Monday, September 23, 2013

Week 3: Communicating via your blog and Social Bookmarking

Congratulations on making it to week 3 of our online adventure! If you are on track, you have completed Things 1-5. You’ve read and navigated a blog, learned to post a comment, you’ve created your own blog to reflect on our course activities, written your own post, linked to another website, added a widget to your blog, and have shared your thoughts on how blogging can be used in education. That’s a lot of stuff for just a couple of weeks. Pat yourself on the back. You deserve it!  This week, we are going to focus on making on connections with your fellow classmates.

Thing 6 -Communicating via your blog

One the great things about blogs is the capability to connect with other people who have similar interests. For Thing 6, you are going to comment on some of your colleagues’ new blogs. Because this course is mainly online, it will be important for you to take time to read the reflections of your classmates on their blogs as you all work on the tasks for each week. One of the goals of the course is for you to have some sense of community, even though you are working independently online. We will all get so much more out of the course if we share our thoughts and ideas and provide feedback to each other. I’m always amazed at how much I learn from other educators that I communicate with online via blogs and other social media.

So, here’s your task for Thing 6. Choose at least 3 of your colleagues’ blogs (see the sidebar on the right), and post a comment on their first post. Be sure you sign your name to your comment. I have really enjoyed reading everyone’s thoughts on blogging in education, and it was interesting to see the blogs you linked to as being of interest to you. If you haven’t posted your blog yet, make sure you do so as soon as possible so that you will get some comments from your colleagues from this week’s assignment. Let’s try to “share the comment love” and if you notice that someone’s blog has not received any comments yet, you might choose to give them some feedback.  I want you to get in the habit of reading each other’s reflections each week and communicate with each other.

For the over-achiever:
Add a photo of yourself to your blog profile. You can see an example of this on this blog. Just take a look on the right sidebar where it says About Me. You’ll see a cartoon photograph of me. Having a photo of yourself on your blog will give it a more personal feel and will let your online friends put a face to your name. Here’s a video that shows you how to do this step-by-step.

Adding a Photo to Your Blogger Profile -

Thing 7 – Social Bookmarking

Social bookmarking is a great way to organize all of the websites you like to use, and it lets you keep them in one place where you can access them anywhere you have internet access. Even better, it lets you share them with others! Watch the following video to get a great explanation of social bookmarking. Note: The video reference a site called Delicious. We will not be using that site for our bookmarking. We will be using a newer, more powerful site called Diigo. But, the video is still a great intro to the concept.

Social Bookmarking in Plain English -

Now that you get the basic idea of what social bookmarking is and why you would want to use it as an educator, let’s take a look at Diigo, the tool we will be using in our workshop.

Diigo V5: Collect and Highlight, Then Remember! from diigobuzz on Vimeo.

Pretty neat, isn’t it? Watch the following three short videos to learn how you can use Diigo to “research, share, and collaborate”. I think it will give you more of a feel of how powerful this tool can be.

Your next step is to sign up for your own Diigo account. The following tutorial video will walk you through the process.

 How to sign up for a Diigo account -

Now that you have your account set up, you need to add the Diigo toolbar to your web browser. Here’s a video tutorial to show you what to do.

How to add the Diigo Toolbar to Your Web Browser -

Next, you want to add some bookmarks.   I suggest bookmarking our 21 Things blog and the blogs of your colleagues. You can also add any other sites you wish. Here’s how to do it:

How to Add a Bookmark Using Diigo -

If you want to explore more features of the program, check out the Diigo help page.

Your final task this week is to write your reflection post on your blog. Share your thoughts about how you might be able to use social bookmarking in your job.

Here’s a checklist of this week’s tasks:

Thing 6:
  • comment on 3 classmates blog posts (see the sidebar for links to their sites)
  • add a photo to your blog profile (optional)
Thing 7:
  • Watch the Common Craft video on social bookmarking
  • Watch the Diigo overview video
  • Watch the 3 Diigo videos to get a more in-depth feel for the program
  • Set up your own Diigo account
  • Install the Diigo toolbar on your web browser
  • Bookmark some websites using the Diigo bookmark feature
  • Write your reflection post on your own blog about this week’s tasks

Don’t forget that we have our first optional face-to-face session on Tuesday, October 1 at 4:00 in the Cedar Ridge Intermediate library. We can look more in depth at Diigo, I can show you more features of your blog (especially how to remove the nav bar if you made one to use with your students), and you’ll get to meet everyone in person.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Week 2: Blogging

Welcome to week 2! I hope you got a chance to read everyone’s introductions from week 1. I know I enjoyed getting to know each of you a bit more.  This week we dive right in to the good stuff. It’s time to get your hands on some great online tools you can use in the classroom and for your own personal use.

Blogs are one web 2.0 tool you can easily use in your classroom to communicate with students, parents, other teachers, and your community. If you aren’t very familiar with the concept of blogging, be sure to watch the video “Blogs in Plain English” lined on the Week 1 post. It provides a great overview of blogging.

Thing 3: Create a Blog

One of the main ways you will be demonstrating and sharing what you learn in this course is through your own blog. For the purposes of this workshop, we are going to use Blogger to create your blog. There are many other free blog sites available online, but Blogger is very easy to use and quick to set up. You will use this blog to post reflections on each of your weekly assignments. I also chose to have you use Blogger because it is a great site to use if you ever want to create a personal, non-school related blog. It is the program I use for my What’s for Dinner? blog.

Important: Blogger does have one main drawback for using it with students – the “next blog” button. At the top of all Blogger blogs, you will see a navigation bar (see as an example). One of the options on this bar is a button that randomly takes to you to another blog created with Blogger. You can imagine that this would be pretty risky in an education setting. You never know what might show up when you click the button. Luckily Blogger now has an option to get rid of the Navbar! If you ever use Blogger to create a blog for a student project, be sure to turn off the Navbar. Just go to Settings, Layout, edit the Navbar, and set it to Off. 

Go to the, and follow the prompts to create your blog. Log in with your Branson Google account (your school email address) and follow the prompts to set up your blog. The following video tutorial gives an overview on setting up a blog in Blogger.

Once you create your blog, be sure to email me a link to your new blog address.

Thing 4: Create a blog post and link to a website

Once you have your blog created in Blogger, your next task is to create your first post. The topic of your post should be on blogging in education. More specifically, I want you to think about why you would use a blog in your teaching. The following two articles provide some thoughts on why teachers should blog and why students should blog. Read both articles to help you get ideas for your post.

I also want you to find an example of an education blog that you find inspiring. Here are two sites where you can find examples of education blogs. You can also do a search on Google for the topic in which you are interested (i.e. High School English blog). Create a link to that blog in your post (see the tech tip below if you are unsure how to link), and be sure to include in the post the reason that blog was inspiring to youIf you don't know how to add a link to a site in a post see the Tech Tip below.

Edublogs Awards

The following video tutorial shows you how to add a post to your blog.

Adding a Post in Blogger

 This video gives you an overview of the Blogger Dashboard so you can see what each of the menu items contains. 

Thing 5: Add a Gadget/Widget to your blog

A gadget (sometimes called a widget) is a separate little program that you can embed into a blog. Blogger has several gadgets you can add to your blog such as polls, slideshows, follow by email, etc. The last part of your task for week 2 is to add a gadget/widget to your blog. The following video shows you how to add a gadget.

Adding a Gadget to a Blogger Blog

As always, if you have any questions as you work through the assignments, please post a comment to this post, or send me an email. Good luck, and I hope you enjoy creating your Blogger blog. 
Tech Tip: How to add a link in Blogger
1. Go to the website to which you want to link and copy the website address.
2. Now go to your blog post and type the name of the site you want to which you want to link (i.e. Cindy’s Blog).
3. Click and drag to highlight that text, and then click on the Link button above the post box.
4. A dialogue box will pop up. Make sure the link to web address choice is selected. Paste the address you copied earlier into the link box.
5. Your text should now be linked.
For the over-achiever ;)

These are just options for those who are already comfortable with blog creation. They are not a required part of your assignment this week.

Try customizing the look of your blog page. The Overview video above will get you started. 

Try adding a You Tube video in a blog post. The following tutorial will show you how. It is in the old Blogger format, but you can probably figure it out on the new version if you're up for a challenge.
How to add a You Tube video in your blog

There's a lot of information in this week's assignment, so here's a checklist of this week's tasks:

Thing 3:

  • Create your own blog using Blogger for the purpose of completing the assignments for this course.
  • Send me an email with your new blog address.
Thing 4:
  • Read the two articles about why you might choose to blog as an educator.
  • Create your first post on your blog telling why you might use a blog in your teaching.
  • Explore other educational blogs using the links listed in the assignment or just do a Google search for blogs in your grade level/subject area. Find a blog that you find inspiring.
  • Create a link in your post to that blog and include the reason the blog was inspiring to you.
Thing 5:
  • Add a gadget to your blog.

  • Customize the look of your blog.
  • Add a You Tube video to a post. 

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Week 1: Welcome to 21 Things for 21st Century Educators!

Welcome to 21 Things for 21st Century Educators! This is the blog for our course, and it is where you will start your nine-week online learning journey. One of  the great things about this workshop is that it is completely online, which means you can work on each activity at at time and in a place that is convenient to you!

This week you will complete your first two "things" for the workshop. This course requires hands-on participation and encourages exploration of the tools used in each activity. Don't be afraid to experiment. :) I promise you won't mess anything up. If you ever need help with an activity, please feel free to email me or even one of your other classmates for assistance. Email communication and responding to blog posts are essential to success in an online course.

Thing 1Read and navigate a blog
Read the "About the Course" page of the blog so you are aware of the course content, goals, and expectations. Make mental note of any questions you have about the course.

Thing 2: Comment on a blog post and read other comments
Write a comment on this "Introduction" post introducing yourself to the other members of the course. One of the course expectations is that you communicate and share ideas with other course participants, so it will be important that you have some sense of community with each other, even though you won't be working together face-to-face. Be sure to tell your name, which building you work in and what you teach, and share something that will let us know about you as a person. If you have any questions about the course after reading the "About" page, be sure to list those in your comment.

Tech Tip:
To post a comment on the blog, scroll down to the bottom of the post, click where it says comments (if you are the first to comment, it will say "no comments"). On the "Comment as" menu, select Google Account and sign into your account if necessary. Make sure you type in the captcha code below the box if one shows up, and then click submit. Be sure to sign your name to your comment! To read comments posted by others, click below the post where it says "comments".

If the word "blog" is new to you and you're not sure what I mean when I use terms like "post" and "comment", be sure to check out this great video that explains it all.

Blogs in Plain English video

If you need help making a comment on this post, be sure to check out this quick tutorial video.