ISTE2014 – been and gone

A quiet time at blogger’s cafe

Just a quick post about my impressions of #ISTE2014. I will write separate posts about apps/tools to use in your classroom and one about other people to follow either via their blogs or Twitter.

Firstly, transportation in Atlanta was fantastic – hop on the MARTA (train) from the airport and get off at N4 about 50 metres from the hotel I stayed in. Many other participants there including my friend Tracy Watanabe.

The heat – every day was in the late 80F – and high humidity with it. Many of you know I hate the heat so was glad of the air conditioning in the GWCC – Georgia World Congress Centre, where the conference took place.

One of the ISTE graphic designers created an infographic about ISTE by the numbers – check it out here.

I can certainly attest to the crowds. Going from each level of the centre were three escalators – depending on traffic, one up, two down. The bloggers cafe where I sat quite often was down two floors and near the entrance to the expo, so a lot of foot traffic passing by. On the Sunday when the expo opened, it was very stuffy down that level so I found the international lounge instead.

ISTE had a great app to download for your mobile device and had a networking game you could join. You had to find key words around the conference centre, take part in sessions where a secret code would be given at the end, send out tweets from the app, send out instagram photos from the app and most importantly, swap secret codes with other participants.  I was in the top 100 at one stage but then the face to face connecting became more important than swapping codes to me.

Someone very quickly put together a Google document that was a shared document for anyone to add to. This is real collaboration and here is the link to notes people have shared about the different sessions they went to over the 4 days of the conference. Looking at that document you will see Evernote is a favourite way of taking notes easily at a conference.

Lots of poster sessions – many led by students – some from Mexican schools. I took lots of photos of these sessions and scanned lots of QR codes to look at their websites etc once I get home. Each poster session was a theme – Saturday night was global connections and I presented with Tracy Watanabe from Phoenix, Arizona on the student blogging challenge. I will probably write a separate post just on the poster sessions.

Even if you were #notatiste14 you could take part. Sue Waters from Edublogs was curating a flipboard magazine including links from the #ISTE2014 twitter stream. Nearly 900 articles as of publishing this post. At one stage Paula Naugle @plnaugle ran a google hangout with Will Chamberlain – founder of #comments4kids and I suggested bringing in Sue Waters as well – hangout was to talk about blogging of course.

But the most important takeaway from ISTE has been it is all about the students – how can we make them independent and life long learners? There were lots of sessions about the tools and apps but also many about how to use technology in your classroom to improve the learning of your students.

Here is the link to the next ISTE conference in 2015 to be held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania June 28 – July 1. Maybe you would like to attend and add it into your holidays.

More specific posts coming soon.


A few changes – please read

Creative Commons License Photo Credit: fliegender via Compfight

G’day blogging classes, teachers and students in Tasmania,

No more blogging with the eschoolblog URL after the end of 2014

You may have noticed a recent change to your blog. The URL now begins with www and you have lost your  fantastic clustrmap. The reason for this is that

 Edublogs is “in the process of changing networks over to www if they are top level domains because we’re getting ready to install Cloudflare on all networks. For these types of domains we can only use Cloudflare if it is www.  It will only affect a small number of our campus networks and all blogs on that network.  “

This means our blogs on our eschoolblog network.

But the other information you need to know is that our domain name will no longer be available as from the beginning of 2015. We have had this for over two years now and my bosses have begun a new domain with a less restrictive URL

We will be using instead.

We are already starting any new blogs on this network and you will now have a choice ready to start in 2015.

  • 1. Keep working on old blog – minus clustrmap – and at end of 2014, stop blogging.
  • 2. Keep working on old blog – minus clustrmap and by the end of December, export/import posts, comments, pages etc into a new blog at the new domain.
  • 3. Start a new blog immediately and export/import data across during July.
  • 4. Start a totally new blog from scratch anytime between now and end of 2014.

Sue will help do the export/import but all 2014 students will need to be added as new users for options 3 – Sue will send a spreadsheet to teachers with information, then Sue can add them in one big batch per class.

So could all teachers with class blogs or administrators of group/student blogs, please email Sue over the next month saying which option they want to choose.

  • 1. Stop blogging end of 2014
  • 2. New blog by end of year with old posts etc
  • 3. New blog immediately with old posts etc ready to start Term 3
  • 4. Totally new blog by end of 2014

Sue will also be sending an email out to all blog admins (just in case they don’t read this post) to find out what they want done with their blogs at the end of 2014.  It will be assumed any teachers not replying to either this post or email, will not be blogging from the beginning of 2015.

You will notice Sue has started added pages to the new URL to help in setting up your new blogs.

Any questions or comments feel free to ask in the comment area of this post.


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.