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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?

 

Linoit – a stickies wall for your blog

One of our blogging teachers asked me a question about adding linoit to their blog. This is very similar to padlet (used to be called wallwisher) So I tried to create a linoit to add to this blog. Your students might like to add a sticky to the wall.

 

To add a sticky
  1. Hover over the heading Blogging Info next to Miss W’s avatar.
  2. Choose a coloured sticky.
  3. Type your answer on the sticky and save.
  4. If you need to edit later, click the pencil icon (first icon on sticky)
  5. Spread the stickies out so they can all be read by clicking on the linoit canvas.
To add linoit to your blog – need to sign up for free
  1. Write the rest of your blog post in your dashboard.
  2. Go to linoit in a new tab and create a new canvas to add the main task you want students to answer.
  3. Top right corner, click the information icon.
  4. This opens your embedding choices – click on the last choice – embed
  5. Copy the code.
  6. Back to your blog post dashboard.
  7. Press enter to start on a new line then click on the HTML or text tab on top right
  8. Paste in the code you have copied.
  9. Save draft and preview in a new tab.
  10. If it looks great then publish.
  11. If the linoit board is too big for the blog theme, go back to your post dashboard and still in HTML tab, change the width to about 480 pixels.
  12. Save again and update the post.

NB In the free version there will be ads visible on the linoit.

How could you use a linoit in your classroom?

Creating slideshows

I notice a few teachers have started creating slideshows on their blogs. There are a few websites that you could use.

Slideshare – will convert powerpoints to slides you can embed on your blog. But remember every image and sound in the slideshare has to be creative commons or taken by you, the teacher or student.

Photopeach allows you to add words at the bottom of each image so great for storytelling. Check out this grade 2 story about a sign in the forest. There is an educational version but costs $9 US per month. I have only ever used the free version.

Animoto is the one I would recommend for teachers and students. Teachers need to join first then apply for the education version. They are then given a special code which students can use. The teacher then sees the animotos created by the students and can delete them if not made correctly. Again all images and sound used in the animoto must be creative commons. Using the free version only allows 32 seconds video play but the educational version is a lot longer.

Adding Animoto to your blog post

1. I always suggest writing the post first including saving it as a draft before you try adding the Animoto. Remember to include the category and tags before saving.

2. Once you have created your Animoto, you will see some symbols beside the video you have created.

3. Click on the more button.

4. Now click on the embedded video tab and then the blue button copy to clipboard.

5. Final step is to add your animoto to your blog post. Do this by opening your draft post, click on the HTML tab, then paste in the code that you had copied to the clipboard – just press CTRL V. You can add it at the beginning of the post or at the end after the    which is code for enter a new line  Now press publish and your Animoto will appear in the actual post.

Using plugins

You may have noticed when you have your dashboard open, that there is a section down the side called ‘Plugins’.

You may ask what is a plugin?

A plugin extends the way you can use your blog. It might be a form to add to posts, some extra widgets for the sidebar, an easy way to add images to posts – all these are done by activating a particular plugin. Here are some posts to read about activating plugins and an overview of those available on your blogs (instructions included).

There are some plugins I would recommend you have for your blogs. These are in alphabetical order but compfight is a necessity I feel.

Compfight – easy way to add creative commons images to your blog posts. Make sure you have the settings correct. This is how I have them set for this blog. Here is a post I wrote for the student blogging challenge which gives instructions on using the compfight plugin.

WP cumulus is an interesting way to show the tags or categories on your blog as if they are floating on a cloud.

Contact form allows parents or visitors to send an email to you through your blog. Might be handy on a page called  ‘Contact Us”.

DOGO content widget allows book reviews, movie reviews etc from DOGO site.

Footnotes would be great for those students in the Big Picture program to give references in their blog posts. Could also be used with younger students teaching them about referencing any posts they write after they have researched a topic.

Google maps if you want to include a map in a post or in your ‘About Us’ page

Image widget for your sidebar for students who might be more visually focussed rather than links written as words – good for those commonly used websites like studyladder, reading eggs, mathletics etc.

Notifier reviewer if you want to receive an email every time a student has written a post that is pending review. If you visit your blog often, you probably don’t need to have this plugin.

Subscribe to comments is handy for visitors to your blog. They might leave a comment and want to know when someone replies to the comment – they tick the box about subscribing to comments. This is for only one post at a time. Your visitors can tick this box on as many posts as they want to hear about comment replies.

Supreme google webfonts has 291 fonts available but this slows your blog down quite a bit having to load this each time.

 

Adding a class cyber pet

I notice many classes are starting to add class pets but some are not working properly, so I decided to write a post with step by step instructions for adding a cyber pet as a widget on your blog sidebar.

1. Go to this website which is the gallery at widgetbox.

2. Click on cyber pet.

3. Click on Bunnyhero labs

 

4. Choose the pet you want by clicking on it.

5. Now customize your pet by changing colour, adding a name for the pet and putting in your class name as the adopter. Change the text colour as well if you want. You should be seeing on the right of the page what your changes will make your pet look like.

6.  Make sure the number for the width is between 180 and 200 if you are putting your pet in the sidebar. Finally click on the first button  </>  This is the embed code button on many websites.

7. When the following screen appears click on the green copy button. This copies the code to your clipboard on your computer.

8. If you have done all the above steps correctly the final screen will look like this.

9. Now the last step is to copy the code into your blog widget area. Go to your blog dashboard> appearance> widgets

Drag a text box to the sidebar where you want the pet to appear. Put in a title if you want and paste in the code that is on your clipboard – use control V.

Save and then close. Go to your class blog, refresh the blog and you should now have your pet in the sidebar.

 

Do you know of any other great websites with widgets other than widgetbox?

What other widgets would you like on your class blog?

Many thanks to Sue Waters for telling me about the program SnagIT which I have used for the arrows and numbers on the images.  Next learning step for me will be creating a video as well.

Adding clock widgets

We have had some classes start joining in global activities such as:

Other global projects you might like to check out include:

Once you start involving your class in global collaborative activities, students start asking questions like:

Why aren’t the students answering my comments straight away?

What is the time over there?

To help students understand time zones around the world, you can always add some widgets to your sidebar, or as a page like Mrs Yollis does.

Here are some websites for clocks -weatherandtimeworld time server, widgetbox, clocklink, timeanddate,

Here is a world clock, set it for Tassie time (click on Tasmania) then hover over the area where you want to know what the time is eg east coast of America.

Here is a post from Ronnie Burt at Edublogs with other widgets to add to your sidebar.

Image: ‘SAF#2

Using flickrcc to find images

This is probably the easiest way to find images to use in your blog post. But some schools have this site blocked so you might need to check with your IT co-ordinator.

How do you use it?

  1. In your blog dashboard, you write your post that is going to include an image.
  2. Go to the flickrcc website linked here – there is a link to this on the sidebar of this blog.
  3. Type your search term in the box – make sure editing is ticked in case you want to make some changes to the image.
  4. Choose the image you want to use. Remember you can find more choices by clicking the blue next 30 button.
  5. Click on the thumbnail of the image you want to use. It will now appear as a larger image on the right hand side.
  6. Above the image you will also find attribution information.

Adding the image to your blog post

Go to your post dashboard and click the upload/insert icon.

Click on from URL.

There are four things you now need to do from the flickrcc screen.

  1. Choose size of image you want to use – small or medium (highlight 1) will be large enough most times.
  2. Right click on image and copy image location. If using Internet Explorer, right click on image, go to properties and copy the address area. Come back to your blog screen and paste this in “URL area“.
  3. Go back to flickrcc and copy highlighted area 3. Back to your blog screen and paste in” link image to area“.  Choose your alignment and click on insert into post.
  4. Copy the first line of the attribution (highlight 4) and add to the end of your post.

Image: ‘Doing some Sisyphus work

Now I have shown you three different ways to find images – using Google advanced search, pics4learning and flickrcc.

Which did you find the easiest?

Leave a comment on this post or write your own post about finding and using images.

Using pics4learning to find images

This is a great website where all images are available for educational blogs, wikis, powerpoints and projects etc as long as you give attribution for the image.

On the website is a page giving you tips for searching. Looking at this will teach you better search techniques and will make your searching time more effective.

You also need to read their page on image use policy.

How do you use it?

  1. In your blog dashboard, you write your post that is going to include an image. Then you go to pics4learning to find the best image relating to your post.
  2. Click on browse topics. When the list of topics appears, some will have arrows next to them. This means there are sub-topics as well. So clicking on the topic name next to the arrow will open up more choices.
  3. Under the topic countries, let’s look for Australia and a picture of something related to our history or geography. Found one of Uluru, the well known red rock in the centre of Australia.

If using Internet Explorer or an image saved on a computer

  1. You will need to download the image to your own computer. Check how big the image is. You might have to resize it first so it will fit neatly in your post about 450 pixels maximum width.   By resizing first, re-saving then uploading to your post, it takes up less storage space.
  2. Back to your blog post. To insert an image, you click on the upload/insert icon above the post dashboard.
  3. You are inserting from your computer.
  4. Select to find your image and open it.
  5. The Edublogs platform will crunch your image.
  6. Make sure you have checked the alignment of your image and the size of the image then click insert into post.

If using Firefox or uploading direct from a URL

You don’t need to save the image.

Go to your post dashboard and click the upload/insert icon.

Click on from URL.

Your screen will now look like this.

  1. Go back to pics4learning. Right click on image and copy image location. Come back to your blog screen and paste this in “URL area“.
  2. Go back to pics4learning. Right click and copy link location. Back to your blog screen and paste in” link image to area“.

Choose your alignment and click on insert into post.

 

What about giving attribution from pics4learning?

This is very easy. Go back to the page where your image is on pics4learning. Below the image is a citation area. Highlight and copy this information, then paste it in at the bottom of your blog post.

 

Vernon, Mitch. ar17.jpg. 2006. Pics4Learning. 28 Sep 2012 <http://pics.tech4learning.com>

Using Google advanced search for images

This will be a step by step tutorial on how to use Google advanced search to find images and get attribution for images to use in your blog posts.This is probably the hardest way to find an image to use.

  1. Go to Google search and put in your search term(s) eg Tasmanian Devil
  2. Choose images only on left sidebar – wow over 1 million images to choose from
  3. But how many of these are able to be used in my blog?
  4. Top right corner, click on the option wheel and choose advanced search.
  5. Go to bottom of this page and under usage rights choose free to use or share
  6. Click on the blue advanced search button
  7. Oh, now I only have 44 images to choose from.
  8. I would choose an image from a site that might have something to do with Tasmanian Devils rather than a person’s blog. They might have copied the image without permission.

This is the image I chose to use – sounds like fotopedia is a reputable site.

  1. Hover over the picture and click on the link
  2. I am now at fotopedia site and can see the image was actually from a flickr site, so fotopedia are not the owners of the image.
  3. I click on the flickr link and am now at the original site of the image.
  4. I look on the right sidebar and find the license information and I can use it.

I have now created a screencast showing the above steps for those students who are more visually inclined. This is the first time I have used Screenr so hope it works well.

 

Now how do I download the image and give the attribution?

  1. I don’t want an image that is too big, so I click on Actions above the image, and choose view all sizes.
  2. For blogs the small size is generally big enough. Click on this.
  3. Make sure your blog post has been written and you are ready to insert your image.
  4. Click at the beginning of the line where you want your image to appear.
  5. Click on the upload/insert button above your blog post. Choose from URL.
  6. We now need the URL of the image, usually starts with farm4.static or something similar if a Flickr image
  7. We also need the link location which will start with flickr.com or similar

If using Internet Explorer

  1. Right click on image, then properties. Copy the image URL or address. Paste into URL area.
  2. Go back to image, and highlight the location of the image from the top of the page eg flickr.com etc, copy and paste into the link image to area.
  3. Choose where to align the image – I usually choose right .
  4. Insert into post.
  5. To give attribution, write Image: Source at the bottom of your post. Highlight Source and add a link to the flickr.com location you should still have copied on your clipboard.
  6. WOW! I have finally found an image, uploaded from the URL and given attribution.

If using Firefox

  1. Right click on image and copy the image location. Paste this into the URL area.
  2. Follow from step 2 for Internet Explorer.

I will create a screencast on how to upload and add attribution when I write the post about using flickrcc for your images.

Image: Source

How to: find and insert images

A post looks a lot more interesting if you have included an image, as long as it relates to the topic you are writing about.

But where can you get these images?

I’ll Google it

NO NO NO

Not every image on the web can be used in your blog. You need to find ones that have a creative commons license and then you need to give attribution to the owner of that image somewhere on your post.

What’s attribution?

A note to show that someone else took the photo and they have given you permission to use it.

But how can I know that?

Well check out my next few posts where I look at using Google advanced search, Flickrcc and Pics4Learning. Notice I have a link to each of these in my sidebar as well as other sites to get music, clipart and images to use.

In each post I will show you how to find and insert images to your posts as well as give attribution for the images. I will also mention how to do this using Internet Explorer and Firefox, because both need to be done differently.

Image: ‘A Picture Says A Thousand Words‘ by dullhunk