Week 1: G’day from downunder


Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Rebecca via Compfight

For those who are new to blogging, anything that is in blue colour is a link that you can click on. It will take you to another website. They should open in a new tab or window.

Before we start the actual challenge, please make sure you have read this post as it has some important things you need to have done to make the challenge more enjoyable.

You need to know the difference between a PAGE and a POST.

On the challenge blog, PAGES are found above the header. It depends on which theme you have chosen, but some themes do not have pages visible. You will need to go to dashboard> appearance> widgets and drag over the Pages widget to your sidebar. PAGES usually have information that doesn’t change very often, so on the challenge blog I have the registration page as well as the lists of classes and students that are participating in the challenge.

POSTS are published on the main part of your blog in reverse order, so the newest posts are at the top of your blog. Eventually a post will disappear off the front of your blog – you will still be able to find it by clicking on older entries.

OK Time to start the September challenge

Introducing yourself

Check out how these students, classes and mentors have introduced themselves by using a page or post.

Students

Warrior Kat,  Felix,  Nicole,  Kendall,  Tina,

Classes

5SK in Queensland,  First class Rm 12Blogs by the sea with Mr Jewell, 3/4 in Tasmania, Tipperary cattle station in Australia, If only the best birds sang from Ireland, Rm 1 from New Zealand,

Mentors and teachers

DinahMs HerringMrs Keane, Mrs Yollis, Mrs Muller,

Activity 1- comparison

Write a post comparing the different about me pages. Which one did you like the most and why?

Activity 2 – about me page

Create your own About Me page or post. Be careful about how much personal information you include. Try to be creative in both your words like Felix, or by including visuals like Warrior Kat.

If using Edublogs, here are instructions for creating your page. If using blogspot, check here. If using weebly, check here. If using Kidblog, you will need to write a post.

  1. Login to your blog, go to the dashboard>pages>add new
  2. Change the title to About Me or something similar.
  3. If you only have one row of icons above the box, click on the last icon called the kitchen sink. This opens a second row which allows you to change font colours and to insert from a word document.
  4. In the box, write a bit about yourself remembering to be internet safe. Make sure you have checked out the pages from other students mentioned – many of them have been blogging for a while.
  5. When you have finished click the big blue button on the right side of your screen – probably says update.
  6. Once you have saved your about me page, go back and delete the sample page.
  7. If your theme doesn’t show pages in the header area, then you will need to go to dashboard> appearance> widgets and drag across the Pages one to your sidebar.

Activity 3- apps or websites

What are some apps or websites you could use to create something interesting to add to your About me page? Tell me about them, costs, age to use etc Perhaps a word cloud or glogster – brainstorm as a class.

Creating avatars

Now you have introduced yourself to your readers, you need to have something to show who you are when you leave comments on other blogs. This is called your user avatar. By clicking on each of the images below, you can go to different websites to create your own avatars. These sites are suitable for all ages.

      

   

   

doppelme avatar  

Activity 4 – create user avatar

Create your user avatar. Save it to your own computer drive as a jpeg file format no larger than 200 x 200 pixels. You might need to crop and resize.

If using Edublogs, check here. If using blogspot, check here. If using kidblog, check here. Teacher might need to change some settings in Kidblog to allow students to add own avatars.

Activity 5 – avatars for family

Create a series of avatars to represent your family members. Use different avatar websites depending upon the person’s interests. Write a post about your family and include the avatar for each person. Remember – be internet safe, no personal information.

Activity 6 – Class activity

As a class create a slideshow of your user avatars or add them to your header area. Below is an old example using animoto. Or check out how to customize your header – Mrs Smith has used artwork rather than avatars.

This was my very first Animoto created back in 2009.

 

Activity 7 – Write a post describing your avatar.

How much does it look like you? What sort of personality does your avatar have? What makes it typically you? Remember to include your avatar as an image in your post.

Activity 8 - apps or websites

What are some apps or other websites you could use to create an avatar? Tell me about them, costs, age to use etc  Maybe write a tutorial telling how to create the avatar on that website or app.

Still got time left this week?

As this is our 13th challenge, every week will be an activity to do with good/bad luck, superstition or something similar. Here is this weeks number 13 challenge.

Activity 9 – 13th challenge

The answer is 13. What could the question be?

Don’t just use maths – how else could you get an answer of 13.

Activity 10 – visiting other blogs

One important aspect of blogging is commenting on other blogs. Classes and student participants are grouped according to similar ages. Visit some other blogs, read posts, get ideas from them, leave a comment. Make sure you include your blog URL so they can come to visit your blog.

Most students also have a mentor who will be leaving comments. Make sure you read their comments and reply back to them. In fact, you should reply back to any interesting comments you receive – that is how conversations get started.

Leave a comment on this blog post when you have finished your activity or activities for this week. What activity did you do? Why? What did you enjoy about doing the activity?  What else could we do regarding about me pages and avatars. Remember to include your blog URL so I can come to visit you and leave a comment on your post.

Getting organized

Welcome to the organizational post for the 13th Student Blogging Challenge.

The first challenges will be published on September 14, 2014.

Registration forms for classes and students  have already been published. These were each on a separate post with a Google  form asking for certain information. Once you have registered as a class or student, you will be able to visit the participant pages which will be found in the header area of this blog as well as below here.

We will be having a badge again that can be added to your blog. Read this post by the Edublogs team about how to add the badge to your sidebar. Depending upon the blogging platform you use, the text box or image widget might have a different name.

Can visitors leave comments and read posts on your blog?

You might think they can but try this. Go to your blog but don’t login. Most of your visitors wont be logging in. Can they read your posts? Now try to leave a comment on a post. Can you leave a comment? If you cant read a post or comment without logging in, then neither can your visitors. Check with your teacher about the settings you might need to change.  This post from last September challenge shows how to change privacy settings on edublogs, kidblog and blogger platforms.

Are you on the student list only once? Are you on the correct list?

Each challenge we don’t always have enough mentors to cover all students registered, so please check that you’re only on the list once. The list is found in the header area on the challenge blog. This is where you go to visit other student or class blogs. If you are on there more than once or in the wrong age group, leave me a comment on that page giving me first name, age, URL and what is wrong and I will make corrections on the spreadsheet.

How are you going to know when the challenge is published each week?

One way of being notified straight away is to subscribe to the challenge blog. Just fill in the  subscribe by email widget at the top of the sidebar. An email will be sent to you as soon as I hit the publish button for a new post.

Is there a link to your class blog on your sidebar?

It is helpful for your visitors especially other teachers and your mentor, to have a link to your class blog on the sidebar of your blog. If using Edublogs, you might have a class blogs or class directory widget you can add to your sidebar. This will show your class blog and any other students blogs connected to the class blog.

Teachers using Edublogs, here is the post on how to set up class blogs. Using another blogging platform, then check out the Get Help section on the sidebar of the challenge blog. This is where I have links to user guides, videos etc for a variety of blogging platforms. If you know of some more links I could add there please let me know in a comment on this post.

Any chance of some teachers from your school being mentors for the challenge?

Maybe some teachers who might be interested in blogging wouldn’t mind being a mentor in this challenge. Mentors when registering, I will need your name and a way to contact you to send reminders such as an email address. The results from this form will not be published, but you will also be asked to write a short bio in the comment area of the registration post.

Finally, do we have a class which would like to run the challenge for one week?

This year I am hoping some classes will run one of the challenge weeks.  If your class would like to run the challenge for one week, please leave a comment mentioning the theme you would like to set challenges for eg global issues, history, my country, nature, and the date for it to be published. The journalism students from Cactus Canyon, Arizona ran one of the challenge weeks during the March challenges. Check it out here for an example of what can be done.

Get your blog organized, have at least one interesting post written before the challenge starts, so any visitors will be able to leave a comment.

You have just over 2 weeks till the first challenge is published.

Class registration open

Before filling in the registration form please read the following:

Who should register

  • Teachers who have their own class blog can register, can be any blogging platform
  • Classes which want to connect with other classes around the world

Reminders before registering

  1. If your blog URL is very long, then use a shortener such as this one from Google  Also handy when students are registering their blogs on their form (especially if kidblog as the URL is usually long).
  2. In case I need to contact you, an email is the easiest way, so please fill that in on the last question on the form. This is not published but other teachers could contact me in case you don’t have a contact spot on your blog.

A few days after  you have registered

  1. Check the class participants page which will appear in the header area to make sure you are there.
  2. If you are not on the participants page, register again being careful that your blog URL is correct
  3. If you are on the participants list, start visiting other classes of similar grade level.
  4. Fill in the subscription by email so you are notified when posts are published each week – first challenge will be September 14 or if you have Edublogs reader, click on follow then you will be able to read posts in your reader.
  5. Make sure you have some great posts written so others can leave comments.

If publicising any posts on twitter, please use the hashtag   #14stubc

So you have read everything above this line, now is the time to register

 

Time for students to register

Before filling in the registration form please read the following:

Who should register

  • Only students who have their own personal blog can register
  • Students who are going to do the activities otherwise mentors’ time is wasted.
  • Students who want to connect with other students around the world

A few days after  you have registered

  1. Check the student participants page which will appear in the header area to make sure you are there. Check very carefully as we don’t need names being doubled up – again that would be wasting time of the mentors.
  2. If you are not on the participants page, register again being careful that your blog URL is correct
  3. If you are on the participants list, start visiting other students your age or with your interests.
  4. Fill in the subscription by email so you are notified when posts are published each week – first challenge will be September 14 or if you have Edublogs reader, click on follow then you will be able to read posts in your reader.
  5. Make sure you have some great posts written so others can leave comments.

So you have read everything above this line, now is the time to register

 

Mentors wanted

The next student and class blogging challenge starts in September 2014. This is a special challenge being the 13th one organized. I hope this is not an omen of bad luck!!

Why do we need mentors in the blogging challenge?

When I first began the challenge back in 2008, there were only about 200 students taking part and I could visit each of them three times over the ten week period.

But in the last few challenges, there have been  over 1300 students and there was no way I could visit them regularly.  So in 2010 I started asking people in education to mentor a small group 20-30 students over the ten week period of September to November or March to May.

If you register to be a mentor, please keep checking back on this post as I will allocate the students to you and mention in your comment reply who you will be visiting. I will also send you an email reminding you about checking this post early in the challenge.

As soon as students start registering in early September, I will allocate mentors so please keep checking out the student participant’s page in the main header above to find out who you are mentoring.

Who can be a mentor?

  • classroom teacher or homeschool teacher
  • principal or senior staff or faculty members
  • trainee teachers
  • students who have taken part in at least two sets of previous challenges
  • educational coaches or trainers
  • regular blogger about educational matters

What do you do if you are a mentor?

  • Visit your allocated student blogs at least three times throughout the challenge
  • Leave comments on posts written by the students
  • Continue conversations in the comments
  • Remind them about visiting the main blogging challenge page each week
  • Contact me by email or a comment if having concerns or problems (contact is on right sidebar)

So you have read the above and have decided you have the time to visit the student blogs, now it is time to register.

In a comment below, mention the following:

  • A short bio of yourself including some interests
  • Link to your own blog, especially a class blog or your personal blog – allows me to check validity as an educator
  • Age group you would like to mentor

Finally fill in this form with a way I can contact you eg your email address – preferably a school or education email address

 

Ready for the new challenge

craft drawers
Photo Credit: EvelynGiggles via Compfight

Welcome to the organizational post for the 13th Student Blogging Challenge.

The first challenges will be published on 14th September, 2014.

Registration forms for classes, students and mentors will be published by the end of August. These will each be on a separate post with a Google  form asking for certain information. Once you have registered as a class or student, you will be able to visit the participant pages which will be found in the header area of this blog beginning September 1.

Mentors when registering, I will only need name and a way to contact you to send reminders such as an email address. The results from this form will not be published, but you will also be asked to write a short bio in the comment area of the registration post including a blog or website where I can check your educational credentials.

We will be having a badge again that can be added to your blog. Watch out for a post by the Edublogs team about how to add the badge to your sidebar.

This year I am hoping some classes will run one of the challenge weeks. But this is still being discussed. If your class would like to run the challenge for one week, please leave a comment mentioning the theme you would like to set challenges for eg global issues, history, my country, nature, and the date for it to be published.

So you know when the registration forms are published, I suggest you subscribe to this blog by either using the subscription widget in the sidebar or click on Follow in the black bar at the top of the screen. This will then appear in your reader if you have an Edublogs blog.

With this being the 13th challenge and that number being considered an unlucky number, I would like to have an activity relating to superstitions each week. If you or your class can think of one, leave a comment and if used, your class will be acknowledged.

New teacher challenge for blogging

Left Hand Green
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Arielle Nadel via Compfight

Are you thinking of having your class take part in the student blogging challenge in September this year?

But you have never blogged before and want to learn some more?

Or maybe you want a quick refresher course for blogging on a personal blog or a class blog?

Well why not join the

2014 Teacher Challenge run by the team at Edublogs.

Head over to this link and read all about the challenge. Then register to join. By the time the student challenge starts in mid September you will be a very accomplished blogger.

Week 10 Part B Evaluation and audit

We have now been together for nearly three months. Time now to evaluate – most teachers ask students to do this after studying a topic for a period of time.

This evaluation is in two parts:

  • auditing your own blog
  • evaluating the challenge

This is an audit of your blog since the beginning of March 2014.

  • How many posts did you write?
  • How many were school based, your own interests or set by the challenge?
  • How many comments did you receive from classmates, teachers or overseas students?
  • Which post received the most comments? Why do you think that happened?
  • Which post did you enjoy writing the most and why?
  • Did you change blog themes at all and why?
  • How many widgets do you have? Do you think this is too many or not enough?
  • How many overseas students do you have on your blogroll?

Now ask another student and teacher/parent from your school 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?

Write a post about your blog audit.

Part 2 Evaluating the challenge.

This is the twelfth challenge and sometimes I feel like the activities are getting stale especially for those students who have taken part in more than one set of challenges. So over the next few weeks I will be adding new pages that you all can contribute to. Every month of the year, there are special events, festivals, birthdays of authors etc. Which ones do you think it would be interesting to write about? Find the page for that month and add your ideas in the comments.

Now for your final activity – please evaluate the challenge by filling in the following form.

 

 

Week 10 Part A Great blogs

Over the last couple of weeks you have been looking at what makes a great post. This week we are expanding that to

What makes a great blog?

Naturally, a great blog will include great posts but what else will there be?

Maybe you will also need to look at

  • the layout of the blog
  • background design
  • sidebars
  • widgets
  • header

A person might write excellent posts, but then have widgets on the left sidebar that overlap on the writing. There might be loud music playing as soon as you open the blog. There might be a noisy pet chirping away in the background while you are trying to read a post. There might be snow falling all over the blog distracting you from the posts. You might not be able to read comments because of the background colours.

This year is the 11th anniversary of the Edublog Awards.

You are being invited to take part in the awards by nominating great student blogs and great class blogs. Here are lists of the blogs from last year for students and classes. In my opinion, being nominated is just as important as winning one of these awards. Not all nominations go forward to the final list.

How to find some great blogs?

  • Check out the flipboard magazine
  • Read lots of other student or class blogs

In order for your nomination to count, you MUST do the following.

  1. Write a post on your blog nominating one blog.
  2. Give reasons for the nomination, why you think it is a great blog.
  3. You cannot nominate your own blog.
  4. In your post, include a link to the blog of the person you are nominating.
  5. When you have published your post come back here to fill in the form below.
  6. Your nomination will not count, unless you fill in the form below.

You may only nominate one blog for each category.

There will be other categories to nominate in later in the year when the actual awards are publicised.

 

Week 9: Doing my best

From Darkness to Light - please read
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Evan Leeson via Compfight

Well, this is our second last week in the March challenge for 2014. Over the last 8 weeks, you have learnt a lot about blogging if you have done most of the activities and checked out the links included in my posts.

It is now your time to do your best and show your teachers and myself what a great blog post looks like.

The one and only activity for this week:

Write a post on one of the following topics

  • What makes a great family
  • A global issue you would like to help solve
  • My future
  • Visiting overseas

Having read many of your posts, I came up with the following essentials in a great post.

  1. catchy title
  2. includes at least one visual whether photo, cartoon, video or another web 2.0 tool like padlet or glogster
  3. interesting topic with the passion of the author coming through
  4. well written and not copy/pasted from somewhere else
  5. shows it has been proofread and spellchecked
  6. written in paragraphs – at least three of them
  7. includes links to other websites on similar topics – at least two of these

When you have finished your post, please come back here to the blogging challenge and leave a comment on this post. Mention which topic you wrote about and leave a link to your post. Those posts covering the seven things mentioned above will be added to the flipboard magazine.

Still more time left this week:

Visit other student and class blogs.

Read posts and leave comments.

Decide on a student blog and/or class blog you would like to nominate for the Edublogs Awards in November/December this year. You will get a chance next week to write a post about the blog you have chosen. HINT: Can’t be your own blog nor one from another student in your class.