Week 3: Let’s visit and comment

An update first: we now have as at today 141 classes, over 1300 students and 44 mentors from 25 countries taking part in the 8th student blogging challenge. I hope you are all enjoying the activities and making the most of visiting other classes and students around the world.

In your profile, have you included your user name and your blog URL? Before leaving a comment on another blog that is the same platform as you eg Edublogs, Blogger, make sure you are signed into your blog. This way you won’t have to fill in lots of information when leaving a comment. Will also mean the owner of the blog you commented on will only have to click on your name or avatar and they will be directed straight to your blog.

As you visit and read other blogs, you might want to leave a comment and then add that blog to your blogroll or links. These are going to be the two things we look at this week  in the challenge.

Blogging

What makes a good comment?

How can I get visitors to leave comments?

Are you going to accept all comments?

  • Some comments you receive are actually spam – Nike shoes, handbags, essay dissertations etc Often these comments will have a link in them directing you to a website where they want you to buy something.
  • Other spam comments often have facebook.com or google.com or yahoo.com in the email address. Sometimes these comments make sense but they will often have a spelling error and they usually have nothing to do with the post you have written.
  • Make sure you don’t approve these type of comments but click  spam instead.
  • Some people might leave a comment like ‘Wutsup?’ – this would go in the trash.
  • Some students who don’t know about quality comments might say ‘This is a cool blog. Please visit my blog at ……’  This would also go in the trash. Or maybe you visit their blog first and thank them for leaving a comment on yours but mention it was not acceptable as it didn’t relate to the post.

Adding great blogs to your blogroll

  1. To make it easy for visitors to find the blogs of your classmates and friends you need to add their link on your blogroll.
  2. If using Edublogs, in your dashboard> appearance> widgets> drag across links or blogroll to your sidebar.
  3. If you want to group your links, then use link categories. These might be ‘My classmates’, ‘Class blogs’, ‘Overseas friends’.  You might also include links about your hobbies so you might need a category for ‘Cricket’ or ‘Tasmanian Devils’ or ‘Online Games’.
  4. To create these link categories, go to dashboard> links> Link Categories> put in the name of a category and save.
  5. Back to your dashboard> links> add new link.  Fill in the name of the person, then under web address put in the URL of their blog. Remember to include the http:// part. Choose which category you want the link to be under then click add link.

Students

  1. Make sure you have read the information above under blogging and checked out the links to other students regarding commenting.
  2. Write a post, create a video or create a poster about commenting. Might be tips to get more visitors,  guidelines for acceptable comments on your blog, examples of good and bad comments – think outside the square.
  3. Most student blogs are created at school, but to personalise your blog, add some posts about topics that are of interest to you – your favourite sports, hobbies, colours, books, games etc. Remember to leave a question at the end of the post as this will invite comments to be left.
  4. Learn some HTML code to include a link in a comment. Mrs Yollis explains this in her post link above. Might be a way to include a link to your blog whenever you leave a comment.
  5. Make sure your blogroll has links to at least ten students – at least five of them who are not your classmates.
  6. Visit some overseas blogs, leave a quality comment which includes some HTML code – a heart, a smiley or your blog URL as an HTML link.
  7. Check out teacher activity 4 on this post to create post categories. These are different to link categories.

Teachers

  1. Make sure you have read the information above under blogging and checked out the class comment links.
  2. Look at your class sidebar. Do you have lots of links for students to visit? Would these be better in a page rather than your sidebar? Check out the subject links on my IT blog and how I have created links to websites.
  3. If your students don’t have their own blogs, but you want them to write posts on the class blog, then add them as users to your blog. Then create a post category or tag  for each student. Check out some classes who do this: WPPS Grade 1 use tags, Climb High use categories, Mr Fachet has contributors on this Blogger blog,  Shirley has categories, Mrs Lucchesi has categories, Mrs Bliss uses categories.
  4. Notice all posts can be categorized. This makes it easier to find posts on similar topics. Create some post categories on Edublogs by going to your dashboard> posts> new category.  Once you have created the categories you need to go back and change it on your posts. To do this simply,  go to dashboard> all posts, hover  under a post and click on quick edit> change the category and save.
  5. Visit at least ten other class blogs. What widgets do they have that might be suitable for your blog and student age group? eg Shelfari, Wonderopolis Write a post about the widgets you have added and why. Maybe include a poll (perhaps using Poll Daddy) about which widget your visitors enjoy the most.
  6. Have you discussed commenting guidelines with your students? Have you included them as a page on your blog? Do your students’ parents know about your blog? Have they started leaving comments? Write a post directed at your parents. Ask them some questions or ask for some answers eg How are computers and technology used in your job?

Remember if you don’t use Edublogs, check out the links in the ‘Get Help’ section of this blog to find tutorials and support pages for your blogging platform.

Next week we look at adding images, using creative commons and giving attribution. We will also look at Earth Hour 2012.

Image: ‘Comment is free . . .

Challenge 2: My Place

Last week we learnt all about you – your interests, your favourite foods, music and lots of other things when you wrote your ‘About’ page. This week we are going to learn all about the area in which you live.

As many of you know, I will be visiting the USA and Canada (in fact I am in California now). When you write your posts or use web 2.0 tools, remember to be internet safe and not give away any personal information. Check with your teacher or parent, to find out if you can mention your school name or town.

But firstly, a few administration pointers.

Please check to make sure you have the following widgets visible on your blog’s sidebar: blog avatar, pages, recent comments, recent posts, blogroll or links, categories. If not using Edublogs, the names of these widgets might be different.

Have you made sure you are getting an email whenever someone leaves a comment on your blog so you can moderate this? It can be annoying for your mentor to go to your blog and find no comments have been approved for the last month or so.

In your profile page, do you have your blog URL included? – this links to your name for when you leave a comment.

Now let’s get to the activities.

Activity 1. Add a widget to find out where your commenters are coming from.

There are many different widgets you can use – clustrmaps, flag counter, feedjit  Have you seen any others while visiting blogs of other students? Maybe you could write a post about why you chose the  commenter widget you have put on your blog.

Activity 2. Add one or more widgets about your area of the world

This might include a clock or weather or a translator widget in case students who don’t speak your language can translate your post.

When adding widgets to your sidebar, copy and paste the embed code into a text box on your sidebar.

  • Save then close.
  • 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 using blogger rather than Edublogs, you might need to check out the instructions for adding widgets and images etc from Bling For Your Blog, written by a teacher in New Zealand. Thanks Allanah.

If your blog is an Edublogs free blog, you might not be able to put all the widgets in your sidebar.

Activity 3. Write a post about a tourist attraction in the following  states or provinces.

Miss W and Mr Davo Devil will be visiting these states and provinces: California, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, North and South Dakota, Iowa, Illinois, Ohio, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah and back to California. They enjoy visiting national parks and historical places. Where would you suggest they go while in those states and provinces? Suggest a tourist attraction in at least 5 places.

Activity 4. A year in your town

Write a post, create a glogster, make an audioboo tape, create a Storybird or add a Voki telling Miss W about the festivals held in your town throughout the year. Which festivals do you enjoy the most and why? When are the festivals held in case she can visit one while she is travelling? 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.

Activity 5. Visit other participants and ask questions

Visit at least five other blogs from students or classes around the world and ask some questions in your comments. We have participants from Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada, Hong Kong, China, South Korea, Scotland, Ireland, Denmark, Russia, Colombia, Taiwan, Greece and Indonesia taking part in the challenge.

Activity 6. Questions in a post

Write a post asking questions about the different countries mentioned in activity 5. Have at least 6 questions in your post.

Activity 7. Where I would love to visit and why

Write a post or use a web 2.0 tool telling your readers about a place you would love to visit and why. Try to include some hyperlinks (links that are underlined in your post and take your readers to another website)

Activity 8. 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?

Copy this trackback link in any posts you write about these activities: Challenge 2 Sept 2011  so I will know to visit your blog and read your post or else leave a comment on this post directing me to your blog.

Attribution:

Image: ‘party in the sky

 

Challenge 1: All about you

Welcome to the seventh student blogging challenge.

Looking through the list of participants, we have very few students who have taken part in a challenge before so the activities will be new to you all. A reminder that some activities will be about setting up your blog while other activities will be writing posts or improving your commenting skills. Each week you can choose to do as many of the activities as you like or your teacher might choose the one they want for that week.

Whatever happens – Enjoy your blogging!

When you meet someone for the first time or join a new class, you usually have to introduce yourself. Most blogs have a page called ‘About’ or ‘Sample Page’ or ‘Profile’.

Activity 1. Write or update your ‘About’ page. Tell your readers your first name only, a bit about your interests but remember to be internet savvy and not give out any personal details. Check out these  students – EmmaDaniel , ChloeSimon , Ben and Molly. If you wrote your ‘About’ page last year, things will have changed – so update the information or improve the layout of what you have written to make it easier for your readers to understand.

In Edublogs, log in to your dashboard. On left go to all pages, hover under sample page and click edit. Make sure you change the title and delete what is already written there. Once you have finished, hit the update button. Now remember to go to appearance> widgets and drag your ‘Pages’ widget to your sidebar.

If using Blogspot, check out this blog and all its hints.

……………….

Because Sue Waters (from The Edublogger) and I want to know about student commenting skills, we would like everyone to do the next activity.

Activity 2. Leave a comment on this post to answer the following questions.

Why did you join the blogging challenge?
What do you hope some of the activities include?
Finally, what do you hope to get out of the challenge by the end of the ten weeks?

……………….

Because we can’t all meet face to face (f2f), we have to have an online identity to represent us. Whenever I leave a comment on your blog, you will see a grey haired lady. I love wearing thongs on my feet and drinking iced tea. So that is a picture representing me – these pictures are avatars.

Activity 3 – make an avatar

Step 1. Create an avatar for your blog and for you to use when leaving comments.

Avatars are a representation of yourself. Check out this post about avatars.  Create your avatar using one of the websites below.

Most important is remember to save as a jpeg file if using Edublogs.

MyHero[1] avatar2 avatar3 avatarbig

Any age can use these avatar sites:

From abi-station:

But over 13, need parental or guardian permission for these.

14 or older with parental permission

Step 2. Using printscreen to save your avatar or use the snipping tool

So you decided to create an avatar like “Hero Factory” or “Build your wildself” or “Mini Mizer” where you can’t save it easily. You need to take a picture of the screen first. Most computers have a printscreen button on the keyboard or if using Windows 7 you have an icon called “snipping tool”. Not sure what Mac users have but I am sure there is a similar button on your computers.

When you press printscreen or use the snipping tool an image of your screen or part of it  is now copied to your clipboard. You will still need to crop and resize to get an avatar that fits well on your blog.

Open MS Paint and click control V to paste your image from the clipboard. To save, you need to go to File>Save As> change the name of the file to yourname with ava eg  sueava then underneath change the file type to JPEG. Make sure you save your avatar to your drive.

Go to your drive, right click on the icon for your avatar image and choose “Open with” choose MS Picture Manager. This might be in Microsoft office tools.

In the icons at the top, go to View> task pane.  On the right go to edit pictures > crop.  Now move the black bars on the side of your image in, to crop your picture to what you want in your avatar.

Click OK, then back to edit pictures. Now click on resize. In the box “custom width and height” put  97 in both boxes. These numbers might be slightly different but one has to be 97 and the other smaller than 97. Click OK.

Back up to file>save as> call it sueava2 or similar> make sure it is still JPEG. Make sure you have saved it to your drive again.

Step 3. Upload avatar to your Edublogs blog

Now to upload to your blog.  Go to your dashboard> users>your avatar> browse to find your image on your school H drive>alternate upload.  This is your comment avatar.

Now for your blog avatar. Dashboard>appearance>widget> blog avatar drag to your sidebar.  To upload the avatar, dashboard>settings>blog avatar> browse to find your image on your school H drive>alternate upload. Go to your blog page and refresh. Your blog avatar should appear on your blog now.

If it now looks like a black coloured square then you haven’t cropped the image to the correct size in step 2 using printscreen. Or maybe you didn’t save the image as a JPEG in step 2 using printscreen.

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 – Visit 10 student blogs in the challenge where you have the same interests.

Write a post or leave a comment telling me who you visited and what post you commented on in their blog. Why did you comment on that post?

Activity 6 – Write a tutorial post about creating your avatar

This would be handy for Miss W to have for the next set of challenges. Your post could be used to teach other students or teachers about how to create, resize and upload their avatar especially if using blogspot, kidblog or a Mac computer. Mention in your post what type of computer you were using and the programs used for resizing etc.

Extra activity or as a class – Create different avatars and share them with the world.

Now create an animoto with your images to embed in your blog. Check first if your teacher has a class animoto reference code.

Maybe you know a tool to create a flip book that can show your class avatars with a description similar to activity 4.

If you don’t want to create an animoto, then add the avatars in a gallery to your blog post. Check out how Max created his animoto. Check out the post about his family by Jack.

Remember to leave a link back to this post (see below) if you have written about one of the activities in your blog.

September Challenge 1

Image: ‘merhaba

Let’s play tag -Challenge 8 -March 2011

Most weeks in the student challenge, I have asked you to visit lots of other student or class blogs and to leave comments on posts you have found interesting. For this week’s challenges, you are going to need to know how to create links in your posts. Check out Sue Waters post on linking in the Edublogs tutorials.

Linking or creating hyper-links is one of the most important aspects of blogging. When you link to a website or another blog post, it shows your readers that you have searched the internet for information to back up what you are writing about on your post.

Here are some great examples of linking in a post:

Nicole in a mystery story she wrote included links to some drinks mentioned in the story

Teacher Jane includes many links for scuba diving and animals you would see when diving

Miss W (me) wrote a post for her students about resources to use when studying a family relative who was a member of the armed forces in Australia

So here are the challenges for week 8.

Students and classes

Activity 1 – return to previous posts

Go back and read some of your previous posts.

Where could you add some links to improve your post?

  • Perhaps the place you would most like to go to
  • If  Miss W came to your community
  • Family celebrations
  • Animal migration

Activity 2 – More checking your posts

Have you included a link back to the student blogging challenge on every post you have written as part of the challenge activities? If you haven’t then that is probably why Miss W hasn’t mentioned your blog on the ‘Visit these’ posts. Here are some simple links if you want to use them.

Challenge 1 – Who are you?

Challenge 2 – Heads and feet

Challenge 3 – Going global

Challenge 4 – Finding my way

Challenge 5 – Image search

Challenge 6 – Testing time

Challenge 7 – Moving time

Activity 3 – My favourite post

Write a post about your favourite musician or food or computer game. In the post include at least three links and an image, as well as the link back to this post on the student challenge blog. Remember to give attribution for the image. Linking is like giving attribution for the information used in your post.

Activity 4 – Own choice post

Write a post about anything that you are interested in. Might be books, games, knitting, genealogy, Pokemon, WOW, a certain animal – you get the idea!  In your post include a link to a blog about your topic, a link to another website about your topic and an image with attribution.

Remember if searching using Google, put in your keyword in the search area, then when results appear, on the left side of the page under ‘Everything’ click on more and then blogs. Now only blogs on the topic should be on your screen.

Activity 5 – Student challenge meme

What is a meme? It is like a viral video – one person creates the video, puts it up on youtube, others see it and blog about it or like it on Facebook. Suddenly it has millions of viewers.

A blogging meme relies on those people who are tagged responding to the post. If you are not interested in the topic, you probably won’t write about it. A couple of memes I have taken part in early in my blogging life were: Worst job ever meme and  7 things you don’t need to know about me.

One of the students in the March 2009 blogging challenge took part in a meme.  She tagged me and here is my post.

The student blogging challenge meme is:

Describe one of the things you have done in life, that make you glow with pride.

Meme rules:

First paragraph: mention this is a student blogging challenge meme and include link back to the meme post.

Last paragraph: Make links to those students or classes you are tagging.

You may tag up to ten people but only two from your own class – tag students from other countries to make sure the meme is spread globally.

To begin this meme I will actually write a new post so you can see how it should be done.

Original image: ‘070314linked

070314linked

Released under an Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

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.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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