Teacher-blogging: Getting Started Week 3

Life long learning Photo: https://www.flickr.com/photos/mrsdkrebs/

Week 3 – Find tips, tricks, resources, and classroom connections throughout my day-to-day journey in Blogging 101

Day 11 – Make a Prompt Personal (a constructivist approach)

I love the idea of personalizing The Daily Prompt. When I’m new at something, it’s comforting to be given suggestions and structure.

A fellow teacher once told me that when we create classrooms without structure, it’s like asking kids to walk across a bridge with no railings. This got me thinking about the constructivist approach to learning (Christopher Lister explains constructivism). Sometimes teachers think constructivism means students do everything on their own, without boundaries. I would interpret it differently. I believe constructivism is more successful when we support students by providing a structure within which they can have an experience. Thanks to Blogging 101 I’ve had a few railings to lean on as I construct my understanding of blogging.

Find my Daily Prompt response about secret ingredients here.

Have a thought on constructivisim? Leave a comment below.

Day 12 – Increase Your Commenting  With Confidence (letting go of being shy)

For this assignment, we found others who personalized the same prompt, read six, and commented on two. I used to be afraid of commenting on blogs. What would the world think of my opinions?!

I can definitely relate to students in the classroom who are afraid to share their thinking. It’s exciting that our new standards require us to teach students to effectively communicate with each other. I applaud this move toward making education a collaborative endeavor. Commenting through Blogging 101 has helped me shed my own shyness.

Find out what I was brave enough to share here and here.

Willing to share your thoughts? Leave a comment below.

Day 13 – Try Another Blogging Event (taking the easy route)

This assignment had me stumped. So much to choose from and so little time. So I’ve decided to take the easy route and go for Blogging 201 in July.

Sometimes the most important thing we can provide to students is letting them know what’s next. Doing so creates a safe and predictable (but not boring!) environment. For me, knowing Blogging 201 is coming provides some comfort along this blogging adventure.

Have a blogging event to share about? Leave a comment below.

Day 14 – Extend Your Brand (need advice – read THIS)

This was my most productive assignment of the week. Talk about constructing learning!

First, I re-created my Facebook page as a web page (instead of business). Save yourself some time by finding out how here. I’d been trying to figure this out for weeks and Blogging 101 got me going in minutes – whew! Then I created a custom header, custom image widgets, and a custom blavatar using PicMonkey. A word to the wise, write down your steps, write down your steps, write down your steps when you use PicMonkey. There is a tremendous amount you can do but once you save your image you cannot retrace your steps. So if you want to recreate something, like custom image widgets that match your header and blavatar, keep track of what you’re doing. Scroll up to see my take on Facebook, Pinterest, and YouTube widgets in the sidebar. All were made with PicMonkey.

Going through this process was as gratifying as it was time-consuming. I could practically feel my neurons firing. At the same time I was aware of the hours I was poring into this project. I’m reminded of the importance of productive struggle, and the time it takes,  in the classroom. If we want students to  internalize their learning they need time to experiment, time to construct their own understanding, and time to engage in productive struggle and problems solving. I know first hand because this assignment gave me all three!

Possess tips and tricks for personalizing your work? Leave a comment below?

Day 15 – Create a New Posting Feature

I’m torn on this one. As I mentioned at the top, I appreciate a little support and structure when I try something new. So I’m considering two “challenges” for my new posting feature. One is the Slice of Life Story Challenge and the other is WordPress’ Daily Prompt. I’m intimidated by both, but for different reasons. Slice of Life is extremely open-ended, where as Daily Prompt can be a bit specific. Either way, they can both feel intimidating.

For students, the same can come up. One kind of writing prompt can be too narrow, and another too broad. Therefor it’s important for students to have choice, especially when trying to just get ideas on the table. This is one of the strengths of keeping a writer’s notebook to gather seed ideas.

Do you have a posting feature that works well on your blog? Leave a comment below.

It’s been a HUGE in terms of blogging pushing my thinking around students. This experience helps me remain a life-long learner and I’m having a ton of fun doing it!

What helps you stay fresh as a teacher/learner? Leave a comment below.

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Teacher-blogging: Getting Started Week 2

I am a writer

Week 2 – Tips, resources, and classroom connections

Week one flew by! When real learning is happening it’s enthralling, and time spins away. Last week felt the same. This week I am able to say, “I am a blog writer”. If your considering blogging, take note of how quickly you can learn!

Day 6 – Make an “irresistible” About Page

This was a challenge. However, About Page 101: Making Them Care is an incredible resource. If your like me, struggling, to write about yourself, use the tip of allowing a finite amount of time on a specific topic. We use quick-writes with students, why not use them with ourselves?

Day 7 – Keep Personalizing

Playing with visuals is how we personalize things. For students, this can be a writer’s notebook. For us, it’s our teacher-blog. Today I personalized by picking my theme. To do so, I had to think about  who I am, who I want to connect with, and how my theme communicates that. When you pick a theme, think about the emotional connection you hope to evoke. More than anything this will personalize your blog.

Day 8 – Be a Good Neighbor

Time for checking out others (read below for four powerful blogs). Think of this as a gallery walk. In the classroom, before you send students off to critique each other, you lay some ground rules. It’s the same in the blogoshpere. Read these eight norms (from @kristastevens, WordPress Blogging 101) for commenting on blogs and then get visiting!

  1. Try to avoid comments that simply say “Great post!” or “Thanks!” — make an effort to add to the discussion.
  2. Be specific about why you enjoyed the post.
  3. Ask a relevant question.
  4. Respectfully offer a counterpoint. (And because it can’t be overstated: respectfully.)
  5. Share a related experience.
  6. Be concise. If your comment ends up being more than two paragraphs, consider writing a post of your own and letting the blogger know they inspired it.
  7. Don’t leave a plug that simply links to your blog — your name links back to your blog anyway.
  8. Mind your manners. If you wouldn’t say it to someone’s face, don’t say it in their comment thread.

Here are the comments I left on four thought-provoking blogs

  • Book People Blog – A wonderful bookstore blog
  • Colorin Colorado – A blog sharing all things about students learning English as an additional language
  • School for Linguists Blog – A blog focused on linguistics, an important topic for those teaching students learning English as an additional language!
  • Pushing the Edge Blog – My favorite pick-me-up blog. Every time I go here I gain courage to try something new!

Day 9 – Get Inspired by the Neighbors

Sometimes you have to put it all out there. Unabashedly. I learned that while ago as a classroom teacher. If I share who I am, the kids have someone to connect with. If all I do is teach, it becomes a little robotic. Education isn’t about receiving information, it’s about internalizing an experience. And I am part of their experience. I put it out here for this post because I am inspired by the neighbors. Check out my day nine post I’m a Groupie (and You Should Be Too). It speaks for itself.

You should try this too. Find a blog you love, and turn it into a post about that blog. When I shared my post with the blogger I wrote it about, it made his day. You have the power to make someone’s day too!

Day 10 – Build a Better Blogroll

Epiphany! Yes, I finally read through most of the directions for building links and adding to the menu and creating a blogroll. You know what happened? I figured out how to do something I’ve been frustrated over the past two weeks – get my Blogging 101 posts into one thread on my menu without making a page.

Have you ever noticed in the classroom what happens when students don’t read the directions? As a teacher does it make you frustrated? Are you able to empathize with why they don’t want to?

If your a WordPress used, and you need help, go straight to the support section or email the support team. Everything you need is there!

Teacher-blogging Ground Zero – Keep Calm and Blog

Keep Calm and Blog

Week 0 – What in the world is blogging all about?!

If you’re reading this, then like me you’re probably a life-long learner. It’s fun and exciting to learn new things. But it can be a little nerve wracking too.

You’ve come to the right place. When you read the Blogging 101 category, you’ll join the journey to become a teacher-blogger.

By seeing how I’m doing it, you’ll learn new ideas and might just be inspired to start your own site.

There are sure to be triumphs and trials while I climb out on this limb, and I hope you’ll climb with me!

More Resources

Check out Two Writing Teachers for more posts about blogging and blogging with students.

Who I Am and Why I’m Here

Be the change you want to see

Let’s Meet

I’m Dawn and, like you,  I endeavor to be a superhero. Not the kind who slays villains and saves victims. No, I want to be the kind who changes our entire world; one heart and mind at a time.

 My Core Beliefs

I believe in the power of public education to promote equity, justice, and a safe space for all voices. I believe that every being has gifts to share and a story to tell. I believe that learning is one of the most electrifying things to do. I believe that teachers are the backbone of societal change. And I believe that together we are stronger.

 Why I’m Blogging

There is no doubt that starting this blog is terrifying. Writing in a public venue instead of keeping a journal is like the time I needed a tooth pulled. I knew it had to be done and I was scared. So I pondered it for a decade while ignoring what needed to happen. But someone said to me recently that it’s time to “Dare Greatly” (more on this here and here). And I realized that if I’m not willing to take risks, how can I expect fellow educators and our students to? If I’m not willing to be the change I want to see, then how can I live out my superhero dreams? So I’m blogging to share myself with you. I’m blogging to support new and experienced teachers on your superhero missions. I’m blogging to promote an education system that values both our children and our teachers.

 What’s Coming Next

The focus of this blog is to promote the super in all teachers, even on days you don’t feel like heroes. My aim is to help you thrive as a public educator. This means that I’ll provide support as you honor and hone your teaching practice, advocate for your students and yourself, and navigate a career within public education. You can come here to find tried-and-true strategies, excellent reading recommendations, and worth-your-time resources. And I’m sure to share my point of view in a post or two.

Come learn with me!