Welcome to the launch of the BOCES SLS “SLS Cool Tools” learning program! Congratulations on joining so many of your colleagues on this learning adventure. To understand how the project will work, make sure you read over the About the Project page.
READY TO START?
In this first lesson, we’ll explore blogging and you’ll set up your own blog to keep track of your progress through this learning program.
- Read through the introduction below.
- Explore some of the examples and readings that interest you.
- Finally do the learning activity.
- And remember – Have Fun!
Have you ever kept a diary, a journal or some sort of file that logs your activities? Well, that’s simply what a blog (or “web log”) is. An online journal where you can write regular updates, or “posts”, about a topic – any topic! Write about your travel, your hobbies, your family, your work – anything that interests you.
Blogs take sharing one step further by allowing others to share their thoughts and ask questions through the commenting feature on your blog. It’s a great way to connect with other people interested in the same topic.
Blogs let you do all this without having to know anything about HTML or other web page coding stuff. And best of all, you can do it for for free.
To learn more about blogs, take a look at this fun Blogs in Plain English video:
(If you can’t view the YouTube version of this video, you can view it on the CommonCraft Web Site.)
BLOGS IN SCHOOLS & LIBRARIES
So what can libraries and schools do with blogs? Some ideas include:
- Share news & professional information with other teachers and staff.
- Keep students & parents up to date on school projects.
- Share book recommendations and reviews.
- Student writing projects, research journals, student portfolios
- Keep up on professional reading and news.
- A book discussion blog for students and staff.
- Post research tips and tools for classes.
- and much more!
Some tips and ideas:
- Gwyneth Jones offers tips on blogging in Just Blog It! Blogging Tips & Ideas
- 8 Tips For Blogging With Students – “Blogging is a great way to promote reflective writing in class. The best way to get started is to jump in and try it out, and this list should provide some pointers to get you started.”
- New Teacher Boot Camp Week 5: Using Blogs – “Blogging is a wonderful way to motivate our students to write. Students can share their stories, thoughts and reflections on their blogs. Writing for a real and global audience makes blogging an engaging and meaningful experience.”
- 7 Things You Should Know About Blogging – this older document is still very relevant. (and the whole “7 Things” series is a very useful resource to know about)
- 40+ Blogging Tools – sounds like too many, doesn’t it! But this great list highlights the most popular and useful blogging tools for educators.
Some library and school oriented blogs to explore:
- Edublogs Nominees & Winners – annual awards for best education blogs. Great resource to find ideas, inspiration and professional reading.
- Never Ending Search (Joyce Valenza)
- Huzzah! (links to many student blogs listed under “classmates blogs”)
- Bound for South Australia: Journey of a Lifetime – tracks the journeys of ships bound from England to South Australia in the 1830’s.
- Mrs. Cassidy’s Classroom Blog (Grade 1 students)
- Free Tech for Teachers (Richard Byrne)
- Unquiet Library (High School Library)
- Student Blogging Challenge (have your students join the next one!)
- The Daily Dragon (Children’s Room)
- Librarian Nagler
- Library Door (Paige Jaeger)
- Algonquin Middle School
Chances are your organization or someone you work with has a blog already, ask around!
TOOLS TO EXPLORE
There are many different blogging tools to choose from! Shop around and see which site appeals best to you. These options are all free!
- SIMPLE and FAST: Try Posterous. This blog platform is pared down and minimalistic. You can even create a post via email with Posterous! Choose this if you want to get off to a quick start.
- FULL-FEATURED and POWERFUL: Try Blogger, WordPress or Edublogs. Blogs created with these platforms are more versatile and can accommodate more customization. They have all the basic features, but also allow advanced users to tinker “under the hood” if that’s important to you. Choose one of these if you’re looking to kick it into high gear.
- SCHOOL ORIENTED: ClassBlogmeister, EduBlogs and KidBlog all have options to set up classroom accounts that are controlled by the teacher.
If you haven’t used any of these blogging tools before, you might try using Blogger.com. Blogger is a Google service, so if you already have a Google or Gmail account, you’ll have an easy time signing up for the site.
BASIC LEARNING ACTIVITY
Your activity for this lesson, is to create a blog to keep a record of what you’re learning during this project. It will also be a way to communicate with and share with others who are participating in the project. You can choose any of the blogging tools listed below, but if you’re new to blogging you might want to try Blogger. If you’ve already familiar with that and want to try something new, go ahead and try WordPress.com, EduBlogs or Posterous.
Step 1: Pick the platform that you like and create your own blog!
Posterous | Blogger| WordPress | Edublogs
Please note: You need to have your own blogto use for this learning project. Please don’t register your library’s or classroom blog for this project. We will be looking at your blogs to see how you’re doing with each thing and to track your progress through the project.
NOTE: Write down your account info. Login, password, URL, blog name.
Step 2: Create your first blog post!
Tell us a little bit about who you are, where you work, why you’re taking part in this program and what you’ve learned during this lesson. Please title it “Thing 1: Blogging”. Feel free to write as many posts as you like, it’s your blog after all!
Step 3: Register your blog here
We’ll use this to create a list of participant’s blog so everyone can read each others blogs and share their tips and ideas. Your weekly blog entries will also be the basis for earning continuing education credit.
Step 4: Comments
Check the list of participants blogs. Take a look at other people’s blogs and leave a comment or two on anything you find interesting. Keep in mind that this is a way to share your ideas, react to another writer’s thoughts and to make connections with other people. When commenting on a blog post, remember to be respectful and courteous, even if you disagree with something they’ve posted.
ADVANCED LEARNING ACTIVITY
If you’ve done some or all of this program before, we’ll be including alternate tools and activities for you. Of course, you can also choose to do the basic activity again if you want to review.
Step 1: Register your blog here – You can register the blog you used for the last project or start a new one. Maybe use a different tool?
Step 2: Try something new! Some advanced activity ideas:
- Try a new blogging platform!
- Learn how to customize the sidebars of your blog. You might add a twitter widget, a Facebook widget (the Like Box is great if you have a Facebook page for your library or classroom), a GoodReads widget with your latest book suggestions.
- If you’re partnering with someone who is doing this project for the first time, help them set up their blog and get started with the program. Was it easy for them? Were there challenges?
- Start to outline a blogging project you might use with students, staff, parents.
- Or anything else that you want to try that’s related to blogging.
Step 3: Write your blog post, introducing yourself and telling us about your choice of activities. Please title it “Thing 1: Blogging”.
Some library & education blogs to explore:
- AASL Blog
- The Adventures of Library Girl (Jennifer LaGarde)
- ALA Learning
- Andromeda Yelton
- Blue Skunk Blog (Doug Johnson)
- Cathy Nelson’s Professional Thoughts
- Children’s Lit News/Reviews – 100 Scope Notes
- The Daring Librarian (Gwyneth Jones)
- The Honor Roll: 50 Must-Read K–12 Education IT Blogs
- Journeys (Diane Cordell)
- Libraries and Transliteracy
- Librarian in Black (Sarah Houghton)
- LIS News
- Not So Distant Future (Carolyn Foote)
- pafa.net (Polly-Alida Farrington)
- School Library Monthly
- Stephen’s Lighthouse (Stephen Abram)
- Tame The Web – Libraries, Technology and People by Michael Stephens
- Teach Paperless – Education blog
- Two Libraries, One Voice (Shannon M. Miller & John Schumacher)
- The Unquiet Librarian (Buffy Hamilton)
- Virtual Dave…Real Blog (David Lankes)
- Watch. Connect. Read. (John Schumacher)
- YALSA Blog
- Take a look at the help files for the tool you chose to use.
- Ask around and see if your colleagues and friends know the answer. Next time you might know the answer for them! That’s the start of a really great Personal Learning Network.
- Really stuck? Leave a message in the comments box below and we’ll try to sort things out for you!