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 . . .

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Finding my way -Challenge 4 -March 2011

How do you find your way around a blog?

If I came to your blog and wanted to find a post you had written about your favourite foods or about your digital footprint – how could I find it easily without looking through all your posts?

I would use your categories and tags in your sidebar.

If you want to get to your best friend’s blog and you are not sure of the URL, how could you get there from your own blog? You want to get to your school blog or intranet from home – how can you do it easily?

You could use your blogroll or links in the sidebar.

As you can see from my answers, your sidebar is a very important part of your blog. It helps guide your visitors around your blog. But it can also be a distraction if there are too many games, pets, loud music on the sidebar.

So this week’s challenge relates to your sidebar as well as me finding my way to your community if I were ever to visit.

Students and classes

Activity 1 – Create your blogroll categories

What is a blogroll, you ask? Now that you have started visiting other student blogs, you might start finding some blogs that you really like.  You might visit these every day, but how do you remember their URL?  This is where a blogroll comes in handy.

If you look  on the right  sidebar of this blog, you will notice I have two subheadings such as:

  • Blogs to visit
  • Get Help

These are part of my blogroll.  The subheadings or link categories are alphabetical beginning with numbers.  So you will need to think about what the names are for your categories.

Check out the blogroll categories from these students and classes: Kids in the Mid (left sidebar), Miss T (left), Mr Miller (right), Alanna (left), Daniel (right), Georgia (right), Teegan (left, some are actually images as links too), Bree (far right)

To create the link category headings, go to your dashboard>  links > link category You might include  classmates, overseas friends, class blogs, get help and websites.

To make sure these appear on your sidebar, go to dashboard> appearance> widgets and drag the links or blogroll across to the sidebar area.

Activity 2 – Add some links to your blogroll

To add some links such as the challenge blog and your friends’  blogs, go to your dashboard> links> add new.  Remember to say what category you put the link under and also use http:// in front of the URL. Be internet savvy and only use first names of students.

You might include at least 10 classmates, some overseas friends you have visited,  Student Challenge Blog, Bloggers Cafe, The Edublogger, Help from Edublogs, your class/school blog and/or intranet and  websites you often visit.

Here is a post by Sue Waters about creating a blogroll. Follow the instructions for Step 2 in her post.

If using Blogger, go here to find instructions. Remember to include Bling for your Blog on your blogroll.

You are going to need lots of student and class links on your blogroll ready to play a game in a couple of weeks.

Activity 3 – Creating at least 4 post categories

Just to confuse you, there is also another heading called ‘categories’. Categories are like the chapter headings in books while tags are like the index words at the back of a book.

This though, relates to the posts you write about.  These categories appear in the header area or at the footer section of each post you write. My post categories for this blog are on the left sidebar and named ‘Challenge Sections.’ My tags are in the right sidebar and named ‘What the posts are about.’

What are your posts mainly about?

  • Check out the categories and/or tags these students are using: Daniel (left), Antonio (bottom right dropdown box), Teegan(right), Isabella, Jasper, Matthew, Anna (left)
  • Classes check out Miss T’s categories at bottom of left sidebar – notice it is a dropdown box and she has included names of students in case they write a post on the class blog.
  • Miss W has a moving box for her categories on the right sidebar – need to be a pro blog to use this.
  • Here is a post from Sue Waters at Edublogs for adding categories and tags to your posts.

To  set them up from your dashboard>  posts> categories.

Why are categories and tags important when writing your posts?

Where else do you find tags used in technology?

To make sure these appear on your sidebar, go to dashboard> appearance> widgets and drag the tags and/or categories across to the sidebar area.

Here is another post from Sue Waters about changing widgets in general in your sidebar.

If using Blogger, click here for hints on changing things in your sidebar.

Activity 4 – Write a post about the importance of tags and categories

  • Why should regular users of the internet be using tags and categories whenever they leave a footprint on the web?
  • Where are users asked to use tags?
  • What is geotagging?
  • Why did you decide on those categories for your blog?

Here is a post by Michael Martin about tags and categories. Wikipedia has an article on tag clouds. Wikipedia on Flickr, see organization section.

Activity 5 – Miss W needs to find her way to your community

  • If Miss W were to visit your community, what would you recommend she visit?
  • Where is your community in your country?
  • How is your community different or unique compared to other areas of your country?
  • Would she need to know a different language or would she get by with English?
  • What are some phrases she might need to learn that are typically from your area of the world?
  • When would be the best time of year to visit?
  • Any special clothing needed?

Write an interesting post about your community. You might want to include a slideshow of nearby landmarks or important buildings in your community.

The idea for this post came from some comments on Ms Edwards class blog.

Activity 6 – Where in the world would you like to find your way to?

Be specific – not just ‘I want to go to Australia’.

  • What questions have you got about the part of the country you want to visit?
  • What do you already know about that place?
  • Why do you want to visit there in particular?

Write a post leaving some questions for your readers to answer. Think about the countries where our student blogging challenge bloggers are from. They should be able to answer your questions.

Activity 7 – Create a poll


Survey your visitors by asking about where they would like to visit in your country. Use Polldaddy or a similar survey tool and embed the poll in either a post or your sidebar. Once the poll has closed, perhaps you could write a post about the most popular place mentioned in your poll.

Remember to add this link as a trackback or pingback in your post.

http://studentchallenge.edublogs.org/2011/03/27/challenge-4-march-2011/

Original image: ‘Everything’s Right
Everything's Right
by: Richard James Lander

Released under an Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

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Leaving links back to a post

Yesterday when I checked all the comments on this blog, I found this one from Olivia.

Hey Miss W,
I was wondering what you have to do to get mentioned…
Please visit my blog at http://olivia110gs.edublogs.org
~Olivia~

So I visited Olivia’s blog and found she had only been linking to the URL for  Challenge Yourself to Blog  eg http://studentchallenge.edublogs.org

If you want to send a trackback or a pingback, you have to link to a post within the blog. eg if writing about your digital footprint activity in Challenge 7, you need to link to this URL  http://studentchallenge.edublogs.org/2010/11/09/challenge-7-sept-2010/

By the time I opened the blog this morning, Olivia had gone back through all her posts and changed the link and now they have appeared on my pingback list.

Well done, Olivia!

Here are a few pages written by Sue Waters from ‘The Edublogger’ about:

Original image: ‘oXidation: Time goes by…
oXidation: Time goes by...
by: Alfonso

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Challenge 1 – Sept 2010

The first week of challenges 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.

1. 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 use Kidblogs I don’t think you have a choice of themes, so you won’t be able to do this activity.

2. 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 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 – classes

About pages – students

  • Abbey
  • Skye – changed since previous challenge – notice comments
  • Loretta
  • Amelia – new to blogging like three weeks only
  • Kylie – same as Amelia

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.

3. Added your blogger, commenter or helper badge to your sidebar.

As you are taking part in the challenge, a designer Tammie at Edublogs has created a badge you can put on your blog sidebar.   Click on this underlined link and it will take you to the post telling you what to do. If you can’t add it to your sidebar, you could put it in a post instead.  Make sure you have added your ‘Recent comments’ widget to your sidebar.

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 September 2010 challenge. Highlight ‘Challenge 1′  then use the Link icon  – chains joined – and type in the URL for this post. Check out how Abbey has created the trackback here.

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.

5. Leave a comment on this post telling me three interesting things about you then ….

Check out the page called “Sept. 2010 students’ and visit ten blogs there 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.

6. Classes only

Each week you will need to have visited the blog of the class on either side of your name on the ‘Sept. 2010 classes’ 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.  If browsing with Internet Explorer, remember to use the ‘Sept 2010 classes use IE’  link.

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?

7. Now students like Abbey who have already taken part in the challenges in March will already have done most of these things, so I want you to write a post on the following topic.

Think about something important you have learned outside of school – remember we should all be life long learners not just learners while at school. How did you learn it? Why is it important to you? Who or what taught you about it? How has this learning helped you in your life?

This idea is from a prompt at this website – Teaching that makes sense.

Original image: ‘Dive off!
Dive off!

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