Posts Tagged blogs
I’ve just been browsing through Jo McLeay‘s student blogs, which are hosted by 21classes. I know I have heard of this site before, but I have been so happy with Edublogs that I haven’t bothered to pursue any other providers. The main features that 21classes lay claim to are:
- Host and manage blogs for your students
- Use a Class Homepage to communicate with students
It looks at first glance like 21classes provides an easier structure for teachers to link student blogs to a main class blog. Another selling point is that students apparently don’t need an email address to sign up for a blog…good news for DET teachers whose students don’t use their DET email, but also can’t access their Hotmail or Gmail accounts on the school computers!
Is anyone out there using 21classes?
Has anyone used 21classes AND Edublogs, and can comment on how they compare?
Posted by kmcg2375 in Uncategorized on August 10, 2008
Just browsing through the ‘Best of Bamboo’ on Michele Martin’s blog The Bamboo Project and learned a lot from her post titled Six Reasons People Aren’t Commenting on Your Blog. You can read more about this at Michele’s blog, but the six reasons in short are:
- You sound like a press release
- You sound like an informercial
- You sound like a know-it-all
- You haven’t shown them how
- You haven’t created the right atmosphere
- You just don’t seem that into it.
A great list, and one that really got me thinking. My last few posts have included some lengthy accounts of what I’m doing with my classes at school. I’ve specifically been blogging about the videogaming unit that I’m using with my Year 9 G&T class, in part because I know others who are interested in how the unit is working, but also because I am using this blog to store information about this unit as part of an G&T Action Research project I am part of at school. I’ve also started adding detailed info about how I am running an AOS on The Journey with Year 10. This is in part to reflect on my own teaching, but also I have lofty imaginations of teachers scouring the web for units of work and getting really happy when they find my blog with all of this great information!
I find that the problem with such posts is that they don’t explicitly invite discussion or reflection from readers. I think this is a result of reasons 3 and 4 – while I don’t exactly sound like a ‘know-it-all’, I haven’t problematised any of my work, merely recounted what I did; and while readers might technically know how to comment, they can’t see a clear invitation or need to add their thoughts.
What do other people do here? What makes a truly engaging blog post?
Posted by kmcg2375 in Uncategorized on July 9, 2008
Not to spoil the surprise (I encourage you to go and read the full post), but her first ‘top 5′ tips are:
- Use short paragraphs
- Use headings (and bullet points etc.)
- Remember to hyperlink
- Always comment back to readers on your own posts (eek! I haven’t replied to one of mine yet, and it was a great comment from Forth!)
- Subscribe to your own blog feed.
I’m going to use Sue’s post as a resource with my Year 9 students when they begin making their own blogs. Anyone have any other tips or hints?
I’ve been working on a short unit of work to do with my year 9 class next term once I’ve finished with the Video Games unit. I’ve decided that I’m going to run a ‘taster’ course in online tools that can be used to create or publish their work. We’re going to look at blogging, podcasting, uploading to YouTube and sourcing sound and images that can be used under a creative commons license.
I’ve decided to link both units together under the banner of ‘making meaning’ – weeks 1-5 will be based on how video games make meaning, and weeks 6-10 will look at making meaning online.
While students will work in small groups of 3-4 for the video games unit, they will work in pairs for the unit on making meaning online, to author their own blog. I’m going to be fairly prescriptive with what I want each blog to contain. Here are my current thoughts:
Students work in PAIRS to create a blog to publish their own compositions which must include:
• Central blog with a weekly post on class work or homework task, posts must include hyperlinks
• Widgets including at least admin, latest comments, categories and blogroll listing other students blogs, and other links
• A page for published poetry (including an image added for illustration or visual symbolism)
• A page for at least one published short story (embedded as a downloadable document)
• A page for published multimedia (embedded from YouTube)
Looking back over this list I see the requirements could seem a bit arbitrary, but I envisage that each of the required ‘pages’ will be linked to a series of weekly classroom activities/workshops.
Well, perhaps ‘has more of a soft orange glow’ than ‘runs red hot’, but one thing is for sure and that is that over the long weekend, with an assessment task scheduled for Year 12 on Tuesday, the blog got a fair few hits, as well as a few comments. Woot! As well as this I had students emailing me their practice responses so I could give them feedback via email (using Track Changes in their actual Word document, and 2-3 point form points of feedback in the email body).
I know the students really appreciated having the feedback at point of need. I think I have fairly clear boundaries with them, and they always seem to be very mindful of sending me things at the last minute. One student emailing me an essay on Sunday afternoon wrote:
I’m SO sorry for the late e-mail. My nets been down. It’s totally alright if you don’t get a chance to mark it… Well, take care now.
My online experience with my senior classes has been so different to that of my Year 9 class. While the Year 9 students seem intrinsically motivated to contribute to a space that they feel a kind of ownership over (even though I moderate the blog), Year 12 these days will only blog if it is for Homework, or when they are panicking about an assessment.
I wonder if these different motivations are a reflection of their ages, or the context of their study (HSC is a very stressful year and there are great demands on the student’s time)? Or, I wonder if a class that was introduced to blog-based work in the junior school would be more receptive to blogging in senior school.
Recently I made a new blog, this time for my Year 9 class. It is a gifted & talented class, and I am having the most fun time teaching them! They are a really nice group, great to have a conversation with, and there’s a lot of mutual respect in the class.
In today’s class we booked library computers and they all went onto the blog for the first time. Unlike some of my older students who at times can be a bit reluctant and ‘too-cool-for-school’ to participate in blogging, this class really loved the site. Each of them signed up for email subscription updates, or their own username and password, or both!
It is great because there are quite a few quiet achievers in the class, and already I’ve heard more from them on the blog this afternoon than I do sometimes in a whole lesson!