’s nothing wrong with this. After all, Twitter is the king of instant feedback and interaction.
Nevertheless I can’t help but wonder if the limitations of 140-characters are leading to less thoughtful reactions to blogging. Imagine how opposing views could be better fleshed out without the word limit. Comments serve as inspiration for other posts, a way to build community which make blogging so engaging.
Of course, you could say that it’s down to the blogger to make the content as open as possible, to encourage discussion – and this is true. Yet at the same time, maybe we as reader need to take part more as well? Maybe we need to encourage bloggers by being part of their community, as opposed to lazily sharing content on our social media channels.
There are a myriad of ways for conversations to take place. Sometimes little snapshots like Twitter and Pintrest are ideal, if you’re pressed for time.
But isn’t it nice to give proper feedback beyond a pin, a like, a retweet?
Huge month for traffic on the blog this month – the biggest ever. I wrote a bit more this month but am still struggling to find time to write content. Hopefully this will get better in the future (yes I know I’ve said that a lot this year). Interestingly I’m starting to get a lot of traffic from people looking for requirements for being a registered teacher in New Zealand which I think is very interesting given the recent debates in the public media.
On to the stats.
Page Loads: 6,180 (199 hits a day)
Biggest day: October 14 (374 hits)
Most commented on post: Proud to be a part of Teachers & Social Media
Top five posts
- New Zealand Registered Teacher Criteria E-portfolio (570 hits)
- Should students call teachers by their first names? (368 hits)
- Too many teachers, not enough jobs (365 hits)
- Keeping the MAGIC of #ulearn12 going – 5 tips for newbies to twitter (202 hits)
- How ditching the desks turned my classroom into a 21st century learning space (163 hits)
Coming up in November
Another round of OTJs
Winding down for the year
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Starting a blog can be exciting. You’re brimming with all these fantastic ideas for posts, you are publishing regularly and then you look down out your visitor counter and realize that nobody is reading your work.
It seems like all those hours you’ve spent writing your posts and designing your site has gone to waste. After all what’s the point of publishing to the world if the world isn’t interested in what you’ve got to say?
Before you give up on blogging, there are some things you can do to increase your readership. The first is called Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).
Most of my traffic comes from search engines directing people to my blog. If you want to know about say requirements for being a Professional Teacher in New Zealand I’m the top result after New Zealand Teachers Council (which is both terrifying and awesome at the same time). Teachers going by first name there I am again popping up in the first few hits.
There’s an entire industry that’s built up around SEO marketing and consulting that sell products which they say will get you to the top of the search engine. 90% of it is utter rubbish.
Google’s algorithms are smart, and they reward sites that consistently produce original content.
There are a couple of other small things you can do to increase your blogs attractiveness to search engine.
- Use WordPress
- Write your title thinking about what people might type into search engine to find it e.g tips for twitter newbies
- Give descriptions for any picture posts/video linkages
But really attracting visitors from search engines is simple. Produce original content people can’t find elsewhere.
Huge month for traffic on the blog this month – the biggest ever. I wrote a bit more this month but am still struggling to find time to write content. Hopefully this will get better in the future (yes I know I’ve said that a lot). Interestingly I’m starting to get a lot of traffic from people looking for requirements for being a registered teacher in New Zealand which I think is very interesting given the recent debates in the public media.
On to the stats.
Posts: 10 (whoop)
Page Loads: 5,558 (185 hits)
Biggest day:September 23 (391 hits)
Most commented on post: Media school league tables neither National nor Standard
Top five posts
- Should students call teachers by their first names? (411 hits)
- Media school league tables neither National nor Standard (308 hits)
- Too many teachers, not enough jobs (307 hits)
- New Zealand Registered Teacher Criteria (202 hits)
- About (18
- Search Engines
- Reflective Teacher
Coming up in September
Actual school camp
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After a few months of promising more blog posts, I finally upped my output and ended up with one of the biggest months readership wise on the blog. Though it all came down to throwing out desks.
Page Loads: 5,380 (174 hits)
Biggest day: August 23 (403 hits)
Most commented on post: How ditching the desks turned my classroom into a modern learning space
Top five posts
- How ditching the desks turned my classroom into a 21st century learning space (785 hits)
- Should students call teachers by their first names? (271 hits)
- Why #wordpress is better than blogspot (256 hits)
- Too many teachers, not enough jobs (178 hits)
- My verbal submission to the inquiry on 21st century learning (150 hits)
- Search Engines
- Reflective Teacher
Coming up in September
Barcamps and Padcamps
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