Week 1: Introductions

Miss W or tasteach

Whenever you see either of these avatars or images on the world wide web, you will know it is me. I am a retired teacher who began blogging with students in 2008. I still blog with teachers and students in Tasmania, Australia. I also blog about my family history and whenever I travel, Davo the Tasmanian devil keeps a blog about his adventures with me. But the event I enjoy most is running the Student Blogging Challenge twice a year, with the help of the staff at Edublogs.

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 – Most weeks there will be lots of activities to choose from. You don’t have to complete them all. But by Easter or mid April, 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.

This challenge we have many new students and classes taking part so let’s get some admin out of the way before we start our activities for this week. Anything written in bold and blue is a link you can click on to take you to another blog or website.

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 – there will be a new post this week explaining how to do this.
  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.
  5. Once you have done your activity for this week, remember to come back here and leave a comment on this post. Include a link to your blog post so I can try and visit in the next week. Great posts will be added to our Flipboard magazine on the sidebar.

With so many new students and teachers taking part, you might like to start with this video created by the team at Edublogs. Here is a PDF activity about blogging terms that you might want to use after watching the video.

Time now for the two activities for this week

Activity 1: Create an avatar to use on your blog.  There are many different avatar creation sites on the web. I have been to many of them and created lots of different avatars. Some you just save and download to your computer to then upload into your blog. Others you need to use the snipping tool to save a square image of your avatar. It is always best to save as a jpg format.

Here is a symbaloo of websites to use for avatar making. Feel free to add this to your blog. Along the bottom are pages where teachers have listed lots of sites as well as shown examples. The easiest to do are on the right hand side and look like my avatar.

 

To add your avatar to your blog, if using Edublogs, check here. If using blogspot, check here.  Teacher might need to change some settings in Kidblog to allow students to add own avatars.

Did you find a great avatar site not mentioned here? Write a post about your avatar and how it represents you. Include a link to the website where you created the avatar.

UPDATE UPDATE – If writing a post about your avatar, choose an interesting title not just avatar as this will cause an error on your blog.

Activity 2: Write or update your About Me page.

Whenever I visit a blog for the first time, I always check to see who the person is that is writing the blog posts. Do they have similar interests to me?

If you already have an About Me page, you might want to create an About my State or Province page as well. Be creative:

What is the difference between a page and a post?  Check out the information here.

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 Settings> Discussion and make sure the default setting is ticked for allow people to leave comments> save the changes at the bottom
  2. Now go to the dashboard>pages>add new
  3. Change the title to About Me or something similar.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. In the area under the page writing box, you should see a Discussion box – open this and make sure you have ticked Allow comments.
  7. When you have finished click the big  button on the right side of your screen – probably says update or send for review.
  8. Once you have saved your about me page, go back and delete the sample page.
  9. 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.

Finished the work for week 1?

Then head off to the class or student list above the blog header and start visiting other blogs. You might not want to comment this week but maybe check them out. Are there any students with interests the same as you? Do you have a mentor yet? Have they left you any comments?

Week 1 Introductions

Welcome to the train
Photo Credit: Keith Tyler via Compfight

Whenever you join something new, it is always polite to introduce yourself to the other people in the group. That is what this week’s activities are all about.

Here are some examples to check out, but be creative.

Activity 1. You might like to write a poem about yourself, create or update an about me/us page or post. Remember to be internet safe and not add any personal information.

Creating your about me page in steps for Edublogs users

  1. Login to your blog.
  2. Go to Pages > All Pages
  3. Hover your mouse over the Same Page title and click Edit.
  4. Change the title to About Me or something similar.
  5. Remember to also edit the permalink to About then OK.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. When you have finished click the big blue button on the right side of your screen – probably says Update.

Refer to detailed step by step instructions in the Edublogs User Manual on writing your About page for more help!

Writing your about page

If using Blogger/blogspot, check out the help pages here.

Activity 2.  Introduce your class, school, family using another page or post. Maybe go outside to take photos of your school or neighbourhood to include in a slideshow on the about me/us page.

Activity 3. You are going to start getting visitors to your blog. Do you have some questions you would like them to answer? Write a post asking questions for your visitors to answer about themselves.

Please check: Some themes do not have the pages visible in the header area.

This means you need to go to Appearance> Widgets in your dashboard and drag the pages widget across to your sidebar area if you are using an Edublogs theme.

Refer to detailed step by step instructions in the Edublogs User Manual on setting up links for your pages for more help!

Still got time left this week – visit students in your coloured group and leave a comment or ask a question on the about me post or page.  You’ll find the student blog list for Sept 2013 here.

Classes check out the other class blogs on either side of yours in the participation list – visit other blogs with the same age group.  You”ll find the class blog list for Sept 2013 here.

If your class has its own twitter account, please remember to use #13stubc when tweeting about the challenge activities or the posts you have written.

Edublogs management have changed the widget called Subscribe by email this week.  So please, if you had subscribed earlier, could you please subscribe again with the new widget I have on the sidebar.

Read more about the new Edublogs email subscription widget here.

Breaking News … Breaking News … Breaking News …

So I know you have finished your post or page, please return here and fill in the form below. We will be choosing examples of great posts/pages to be included in our September 2013 Flipboard magazine but only from those who have completed the form.

You can check out our March 2013 Flipboard magazine here!

Make sure you include the URL of the actual post you have written, not just your blog in general.  For example, the URL for this post is http://studentchallenge.edublogs.org/2013/09/08/week-1-introductions/ and if I was sharing the link to our About page it would be http://studentchallenge.edublogs.org/about/

Who are you? Challenge 1-March 2011

Welcome to the new set of challenges for March 2011!

Here are a few tips about navigating the blog and getting the most out of the challenges.

  • Every weekend, here in Australia, I will be posting a new set of activities for the week. Complete as many of the activities as you want.
  • To find the post with the activities, look on the right sidebar under ‘Latest challenge posts’.
  • If you want to be emailed as soon as I post a challenge, then fill in your email address in the right sidebar above the clustrmap then hit the subscribe button.
  • If you have a Google Reader or Netvibes etc, then subscribe by RSS – top of right sidebar.
  • If your teacher wants to join our mailing list to receive a newsletter every month or so, then have your teacher fill in the mailing list on the left sidebar.
  • To find the students taking part in the challenge, look in the header and click on ‘Students – March 2011’
  • If you are participating as a class and want to find other classes to link up with, check in the header for ‘Classes – March 2011’
  • If you are a teacher/educator commenter and want to link your class with some classes of the students you are commenting with, please contact me and I will give you their teacher names to allow skype etc. Often though, students will have their class blog listed in their blogroll on their sidebar.
  • If you want me to visit your blog post, you need to leave me a comment on my post or include a link from my post on your post. Here is a page to show you how to create a link in your post .
  • Most of the instructions in the challenge are given for Edublog users, but there is a link for Blogspot users in the ‘Get Help’ section on the right sidebar.

OK, time for the activities now.

Students:

The first week of activities involves lots of things which I hope you have already done to your blog. Just go down the page like a checklist and tick off as you get the activities completed.

Activities in purple are for beginner bloggers, those in green, suggestions for more advanced bloggers. Anything in blue and underlined is a link to another blog or post. Remember to right mouse click, open in a new tab when clicking on a link.

1. Are you on the list?

Some students filled out the wrong registration form and joined as a class. Please check the page in the header labelled ‘Students – March 2011’. Find your age group – check very carefully if your name is on there. If it isn’t then click on this link to fill in the correct registration form.

If you find your name on the list, you will probably find the name of a teacher in the same colour as you. This teacher or educator is going to visit your blog over the next ten weeks and leave some comments on your posts. Try to create conversations with these people – most of them have their own blog as well. Find out about them by visiting the post linked here and check out the comment they left.

Some students don’t yet have a commenter allocated. This will happen in the next few weeks.

avatarbigIf you are on the list, you will probably have received a ‘Welcome to the challenge’ comment from Miss W or tasteach. I usually leave these comments on ‘About’ pages or a post you have written about yourself. If you have not received a comment from me yet, please leave a comment below on this post and include the URL of your blog so I can come and visit you.

2. Changed your theme.

All Edublogs blogs begin with the same theme. There are over 100 different themes to choose from. Some have one sidebar, some have two sidebars, some allow you to change the headers. But you need to decide which theme suits you best. Check out this post about themes To change your theme, go to your dashboard > appearance > themes.

You might like to write a post about why you chose that particular theme. How difficult was it to choose? What were you looking for in a theme?

If you have been blogging for a while, is it time for a blog makeover? Have a look at some of the newer themes that are now available and update the look of your blog. Write a post explaining the changes. Perhaps a ‘before’ and ‘after’ shot of your blog.

If you use Kidblogs  you don’t have a choice of themes, but you could write a post about what you would like to have in a theme.

3. Written your ‘about’ page.

Remember pages stay in the one place and are located in your header or in the ‘Pages’ widget. What you will be writing normally are posts and they will gradually disappear off the bottom of the major column on your blog.  If using blogspot, you have an ‘About’ area in your profile, those using Kidblogs will need to write a post about themselves instead. Check out the example ‘About’ pages below:

About pages – students I have found when leaving welcome comments

Be creative but internet savvy when writing your about page. Those students from Mr Puchinsky’s music class might like to re-write the lyrics of a song or nursery rhyme and tell about yourself in the new lyrics. If you are a singer, why not use Audacity or Vocaroo to record your song about yourself and embed it in your about page in your blog.

If you have already written an about page last year, you might need to update it for this year. Things will have changed. If you know of a great example of an ‘About’ page, please leave a comment on this post.

Make sure you have added the ‘Pages’ widget to your sidebar. Dashboard> appearance> widgets> drag ‘pages’ across.

4. Write a post about why students and classes should visit your blog.

Why is your blog going to be interesting? What will you be posting about? What could they learn from reading your blog? Make sure you hyperlink back to this challenge post  somewhere in your post. That way, I will get a trackback or pingback and I will be able to visit your blog to read your post, otherwise I won’t know if you have written anything about this challenge.

eg. This post is for Challenge 1 in the March 2011 challenge. Highlight ‘Challenge 1′  then use the Link icon  – chains joined – and copy and paste in the URL below

http://studentchallenge.edublogs.org/2011/03/05/challenge-1-march-2011/

This is one of the most important skills to know when blogging – how to make a link – if unsure check out this post for Edublogs or this post for blogspot.

If you have been blogging for a while, write a post highlighting some posts you have written that you would recommend new bloggers read. Remember to give an explanation why – what will they learn from reading that post? Make sure you link to the posts you are recommending so your readers can actually visit them.

5. Visit the student list then leave a comment here …

Check out the page called ‘Students – March 2011’ and visit ten blogs  where students have similar interests to you and leave a comment on their blog. Then come back here and leave a comment mentioning a blog you found really interesting – remember to tell me the student’s first name, country and blog URL so I can then go and visit them as well.

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Classes

Each week you will need to have visited the blog of the class on either side of your name on the ‘Classes – March 2011’ page. This will make sure each class gets visited by at least two other classes. Remember to check out any student blogs that are on the class sidebars.

Then choose some other classes from the list that you would like to visit – students of similar age perhaps.  Add links to these classes on your blogroll to make it easier for your students to visit them.

If you are a teacher commenter you might also like to add the classes or student blogs you are visiting to your blogroll.

1. On your class blog, write a post about why students and classes should visit your blog. What will they learn from reading your posts? Are there any skills your class has that they could pass on to other classes and students? Perhaps highlight and link to some great posts your class has already written that newer blogging classes would find useful or interesting.

2. Make sure your class about page is updated.

Check out these below. Each page is so different. What do you and your students think should be included in a class ‘About’ page?

Check out at least ten other class blogs from the list. Write a post in your blog about the similarities and differences you found while reading their ‘About’ pages. Remember to include links back to those class blogs.

3. Introduce the world to your classroom or school.

Create an animoto with images of your classroom or school taken by your students. This might be included as a post or on your about page. Make sure you join the free education version where both you and your students can create longer length animotos.

4. Visit your buddy classes (those on the side of your class on the ‘Classes – March 2011’ page.) Introduce yourself and get a conversation started.

Have pairs of  students in your class visit a different class blog and check it out. What did they like about it? What caught their eye? Did they find an interesting post?

Now on your class blog, write a post about visiting other class blogs. Highlight those things your students found interesting and add links back to the blogs they visited.

Next week we look at avatars – fun, fun, fun