Tuesday, August 20, 2013

More Layout Features? Adding GADGETS

Gadgets are additional features or pieces of media that you can add to your blog in order to make your layout more interesting.

How do you get started?  Below is a Symbaloo webmix that holds several videos specific to the area of Blogger and will continue to expand over the next two weeks.  For this post, I decided to model not reinventing the wheel - so Symbaloo will serve as a container for videos and resources created and used by others.  For all you control freaks out there - it is true, others who create videos may not say exactly the same thing you would have said or shown...but remember, learning transferable skills and knowing what is out there to help you get started, is a valuable skill that will serve our students (and staff) well in the future!

In my blog example below, I have added the following gadgets:

I wanted stand-alone pages to show information that wouldn’t change – almost a ‘base-line’ for examining different concepts.
In this blog were used to manipulate the size and layout of an image.  You can also use the “image” gadget, but will not have as many controls as you do with HTML
Follow by Email
A way for people to receive information you post – once daily
Important Links
I differ from the video as I like to use links to other resources.  I tend to use the “Labels” gadget to share my labels page
Join the Conversation (Twitter via HTML)
Create a widget in Twitter and copy the embed code – more on this next week
I don’t like long scrolling front pages so I tend to use the “cloud” option on the Labels gadget. The tag I use for each posts will show up in the labels gadget – we will explore these features in a later post
Diigo (HTML Gadget)
Again, I create a widget in Diigo and then copy the embed code and bring it into Blogger.

There are so many Gadgets out there you can add to your blog.  Visit #lpsconnects to share your favorites with others!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Blogger Settings

I know...'settings' sounds like a boring topic, but we HAVE to discuss them to help 'set' you up for success in your blogging platform.

First it is a good idea to get used to the layout of Blogger, so check out this quick video (in under two minutes)

Settings to consider:
Connect with Google Plus - in order to make the switch, HERE is a tutorial.  I have found making the connection between my Google products (and adding my picture) has made me more 'social'.  I don't know why and I have no research to back me, but it seems to me when you put a picture to your work you have more ownership in the end product.

Templates - change your template at any time!  I haven't tried to create a new template, but there are a ton of videos out there talking about how.  Tomorrow we will explore the land of Gadgets to personalize your blog.  Today don't be shy about taking a look at the preloaded templates and settle on one that matches your vision for your blog.

Other settings to consider:
You choose how people will interact (or if they are able) to add comments to your blog.  Because I have enabled Google + comments, I do receive a notification when comments are published.

Under "Basic" you can change the description of your blog to help others better understand the purpose for your blog posts.  You can also change the title, but there could be a negative impact if you have already had comments - so read carefully before changing.

One rule of thumb whenever working with technology is to NEVER underestimate the power of the 'Help' menu!  I'm always shocked at how much more helpful these sites have become!  Don't forget Blogger even has its own YouTube Channel to assist you in setting up and managing your blog.

As we are nearing the end of this post, your challenge for today is to look through the settings and make some changes and then preview other's blogs that look interesting to you and write down the pieces that are on their blogs you would like to replicate on your site.

Post to #lpsconnects and let us know what goals you have for blogging and some of the tools and gadgets you might want to consider adding!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Blogging ...Where do I begin?

That is a great question!  I have had several teachers ask me about setting up blogs
http://ctmls.ctreal.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/blogging.jpgfor use with students as well as to have students create their own  blog.  I will be sharing how to create two different types of blogs in the next two weeks.  As a general rule, elementary teachers (especially K-4) tend to go the KidBlog route for simplicity in setting up class blogs, not needing an email to set up for students, and the security controls that go along with the product.  We will be looking at setting this digital tool up next week.

Many middle and high school teachers also are considering blogging - but tend to select Blogger as it is part of our student Google package and thus students already have accounts just waiting to be logged into and set up.  This is the digital tool we will explore over the next week...breaking down the settings and creating blog posts!

The first thing you will want to do is to logon to Blogger - so go to http://www.blogger.com/ to get started!  Video Break - a 3 minute tutorial to help get you started!

So you are set up and now wondering what you might want to do with your blog?  Let's take a quick look at this blog and see if we can't give you some ideas for planning purposes!

Whew - I know this is a LOT, but it is a good idea to do a little planning before you dive into setting up your blog.  Share your ideas on #lpsconnects to connect with other educators and grow your PLN in the process of creating something new and exciting for your students!

In our next session, we will be working on the Settings and Layout features of Blogger!

Blogger Image: http://ctmls.ctreal.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/blogging.jpg

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Edmodo: An Incredible Time-Saver!

As a middle school teacher, I was often bogged down with multiple assignments coming in at all different times and having to sort through stacks repeatedly to figure out who hadn’t turned in what. That took up way too much time!  A couple of years ago I discovered Edmodo, and it has been an awesome tool for keeping everything straight and has saved me SO much time!  

Here are some of my favorite features:

  • After posting an assignment, I can see with a click who has turned the assignment in.
  • Students can link their GoogleDoc/presentation to the assignment turn in, then all I have to do is click on the link to see their work.  Presentations can then be easily projected.
  • A handy feature is that the link is live, so if a student modifies the assignment, they do not have to resubmit.
  • All of the assignments  show up on the Edmodo calendar automatically.  
  • Edmodo has badges and polls built in.
  • Edmodo can also be used to build the classroom community as students can post and comment as well.  

Take a look at the following demo:  https://www.edmodo.com/ (Click watch demo)

Edmodo One Pager

20 Ways to Use Edmodo (Teacher)

There is an extensive support page (click HELP at the bottom of the Edmodo page).  They also will answer questions by email.

(Note:  They just changed the format of Edmodo a bit this summer, so I would stick with the tutorials here from the website.  Other YouTube videos may not be up-to-date.)


Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Listen Up!

Post by LPS Director of Curriculum Jeanette Westfall

Continually building your Personal Learning Network (PLN) is important, and  learning from a podcast is one cool avenue (and tool) for teachers and learners.  A podcast (taken from the original location device – iPod added to broadcast) reminds me of listening to a radio show.  There are times when that just really fits into my life like when I’m out for my afternoon exercise or driving to work). I read somewhere that the best way to really get the most out of podcast learning is to subscribe to one through your RSS feed.  My two sons subscribe to an interesting (if not educationally controversial) podcast called “My Brother, My Brother, and Me.”  They are dedicated listeners, often times when they are together,  and I know from the continual laughter that they are the intended audience.  Honestly, that’s where I first learned about getting hooked on podcasts, although my podcast preference runs more along the lines of the “Freakonomics” radio podcast.
Recently, I sent IT Coach Tracey Kracht a link to this great podcast list of“50 Educational Podcasts for Teachers’ Professional Development.”  If you started down this list, you would be sure to find at least one you would absolutely have to subscribe to.  Happy listening!
Quotation image from:  Wisdom Quotes on 7.26.2013

Monday, July 29, 2013

What’s on Your Stick?

Post by LPS Director of Curriculum Jeanette Westfall

When Liberty Public Schools Tech Instructional Coach Tracey Kracht asked for volunteers to contribute to our district blog, I admit I was excited and nervous at the same time.  I’m not new to blogging in education.  I maintained a leadership and operational blog for some time now called Ancora Imparo.  My audience was primarily my own high school staff, but it does provide an interesting archive of the journey our high school was taking.CLEAR-Stick-Atlas  It boils down to 23 foundational activities, tools, or processes that one should absolutely know in this century as a digital learner.  I can tell you honestly that I never hit 23.

When I began my digital learning journey, I will never forget my dear friend, mentor and building instructional coach Sean Nash (Nashworld) sharing insight on so many different tools that teachers could use to integrate technology into a classroom.  The term he initially used was “23 things on a stick” which is a great Google search to learn the history.  

On July 9th,  Ian Jukes (Fluency 21/Committed Sardine) authored a post of “9 Learning Tools Every 21stCentury Teacher Should Be Able to Use” that provided a more focused and attainable goal for me as a learner.  It’s a great checklist for anyone building a first digital toolbox, and a great reminder for those who have been working on one for several years.  Check it out.  You will be glad you did.

Images from Google images:  ”Stick” and “CLEAR Stick Atlas

Friday, July 26, 2013

Week Four Check-in...

We are at the end of Week 4 where we used Twitter to discuss what we learned about blogs!  In an effort to continually improve and keep accurate records of badge achievement, we ask that you complete this quick Google Survey.

Why should you continue building and engaging within your Personal Learning Network?

Follow @ShellTerrell

What is your commitment to continue developing your PLN?  Share with us at @lpsconnects