Week 2: About my place

Widget examples

Last week, you introduced yourself to your readers. This week we look at telling them about the place you live in – such as your school, your town, your state or province. You also get a chance to add widgets and  to create an avatar for your blog. When you leave comments this is called your user avatar in Edublogs.

Blogging

Create your avatar – instead of me writing out all the information about creating your avatar, I am sending you to a previous post where you can read about this activity. Go to number 3 and read through the three steps mentioned.

Widgets – when you first get a blog, there are some widgets included in the sidebar. Once you change themes, some widgets disappear and you need to go to your dashboard> appearance> widgets and drag them across to your sidebar. It would be handy for your teachers and your readers if you could have at least these widgets: blog avatar, recent comments (10), recent posts (10), links or blogroll, pages, categories, archive and meta.

Linking your name and user avatar – To make sure your user avatar is linked to your blog URL, go to dashboard> users> profile and make sure you have a nickname and your blog URL is in the website box. This means whenever you leave a comment, the reader will just have to click on your name or avatar and it will take them to your blog. Include the http:// part in the URL.

If you are not using Edublogs, remember to check the “Get Help” section of this blog and look for the tutorials for your blogging platform.

Students – lots of choice this week

1.  Visit other student and class blogs – check out what widgets they have on their blog.

  • Do some of the widgets detract from the blog?
  • Do some of the widgets overlap into the writing area?
  • Are some widgets too noisy?
  • Are there too many widgets on some blogs?

Write a post about the extra widgets you have added to your blog and why you chose them. Remember to add a link back to where you can sign up for that widget. Did you check the minimum age for having that widget on your blog?

2.  Widgets – add some to your blog

  1. About your place: This could include weather, time, history
  2. About your visitors: could be a clustrmap, feedjit, flag counter
  3. To help your visitors with translating your blog to their language

When adding widgets to your sidebar:

  1. Go to your dashboard> appearance> widgets.
  2. Drag a text box to your sidebar.
  3. Copy and paste the embed code into the text box.
  4. Save then close.
  5. If the widget is too wide, you will have to adjust the number next to ‘width’ in the embed code. This might appear more than once in the code.

If your blog is an Edublogs free blog, you might not be able to put all the widgets in your sidebar. Instead put them in a post, but remember to change your post tab in your dashboard to HTML instead of visual when you are pasting in the embed code.

If using another platform rather than Edublogs, then check out the “Get Help” section in the sidebar of this blog.

3. Avatars

  1. 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. Check out this post from Nicky, Katelyn,
  2. Create more than one avatar that represents you. Put them together in a slideshow of some sort – what Web2.0 tool could you use to do this? Perhaps animoto or an app on your phone. Check the post from Kate and Abbi.
  3. Create your family in avatars and include them in a post. How does that avatar represent your family member? Check out this previous post from Candice, Katelyn,

4. Your place

  • Write a post about tourist attractions in your state. Try to include at least five places that Miss W , Davo the Tasmanian Devil or Squirrel would like to visit.
  • Write a post, create a glogster, make an audioboo tape, create a Storybird or add a Voki telling your readers about the festivals held in your town throughout the year. Which festivals do you enjoy the most and why? Remember to include the date of the festival in case your reader might want to visit.  If under 13, check with your teacher or parent if you want to use a web 2.0 tool rather than writing a post in your blog.
  • Visit at least five other blogs from students or classes around the world and ask some questions about their town, school, country in your comments. We have participants from 24 countries taking part in the challenge.
  • Create a game or quiz about your town, state or country. A few places to do this include: Quiz Revolution, Class Tools,  Remember to check with your teacher or parent before using these web 2.0 tools. Sometimes your teacher or parent will create an account that is moderated by them and is therefore safe for students to use. Do you know any other places to create games and quizzes?

Teachers

Widgets

  1. Which widgets do your students consider should be on every class blog? Why? Write a post about your class widgets.
  2. Create a poll asking visitors to your blog to vote for their favourite widget on your blog? Why do you think that widget was so popular?

Avatars

  1. Display your student avatars in a slideshow such as Animoto. Did you allow students choice of website to create their avatars?
  2. Where else could you display your avatars? Perhaps in your header like the 26 Bay Bloggers have.

Your place

  1. Create a slideshow about your school and embed on your blog. Check out examples from Miss T and Mr Lamb. Maybe you could use a Prezi as suggested by Justin from Penbank.
  2. Write a post with questions you would like your visitors to answer in a comment. Try to find out some interesting information about where they live.
  3. Create a quiz about your state/province/country. Embed in your blog and see how well your visitors or locals know your area.

Commenting

Create a class poster or video about your commenting guidelines

Commenting is one part of our digital footprint, so it is important students know how to comment in an appropriate way.

It is also important that you don’t just copy and paste the guidelines from someone else. Discuss with your students, show examples, then come up with your commenting guidelines. We must teach the students not to plagiarise by setting the example ourselves as teachers.

Involve parents and other family members in leaving comments on your class blog

  • How many parents are involved in your class blog?
  • Do they check it out regularly or is the blog just something you and the students do at school?
  • How could you involve parents more in the blogging process?

Kathleen Morris and Linda Yollis have some great ideas about involving parents or grandparents. Check out this handout about blogging, navigating the class blog, family blogging month winner and grandparents comment.

Week 1: All about me

Welcome to the first week of activities in the 8th student blogging challenge. As at writing this first post, we have 112 classes, 748 students and 36 mentors taking part in the challenge. We cover the following 22 countries:

  • Australia, New Zealand, Canada, USA – majority of students and classes from these countries.
  • United Kingdom, Russia, Vietnam, South Korea, Turkey – more than one participant.
  • Netherlands, Hong Kong, Pakistan, Taiwan, South Africa, Colombia, United Arab Emirates, Iran, El Salvador, Bangladesh, Uganda, Malaysia and Indonesia – only one participant or mentor.

Activities will be divided into three sections:

  • Blogging – check if you have done these activities before going on to the other sections. It is here where you will learn how to improve your blog.
  • Students – activities for writing posts or adding comments.
  • Teachers – activities for your classes either writing posts or leaving comments.

Let’s get started!!

Blogging

With participants from so many countries coming to your blog, you will need to have a post or page all about yourself – your interests, your favourites, your family and so on. Remember to be internet safe and not mention personal information like your last name, phone number, email, school name. Check out these great examples: Mara, Colton and Reece  A slightly different version from Nolan

If using Edublogs, go to your dashboard> pages>edit sample page or about page. Remember to rename the title. If your blog header doesn’t include pages, then you will also need to go to appearance> widgets> drag  ‘Pages’ into your sidebar.

You will also need to make sure visitors can leave comments on your blog – you might need to create a text widget to explain how to leave a comment. Check out this blog for an example: Image a Day  To know how to cheat and put this info in your sidebar, visit this post from The Edublogger and start at part 6.

If using other blogging platforms, check out the Get Help links on the sidebar of this blog. I have tried to find tutorials for improving blogs for each of the other platforms. If you know a good tutorial site leave a comment on this post and include the link. I will then add it to my sidebar.

Students

  1. You might need to re-visit your ‘About’ page and update it for this year.
  2. Otherwise check out some interesting ‘I am’ posts from students in Mrs Kelly’s class. You could write one of these for your blog.
  3. Find your name on the student participant list, check that the link works, then visit at least ten blogs with the same colour as yours and leave comments on one of their posts. Write a post, recommending at least three different blog posts to visit and why you think they are interesting.
  4. Who is your mentor? Check on the student participant list, then go to the mentor registration page and find out about your mentor. Write a post as if you are interviewing your mentor. They might visit in the next couple of weeks and leave some answers for you.

Teachers

  1. You might need to re-visit your class  ‘About’ page and update it for this year.
  2. Otherwise check out some interesting ‘I am’ posts from students in Mrs Kelly’s class. You could write one of these for your blog but instead it will be ‘We are’ as a class.
  3. Find your class name on the class participant list, check that the link works, then visit the class on either side of you. Leave a comment on their blog and some of the student blogs if linked on the blogroll.
  4. Write a post posing  some questions to be answered by the visiting classes which might come to your blog.
  5. Check out this post about commenting from Mrs Smith. What type of comments do your students leave?

Everyone:

If you have any great ideas for activities in this challenge, please leave in a comment on this post.

Remember to create a link back to this post if you have completed any of the activities where you are asked to write a post. You might copy and paste this to the bottom of the post: I got the idea for this activity from Student Challenge Blog March 2012

Image: ‘Welcome Piggies

Less than two weeks to go

Are you ready to start the challenge?

The first set of activities for the March 2012 challenge will be published on Sunday March 4 – Australian time.

Remember if you want a reminder of each set of challenges as they are published, you will need to subscribe via your reader or email.

A few statistics for the challenge so far as at 21 Feb 2012:

Mentors: 24 registered (not all assigned students yet) – from Australia, USA, Canada, Malaysia, Indonesia, Russia, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Uganda

Classes: 54 registered from grades 1-12 and University – from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, USA, Netherlands, Iran, El Salvador, Turkey

Students: 240 registered from age 6-16 – from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, USA, South Korea, Hong Kong, Colombia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Vietnam

Image: ‘sack race starting line

Time to register March 2012

Are you a student with your own blog?

Are you a teacher with a class blog?

Are you an interested teacher, educator, home school parent

or pre-service teacher with a bit of time on your hands?

If you want to take part in the 8th student blogging challenge then it is now time to register. Hover over the pages in the header to find your registration page.

The first challenge will appear in early March. There will be three sections.

  • Blogging – this set of activities will relate to setting up your blog, especially if you are new to blogging.
  • Students – these will be activities for students to go on with once they have finished the blogging activities. Most likely students who have taken part in the challenge last year will be doing these activities.
  • Classes – similar to students in that once you have the blogging activities done then choose some out of this section to complete as a class.

If you have any ideas for challenges, please leave a comment on this post. Make sure your name and blog URL are included as you will be given acknowledgement if your activity is chosen during the challenge.

Remember, you do not have to do all the activities, just choose the ones that interest you.

Time now to vote

Did you nominate any blogs for the Edublog Awards?

Check out the shortlisted blogs under each category in their sidebar.

You have until December 13 to vote.

 

I would like to thank the teachers and students who nominated some blogs that I run:

Best new blog – Travelling with Mr Davo Devil

Best use of a social network – Student challenge

Lifetime achievement – Sue Wyatt   (aka Miss W aka tasteach)

 

Remember to also check out the class blogs and student blogs categories where your nominations might be found.

Challenge 10: Evaluating and nominating

I’m sorry to say we are at the last challenge for 2011. Remember we start again in March 2012, on this blog again. But even though the challenge is over, you can still keep up with your new friends by visiting their blogs and leaving comments. The list of class and student participants will be left up on the blog until early February 2012.

Activity 1 – students and classes

Please evaluate the challenge mentioning something about the following topics:

Registration: Is two weeks early enough for registration to begin before the first challenge?

Subscription: Did you subscribe by RSS or email in order to get the posts as soon as they were published?

Student and class participants: How useful are these pages in the header of the blogging challenge?

The challenges:

  • Did you visit the actual challenge on the blog each week or did your teacher have a post on your class blog?
  • Which challenges were the most useful?
  • Which challenges were the most interesting?
  • What would be some other topics you would like included in future challenges?
  • Are more tutorial type challenges needed? eg how to make a link in your post
  • Were the ‘Visit these’ posts useful?
  • Were the challenges where you had to embed ie polls, cartoons, wallwisher etc interesting or could you not embed due to being a free Edublogs blog or a blogging platform that didn’t allow embedding?
  • Were there enough chances to visit blogs from overseas and make links with other students/classes?
  • Classes that registered – were there enough activities specific to classes?
  • Did you make global connections?
  • Anything else you would like to mention about the challenge in particular

Activity 2: This is an audit of your blog since the beginning of September 2011.

  • 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:

  • What were your first impressions of this blog?
  • What captured your attention?
  • What distracted you on the blog?
  • What suggestions can you give me to improve my blog?

Activity 3: Nominating a blog for the Edublog Awards 2011

This year we would like classes to nominate two blogs they feel are excellent student blogs. They can be blogs from anywhere in the world. Choose a student from your class to write about the nominations in a post after you have discussed this as a class. eg best student blog or best new blog.

Teachers you may also take part in the nominations but you might like to check out the other sections where nominations are available.

Mentors we would also like you to nominate one or two of the blogs you have been mentoring to go in either the best student blog or new blog sections.

Students we would prefer you work with your teachers to nominate some great student blogs, but if there is a student blog (not from your class or school) that you feel deserves a nomination then write a post and fill in the nomination form. Remember, as a student, you can’t nominate a blog from your class or school.

Here are the rules you will need to follow to make your nomination valid. Notice you only have until the end of November to put in your nominations. Remember to write your post and then send in this nomination form with a link to your blogpost.

Also remember to visit the Edublog Awards page to vote between 2nd  and 13th December. You will only be able to vote for one in each section. Winners are announced on 14th December.

After the challenge is over

Continue:

Congratulations to:

  • gamekid27  who has earned over 8000 grains so far
  • bbsam and bbjoseph  who have earned over 4000 grains each so far
  • Jake G, teeganr4 and Gpower12 who have earned over 3000 grains each so far

Finally, leave a comment on this post about who you nominated or ideas for the next challenge in 2012.

 

Challenge 9: Favourites

This is the penultimate week of the student blogging challenge for 2011. Only one more week to go to prove to your teachers that you are blogging well and showing improvements in your posts and commenting skills.

So this week, the theme is FAVOURITES. This allows you lots of choice. But to show a great post to your teacher you will need to include:

  • at least three paragraphs of writing
  • an image with correct attribution
  • a link to another website where you found information

Your teacher will also be looking to see if you have used tags and categories in your posts. If you need help with these, check out the guides for your blog platform eg Edublogs, Kidblog, Blogger, Weebly etc

You might want to write three or four posts on this theme.

Next week, we will be asking you to nominate a student blog  and a class blog for the Edublog Awards. You will need to write a nomination giving reasons why you love that blog, as well as leaving a comment giving reasons as well. Think about the blogs you have visited, so you are ready when the directions for nominating are given next week. You will not be allowed to nominate a blog from your class so make sure you are visiting lots of other blogs around the world.

Next week you will also be doing an evaluation of your blog so make sure your blog is the best it can be. If you have a blog avatar in your sidebar, make sure it is one you have created. Make sure there are some widgets about your state or country, at least 10 comments and posts can be seen via the sidebar, as well as the archives as you will be comparing your first post in the challenge to your last one about your favourites. Make sure you have completed lots of the challenge activities from the September 2011 challenge.

Next week you will also be evaluating the blogging challenge by filling in a Google document survey.

Challenge 8: Are you connecting?

How are you going getting comments from people other than your classmates?

Have you received comments from overseas visitors?

Has anyone in your family left a comment? Remember you might need to teach them how to leave a comment.

Activity 1: Write a post about your family – include their interests, where you might have been together as a family. Remember to include grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles.

Activity 2: Encourage family members to leave comments on your posts over the next few weeks. Check out Mrs Yollis and her class who celebrate family blogging month in November.

Activity 3: How can you increase the number of comments on your blog? Write a post about ways to get more comments on your blog. Be creative and think outside the square – can you find at least ten ways to get more visitors and comments? You might want to make a poster for this activity – glogster or notaland remember to get permission from parents or teacher to join.

Activity 4: Have a family member write a post for you to add to your blog. They could write it and email or post it to you. Does this post attract more visitors or family members leaving comments? One family member regularly blogs on Mrs Yollis’ blog – Where is nonno?

Activity 5: Interview a family member and write a post about them – include the interview recording. You could use audioboo online or from your phone then upload the file to your blog.

Activity 6: Write a post about the overseas blogs you have commented on – why did you choose that blog and particular post?

Activity 7: How do you connect with teachers, family or friends in the real world? Put together a collage showing how you connect – think more than just using technology. Here is an image of a networked or connected teacher. Would student connections be different ? Would parent connections be different?

Finally, this is the week for our game. This is another way to connect globally.

Those who have taken part in a challenge before know the game of  ‘Count Out Three’. Here are the instructions:

  • click on a blog on the student list – count one
  • now click on a blog from their blogroll – count two
  • finally click on a blog from that blogroll – count three

Leave a comment on an interesting post at this blog.

Do this activity at least three times and finally, write your own post saying which blogs you visited and which posts you left a comment on. Why did you choose that post? Remember to include a link back to the post you left a comment on so that student gets a pingback or trackback.

Attribution:

Image: ‘NetworkedTeacher

Holiday time

With it being Halloween this week, I felt we could have a break from writing lots of  posts. Instead we are going to look at making your blog suit the Halloween theme.

What could you do:

  • change theme
  • add Halloween music
  • add Halloween widgets
  • add Halloween images
  • be creative about Halloween and put in a post
  • tell us what you did to prepare for Halloween
  • did you go trick or treating?
  • did the adults in your life also join in the Halloween theme?
  • did you decorate your house somehow?

I know in Australia, we don’t celebrate Halloween as much as the Americans do. At the moment I am travelling around USA and Canada and the preparations have been going on for many weeks. Lots of TV ads, lots of houses with pumpkins, ghosts, spider webs decorating the porches, haunted houses to go through.

Remember to get ready for the game which we will be having next week.  To take part in the game you need the following completed:

  • a blog avatar and a user avatar
  • an ‘about me’ PAGE not post
  • a clustrmap or flag counter widget
  • at least three interesting posts – could be topics of your choice not necessarily from the challenge
  • your ‘Recent Comments’ widget on the sidebar with 10 comments as the choice
  • your ‘Recent Posts’ widget on the sidebar with 10 posts as the choice
  • Your ‘Pages’ widget on the sidebar
  • at least 10 student and/or classes linked on your blogroll
  • at least three overseas blogs on your blogroll

Remember to link back to this post so I know you have changed your theme to Halloween.

Attribution: