30 Day PLN Challenge #5: Using Blogs as Part of Your PLN

PLN Word Cloud

I have been blogging for the last 11 months or so and I find that blogging is a whole lot of fun!  The reason why I started to blog was because it was a requirement for one of my graduate classes.  Well, I have found that this is a format that I rather like.  The reason why to blog is personal: I like to share ideas.  Another reason why I like to write blogs is due to the nature of a blog.  I have been keeping a personal journal for roughly 23 years, every day.  I have a lot of journals.  Some days are longer than others, and some include sketches. So blogging comes natural.

Top Ten Things That I Like About Blogging

  1. Sharing
  2. Having a PLN to bounce ideas off
  3. Your PLN or random strangers can comment
  4. The format of the blog can be what you want it
  5. I can include videos
  6. I can include photos
  7. This is a spot where I can connect with parents/community
  8. I can find cool lesson plan ideas from other teachers in my PLN
  9. You don’t need a degree in journalism to write a blog, it’s for everybody
  10. Other bloggers will help you

Things That I Wish I Would Have Known Before Blogging

  1. When you give your blog a name, make sure it’s a good one.  Kind of hard to change later.
  2. Read a few blogs from different companies.  WordPress is nice but doesn’t let you add certain things for free like cool widgets.  Several 2.0 Web tools don’t embed into WordPress.
  3. Try out different free versions of blogging sites before finding the one that you like best.
  4. Defiantly try Kick Start your Blogging from Edublogs.  I found this to be extremely helpful and fun.
  5. Remember, if you type it the world can see it.  So keep in mind who is your intended and not intended audience; both can see what you write or post. (I actually knew this one before blogging.)
  6. Add tags, they help people find your wonderful post.
  7. Blogging is not just for company or teachers it could be for anybody.

Things That I Do Before I Post

  1. Use a Word document to type out my thoughts first and save the draft (power could go out, or the Internet decides not work when you go to hit post).
  2. Find some sort of visual to go with my post.  I have my blog post an update in Facebook and the program grabs the first picture or visual for your post.  Your image also shows up in Google image searches.
  3. Reread what you wrote.  This works most of the time for me; however, a few spelling grammar or spelling mistakes get by me.
  4. Create a post that is relevant to my blog’s theme.  Mine is blending reading and art together.   Keep reading for my connection below.

Blogs could be used in a classroom where students read each other’s blogs and comment back.  Students could develop their own PLN where they learn together and how to use the web tools.

Parents could also create their own blog and be involved with what their children are creating and saying online.

Go Forth & Post!

-Mrs. Berry

I Taut I Taw a Puddy Tat

1952, Tweety Bird has spotted the sneaky Sylvester and broke out into a song about what he saw.  I have included one of the many different versions via YouTube of Tweety singing his little song.

Now fast forward to 2011, Tweety would now tweet, “I Taut I Taw a Puddy Tat.” By using Twitter Tweety could let his friends and followers know that Sylvester was a foot in less than 140 characters.  His friends could twitter back and give him some advice or follow his updates as how he foiled Sylvester.

This blog is dedicated to: PLN Challenge #3: Using Twitter to Build Your PLN.  I heard about Twitter a few years ago on NPR and thought it was just something that I wouldn’t use.  Why would I?  Well, I have started an account and I am just getting my feet wet about using Twitter. I am using Twitter to expand my PLN and to get new ideas.  Kathleen Morris, a second grade teacher and blogger from Victoria, Australia wrote a great explanation about Twitter.  Click here to read her description.

Twitter screenshot

So I created my account.  I wanted my blog name but it was taken.  So I thought why not use my name and art. That worked and now you can follow my tweets at @MrsBerryArt.  I have set up my blog to give twitter updates automatically.  I set up my account and updated my bio information.  There was only enough space for 160 characters but I fit it in.  I also changed my background to one of my paintings.   I clicked on a few people that I want to follow to see how this works.  There is a spot for messages.  There are a few art companies that I know of that I clicked to follow.

Happy Tweeting!

-Mrs. Berry

P.S.  Tweety might say, “I Tweeted. I Did, I Did!

30 Day Challenge: Personal Learning Networks

I am starting the 30 Day challenge through Edublogs: Personal Learning Networks.  I know; I’m on a WordPress blog platform.

All the cool stuff I have found has come from the Edubloger website, so I thought I would try another challenge and see how it could fit into the classroom with reading and art.  I am looking for inspiration even if it doesn’t come from a formal professional development day.  The artist Grant Wood said, “My best ideas have always come to me while milking a cow.”  So here I am looking for others and ideas.  The first challenge is to write a post about PLNs.  Ok, so what is that?

For me a PLN is people who are looking to learn something new and network with each other to share their ideas.

I tried this website called VoiceThread for the first time.  I think it’s pretty neat because now you can hear what others actually sound like.  I just love to hear the different ways people sound.  Here is the link for the VoiceThread for this challenge.  I am the giraffe.

Now that you have participated it is time to make your own.  For a tutorial on how to useVoiceThread click here.

VoiceThread Screen Shot

A VoiceThread is useful for teachers because this could be used for students who have missed class due to illness or who are traveling.  I created a video with Animoto on how to create a flower.  I have shared this with students in my classroom.  Afterwards we discussed if there were any comments or questions.  Students who are out of the classroom could also participate by watching the videos and my comments and then add their own. Click here to link to my example that I have made. The lesson is an introduction to looking at a flower and painting it. Please feel free to comment.  I am still playing with the features.

Enjoy making your own VoiceThread!

-Mrs. Berry

HotDish Blog

For this week’s extended activity I have added my recipe for a successful HotDish Blog.

Ingredients

  • 1 part content
  • 1 part effective post
  • 1 part about your page and picture
  • 1 part images
  • 1 part embedded media
  • 1 part widgets and sidebars

Directions: Turn on computer. Logon to your blog.  Open a new post.  Add 1 part content (make sure this content is related to your blog’s theme) to 1 part effective post.  Directions or ideas from a fresh effective post can be found on the post Giant People Eating Mental Blocks.  Next, add one part about your page.  This part can be created in a unique way.  Add a picture or avatar of yourself.  Descriptions of different programs can be found in a blog about creating avatars.  Mix in one part images.  If unsure about images check your local blog about images.  Add one part embedded media.  The media is your choice; for ideas visit this blog.  Finally sprinkle widgets on top.  Different widgets will give you different flavors so chose carefully.  Need some suggestions, look in the blog cabinet.

Stir together for a successful blog.  Click post and wait.

Serving Size: A fulfilling portion

Servings: Your network and anybody else that comes to dinner.

Assessment of a Blog

How will students know they have created their own successful blog?One way is to give students a check list.  I have inserted a sample assessment. One spot is for students and the one spot of teachers. I left the assessment general because everybody assigns grades differently. For me, I would have the students give themselves 1, 2, 3, 4.  A one would be if the student needed lots and lots of teachers help.  A two is that the student has basic knowledge of a subject.  A three is grade level.  A four is for somebody that goes above and beyond.  They teach you something or do something that has not been taught.  Then the teacher gives a score.

Many successes for creating your blog!

-Mrs. Berry

Here Ye’ Here Ye’

Word Cloud with this week's post.

Here Ye’ Here Ye’ is the old way to bring in people to your location.  We are a far cry from the town crier in our age of social networking and bringing people to our spot.  I am rather a newbie when it comes to social networking in the 21st century.  I am a first generation blogger.  I still communicate with my grandma through letters and snail mail.  My parents and mother-in-law were on Facebook before I was (ok, that is really sad).  However, I am the first to start blogging in my family.

Challenge 8 is to write about promoting your blog.  I was a bit stuck since; I don’t tweet or ping yet.  I’m going to try my first ping with this post.  I’ve developed my bag of tricks for advertising my blog.  Every teacher needs a good bag of tricks. I learned most of this these techniques from other bloggers.

Berry’s Bag of Tricks for promoting her blog

  • Add Tags
  • Let your friends know on Facebook you added a post
  • Add your blog’s site to all your emails
  • Link your blog to other blogs
  • Add a spot on your sidebar where people can sign up for your blog through email (Hint Hint)
  • Keep writing to bring people back
  • Use Ping-o-matic and Pingoat (I am going to try this one and see if it works.)
  • Communicate with people that leave comments on your post and visit their site
  • Tell friends, family, and other professionals about your blog

This lesson could be used in the classroom when discussing advertising and marketing. The instructor explains how we present ourselves and where we present ourselves is as important as our message.

Something things for students to consider when they are promoting their blog:

  • Do you want to promote your blog for everyone in the world, or just a few friends and family?
  • Do you want to pay for advertising?
  • Where do you want to promote your blog? (Discuss how some companies pull their advertisement campaigns from TV shows or events because the TV show or event has a bad image.)
  • Do you want to be linked to a friend’s post or a post you like?
  • What kinds of topic words do you want for your tag?
  • How much writing to do you want to write?
  • Do you want people to sign up for you blogs?

-Mrs. Berry

P.S. Sign up for email posts if you would like ideas with books or art.  Most of my posts discuss reading or art and how to use them in the classroom.

Little Bird Tracks

A picture that I took of a bird watching me.

These are the blogs that I looked at and these are the little bird tracks that they had and what I liked about them.

Tabitha’s sidebars have a little bit of information about herself, a word map for visitors, most popular posts for the month, blogs that she follows, and a blog archive. I like how Tabitha has a little bit about herself right on the front page with an avatar. I am following her blog because she is an art teacher and her name is the same as my daughters. It is because of her side bar I found this out and follow her blog.

Britt’s Technoscience bird tracks are really nifty. She has a world map, a picture of herself, where you can find her, what she is tweeting, her 365 photos and projects, her blog roll, science resources, science teachers, web 2.0 resources, blogging about, what you say, search, log in, and subscribe. Wow it’s a lot! But, as a teacher I like having the list down the side so it’s easy to find. I also like how there are resources. As a teacher it’s an easy way to find things, almost like a book mark. I get my best ideas from others.

Miss T’s bird tracks are on both sides, on the left she has her information, a voki (really cool!) live traffic feed, visitors, and links. On the right side she has teacher challenge blogs, blog roll, blog archive, labels. I really like how Miss. T has the link for the teachers in the blog challenge. I feel pretty nifty to be on her list.

Lydia Schultz’s bird tracks include a little bit about herself (she’s from Minnesota so of course I added her), a way to search her blog, twitter updates, poll, tags, recent posts, voki, visitors, and blog archive. I really like the poll on the side bar because then visitors don’t need to search your blog for the latest poll. What a great idea!

Stacy’s bird tracks include, categories, archives, SRR feed button, blog award badges, followers. I like Stacy’s categories and how they link to a spot where you can get the information that you want.

After looking at other’s bird tracks, I thought about mine. And came to the conclusion my bird tracks need a bit of cleaning to do. So I have changed a few things. I added a picture of my avatar, I added my Prezi lesson plans links, follow the leader for RSS feeds, and email subscriptions. I still would like to put a picture of myself with my information. I haven’t figured that part out yet.

This activity could also be done with students. Before students go forth and look at other blogs sidebars, they should make a list of things that they think make a good side bar. Have students make this in a graph format or excel and have a spot to mark yes or no. After making their graph they then would look at 5-10 blogs and check off if the blog has what they considered a good side bar. Next have students write about their findings. Ask the students:

  • What did you discover about side bars in blogs?
  • What changes would you make to your list of good items to have on a side bar?
  • What changes are you going to make to your blog’s side bar?

Enjoy my little bird tracks.

-Mrs. Berry

Once upon a time . . .

My daughter and Myself infront of an Inuksuk

There was an art teacher who wanted to present information about the Inuit people and their art to her second grade art students.  She wanted to make her presentation fun and interesting.  So she tried a couple of different ways to tell a story about the Inuit people.

First she made a power point and found that easy to do.  By attaching her power point to the blog, she found that this took up her blogging space. Inuit power point

Next she tried to upload and share her PowerPoint with SlideShare but found it disappointing because the sound effects and the nifty slide animations did not transfer. 

She also tried to put her power point on YouTube and found that the turning a power point into a movie takes a way from reading the slide slowy. It also snowed five inches in the time it took to download the movie to YouTube.

Finally, she became engrossed by prezi.  She found that she could write out a lesson plan in an artistic way, and add images.  Because when she plans her lessons ideas are not always linear.  She can now plan out ideas on an infinite canvas. She is currently working on this document.  The meat of the document is there.  She is working on adding scoring opportunities and vocabulary words.  Her only critique of the program is that spell checking needs to be done the old fashion way with a dictionary (or using word and copy paste).

.prezi-player { width: 550px; } .prezi-player-links { text-align: center; }http://prezi.com/bin/preziloader.swf

Please check out my Prezi.  This lesson is geared toward second grade students; however, the projects could go as high as high school with modifications.  Also check out my book review of Smiler’s Bones.  I also made a video to go with the book talk.

-Mrs. Berry

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