Tag Archives: blogging

What is your best blogging tip?

Lorna Costantini (Elearning Center) and I are embarking on another training venture. We are hosting a series of workshops on blogging for beginners and classroom blogging for beginners. For those new to blogging, what is your best tip for blogging? Creating and maintaining a blog can be daunting to new users so what would be your best tip for a new blogger? Be sure to share your blog URL when you leave your comment as I want to share examples in our sessions. Thanks!

Blogging for Beginners Session

If you or your colleagues are new to blogging, Lorna Costantini and I will be conducting a “Blogging for Beginners” session on Wednesday, March 31st at 7pm EST (http://tinyurl.com/lcparticipant).

We will be using Weebly as the blogging platform and walking attendees through the process of setting up a new blog, creating posts and commenting on other blogs. We will also show attendees how to add images and a custom html text box for adding widgets, embedding videos, etc.to blogs.

If you already write and maintain a blog, please invite your colleagues to join us tomorrow evening. The session is offered  in conjunction with LearnCentral and our hew training initiative, ‘Elearning Center’. We greatly appreciate your support by promoting this session with your colleagues.

Join us tomorrow evening and create your own blog with us using Weebly!

Exploring AllaboutExplorers.com

Recently I read a fantastic blog post from one of my great online buddies, Donelle O’Brien – author of her Lifelong Learner 2.0, that I met through my affiliation with the Classroom 2.0 LIVE! show that I co-host. She wrote about this innovative and unique site that is historically based but with a twist! I know it appears to be a long post but it is well worth the read and is rather humorous – I don’t think you will be disappointed!

000016The blog post featured the website All About Explorers and is designed to help students evaluate information and results when searching on the Internet. The webquests, or treasure hunts, can be differentiated for reading and/or achievement levels that are more challenging for advanced students. According to the website,

All About Explorers was developed by a group of teachers as a means of teaching students about the Internet. Although the Internet can be a tremendous resource for gathering information about a topic, we found that students often did not have the skills to discern useful information from worthless data.

So we set out to develop a series of lessons for elementary age students in which we would demonstrate that just because it is out there for the searching does not mean it is worthwhile.

Because we wanted to make a point about finding useless information even in a site which looked at first to be fairly well put together, all of the Explorer biographies here are fictional. While many of the facts are true or based on truth, many inaccuracies, lies, and even downright absurdity are mixed in indiscriminately. As such, it is important that you do not use this site as a source of reference for your own research!

Any references to outside source materials, however, are quite accurate to the best of our knowledge. Books and other print materials are listed throughout. In most cases these are the references we give to our students when they are looking for reliable information about these explorers. Links to other web sites have also been evaluated for accuracy and usefulness.

Our lesson plans have also been incorporated into this site along with an Explorer WebQuest which we use with our own students to do valid research about these same explorers after showing them the pitfalls of poor planning and searching. In both cases, again, the information we include will be as accurate as possible. All of our lessons have been tested with students in the upper elementary grades.

The two site authors, Gerald Aungst and Lauren Zucker have done an outstanding with this website. I particularly enjoyed this except about John Cabot.

In 1484, John Cabot moved back to England with his wife and eleven sons. This was a great career move for John. He developed his own website and became quite famous for his charts and maps depicting a new route to the Far East. At this time he also introduced his half-brother Richard (whom the family always called “Ringo”) to his best friends, John, Paul, and George. They, too, tried their hands at exploration, but discovered that it was actually a lot of work. They soon gave up this dream and spent the rest of their lives as a troupe of traveling minstrels.

My favorite excepts come from the synopsis of Christopher Columbus.

Columbus knew he had to make this idea of sailing, using a western route, more popular. So, he produced and appeared on infomercials which aired four times daily. Finally, the King and Queen of Spain called his toll-free number and agreed to help Columbus.

He named the native people of the island Indians. The Indians were excited by the newcomers and their gadgets. They especially enjoyed using their cell phones and desktop computers.

Columbus returned to Spain in 1939 and was hailed as a hero. He was known as the first person to walk on American soil. A huge parade was held in his honor. He appeared on Larry King Live and became quite famous around the world.

As you can see the humor element is rampant throughout each of the ‘biographies’ of the explorers. Once students realize that the gadgets of today, television shows and other items evident of today’s society are present in the paragraph they will start to evaluate the information they find on the Internet and begin to ask themselves if the information presented is accurate. There are many great learning opportunities to teach students to be wary of information found on the Internet and to make certain that when researching topics, websites and sources are credible and authentic.

The Explorers website contains templates for conducting the treasure hunts on the explorers, how to evaluate websites, links to factual references about explorers, and the references the authors used to develop the content and website material.  The site also lists web articles such as this one in at PhillyBurbs.com that mention their website and it use in classrooms.

I always found this concept difficult to teach to young students and this website makes it very easy to demonstrate these types of research fundamentals in a clear, concise way. Students can compare the content presented on this website to one that is factually accurate and a wealth of learning activities abound to drive home to students the importance of critically thinking about information presented on the Internet as authentic and factual

Thanks Donelle for sharing this website! I had heard about the website but had not explored the Explorers website or the interesting ‘biographical’ account of the explorers until Donelle described it in her blog post.

I was so impressed, and thoroughly entertained, that I sent a request to the website creators and000017 invited them to be our special guest on our show. They accepted and will be joining us on Classroom 2.0 LIVE! on August 8 at 12pm Eastern. Mark your calendar and join us for another exceptional hour of learning, laughing and leading the way into classrooms everywhere.

Officials use Facebook/MySpace to Prosecute Criminal Cases

One of the Twitter posts I read last week referred me to an article on CNN.com about law officials using the social network sites of Facebook and MySpace to obtain evidence from pictures and comments posted to the sites. The article mentioned a college student who was seen at a Halloween party two weeks after being arrested after being involved in a drunk driving accident. According to the article,

Two weeks after Joshua Lipton was charged in a drunken driving crash that seriously injured a woman, the 20-year-old college junior attended a Halloween party dressed as a prisoner. Pictures from the party showed him in a black-and-white striped shirt and an orange jumpsuit labeled “Jail Bird.”

Lipton was not showing much remorse partying after being involved in an alcohol related accident. While the woman Lipton hit was recovering in the hospital, Lipton was out partying and one of his friends posted pictures from the party that included Lipton on Facebook.

Source: Flickr*

I recently blogged about being aware of the digital footprints we leave on the internet citing a USTA professor as an example. His explicit emails with references to his students were made public and printed in the newspaper with this incident making front page news.

According to the article at CNN.com, discussion of how law officials use the pictures of social networks to portray the nature of one’s character is becoming commonplace.

“Social networking sites are just another way that people say things or do things that come back and haunt them,” said Phil Malone, director of the cyberlaw clinic at Harvard Law School’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society. “The things that people say online or leave online are pretty permanent.”

The pictures, when shown at sentencing, not only embarrass defendants but can make it harder for them to convince a judge that they’re remorseful or that their drunken behavior was an aberration. (Of course, the sites are also valuable for defense lawyers looking to dig up dirt to undercut the credibility of a star prosecution witness.

Prosecutors do not appear to be scouring networking sites while preparing for every sentencing, even though telling photos of criminal defendants are sometimes available in plain sight and accessible under a person’s real name. But in cases where they’ve had reason to suspect incriminating pictures online, or have been tipped off to a particular person’s MySpace or Facebook page, the sites have yielded critical character evidence.

While teaching students how to perform boolean searches on the internet or cite sources, it is just as important to stress the awareness of the digital footprints each of us leaves behind. Hopefully the students will not have their digital footprints used as evidence against them in a criminal matter as the teens did in the article but examples such as these show the importance of being cognizant of one’s presence on the internet. Colleges and employers often do searches on the social networks and make decisions based on their findings. I believe emphasizing the concept of digital footprints is as important in preparing students for the 21st century as is internet safety to avoid predators, using technology tools and social networks. For some students, their digital footprint could make the difference between a sentence of life or death.

*Patiblue. “Pegasus/Footprint.” Patiblue’s Photostream. April 9. 2008. Sept. 20, 2005. http://www.flickr.com/photos/patiblue/151771347/

Read my Reflections Please!

I just finished reading a post by Miguel Guhlin entitled, “Fervent Prayer – Read Me Please“. I can definitely relate as I work hard to start and promote this blog although Miguel has blogged for years. For a short while I worked in his department in his school district and I have great respect for him as my mentor but his superb writings. Shortly before reading Miguel’s post, I was reading a post from Wes Fryer’s blog, he mentioned a post from Jon Becker’s new blog about a similar notion.

Wes Fryer’s post:

“I hear you Jon. It can be lonely to write when no one is listening or seeming to pay attention. (I flashback to April 2001 again.) Our opportunity to have conversations which both change our practice and potentially change the thinking and practices of others, however, is unprecedented TODAY in human history. I am both humbled and electrified by that reality. Yes, I blog for many intrinsic reasons. Blogging helps me process and document my own learning journey, and I frequently benefit from this virtual bread crumb path as I refer back to old posts as well as social bookmarks in tags I’ve used.”

Jon Becker’s post:

“This blog is ONLY just over 3.5 months, but I find myself obsessed with figuring out if I am contributing to any networked learning. Scott McLeod has written about “measuring” the impact of a blog and I commented that I’d like to consider some combination of comments/post/reader and number of pingbacks. In other words, I will feel like my blog is useful/valuable if it is generating discussion. People may come and learn by simply observing, but I don’t feel like that’s enough.”

This appears to be a common notion at present time and I am heartened that I am experiencing similar feelings from the ‘heavy hitters’ in educational blogging. Just as in start up venture, whether it be writing or a new business, an investment of time and reflection is necessary. The creative process can be daunting and taxing and I felt comforted that even the ‘superbloggers’ feel a twinge of uncertainty at times.

Mentioned in these bloggers’ posts throughout their respective blogs was the importance of the reflection process for growth. While the topics of the posts in the superbloggers of ed tech’s blogs seem to come and flow naturally, I struggle with what to write and will anyone care what I have to say or read what I have shared. It is difficult being vulnerable, yet striving to be a prolific writer at the same time, in my humble opinion. But the mention in Miguel’s post about the importance of the reflection process is to affect change and growth struck a chord with me.

When I was working to achieve national board certification, critical questions requiring reflection on the learning process were asked throughout the entries I had to submit. Although I had already taught for 15 years or so, initially I didn’t see how important the reflection process was or how valuable and significant to professional growth that the reflection process played. After achieving national board certification, it has become ingrained that a reflection upon the lesson I just delivered to ensuring success for my students – whether they be K – 12 students or adult students. So I thank Jon Becker, Wes Fryer, and Miguel Guhlin and all of the other ed tech bloggers for making themselves vulnerable, taking a risk and sharing their own personal reflections with the rest of the world.

Do you Diigo?

I was recently invited to join the community at Diigo. Do you delight in using del.ic.ious (I think that is where the dots go) to share bookmarks and tag websites? Then you will love Diigo. Diigo is an evolving community site where people of like interests can collaborate and share ideas, websites, and converse with educators around the world. You can download the toolbar where you can easily share bookmarks, highlight text and share that with the community and a host of other tools that I haven’t even begun to explore yet. Join the community at Diigo and add me to your Friends. I want to expand and enrich my bookmarks and ed tech knowledge by checking out what you think is important, interesting and relevant. Join us!

It’s About Time

It’s about time! Crazy things have happened and I am now able to devote some time to posting to this blog. Keep checking in or even suggest a topic or question that you would like to see discussed in this forum. I am currently investigating the use of an wiki set up by professional educators to discuss current topics in technology education and the framework “Understanding by Design” to reform and promote positive change in schools.

Taken from the Wiki defining Understanding by Design is:

Understanding by Design is a method for planning using backward design — visualizing the end result (what students should understand) before selecting learning activities.

The link to the wikispace is: http://ubdeducators.wikispaces.com/. Check it out and experience a different form of professional discourse and collaboration. What are your thoughts?