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Alex Answers Your Questions!

Thank you to everyone who was so interested in reading Alex’s story on our post about coding a few weeks back.

To recap, Alex is a 17 year old student. For the last 1.5 years he has been attending high school during the day and working for Edublogs (and our sister companies) at night. When Alex was in ninth grade he became blind. He relies on screen reading technology to use his computer.

Alex enjoyed going through all your comments! When we hit 250, we closed the comments on the post so it didn’t get too overwhelming.

There were many comments that were similar and we invited Alex to respond to as many as possible below.

Alex at WordCamp with colleagues
Alex at a WordCamp in Nashville on the weekend. Pictured with James Farmer (left) and Ronnie Burt (right) plus the WPMU DEV mascot.

Alex’s Responses To Your Questions

Coding questions

How did you get started being a professional coder?
It all started with a basic HTML coding class in the 7th grade. Then it was all learning from other online tutorials and creating things for personal use.

What made you want to do coding? Were you always interested in it?
I was not always interested in coding or technology. I actually did not like technology for the longest time until I received a technology class in school which showed me the power of computers.

What’s your favorite part of coding?
Being able to see your creations come to life right in front of you. Knowing that I can fix problems to keep sites running.

How do you motivate yourself to keep going when coding?
No motivation required. Just get up and go to work.

How do you memorize all the codes?
Practice. It will be as easy as riding a bike after a while. Some languages such as PHP you will probably never remember completely. If all else fails, read the manual.

How do you know when you’ve made a typo or a mistake when typing?
When the site no longer loads or my syntax checker catches it.

Do you ever do coding in your spare time (when you’re not working)?
Yes, constantly.

How do you deal with problems and bugs in your code?
Analyze and fix. Use syntax checkers and try to find errors before code goes into production. Using a series of continuous integration deployment tools can also help catch errors.

How long did you have to practice to get good at coding?
You will never stop practicing. Every day is a practice situation in my opinion.

What is the coolest coding you have done or what work are you most proud of?
Making CampusPress and Edublogs accessible is pretty cool.

Will you continue to code in the coming years when you finish school?
Absolutely.

What coding programs are best to learn first?
Start out with HTML and CSS. Very simple and lots of documentation/articles around the internet to guide you.

Do you use binary code?
No. I once wrote an entire math assignment in binary code. It was over a bet in the 5th grade that I could not create a math problem my teacher couldn’t solve. I won that battle.

Do you have a favorite command (in code), if so, what is it and what does it do?
The WordPress PHP function wp_die(). It sounds really evil, but read the docs. 🙂

What would you say to a person that would like to code but doesn’t have the right resources at home to begin?
If you have an internet connection and Notepad++ you have all you need. Windows or Mac is perfect. If you only have a mobile device, find an app. There are lots out there.

Do you still like coding as much as you did before your disability?
Yes. Nothing has changed there. Coding is not easier but my liking for it has not changed.

Have you ever done any coding on Swift Playgrounds?
No.

Why did you start coding in grade 7?
Coding just happened to catch my interest then. I never did anything big with websites before the 7th grade.

How much coding do you have to do in a day to make sure that everything is running smoothly?
Just depends on the day. Not all code is ensuring things stay running, sometimes it is simply new features.

Do you ever code games?
No.

What is your favorite form of coding to code? (HTML, Java, Shell, etc.)?
PHP and Shell are probably my top two favorites. You can do a lot with server-side code. jQuery is also really fun, helps to make web page elements accessible.

Using A Computer Questions

How do you use your computer as a blind person?
A basic install of Windows 7 Professional with Non-Visual Desktop Access (NVDA).

I know that screen readers will tell you what you’ve coded but do you have any way of actually visualizing what it looks like when compiled?
Thankfully I don’t need to deal with code compiling. In general, sometimes I do get some errors just because I cannot see out of place characters. It can be a tedious process at times.

Are you able to customize the voice on your screen reader or is it all the same?
I listen with a male voice at a very fast rate. I usually leave the rate slider at 90% but I can go as high as 100% maxed out.

How do you know which letter/number you are pressing on the keyboard? Do you have a special keyboard?
Nope. I remember the keys and their locations. No vision required for typing really fast.

How do you know if the website is broken, or does someone tell you or do you figure it out on your own?
Sometimes I am notified, sometimes I figure it out on my own. Really depends on the situation.

General Blindness Questions

What happened to your vision?
I wish I knew. Still proves to be a pretty big medical mystery why my remaining bit of vision dissolved.

How do you do other activities (like eating) without sight?
Theoretically, you should always know where your mouth is. If you can miss it, you have yourself a problem. Is it easier? No. Is it impossible? No.

Do you have any trouble in daily life due to being blind?
Sure. Walking down the sidewalk is much more challenging than it used to be. Especially hate the silent cars.

Have your other senses grown stronger?
Yes. Hearing and smell certainly seem to be stronger, or more used anyway.

What kind of visual impairment do you have? (Can you see shadows? Colors?)
I can see light and sometimes basic movements.

Have you learned braille?
I have known Braille since the 2nd grade.

If you were able to see what would you want to see the most?
Everything, there is no one thing I would like to see the most.

Do you have friends who are blind?
Yes.

Has anyone thought you couldn’t succeed?
Lots of people. It is pretty common in our world.

When you found out you were going blind how did it feel? How did your friends react?
They were all visually impaired as well, no worries there.

What was the hardest thing to adapt to when you became blind?
Doing things away from my computer.

When you first found out about your condition did you take some sort of class that helps you learn how to do your everyday things without seeing?
I wish. I learned a lot on my own. As a senior in high school, I am now receiving a lot more help in this area.

Was it ever hard at school when it is reading time?
Nope, audio books are great.

Other Questions

Have you ever been bullied?
Yep. Just got to ignore.

Is it hard to do your school work and work for Incsub?
Challenging at times, but I don’t receive much homework. It all kind of fits together. I think Incsub probably keeps me busier than homework.

Do you have other hobbies?
I like to drive WaveRunners, ice skate, and pretty much everything else you would never expect a blind person to do.

What is your favorite and least favorite subject in school?
My favorite is English. My least favorite is math.

What will happen if you don’t make websites accessible?
I have not had to find this out yet, hope it never happens.

How fast can you type?
About 150 words per minute.

Why did you choose to work for Incsub?
Awesome company. Started at the bottom and worked my way up to where I am now.

What are the benefits of your job?
Great pay, work from anywhere, work any time, and a few complementary benefits to go along.

Who are some important people at your work?
Everyone is important in their own way.

How many conventions have you been to?
3

Do you consider yourself a role model to those who want to learn coding and those are being also vision impaired?
I don’t know if I’d say that, I’m just somewhat good at what I do.

What is one piece of advice you have for people that want to reach their goals even if they have an obstacle in their way?
Keep pushing. Nothing can stop you if you don’t let it.

What is your favorite sport?
Swimming.

What do you think your life would be like if you didn’t code?
It would be very boring.


We thank Alex for sharing these interesting insights into his life and his job as a coder!

Any comments? What surprised or interested you the most? We’d love to hear from you.

Week 10: Let’s Reflect!

This is the final Student Blogging Challenge post for 2018.

It’s time to reflect and celebrate!

We’re starting this topic a little early as some schools are finishing up for the holidays.

It's the final week of the Student Blogging Challenge. Let's reflect!

Week Nine Recap

Trophy image -- great workThere are already some great posts about coding.

You can find all the submitted tasks here (or click on the week 9 box on the sidebar). There will be more added over the coming days.

Here is some excellent work that has already been submitted:

Reminders

There are a number of important reminders this week:

  • Thank you for all your comments for Alex! He is enjoying going through them. Alex is currently traveling so stay tuned for some answers in the future.
  • The forms for weeks 1-6 are closed. If you’re still finishing off tasks from later weeks, you have about two more weeks until all the forms are closed. Remember, you can still complete tasks at any time in the future. You just won’t be able to submit them for our commenters to visit.
  • If you’d like to join us again for the next challenge in March, 2019, make sure you’re on our mailing list. You’ll get an email in February when registrations are open. Otherwise, check this blog in February for all the news.
  • While the Student Blogging Challenge is coming to an end, we hope this is not the end of your blogging journey. We encourage you to keep blogging and connecting. If you need ideas for your blog posts, check out this recent post on The Edublogger with 50 prompts for students.

Thank You

Many thanksThis was my first time running the Student Blogging Challenge and I’d like to thank everyone involved.

To Sue Wyatt…

A BIG thanks goes to Miss W (aka Sue Wyatt/Tasteach). Despite officially stepping down from running the challenge, Sue has played a hugely important role behind the scenes leading our commenting team and tirelessly visiting student blogs. We appreciate you, Sue!

To our commenters…

Another big thank you goes to our team of commenters who provided an authentic audience for our students and classes each week. Your comments made a big difference to the confidence and motivation of our bloggers. We hope you’ll return again as a commenter next year.

To our participants…

It has been fantastic to see such enthusiastic participation from our students and teachers across the world! I hope you’ve all learned something and made some connections.

The Student Blogging Challenge will start again in March, 2019. Spread the word!

Summary Of The Student Blogging Challenge

Let’s look at STUBC by the numbers…

  • Number of registered individual students: 1797
  • Number of registered classes: 145
  • Number of countries represented: 27

Number of tasks submitted

These are the edited numbers after incorrect and duplicate URLs were removed.

The forms for these tasks are still open so the numbers may increase.

Week Ten Tasks

This week there are two tasks to complete. If you don’t have time to write your audit post, please just spend 5 minutes completing our survey. We’d really appreciate it!

Week 10 Tasks STUBC

Task 1: Audit Your Blog 

Option One: Write a post on your blog reflecting on your participation in the challenge.

These are the sorts of prompts you could answer in your post:

  • How many weeks of the challenge did you participate in?
  • How many posts did you write in the ten week period?
  • How many comments did you receive from classmates, teachers, or other visitors?
  • Which post did you enjoy writing the most and why?
  • Which web tools did you use to show creativity on your blog?
  • What are your plans for your blog now? Will you keep posting?

Option Two: Ask a student/teacher/family member who might not have read your blog to do an audit.

Sit beside them while they navigate around your blog, record what you observe as they interact with your blog. When finished, ask them the following questions:

  1. What were your first impressions of this blog?
  2. What captured your attention?
  3. What distracted you on the blog?
  4. What suggestions can you give me to improve my blog?

If you’re working as a class on this activity, perhaps the teacher could write a post and invite the students to reflect in a comment. 

Task 2: Evaluate The Challenge

Please complete our survey so we know what you enjoyed most about the challenge and what we could do to improve things in the future.

Click here to open the form in a new tab.

Submit Your Post URL ⬇

If you want a commenter and other participants to visit your final task on your blog, remember to fill in the Google Form below.

Examples of post URLS for STUBCThe Google Form

Teachers, feel free to put the link to this Week 10 Google Form on your own blog if you’d like.

https://goo.gl/forms/FlhPe43JF5XiIEv02

Thank you and farewell

Week 9: Coding

So far in the Student Blogging Challenge, we’ve done a lot of creating and communicating with our blogs. This week, we’re looking at the more technical side of blogging and computers: coding!

I’ll be introducing you to my colleague who is an inspirational young coder and we’ll also be celebrating Computer Science Education Week (December 3-8).

Let's have some fun with coding for week nine of the Student Blogging Challenge

Week Eight Recap

Trophy image -- great workThere were lots of great tasks submitted last week!

You can find them all here (or click on the week 8 box on the sidebar).

Let’s take a look at just some of the fantastic work we spotted last week:

  • A number of students were inspired by Mrs. Vazquez and gave their blog a makeover. Check out some examples from Evelyn, Fraser, and Clay.
  • Rhiann made a fantastic video to share a craft idea.
  • Nandini from India told us about the Holi festival.
  • Erica and Maggie reviewed Google’s Emoji creator.
  • Keylee shared a photo that represents Christmas.
  • Gabby has written an excellent piece about celebrations that includes some fun polls.
  • Kai had a busy week trying 3 different tasks.
  • Cassandra wrote about her favourite festivals and celebrations.
  • Janae tried out a Christmas word search and wants to know if you can beat her time.
  • You can view more great work on our 2018 Student Blogging Challenge Flipboard.

Survey Results

Remember last week we ran a poll to see which holidays our STUBC participants celebrate? We had 1015 responses!

Here are the most popular responses.

Other responses included birthdays, Eid, 4th of July, Chinese New Year, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Yom Kippur, Rosh Hashanah, and Vaisakhi.

Tip: I made the chart above by entering the survey data into a free online tool called BEAM. It’s handy!

Reminders

This is our penultimate (second last) topic for the 2018 Student Blogging Challenge. As some schools will be on holidays soon, I’ll publish the week 10 post early. It will be out on Thursday 6th December (Australian time). I’ll send out an email when it’s published.

Here are some additional reminders:

  • The forms for weeks one to six tasks are now closed. You’re still welcome to complete these tasks at any time but won’t be able to submit them for our commenting team to visit.
  • Have you moderated all of your comments? You could be missing out on some fantastic conversations and insights!

Now onto this week’s topic. Firstly, I’d like to introduce you to someone.

Meet Alex!

Photo of Alex StineI invited a young coder who works for Edublogs to tell you about himself.

  • Alex is a 17 year old school student in the United States.
  • He became vision impaired during 9th grade and lost most of his sight within 6 months.
  • Alex would LOVE you to comment on this post.

Over to Alex…

My name is Alex and I work as an accessibility developer and system administrator for Incsub which is the company behind Edublogs.

I started here at Incsub in May 2017 just days after I turned sixteen years old. I go to school in the day and work in the night. Although this job can be demanding, I always love the challenge it offers me day by day.

Alex’s role with the company

One of my main roles is to ensure all servers are running properly and respond when automation fails. Basically, I make sure we stay online.

I have helped with building infrastructure components and hosting. This means I built the parts that make our servers work to host our sites and helped with moving networks of websites to our servers.

My other working time is spent ensuring all Incsub sites (including Edublogs, CampusPress and WPMU DEV) stay completely accessible to visually impaired users who rely on screen reading technology. A screen reader reads aloud the screen for people who can’t see or have other limitations.

Alex’s blindness

Although some would see visual impairment as something you can’t live with, I assure you it’s very possible.

When I first started at Incsub I was hired to provide live chat support for WPMU DEV (a WordPress company that’s part of Incsub). That would later translate into becoming an accessibility developer. (Developer is another word for coder or programmer).

I study our company sites weekly to ensure they are accessible to everyone. The sad news is most sites are not. Just because I cannot see very much, I cannot use a lot of websites.

Now I get to work every day to ensure all sites are accessible within Incsub as everyone deserves the same opportunity for accessing the web.

How Alex learned to code

Learning to code wasn’t all that challenging. I first started learning basic HTML in the 7th grade. It just took off from there.

I found WordPress, signed up for web hosting, and started learning the ways of web development.

It wasn’t until I started to code for accessibility development here that I really learned more of the advanced coding languages. I have taught myself HTML, CSS, JavaScript, jQuery, React JS, PHP, and Shell.

Moving on from accessibility development, I ran into system administration (upkeeping and configuring servers). I started learning with a company called Linux Academy. It’s an online program that allows you to learn Linux concepts, Cloud basics, Docker, and a whole host of other subjects.

I’m still very much in the practice stages but getting better every day. It’s cool what you can do with servers and don’t let your disability stand in your way.

A coding career

It is very important to me that the younger audiences get involved with coding. Without the younger generation, the sharing of information starts to drop. We need to keep this open sharing idea around. That way, everyone can learn from each other. It is truly the sharing of information that makes everyone smarter.

Getting the young involved in technology should increase the chance of them finding a really good paying job in the future, after graduation.

Leave a comment!

What are you curious about? Do you have any other questions for Alex? He’s very happy for you to leave a comment on this post.

Below is a picture of Alex at work at a big WordCamp event last year (that’s a WordPress conference. WordPress is the software that powers 30% of the web including Edublogs and CampusPress). Alex is wearing the yellow and black hoodie.

What Is Coding?

Coding is basically a set of words that tell your blog, a website, an app, a game, or other software what to do. Without coding, a computer or device won’t do anything.

Here are some videos that explain coding further.

This is a great one-minute video for younger students to explains coding.

Older students might enjoy this one-minute video.

This 4-minute video is also a great explanation for older students with a few more details.

Computer Science Week

Computer Science Education Week runs annually worldwide. This year, it’s being held from 3-8 December.

Many schools, teachers, and students participate in Hour of Code during Computer Science Education Week.

Why is computer science worth celebrating and promoting?

This video shows us how computer science is improving so many areas of our life.

What is Hour of Code?

Hour of Code is designed to introduce young people worldwide to the basics of coding and computer science through one-hour coding activities.

While these activities are promoted during Computer Science Education Week, they can be done at any time throughout the year.

Coding And Blogging

In the early days of the internet, if you wanted a blog or website, you had to know how to code it yourself.

Nowadays, most of the hard work is done for us and anyone can claim a website in minutes. For example, you can go to edublogs.org and sign up for a free blog. You don’t need to make your blog. All you need to worry about is the design and content.

Despite that fact that you don’t have to know how to code to be a part of the online community, there are many reasons why having some basic understandings of coding is helpful.

Being comfortable with coding can help you:

  • Customise aspects of your blog (like adding/editing embed code).
  • Troubleshoot (when something doesn’t look right, you can check the code for obvious errors).
  • Learn important skills like logical thinking, creativity, and communication.
  • Consider a wide range of career paths and explore coding in more depth.

Week Nine Tasks

This week there are three tasks to choose from. (Edit: Comments for this post are now closed as there are so many for Alex to go through).

All tasks are suitable for student bloggers and I’ve offered ideas on how they can be adapted for classes. 

Let's have some fun with coding for week nine of the Student Blogging Challenge

Task 1: Leave A Comment For Alex

Edit: We closed comments for this post on 10th December as there are so many for Alex to go through. Alex is currently traveling and will share some responses with us when he has time. Stay tuned!

Go back and re-read the blurb above about Alex.

Alex certainly has an inspiring story to share. Despite being blind and a school student, he’s an outstanding self-taught coder and a highly valued member of staff at Edublogs.

If you have a question for Alex, write it in a comment on this post. Scroll down to find the commenting box at the bottom of this post.

Maybe you want to know about learning to code, using a computer as a blind person, managing school and a job, or anything else!

Don’t forget:

  • Introduce yourself briefly — maybe say your age and where you’re from
  • Read over your comment before you submit it and fix up any errors
  • Check back to see if Alex has replied

If you’re working as a class on this activity, perhaps choose one comment to write together as a class. 

Task 2: Try An Hour Of Code Activity

For this task, try an Hour of Code activity and write a blog post about it.

The Hour of Code website is jam-packed with activities that you can try!

A good place to start is the ‘student-guided tutorials‘. Don’t worry if you haven’t tried coding before, you’ll be walked through what to do. It’s fun!

Be sure to filter your search results to find a suitable activity.

  • You’ll see the ages listed on the bar at the top from pre-readers up to Grades 9+.
  • Along the left-hand side, you can also filter activities based on what technology you have and what topics you’d like to explore.

Screenshot Hour of Code website

When you’ve tried out an activity, write a blog post about it. Make sure you include the link to the activity (a screenshot would be awesome too!). Review the activity. Tell your readers what you learnt and whether you recommend it to others.

If you’re working as a class on this activity, perhaps the teacher can write a post with a selection of activities for students to try. Students could write their reflections in a comment. 

Teachers, if you want to run an actual Hour of Code program, this how-to guide should help.

Task 3: Try Some Code On Your Blog

If you’re using a platform like Edublogs or CampusPress, you’ll notice that there is a visual editor and text editor.

Switch between text and visual when you're writing a post

Switching between the two is easy but we mostly write our blog posts using the visual editor. It’s based on a ‘what you see is what you get’ framework (just like programs like Microsoft Word or Google Docs).

Unlike the visual editor, the text editor requires you to add any formatting such as italics, bold, links, and spacing manually using HTML (although there are some shortcut buttons you can use).

HTML is a computer language that stands for Hypertext Markup Language. It’s the standard language for creating web pages.

This activity involves trying some HTML by writing the code in the text editor. You can also use HTML in comments. When you’ve had a go at trying HTML, write a blog post about it and tell everyone how you went. Was it easy/hard? Did you learn anything new?

The instructions below show you how to use bold, italics, and add a link.

Remember, coding is about troubleshooting. So if something doesn’t work, take a closer look at your code. Maybe you’ve added a space or missed a symbol.

Too easy? More advanced coders can look up the HTML for different functions like headings, lists (bullet points), color, horizontal rule (line), and more. There are a LOT of guides to learning HTML online. You might even make your own cheat sheet and publish it for others!

If you’re working as a class on this activity, the teachers could publish a post and the students could try out the HTML in a comment. 

Submit Your Post URL ⬇

If you want a commenter and other participants to visit your blog, remember to fill in the Google Form below.

Examples of post URLS for STUBCThe Google Form

Teachers, feel free to put the link to this Week 9 Google Form on your own blog if you’d like.

https://goo.gl/forms/5H8r10R78dH5SpWk1


Our final topic: Reflecting on the Student Blogging Challenge.

Comments for this post were closed on December 10th.

Week 8: Celebrations And Festivities

The year is quickly drawing to a close and for a lot of people, that means the season of celebrations is upon them.

This week we’d like to find out about the celebrations and festivities that are important to you. You might learn a few things about different cultures as well. Week 8 of the Student Blogging Challenge looks at festivities and celebrations around the world

Week Seven Recap

Trophy image -- great workLast week we had some students publish ‘free choice’ posts.

You can find them all here (or click on the week seven box on the sidebar).

Let’s take a look at just some of the fantastic work we spotted last week:

  • Noe is from California and shared some information about the recent fires.
  • Evelyn wants to know what games you play.
  • Amelia shared her experiences being homeschooled.
  • Jayla went back and completed some more tasks from topics she enjoyed including this Emoji Kahoot!
  • Noah told us about his favourite sport — field hockey.
  • Izzy wrote an excellent post about a family vacation.
  • Ash shared some information on the Mona Lisa.
  • You can view more great work on our 2018 Student Blogging Challenge Flipboard.

Reminders

Here are a few important reminders:

  • The forms for week 1-5 tasks are now closed. You’re still welcome to complete these tasks at any time but won’t be able to submit them as our commenters are busy working through later tasks.
  • Some people have put a link to a Google Doc/Form/Slide presentation in their post BUT it can’t be viewed without logging in. This resource shows you how to make your Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, and Forms public.
  • Do your posts have images? Images make posts much more shareable and they stand out a lot more on our Flipboard magazine. Remember, you can’t just use any image you find online in your blog posts. Re-read the information in the week 3 post to find out free and easy options for images you can use.

Time to begin this week’s topic…

Celebrations And Festivities

We have a diverse group taking part in the Student Blogging Challenge with lots of different cultural backgrounds represented.

Around the world, people celebrate different holidays and festivals. As we learnt in week five, there are many benefits to learning about similarities and differences.

It can be fun to tell people about our own traditions while hearing about others!

Want to learn a bit more about just some of the holidays that are celebrated around the world? This video might help.

This resource from ABC Australia also has some useful videos and information.

ABC Education Australia Celebration resources

Celebrations Poll

Just for fun, let’s find out what events you and your family celebrate!

Please take our quick poll below. 

Here’s a link to the poll if you want to share it with your students.

https://goo.gl/forms/049LdwXOzDKDNuZ82

Week Eight Tasks

This week there are five tasks to choose from that explore holidays, celebrations, and festivities. 

Our graphic summarises the tasks and I will explain each task in more detail below.

Working as a class? As always, classes can adapt these activities in different ways. For example, for task one or two each student could create their own writing and the teacher could add them to a series of blog posts or a Google Slide presentation. Or the teacher can write the prompt as a blog post and invite the students to share their reflections as a comment. 

Week 8 Tasks STUBC Celebrations

Task 1: Family Celebrations

Think of all the holidays, festivals, or celebrations that are important to your family. Write a blog post about this.

  • You could make a list of your family’s celebrations with a short description for each one, or
  • You could choose one celebration to explain in more detail.

Don’t forget to include lots of information about your holiday so your readers can get a clear understanding of this special day/season.

You could include things like:

  • The time of year/date it’s celebrated.
  • What you do to celebrate? Are there special costumes, decorations, music, lights, food, prayers etc?
  • Do people give each other gifts?
  • Who is involved in the celebration? Do you visit other people or host family and friends?
  • What special memories do you have?

You might even like to do some research into the origins of your holiday.

Task 2: Photo Spark

Often, holidays and celebrations include different decorations, food, costumes, or other objects.

Think of a celebration that’s important in your family and share a photo of something that represents that holiday.

Write a reflection to give readers an idea of the significance of this object.

Check out this example on the New York Times — Holiday Memories. 

Holiday Memories NY Times

Thanks to Larry Ferlazzo for sharing this idea. 

Task 3: Spice Up Your Blog With Mrs. Vazquez

Your house or classroom isn’t the only place you can decorate for the holidays, why not decorate your blog?

Alethea Vazquez is a wonderful teacher who is a commenter and a past STUBC participant. She has been very busy helping us with this task.

Head to Mrs. Vazquez’s “Christmas Fun” blog to get lots of ideas for themes, backgrounds, widgets, countdowns, music, puzzles and more!

Vasquez Happy Holidays Blog Screenshot

Tip: Decorating your blog is fun but make sure your visitors can still read your posts amongst all the colour and action.

If you decorate your blog, you might want to write a post about it telling others what you did. You can then submit your post in the Google Form below.

Task 4: Holiday Craft

The holiday season can be a great time to make some craft!

Create something and then add a photo of it to a blog post with a description. Or you could even make a video tutorial for your readers!

If you find inspiration from a website, be sure to include the link in your post.

Craft inspiration:

  • Origami Club has a list of origami (paper folding) objects you can make with a Christmas theme. There is origami for other holidays too.
  • DLTK has lots of ideas sorted into different holidays.
  • PBS Parents shares a range of craft ideas for different celebrations.
  • Easy Peasy and Fun has lots of Christmas craft ideas.

Easy Peasy and Fun Christmas Craft

Task 5: Fun And Games

There are lots of fun websites online where you can play games, create things, and get in the holiday spirit!

Here are some examples of sites. If you know some good sites, please leave a comment and let us know!

Magnetic Poetry — This is where you put words together to make a poem. It uses Google Drawings or Slides.

Google’s Santa Tracker has a range of different activities from coding to mapping to translating. They are available in December. Check them out here in December. 

Topmarks has a selection of Christmas games. Many are for younger students.

Google’s Emoji Creator that we mentioned in week 4 has had a holiday makeover. You can make your own emoji with a festive look. Check it out. 

Your task: Once you try out one or more sites, write a blog post about it and let others know whether you recommend it. You could take a screenshot of the site and include the link.

Made with code holiday emoji creator from Google
I made this emoji using Google’s Holiday Emoji Creator

Submit Your Post URL ⬇

If you want a commenter and other participants to visit your blog, remember to fill in the Google Form below.Examples of post URLS for STUBC

The Google Form

Teachers, feel free to put the link to this Week 8 Google Form on your own blog if you’d like.

https://goo.gl/forms/tIyrinLxrqE6UP162


Next week’s topic: Hour of Code!

Week 7: Catch Up Or Free Choice

Phew! You’ve been working hard and now it’s time to catch your breath.

This week you’ll have some space to catch up on old tasks that interest you or write a free choice post.

Week seven of the Student Blogging Challenge allows you to catch up or write a free choice post.

Week Six Recap

Trophy image -- great workThere were many great posts submitted again by classes and students.

You can find them all here (or click on the week six box on the sidebar).

Let’s take a look at just some of the fantastic work we spotted last week:

  • The students in Mr Howie’s class in Serbia all contributed to a class A-Z of science.
  • Jordyn incorporated her love for animals into an excellent post called What-ology?
  • Sophia made a great A-Z of science.
  • Kate has created two rounds of a ‘two truths and one lie’ quiz. She’ll respond to you in the comments.
  • Mrs. Kazanidi Class in Greece explains how a lot of science vocabulary comes from Greek words.
  • Daniel has researched non-Newtonian fluids and has a quiz for you.
  • Muscle Master has written about the life cycle of crayfish.
  • Bo reflects on a science video from America’s Got Talent.
  • You can view more great work on our 2018 Student Blogging Challenge Flipboard.

Reminders

Here are a few important reminders:

  • The forms for week 1-4 tasks are now closed. You’re still welcome to complete these tasks at any time but won’t be able to submit them as our commenters are busy working through later tasks.
  • Some people have put a link to a Google Doc/Form/Slide presentation in their post BUT it can’t be viewed without logging in. This resource shows you how to make your Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, and Forms public.
  • Do your posts have images? Images make posts much more shareable and they stand out a lot more on our Flipboard magazine. 
  • Remember in week 3 we discussed that you can’t just use any image you find online in your blog posts? Sadly, I’ve noticed some people are still doing this. You might want to re-read the information in the week 3 post and go back and edit some of your old posts that include images that are not free to use.

Onto the tasks…

Week Seven Tasks

This week’s tasks are simple but I’ve offered a little elaboration below the summary graphic.

Week seven of the Student Blogging Challenge allows you to catch up or write a free choice post.

Task 1: Catch Up

You might not have had the chance to complete a task for week 1-6. Or you might have enjoyed one of the topics so much, you’d like to complete an additional task. Go for it.

Here are the links (you’ll also find them on the sidebar of the challenge blog).

Remember, the forms are now closed for the week 1-4 tasks but you can submit your task for weeks 5 or 6. You’ll find the Google Forms at the end of the posts.

Task 2: Free Choice

sign saying go

What’s something that interests you? Write about it!

Stuck for ideas? Check out these blogging prompts for students. 

If you write a free choice post this week, feel free to submit it in the Google Form below.

Task 3: Visit

You might have a bit of extra time this week so it could be a good opportunity to visit at least one other blog and leave a quality comment.

Remember to ask a question and check back to see if they replied to you (most platforms have a box to tick so you can get an email when there is a follow-up comment).

Task 4: Kahoot!

Have you ever played Kahoot? Get some friends together and test your blogging knowledge with our 15 question quiz!

How Kahoot! works:

  • The multiple-choice questions appear on the screen in the classroom and students submit their responses in real time using their computer, tablet, or mobile device.
  • Students can work in teams and can work for points (most correct answers and quickest responses).

Our Introduction To Blogging Kahoot goes over some of the key terms, vocabulary, and uses of blogs.

How To Play Our Blogging Kahoot!

  • To access the Kahoot, click on this link.
  • You don’t need an account to play, however; you will need to log in if you want to edit the quiz (teachers can adapt it for your own students if necessary).
  • You also need to be signed in to save results.
  • You’ll have the option for your students to play against each other individually (classic mode) or in teams.

Play as classic or team mode Kahoot

You’ll also have a variety of game options you can play around with (see below).

Once you finalize your selections, a game pin number will show up. Students will go to the Kahoot app on their device, or to https://kahoot.it/ and enter the pin number to begin!

Game options for kahoot

Feel free to leave a comment on this post and tell us if you tried the Kahoot!

Submit Your Post URL ⬇

If you write your own free choice post this week, feel free to submit it below (if you do a different task, you can leave a comment on this post to tell us about it if you like).

Remember to include the URL of the actual post (copy and paste it so it’s correct).

Examples of post URLS for STUBCThe Google Form

Teachers, feel free to put the link to this Week 7 Google Form on your own blog if you’d like.

https://goo.gl/forms/ZKrGDGjdX7Sr59UP2

 


Next week’s topic: Celebrations!