Week 1: Let’s talk about us

Talking With an Ostrich

MTSOfan via Compfight

Welcome to the 14th student blogging challenge.

I hope you all enjoy the activities to choose from each week.

Teachers – remember you can adapt the activities to suit what is happening in your class at that time or you can cut and paste parts of it on to your class blog. Just remember to give credit where you found the ideas by linking back to the challenge post somewhere on your post.

Students - Each week there will be lots of activities to choose from. You don’t have to complete them all. But by Easter, your mentor or I must see your ‘About Me’ page or post as well as two other posts relating to the challenge. If they can not be found, your name will be taken off the list of students participating, especially if you have been given a mentor.

Mentors – they are there to give you some clues about blogging, reminding you of the challenge as well as carrying on conversations in your posts. Remember to read and reply to their comments politely and in a timely fashion.

Admin for week 1

  1. Check that your name appears only once on the list of participating students. Leave a comment on that page if I need to remove your name from the list – give me your name, URL and age so I can find you easily.
  2. If all the students in your class have blogs and your teacher has a section called ‘My class’, you should have a widget called ‘Class blogs’. Make sure this is on your sidebar.
  3. Add the challenge badge to your sidebar – here is link explaining how to do that.
  4. Can visitors leave comments on your blog posts? If your country is in bright pink, then you might need to change your privacy settings. Check this post for how to do this using Edublogs, Blogger and Kidblog.

Let’s start the activities

Whenever you meet a new person or join a group, there are three things you will most likely do.

  1. Look at the outside view of the person – do they look like the type of person you would enjoy being with?
  2. Then you would go deeper by asking some basic questions about the person and their interests.
  3. Finally, you would connect through shared interests.

We are going to cover those three things this week by creating an avatar to represent our outside view, create our about me page to show your visitors the type of person you are and your interests then you are going searching for other students your age who also have similar interests.

Creating  avatars:

Activity 1: Here is a link to the post I use with my online students when they create their user avatars. This includes some great websites for creating avatars. 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 2: 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 3: 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 – here is a post by Mrs Smith about creating avatars – using shapes,

This was my very first Animoto created back in 2009. Look at the list of tools on the sidebar for other slideshow creators.

 

Activity 4:  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 5:  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.

About me page or post

Activity 6: 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. More students to check out: Nicole, Kendall,  Tina,

  • Write a poem
  • Write an A-Z paragraph eg I am an athletic, yet brainy child who decided that saving the environment is one of my future goals.
  • Create a video like our mentor Dinah has done
  • Create a list of things people might not know about you like Ms Herring has done
  • Write a Who am I like Mrs Keane or Mrs Lyttle
  • Students in Ireland paired up to create their about us page, Ms Seitz’ class did the same

If using Edublogs, below 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 or toggle. This opens a second row which allows you to change font colours.
  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  button on the right side of your screen – probably says update or send for review.
  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 7:  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.

Activity 8: class activity

Create a class avatar using Voki. Look at these examples from Mrs Essen’s class and Mrs McKelvey’s Blogging Frogs

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.

Activity 9: Are there other students your age with similar interests to you? Visit them and leave a comment on a post or their about me page.

Most students will 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.

 

Could you be a mentor?

The next student and class blogging challenge starts next week on Sunday 1 March 2015.

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 students have already registered, I will be allocating mentors immediately 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

Students read this

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 March 1 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 you have a twitter account, use the hashtag #stubc15 to notify others of your posts

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

Register as a class

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 March 1 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   #stubc15

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

 

Will you be taking part?

Sharapova

 James G via Compfight

The next student and class blogging challenge

will be starting in early March.

Check out the next few posts this week as they will contain the registration forms for classes and students wanting to take part.

There will also be a post for those who would like to mentor a small group of students.

But you can get ready by subscribing to this blog by filling in the widget on the sidebar. That way you will receive an email as soon as I publish the posts. You will get in early when registering, making sure you will be first in line to have a mentor.

Thank you all

congratulations
Photo Credit: Sean MacEntee via Compfight

I have been checking out the shortlisted finalists in the Edublog Awards and I noticed many of our student and class blogs were included.

Congratulations to all those who were nominated.

More congratulations to those who made the finalist shortlist.

There were about 500 classes nominated – many several times – shortlisted to about 40.

There were nearly 250 student blogs nominated – many several times – shortlisted to about 50 blogs.

But I also noticed someone had nominated the student blogging challenge under the Educational Use of a Social Network and then Sue Wyatt (that’s me) under the lifetime achievement awards.

So if you are 13 and over, please sign into list.ly and add some votes to these two sections. It would be appreciated. You can find the links in these images.

Vote for student blogging challenge

 

Vote for Sue Wyatt (@tasteach)

 

 

Week 10: Farewell to our 13th challenge

Bye Bye... See Ya!
Photo Credit: Lisandro M. Enrique via Compfight

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 September 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?
  • Which web tools did you use to show creativity on your blog?

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 thirteenth 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 post ideas page for that month and add your ideas in the comments. (These are found above the header area)

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

Vote for best class blog

If you go to Edublog Awards website, you will find you can vote using List.ly but you need to be 13 or older to have an account.

So to allow our younger bloggers to vote for the best class blog, we have created this poll below. You will be allowed to vote for one blog each day.

How to vote.

  1. Check out all the class blogs at the Edublog Awards link above.
  2. Decide on one you want to vote for.
  3. Come back here and find it in the list.
  4. Vote for it.

Voting will close at 11:59pm EST on Monday, December 15th. Click here for other timezones.

STOP PRESS STOP PRESS
One vote per day per IP address. Most schools have the same IP address for every school computer, so students will need to vote from home, libraries, wifi cafes, relatives houses etc.

 

Vote for best student blog

If you go to Edublog Awards website, you will find you can vote using List.ly but you need to be 13 or older to have an account.

So to allow our younger bloggers to vote for the best student blog, we have created this poll below. You will be allowed to vote for one blog each day.

How to vote.

  1. Check out all the blogs at the Edublog Awards link above.
  2. Decide on one you want to vote for.
  3. Come back here and find it in the list.
  4. Vote for it.

Voting will close at 11:59pm EST on Monday, December 15th. For other timezones, check here.

STOP PRESS STOP PRESS
One vote per day per IP address. Most schools have the same IP address for every school computer, so students will need to vote from home, libraries, wifi cafes, relatives houses etc.

 

Week 9: Time to show off

This is our penultimate week of the challenge this year. It is time for you to show off the skills you have learnt over the past eight weeks of the challenge.

What could you have learned if you did every challenge?

  • Week 1 – blogging terminology, post/page, about me page, avatars, uploading to blog, creating a slideshow or customizing your header
  • Week 2 – finding your way round a blog, commenting skills, adding HTML in comments, HTML code for your URL in a comment, commenting guidelines, getting family and friends involved in your blog, adding blogs to your blogroll, adding widgets to your sidebar
  • Week 3 – creating and embedding a quiz, visiting overseas blogs, commenting on other student/class blogs
  • Week 4 – digital footprint, googling yourself, Blog Action Day 2014
  • Week 5 – adding images and videos, creative commons, attribution, ways to create your own images, make a jigsaw puzzle from an image, tags and categories
  • Week 6 – new tools like Powtoon, changing themes for a celebration, customising header, countdown widgets
  • Week 7 – flipboard magazine, creating polls, interviewing relatives for posts, connecting with other schools
  • Week 8 – visiting blogs game, nominating great blogs for awards

The one and only activity for the next two weeks:

global issues

Write a post on a global issue you would like to help solve

I chose this topic because I have just spent 5 days attending a fantastic online conference about global education #globaled14. Check the hashtag for some great links to use for your challenge post.

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

  1. catchy title
  2. includes at least two visuals whether photo, cartoon, video or another web 2.0 tool like padlet, glogster, wordle etc
  3. interesting topic with the passion of the author coming through, shows well researched topic
  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
  8. attribution for any images, video, music or clip art used – including those used in slideshows etc

Here are some examples of great posts from last challenge:

Mark wrote about what family means

Nathan wrote about global issues in general

Kaitlyn wrote about education around the world

Pranav wrote about travelling overseas

Jannat wrote about my future

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 eight things mentioned above will be added to our special flipboard magazine called One World, Our World.

Nominations are nearly closed

PS Have you remembered to nominate some people for the Edublog Awards? Time is running out for the deadline for nominations. November 24