Tasmanian Blogs

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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.

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.



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?

Online classroom

I have just had a great hour with six students who have their own personal blog starting last week.  This was the first online session so it was very much let’s look at what we can do with the Blackboard Collaborate classroom.

  • Students learnt how to use smiley faces to show they understood what was happening and G. worked out how to use the confused face as well.
  • They learnt how to put up their hand in class if they wanted to have the microphone to speak to the rest of us – used the talk button and put hand down.
  • Then we had fun with the whiteboard tools – finding cups of coffee, maths symbols, making yellow ellipses.
  • We added a smiley face to a map of Tasmania to show where we were based
  • Finally we took a web tour of the main student bloggers blog, so they would know what the instructions were for the next three activities on their blogs.

The link to the online classroom is on the main student bloggers blog under the get help here link. You need Java enabled on your computer and if using wireless, make sure you choose that instead of Cable/DSL when it asks.  Allow about 10 minutes to set up your computer before the online lesson.

I will be holding online classes every Wednesday and Friday from 1.30pm until 4pm.  Any students or teachers are welcome to come and join in and ask questions about blogging.

If any teachers want me to run an online blogging class with their students or other staff at another time of day, please contact me by email which you can find in the sidebar of this blog.

Using mobile devices in your room

Nearpod: I was very impressed with this collaboration tool where the teacher has control over the student devices in real time, can see who has logged out and who is in attendance. Check out the school version where you can have up to 100 students using at the same time. They can also be on any computer not necessarily an ipad and can be using any browser. Follow on twitter and facebook and watch their videos.

Showbie:  is a way to assign, collect and review student work on ipads – paperfree classroom

Display note - share content on your computer with lots of students using multiple devices?

Symbaloo includes a free app to use on mobile devices – create share and organize in the cloud. Lots of resources already curated by other teachers. Basic version free, but can purchase class, school or district licenses.

Want to find some great apps for your students? Check out apps4edu.

Want to create stopmotion on your ipads? New app available for about $10 US

Another place to check out lots of educational apps here at Super Duper.

Educational games and books

Try out some of these websites – money may be American though.

Arcademics - both maths and English, also available as an app

Splash math including an app

Lure of the labyrinth – grades 6-8 pre algebra skills

Brainpop games – maths, science, health and social science games also have related movies to go with them, you might need to join brainpop though it is worthwhile.

One more story – for home, school or library use – classic and contemporary books read by an actor and with musical accompaniment – can be used on phone or tablet – many options for reading the book - free trial at this link

Visual learning with VizZle – great for special needs teachers – ways to create and share visual lessons including templates.

WeVideo – a platform for creating your own videos – 33% discount till end of July

Do you have students wanting to create their own apps? Register now at AppShed. Cost involved.

Have you checked out Professor Garfield and all his different sites?

Improve your students brain power with brainware.

Spelling city includes vocabulary enrichment as well – allows teachers to create spelling lists and children use games to improve their spelling

Storyline online has actors reading great books – includes student activities

Finding and organizing resources

A few great places to find resources include:

Graphite from commonsense media

  • Discover apps, games, websites that have been reviewed and rated by teachers
  • Share with a community of teachers
  • Innovate with the right tools

PolarTREC: Polar region resources – articles, lessons, activities, interactive media

Power my learning – free and flexible way to integrate blended learning into your lessons – portal to some of the best educational games. activities, simulations and videos – search by subject, create personal playlists for each student if needed

21 things 4 students – suitable for students grade 6-8 – interactive program about vital technology concepts

Atomic learning now includes an iPad app

Teaching the inquiry process – includes apps, videos and tutorials

Schools that work – produced by Edutopia – links, videos

Apps in your classroom – apps, lessons, tutorials

Math Landing – resources and tools for primary teachers including apps

Edmentum – lots of different programs and courses for all ages

Cyber Science 3D – interactivity and reasoning – class, school or district license

Take students on virtual field trips around the world – a small cost associated with the site.

Looking at using eBooks in your library? Check out this site. Or check out Brain Hive here.

Do you find it difficult to get the most out of your interactive board? Check out Gynzy with a free trial.

Want to engage your classes inside the pages of any digital book, article, PDF or document? Check out Subtext - also available as an app.

Do you need to use a graphing calculator in your maths lessons? Here is one for free at Desmos

Online databases, streaming video. eBooks and eLearning modules all online – free trial available  at Infobase Learning.

Online resources for adaptive curriculum in maths and science, suited to middle school and high school students

An eReading platform for schools – online annotation, embed quizzes, immediate feedback for students – check it out at Gobstopper


Teaching technology and connecting with other teachers

Teacher playground includes resources, PD, lessons, tutorials

As a teacher, do you want to be more connected as an educator? Join in activities in October – some will be based in Australia even though this website is American.

Here are some online catalogues with useful programmes to buy: ShopK12,

Teachers First – a site for thinking teachers – free membership, 1000s resources, free PD

Want to do some online learning of your own? Check out FLO.

Want to buy, sell or create some teacher created resources? Head to the Teachers Notebook


Organizing resources

Got your own classroom library? Track student borrowing by using classroom organizer. Can also add eBooks to your library.


Blooms Taxonomy and apps

Scrabble! of sortsMany students and classes now have ipads in their rooms. While I was at the conference in San Antonio Texas, I went to a few sessions mentioning apps.

Here is a list of those recommended if you use Bloom’s Taxonomy in your lessons.

Stack the States (free and $1)
WordWeb Dictionary (free)
Flashcards Deluxe Lite (free and $4)
Google Search (free)

Skitch (free)
Spacecraft 3D (free)
What Does Not Belong? (free)
Flipboard (free)
Word Seek HD (free)

Educreations (free)
Xperica (free and $4)
MindMash (free)
Slice It! ($1)

Cargo-Bot (free)
QuickGraph (free)
Wolfram Alpha $3
PollDaddy (free and subscription)
NASA Visualization Explorer (free)

Nearpod (free and subscription)
Socrative (free)
Side by Side ($2)
InDecision ($1)

Puppet Pals HD (free)
Inspiration Maps Lite (free and $10)
WordFoto ($2)
iStop Motion ($10)
Comic Touch Lite (free)
Comic Life ($5)
iMovie ($5)
Garage Band ($5)

Many thanks to David Pownell for the link to his website where he mentions all the apps.

Do you have any other apps you would recommend under each section of the taxonomy?

If you are using ipads for blogging, I recommend the Edublogs app  with the campus set up. Please try some of these apps at home or in the classroom and in the comments leave something positive about the app.
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Amit Gupta via Compfight

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