Tasmanian Blogs

New student blogging course

Say Hello to Pudú
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Lizette Greco via Compfight

Our student blogging course starts on Monday March 17. Another course will be run later in the year if you want to add students then.

The course is run via an online classroom, so students need to be self motivated and fairly independent. They also need to want to have their own blog and have lots of ideas about posts they could put on their blog for others to read and comment on. The online class runs on Mondays from 1.30 till 4.30 so students can also join from home. Preferably they should have a headset with microphone whether they are in a computer lab with just their supervising teacher or working in the back of a classroom. There is a link to the online classroom under the active Tassie blogs on the sidebar. Feel free to join the class if you have any blogging questions.You will need to have Java on your computer.

If you have any work they need to do in class, you can ask them to add it to their blog if appropriate. This could include storywriting, poetry, art etc but no images of themselves.

Here is a list of the 12 things they need to complete in the first month of the course. Some will only take seconds, others half an hour. They can be completed during class or out of school hours if students have internet access at home.

Students will need to check the work finished page each week to see what else they need to complete. Posts showing  how to do these activities can be found in the Getting Started page in the header.

  1. Be able to login quickly to your own blog and class blog if you have one.
  2. Update your profile including change your password and the display name.
  3. Settings – blog title, tagline, timezone, add teacher as administrator
  4. Plugin – activate compfight plugin and change settings for short side
  5. About me page for your visitors to read – remember no personal information
  6. Left two comments on the main student bloggers blog
  7. Changed your theme
  8. Written at least two posts
  9. Edublog widgets organized on your sidebar
  10. Make at least 3 comments on other student blogs from this online class
  11. Added your clustrmap, a clock and a pet widget
  12. Create and upload your avatar

All posts and comments will be moderated and not published until checked by me or their supervising teacher.

If you are interested in having some or all of your students with their own blog (great as a portfolio if in a 1:1 school), feel free to get in touch with me so I can show you how to set up your student blogs.

Safer Internet Day Feb 11


Now that your class has started blogging, they might need to learn some skills about being safe on the internet. Here are a few links to activities you might want to use for Safer Internet Day on Tuesday February 11.

CyberSmart have a set of free challenges relating to real life issues on the internet. Check them out here.

Add the Safer Internet Day (SID) logo or banner to your blog. Get it from here.

The theme for the day is “Let’s create a better internet together”. This means working with parents as well. Maybe get some pages together for your blog with guidelines for parents. Here are some examples: edublogs has many examples from a variety of schools, Kathleen Morris has a two page parent guide on this page. Remember to give attribution if you adopt one of these guidelines for your parent page or documents.

Maybe your parents want to join the chatterbox area from Safer Internet Day – find out about selfies, sexting and other advice about the internet.

Check out CyberSmart on Youtube for some videos to use during the day. This will allow for discussion. Maybe add video to a blog post and have students leave comments.

Check out the resources for CyberSmart citizens.

Introducing blog to students

So you have spent many hours of your holidays getting your blog ready, even maybe taking part in the refresher course. You are overloaded with information and new terminology. But how are you going to start blogging with your students?

Here are a few suggestions:

  • Start with paper blogging. Here is a post explaining how to do this.
  • Why not create a bulletin board in the classroom explaining the terminology and adding the paper blogs in the post area.
  • Talk to students about creating safe, secure passwords.
  • Check out how this teacher begins blogging with her class – great list of student friendly blogs to discuss.

In class meetings, discuss:

  • blog title and tagline
  • blogging guidelines – create page on your blog so parents also understand – link to post about guidelines
  • quality comments – show Mrs Yollis’ video by her students
  • ideas for posts
  • monitors for blogging – eg class photographer, class reporters

So far, all this has been done before students even write on your class blog.

Have students leave comments on your posts without having logged in. This will help when they leave comments on other blogging platforms such as blogger, wordpress and kidblogs. Talk about their email address, the anti-spam word, how to change the anti-spam or captcha if they can’t read it.

Now teach them how to login, update their profile and change their password.

Have lots of posts for students to leave quality comments on. Allow them to visit other blogs on your sidebar to leave comments on those blog posts.

Finally allow those students who are commenting well to start writing posts on the blog – maybe working in pairs to start with.

Any thing else students could do early in their blogging?


Is your blog ready for a new class?

You are getting ready to head back to school next week. You have probably been into your classroom, started setting up the displays, got the furniture organized, made sure you have all the equipment you need to start when the students arrive.

But have you thought about your class blog?

Some of the following hints and tips might be done in a class meeting so your students also have a say in what the class blog looks like.

Changed theme – a new class, maybe some students are with you for a second year so a new theme would be great – dashboard>appearance> theme

Changed blog title and tagline - maybe you have changed year levels, maybe you have a class motto or saying to help learning – dashboard>settings> general

Removed previous students as users of the blogdashboard> users> all users> tick box in front of students you want removed> bulk dropdown remove> then apply

Added new students as contributorsdashboard> users> blog and user creator> new users> see paragraph further down this post about creating usernames.

Added new users who have an existing username – some students might be coming into your classroom from a previous class that blogged. These students are added by dashboard> users> blog and user creator> add existing user

Changed sidebars – if you have changed themes from two sidebars to one sidebar then many of your widgets will have been moved to the inactive widgets area – dashboard>appearance> widgets> click and drag from the inactive area to your sidebar. Click on dropdown arrows to open sidebar(s)

Updated links to other class blogs – maybe you want to add some new blogs to your list – find some on the sidebar of this blog – right click> copy URL address then add at your blog – dashboard>links> new link - remember to add them to a category

Added student names to post tags or categories – this makes it easy for you and parents to find all posts written by the same student – dashboard> posts> categories or tags

Written your first welcome post – remember to end your post with a question to help students start conversations in the comment section of your blog.

Thought about post and lesson relating to creating strong passwords which will be needed when students login and update their profiles. Here is link to a post including a video about strong passwords.

Thought about a post relating to quality comments. It is the commenting that keeps your blog going so it is necessary to actually teach this. Find the video link here.

Enjoy the last couple of days of your holidays.

Leave a comment if you think of other things to do before class gets back.

2014, here we come!

Welcome Piggies
Photo Credit: Enokson via Compfight

Welcome back to a new year of blogging. First are the refresher courses being held in Devonport, Launceston and Hobart this week. For those of you who couldn’t attend due to family commitments or other holiday events, here are some of the links used to help you with your blogging this year.

Great blogs to check out

  • How are these Tassie teachers using their blogs?
  • Is it mainly to communicate with parents?
  • Is it for showcasing student work?
  • Are students contributing posts?
  • Have students learnt about image attribution?
  • Have students been taught about quality commenting?
  • How do parents use the blog?

Ms A at Miandetta, Grade 3/4 at Longford, Grade 4/5 at Bicheno, Grade 4/5 at Montagu Bay, Grade 6 at Rosetta, Grade 4 at Riverside, Grade 3/4 in Derwent Valley, Grade 3/4 at Punchbowl, Grade 5 at Rosetta

How are you going to use your blog this year?

Add your ideas to this Google document.

Leave a comment on this post

outlining your vision for blogging in your classroom this year. Remember to use quality comments.

Here is a video by Linda Yollis’ students talking about quality comments. This would be suitable to show your students and then discuss. Maybe put the video in a post and have students leave comments.

Here is an interview of Linda Yollis talking about blogging and commenting. Great for teachers to watch.

Adding features to your blog

All students whether Kindergarten or grade 10 all enjoy looking at the sidebars of class blogs, especially if they are interactive. But noisy sidebars can distract from the value of the blog, so think carefully about which widgets are on the sidebar and which you embed in a post or page.

What widgets are recommended by other teachers?

Check out these posts by Sue Waters from Edublogs – pinterest board of widgets, top widgets from Ronnie Burt at Edublogs, working with widgets including class blogs to visit, adding widgets and questions you might have, demo widget blog,

What tools allow students to be creative on blogs?

Maybe you want your students writing stories, creating comics, reading a book report aloud. These can all be showcased on your class blog by using many different tools that have embed code included or where you take a screenshot and save as an image.

Check out these posts of web 2.0 tools to use on blogs -

 Connecting globally

You have now been blogging for at least a year and you want to start connecting globally. How do you do it?

  • Join the student blogging challenge which starts in March and September each year – run by Miss W – weekly ideas for posts – lists of other classes around the world grouped according to grade level
  • Join quadblogging – four classes working together – need to make sure each teacher understands what is happening though – maybe start by connecting with other classes in Tasmania
  • Check out the global classroom wikispace – lots of projects on right sidebar created by teachers around the world – some are one off activities, others involve reading a book together, some include toys sent to classrooms
  • Send posts to Mrs Yollis’ 365 project – include image of something you have taken and write a post to go with it – read instructions on the post link
  • Join Miss W.’s Australia – our country project and write posts about Tasmania and Australia in general
  • Take part in the 100 word challenge – great for creative writing
  • Check out the projects by Jen website – great creative ideas for classes
  • Create a twitter class account and tweet out about what is happening in class or join other teachers with a twitter project, here are a couple of examples – tweeting about the weather,  tweeting about vocabulary

Your class has access to many computers, tablets or ipads each day

Why not create student personal blogs? They can include work you set in school, but also allow them to write about their interests outside of school. Here are some examples of student blogs started last year.

Madison, Annabel, Jacob, Mackenzie, Gabrielle, Caitlin

Miss W. will be running online sessions for student blogging every Wednesday and Friday afternoon beginning in March – students can drop in with questions. Check out the student bloggers blog for the link to the online classroom.


Congratulations go to both Mackenzie and Annabel whose blogs have been shortlisted in the best student blog section of the Edublog Awards.

If teachers wish to vote for their blogs before the 18th December, please click on the image below. You may only vote once  from the same IP address. This means vote from lots of different computers outside the school system, as all department computers have the same IP Address.

If your students wish to vote for them, they will need to click on this link and find either Mackenzie (!ROAR!) or Annabel (Dance to this blog) on the poll and vote that way. The reason students vote differently is that Edublog Awards are on a list.ly format and can only join if 13 and older. So younger students get the chance to vote using the polldaddy instead. They can vote once each day from the same IP address.

Miss Wyatt has also been nominated in the lifetime achievement section – click here if you wish to vote for her.

The student blogging challenge which Miss Wyatt runs has also been nominated in the best use of social media section – click here to vote for that.


Many thanks to those educationalists around the world who nominated either Mackenzie, Annabel or Miss Wyatt for the Edublog Awards.

Nominations for #eddies13

Every year, Edublogs runs its Edublog Awards - this is the 10th year so a special anniversary. You can nominate blogs, wikis, tweets etc in many different categories.

These are my nominations for 2013.

Best student blog –  Annabel – works hard to keep blog up to date – always lots of fresh posts to read – took part in the student challenge mainly as a commenter rather than a student participant

Best new blogMackenzie – also works hard keeping the blog looking fresh – also took part in the challenge as a commenter – could also be in best student blog but I could only nominate one in each category

Best administrator blogJohn Goh – everything on this relatively new blog relates to Australian problems and solutions in education  but with reference to his research on overseas blogs as well – John is also a well known tweeter on #ozprimschchat

Best twitter hashtag – as a blogger with students, you can’t go past #comments4kids as a great hashtag – find more info on their website

 Best class blogIf only the best birds sang – Merry Beau from near Dublin Ireland runs this great class blog. Originally for grade 2, this year it has spread from grade 1 to grade 6. It allows students to learn 24/7/365 if they wish – lots of appropriate activities and widgets to help students learn anywhere, anytime

Best group blogCougar News - this blog is written as part of a journalism class at Cactus Canyon Junior High in Arizona. Well written, interesting posts by many students

Nominations close today 1 December, but check out the Edublog Awards to find out which nominations got through to the short list and vote for your favourites.

These awards are a great way to find other interesting blogs to follow and get ideas from.

You usually can vote once a day in each category from the same IP address. This means all the computers from the Department of Education have the same IP so you will also need to vote from home, libraries, ipads, iphones etc at different IP addresses.

Our student bloggers

Lego Blogger Picture
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: thom via Compfight

These past four months, I have been running a student blogging course with a group of six students from a school in Launceston. Each student has their own blog and both their home room teacher and I are the admins of the blogs. We have control over the publishing of the posts and the moderating of the comments. The students were selected by their teacher as someone who could work independently and had an interest in blogging on their class blog.

Students were expected to attend a weekly one hour online class where they were taught how to add to their blog as well as had time to write their posts. Students also could use their blog outside of school hours and could post about topics that were of interest to them.

The online class was open from 1pm until about 4.30pm so students could come in after school as well if they wanted to. The room was open both Wednesday and Friday but could be changed according to other happenings at the school involved.

All work for the course is found on the student bloggers blog and is available for anyone to use with their students. Over the Christmas holidays, I will be organizing the course more into step by step instructions for students with their own blog.

Next March, I will be running the course again, so if you have a small group of students (no more than 4) who you feel deserve their own blog and can work independently, please contact myself or Brendan Vince by the end of January.

Please check out these student blogs – Annabel, Mackenzie, Maddie, Caitlin, Jacob, Gabrielle

You may have also noticed we have a flipboard magazine which can be viewed best on an iPad but also on a PC. Feel free to add a link to this magazine onto the sidebar of your class blog. If I see any great posts written by students on their class blogs, I am including them in the magazine.

To leave a comment on one of these posts in the magazine, just click on the title of the post and leave a comment as normal.



October is Connected Educator Month

Are you a connected educator?

Do you blog?

Do you use twitter?

Do you collaborate with other teachers at your own school and globally?

Do you take part in online conferences for PD?

Even though Connected Educator Month is a USA activity, there are many teachers from other countries also taking part. There is a starter kit you can download as a PDF from this site. For every day of the month of October, there are suggested activities to help you become more connected as an educator. You can find this on the PDF.

There are multiple themes running through the month of activities and you can also take part at a school or district level.

To find out more and take part, just sign up and then start connecting. There are badges you can earn to add to your own website or blog.

Day 1 is a bit of reading and finding out about being a connected learner. 

I spent most of my teaching life working in my own classroom, coming out for recess and lunch, spending time at staff meetings that really didn’t help a lot in the classroom or that I could have read about at home. It wasn’t until I started blogging and using the internet more that I realised I needed to become a connected learner so I could help my students become connected in their global world. I was on Twitter for nearly 6 months before I realised the value of making connections to other teachers overseas and on the mainland. I began creating documents that I could share with other teachers with similar interests, storing them in the cloud and sharing with others. I save most of my photos in Flickr so others can use the photos as well as they are licensed as creative commons. I take part in online conferences as both a participant, a moderator and also as a presenter. These allow me to develop the skills I need to help my students and other teachers to connect in our modern world.

Day 2 is looking at Web 2.0

When I first began using the internet more I was a consumer. I read and gathered information, created worksheets for students to find more information or to work as a team in a webquest. Students then typed out their responses,  printed them and gave them to me or they wrote the answers in their books. We were consumers and users of the internet. This was known as Web 1.0

But Web 2.0 has students as creators as well as consumers. Students are out there creating apps, creating games, films, videos, websites, blogs, sending out tweets, sharing documents across countries, uploading and downloading, using other Web 2.0 tools to embed on their blogs and ePortfolios. Often many students are way ahead of their teachers who often fear the unknown. Or they worry about no longer being in control of the classroom. This is where becoming connected as a learner, means you can allow the student to be the teacher.

How are you and the other staff at your school connected or do you still do most of your teaching in your own room with the door closed?

How to … posts

How to Use Flickr, The Digital Photography RevolutionYou will notice over the last couple of weeks, I have been writing some how to … posts mainly for a group of six primary students who are working on their new blogs.

These how to … posts are found on the student bloggers blog but feel free to copy them to use on your own class blogs.  Perhaps create a page in your header with links to these posts like I have with the student bloggers.

If you have any keen students who you feel deserve their own blog, contact me and I will explain how you can create these blogs. Your students can then step their way through the student bloggers course as outlined on the Getting Started page.

I also have the online classroom open every Wednesday and Friday from 1.30pm until about 4pm for both students and teachers to come in and get help with blogging. The link is on the sidebar of the student bloggers blog under Get Help here. This link opens directly to Blackboard Collaborate and can be used on desktops, laptops or ipads (with the free app)

The how to posts written so far are:

Please leave a comment below of any other how to … posts you would like me to write for you and your students.

PS. I am sure the student bloggers would love some comments from you and your students on either their about me page or one of their posts.
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Thomas Hawk via Compfight