Tell Me What You Need – Help Celebrate My 2 Month Blogging Birthday!

2 month blog birthday

Can you believe today is the two-month anniversary of this blog?!

This blog is for you, so it’s time for you to weigh in.

Tell me your biggest teaching need, in this  four question survey.

Happy Birthday to School Teacher Superheroes everywhere!

 

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Teacher-blog Branding Day 6: Connect With Your Community

Connect With Your Community

 

Day 6 of Blogging 201

Day six  was all about customizing your blog so that it’s easy to share across your social networks. You know, like Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest etc. But let me back up, first you need to know why social networks are important.

Building a social network, or PLN, will end the isolation of the closed-door classroom, forever. In education, social networking is called building a Personalized Learning Network (PLN). PLN might sound like just another acronym, but it’s not. In fact, it’s the best thing you can do to connect with other like-minded teachers. Taking one small step toward building a PLN will open up a wide world of sharing ideas, and staying inspired. Not sure what it is or how to build one, read this article.

OK, now that you know why you should connect across social platforms. Now you need to know how to. Here’s what I did to make my teacher-blog easier to share.

Widgets

See the sidebar, over there to the right It’s got a lot of useful links. Things you’ll benefit from exploring. That’s where I’ve added a Twitter feed, a Facebook like box, and a custom image widget to connect on Pinterest.

Mobile Device Note: For smaller screens, click the title of the post and then scroll all the way to the bottom. The first widget is the Follow button.

You can also just click these links to see what I’m pinning and posting to inspire! PinterestTwitterFacebook.

Sharing Buttons

Along the bottom of the posts are my sharing buttons. I’m using the color icons because they are catchy to the eye. I also customized their heading to say “Inspire minds everywhere!” because that’s part of my blog’s brand.

#

Any time I post I use the publicize feature to share on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ (the social media that WordPress.com provides). I make sure to include obvious hashtags as well as one or two that might connect me with a new group of readers. It’s also a good way to discover new and useful hashtags for my own PLN. For this post I used #blogging201 #PLN #CE15 (Connected Educators 2015).

Tell us how you utilize a PLN, or have customized your blog to make the most of social media. Your comments are sure to inspire others!

Contact Me

If you have questions about anything educational, or this blog, I’ve added a Contact Me page, widget, and icon. There no bigger barrier to connection than not knowing how to get in touch with someone!

You can find it in the menu, the sidebar, and here.

Contact Me

 

 

Teacher-blog Branding Day 5: Organize Your Blog

Organize Your Blog

Day 5 of Blogging 201

Ahh the power organization. I the classroom it’s a huge focus. We spend hours every year teaching students how to take care of their things. For younger students, it’s all about where to put lunch-boxes, hang backpacks, and store papers. As kids grow older it becomes how to organize a binder and keep a locker clean. For writers and bloggers, organizing is just as important.

Today we looked at how to draw readers deeper into our site. The idea is that when people come to your blog they see your first post at the top, and then scroll down chronologically. You can entice readers to explore more by using different widgets and blog features. I’ve chosen four.

Menu Categories

My menu is primarily made up of categories, which are broad topics. Organizing content this way provides a readers with an easy way to look for information. It’s a great, an easily found, alternative to the chronological search. In addition to the categories I do have three pages that include more static information: My Story, Becoming a Teacher Blogger, and About Me.

Tag Cloud

In the sidebar you’ll see a tag cloud. It’s a quick way to search for specific content. I personalized it by limiting the number of tags shown and changing the label to “A Few of the Things I’m Writing About”. Due to the Nucleare theme it’s more of a tiled bar than a soft and fluffy cloud. However, the style changes depending on the theme so think about that when choosing your theme.

Popular Posts

When I discover a new blog I like to see what others find valuable. It’s one way I discover what’s positive about a site. So I added the “Top Posts and Pages” widget to my sidebar. The name I chose is “Popular Posts on This Site”. One tip is to make sure your posts include visuals. That way, the posts catch the reader’s eye with both the icon and the title.

You Should Definitely Read These

The last thing I’ve done is to add the category “You Should Definitely Read These” to My Story in the menu at the top of my blog. “You Should Definitely Read These” are posts that I am proud of, and want more people to spend time on. I added them to the My Story page because that’s a place many people go when they find a new blog.

What Do You think?

I’d love to know your experience. How are you arranging your posts to draw readers in? What tricks are you using to categorize and share your writing in visual ways? Where do you go most often when you find a new blog?

 

Teacher-blog Branding Day 4: Stats is Not a Four Letter Word

Stats is not a four letter word

 Day 4 of Blogging 201

OK – Day four of Blogging 201 is a little scary. Today we took a look at our stats. It’s actually something I’ve tried to stay away from so that I don’t have any inklings of failure about my posts. Being new at this, I like to keep to the 10:2 rule that we use with students. For every ten quality comments or likes, I’ll let myself take in 2 pieces of constructive criticism. And stats might end up being that constructive criticism. So, I have to be careful.

Perhaps I’m like the proverbial ostrich with her head in the sand, but for me positive interaction is a bigger motivator than looking at what might not be happening.

None the less I’m a good student, so I decided to take a glance at the stats. Here are some fun things I’ve found:

  1. I’ve had visitors from 5 continents: North America, South America, Australia, Europe, and Asia. For a west coast USA girl to be able to say she’s had a visitor from Estonia or Sri Lanka is pretty darn cool. And five continents is a whole lot more places than I ever would have reached before this blog.
  2. My post Growth Mindset (or lack thereof) – finding humor and human in a difficult situation has been the most popular, followed by What in the World is Wondering – and how the heck do I teach it?! . While I may not be reaching the top ten on Google for teacher blogs, I’m hitting a much wider audience than when I was writing college essays for one professor.
  3. My most popular day is Tuesday. I attribute that to the Tuesday Slice of Life Challenge sponsored by Two Writing Teachers. What a blessing to receive traffic from there. I love that community of writers. If you haven’t checked it out, you should.

In the end, stats didn’t end up being a four letter word today. Looking at them actually felt pretty good.

I’d love to know your tricks for taking in the stats. Do you get stuck on them or use them as a motivator? Which part do you find the most useful?

Teacher-blog Branding Day 3: Mobile Friendliness

teacher's desk 3

 Day 3 of Blogging 201

Today Blogging 201 asks us to look at our blogs across multiple devices. Doing so helps us make sure all audiences receive friendly content. This makes me think of the art classes I have taken. Good artists look at their pieces up close, and from across their room. They do this to get a sense of what their patrons will experience and to gain perspective on their work.

In K-12 classrooms, we also have students engage in “gallery walks”. This may be to look at 2D art but it can be in other subject areas as well. Students share writing, posters of their math work, and their Science experiments. Walking around the classroom gives them new perspective on their work, and lets them know what their peers are doing.

If your reading this post on a tablet or mobile phone please let me know your thoughts!

Teacher-blog Branding Day 2: Who Knew Auditing and Peer Editing Were the Same?!

Audit Your Blog

 Day 2 of Blogging 201

Assignment number two for Blogging 201 is to audit our blog to make sure it is in line with our brand. In teacher speak, this means peer editing. Much research has been done to show the effects of peer editing, especially when students know what to edit for. A quick Google search for “positive effects of peer editing” turned up no less than 1,870,000 results in a quarter of a second. And many of them are worth the read.

I’ve been fortunate enough to connect with Cynthia Franks, award-winning playwright who blogs at franklywrite.com. As a new blogger I couldn’t feel more fortunate about this wonderful connection. If you do nothing else today, go check out her blog to gather quality writing tips and see how she has used visuals to create her brand. She has a beautiful page that will draw you right in!

When you come back, I hope to share her comments about how I can improve my brand.

If you have thoughts about the look of my blog I’d love to hear them. What speaks to you? Do you have an emotional reaction? Are there any annoyances? Many thanks for helping me improve!

Teacher-blog Branding Day 1: The Power of Goals

Setting Blogging Goals

This is the first post chronicling my journey in Blogging 201. Follow these posts for information and inspiration about going deeper with blogging. You’ll get to learn with me, in real-time, about what it means to be a teacher-blogger and teach blogging.

Day 1 of Blogging 201

This assignment is to be intentional about goal setting, something that is critical with students in all settings. In fact, goal setting has one of the highest impacts of all educational strategies. One researcher found that goal setting “nearly [erased] the gender and ethnic minority achievement gap for 700 students over the course of two years with a short written exercise”.

So in the interest of being a highly effective student, teacher, and blogger here are my goals:

1. Create a weekly post that I can keep up with – perhaps “Tuesday Teaching Tip” But make sure to keep it to 250 words or I think I’ll drown. What do you think?
2. Increase followers/readership/comments – I very much enjoy the interaction when it happens. It’s actually become my favorite part of blogging. Leave a comment!
3. Monetize – at some point I’d like to start monetizing, and I want to do it in a way that maintains the authentic voice of my blog. This is my most precarious goal. How do you feel about monetized blogs? Is there a line not to cross?

Keep Calm and Blog On!