2014, here we come!

Welcome Piggies
Photo Credit: Enokson via Compfight

Welcome back to a new year of blogging. First are the refresher courses being held in Devonport, Launceston and Hobart this week. For those of you who couldn’t attend due to family commitments or other holiday events, here are some of the links used to help you with your blogging this year.

Great blogs to check out

  • How are these Tassie teachers using their blogs?
  • Is it mainly to communicate with parents?
  • Is it for showcasing student work?
  • Are students contributing posts?
  • Have students learnt about image attribution?
  • Have students been taught about quality commenting?
  • How do parents use the blog?

Ms A at Miandetta, Grade 3/4 at Longford, Grade 4/5 at Bicheno, Grade 4/5 at Montagu Bay, Grade 6 at Rosetta, Grade 4 at Riverside, Grade 3/4 in Derwent Valley, Grade 3/4 at Punchbowl, Grade 5 at Rosetta

How are you going to use your blog this year?

Add your ideas to this Google document.

Leave a comment on this post

outlining your vision for blogging in your classroom this year. Remember to use quality comments.

Here is a video by Linda Yollis’ students talking about quality comments. This would be suitable to show your students and then discuss. Maybe put the video in a post and have students leave comments.

Here is an interview of Linda Yollis talking about blogging and commenting. Great for teachers to watch.

Adding features to your blog

All students whether Kindergarten or grade 10 all enjoy looking at the sidebars of class blogs, especially if they are interactive. But noisy sidebars can distract from the value of the blog, so think carefully about which widgets are on the sidebar and which you embed in a post or page.

What widgets are recommended by other teachers?

Check out these posts by Sue Waters from Edublogs – pinterest board of widgets, top widgets from Ronnie Burt at Edublogs, working with widgets including class blogs to visit, adding widgets and questions you might have, demo widget blog,

What tools allow students to be creative on blogs?

Maybe you want your students writing stories, creating comics, reading a book report aloud. These can all be showcased on your class blog by using many different tools that have embed code included or where you take a screenshot and save as an image.

Check out these posts of web 2.0 tools to use on blogs

 Connecting globally

You have now been blogging for at least a year and you want to start connecting globally. How do you do it?

  • Join the student blogging challenge which starts in March and September each year – run by Miss W – weekly ideas for posts – lists of other classes around the world grouped according to grade level
  • Join quadblogging – four classes working together – need to make sure each teacher understands what is happening though – maybe start by connecting with other classes in Tasmania
  • Check out the global classroom wikispace – lots of projects on right sidebar created by teachers around the world – some are one off activities, others involve reading a book together, some include toys sent to classrooms
  • Send posts to Mrs Yollis’ 365 project – include image of something you have taken and write a post to go with it – read instructions on the post link
  • Join Miss W.’s Australia – our country project and write posts about Tasmania and Australia in general
  • Take part in the 100 word challenge – great for creative writing
  • Check out the projects by Jen website – great creative ideas for classes
  • Create a twitter class account and tweet out about what is happening in class or join other teachers with a twitter project, here are a couple of examples – tweeting about the weather,  tweeting about vocabulary

Your class has access to many computers, tablets or ipads each day

Why not create student personal blogs? They can include work you set in school, but also allow them to write about their interests outside of school. Here are some examples of student blogs started last year.

Madison, Annabel, Jacob, Mackenzie, Gabrielle, Caitlin

Miss W. will be running online sessions for student blogging every Wednesday and Friday afternoon beginning in March – students can drop in with questions. Check out the student bloggers blog for the link to the online classroom.


Congratulations go to both Mackenzie and Annabel whose blogs have been shortlisted in the best student blog section of the Edublog Awards.

If teachers wish to vote for their blogs before the 18th December, please click on the image below. You may only vote once  from the same IP address. This means vote from lots of different computers outside the school system, as all department computers have the same IP Address.

If your students wish to vote for them, they will need to click on this link and find either Mackenzie (!ROAR!) or Annabel (Dance to this blog) on the poll and vote that way. The reason students vote differently is that Edublog Awards are on a list.ly format and can only join if 13 and older. So younger students get the chance to vote using the polldaddy instead. They can vote once each day from the same IP address.

Miss Wyatt has also been nominated in the lifetime achievement section – click here if you wish to vote for her.

The student blogging challenge which Miss Wyatt runs has also been nominated in the best use of social media section – click here to vote for that.


Many thanks to those educationalists around the world who nominated either Mackenzie, Annabel or Miss Wyatt for the Edublog Awards.

Nominations for #eddies13

Every year, Edublogs runs its Edublog Awards – this is the 10th year so a special anniversary. You can nominate blogs, wikis, tweets etc in many different categories.

These are my nominations for 2013.

Best student blog –  Annabel – works hard to keep blog up to date – always lots of fresh posts to read – took part in the student challenge mainly as a commenter rather than a student participant

Best new blogMackenzie – also works hard keeping the blog looking fresh – also took part in the challenge as a commenter – could also be in best student blog but I could only nominate one in each category

Best administrator blogJohn Goh – everything on this relatively new blog relates to Australian problems and solutions in education  but with reference to his research on overseas blogs as well – John is also a well known tweeter on #ozprimschchat

Best twitter hashtag – as a blogger with students, you can’t go past #comments4kids as a great hashtag – find more info on their website

 Best class blogIf only the best birds sang – Merry Beau from near Dublin Ireland runs this great class blog. Originally for grade 2, this year it has spread from grade 1 to grade 6. It allows students to learn 24/7/365 if they wish – lots of appropriate activities and widgets to help students learn anywhere, anytime

Best group blogCougar News – this blog is written as part of a journalism class at Cactus Canyon Junior High in Arizona. Well written, interesting posts by many students

Nominations close today 1 December, but check out the Edublog Awards to find out which nominations got through to the short list and vote for your favourites.

These awards are a great way to find other interesting blogs to follow and get ideas from.

You usually can vote once a day in each category from the same IP address. This means all the computers from the Department of Education have the same IP so you will also need to vote from home, libraries, ipads, iphones etc at different IP addresses.

Our student bloggers

Lego Blogger Picture
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: thom via Compfight

These past four months, I have been running a student blogging course with a group of six students from a school in Launceston. Each student has their own blog and both their home room teacher and I are the admins of the blogs. We have control over the publishing of the posts and the moderating of the comments. The students were selected by their teacher as someone who could work independently and had an interest in blogging on their class blog.

Students were expected to attend a weekly one hour online class where they were taught how to add to their blog as well as had time to write their posts. Students also could use their blog outside of school hours and could post about topics that were of interest to them.

The online class was open from 1pm until about 4.30pm so students could come in after school as well if they wanted to. The room was open both Wednesday and Friday but could be changed according to other happenings at the school involved.

All work for the course is found on the student bloggers blog and is available for anyone to use with their students. Over the Christmas holidays, I will be organizing the course more into step by step instructions for students with their own blog.

Next March, I will be running the course again, so if you have a small group of students (no more than 4) who you feel deserve their own blog and can work independently, please contact myself or Brendan Vince by the end of January.

Please check out these student blogs – Annabel, Mackenzie, Maddie, Caitlin, Jacob, Gabrielle

You may have also noticed we have a flipboard magazine which can be viewed best on an iPad but also on a PC. Feel free to add a link to this magazine onto the sidebar of your class blog. If I see any great posts written by students on their class blogs, I am including them in the magazine.

To leave a comment on one of these posts in the magazine, just click on the title of the post and leave a comment as normal.



How to … posts

How to Use Flickr, The Digital Photography RevolutionYou will notice over the last couple of weeks, I have been writing some how to … posts mainly for a group of six primary students who are working on their new blogs.

These how to … posts are found on the student bloggers blog but feel free to copy them to use on your own class blogs.  Perhaps create a page in your header with links to these posts like I have with the student bloggers.

If you have any keen students who you feel deserve their own blog, contact me and I will explain how you can create these blogs. Your students can then step their way through the student bloggers course as outlined on the Getting Started page.

I also have the online classroom open every Wednesday and Friday from 1.30pm until about 4pm for both students and teachers to come in and get help with blogging. The link is on the sidebar of the student bloggers blog under Get Help here. This link opens directly to Blackboard Collaborate and can be used on desktops, laptops or ipads (with the free app)

The how to posts written so far are:

Please leave a comment below of any other how to … posts you would like me to write for you and your students.

PS. I am sure the student bloggers would love some comments from you and your students on either their about me page or one of their posts.
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Thomas Hawk via Compfight

Making connections

Blogging and recording - all at onceNow that your class has been blogging for a few months and your students know how to write quality comments, maybe you want to start making connections overseas. One of the easiest ways to do this is to take part in the student and class blogging challenge.

I run this twice a year and the next one starts on 8th September. It lasts for ten weeks and every Sunday I publish a new challenge. You can do the activities in the challenge or you can just visit other blogs and leave comments.

You can register your class blog here and if your students have their own blogs, students can register here. Maybe there are some teachers at your school who might be interested in helping to mentor some students. Visit student blogs 3 times over ten weeks and leave some comments. Mentors register here.

In the March challenge, there were about 200 classes and 1200 students from 18 countries taking part.

Sue Waters, from Edublogs, has put together a Flipboard magazine about the challenge and you might want to check that out. It contains lots of posts written by students and classes. We will also have a flipboard magazine for the September challenge and both will be linked on the sidebar of the challenge blog.

Here is a link to the classes already registered and also one for the students who have their own blogs registered.

Maybe your students enjoy being scientists. I found this project called “Explore the Seafloor” where students look at images of the seafloor and have to pinpoint kelp and sea urchins. The project is only on during August, so get in there and be real life scientists.

Photo Credit: Jacob Bøtter via Compfight

New term arrives earlier this year

Oh no, here come the BloggersHere in Tasmania we are not used to having term two start in May – this is the first time we have had four terms per year instead of three.

During the recent holidays I ran refresher sessions for teachers in the north and south of the state.

Check out some of the work by our newer bloggers as well as a couple who have started again since last year.

  • The blog at Westbury is run by a group of grade 6 girls with initials of FEAST.
  • After seeing the blog from Miss D&D from Longford, Mr Guy at Evandale decided to get his blog going again and asked the other grade 3/4 teacher at his school to join him. What a great start to their blogs this term!
  • The class of 4LB have been getting lots of comments for their posts – many from overseas as can be seen on their clustrmap.
  • I am impressed with the Monday Inspiration posts from Mrs Smith and Clark’s class. Mrs Smith is only there one day a week. What a great way to start the day with inspiration from the students.
  • Students are starting to write the posts on the blog in Mrs Thomsett’s class. Can you leave a comment on this post from Sophie?
  • The students in Mrs Fall’s grade 2 have just started leaving comments on their blog.
  • The students from Mrs Wells’s class have been doing a lot of reading and learning about early Australian History.

I will be leaving Tasmania on 23 May and heading to America for five weeks. I will be visiting Washington DC to check out the Smithsonian Museum and the Holocaust Museum. Then I will be driving around the southern states for three weeks to finish at San Antonio for a conference on technology in education. I will be presenting a poster session about the student blogging challenge which I run twice a year.

If you want help, I will still only be an email away or if the time zones allow maybe even a skype call.
Photo Credit: Brett L. via Compfight

Giving a helping hand

Has your class or school thought of giving a helping hand to Dunalley Primary School which burnt down during the January bushfires this year?

Have a look at this video put together by Triabunna District High School. Maybe your class could sponsor some of the students on their exciting bike ride from Triabunna to Dunalley.

Check out more about the Bunna Bash at their education department website.

Mrs Westthorp has a grade 4/5 at Dunalley and they have their own class blog started this year. Visit them and also their school facebook page run by parents I think.

Do you think all schools should have a sponsored child or some form of community volunteering as part of their classroom programs?

Welcome to a new year of blogging!

As you may have noticed, we have a lot more class blogs listed on the links in the sidebar. This is because many teachers took part in some professional development during the school holidays and began learning about using a class blog as part of their curriculum.

Some teachers have decided to keep their blogs private at this stage until they have taught their students about quality commenting and how to write great posts. But most blogs are open to the world, so please start visiting them and connecting students within our state. If you want to know what the posts are about, check out the widget on the right sidebar  “Posts from all our blogs”.

Here are some great posts from last year and some from this year that your students might like to comment on:

You will all be receiving a copy of this post in your email because I have added all the teachers and students who are administrators of blogs to the blog subscription list. That way, you will know every time I have written a post. All the posts will help you in some way to improve your blog or topics to write about on your blogs.

If you need any help with your blog, just send me a message by email (see widget on right sidebar) or use the blog inbox where I am tasteach.

Good luck with the blogging in 2013.

A blog is not an add on in the curriculum

Often teachers new to blogging find it difficult to get into a routine of using their blog in their classroom. After a few months, no new posts are being added, therefore no new visitors are arriving to leave comments.
Blogging- It is not abuot the Tools...It's about the Skills
Silvia Tolisano from the blog Langwitches has created a great poster about the skills you learn while blogging. She also has posters on using wikis, podcasting, digital storytelling and video conferencing. You can download them from her flickr page to use in your room.

She has also created other pdf documents about blogging – a lesson plan about a unit on blogging and a rubric for writing posts and leaving comments.

Kathleen Morris, who I recently met at a conference in San Diego, also writes many posts about using blogs in the classroom. She has connected with many teachers overseas and regularly joins with teachers in creating global collaborative projects.

Linda Yollis, who I stayed with last year and who often works with Kathleen Morris, has a wiki about educational blogging.

Make sure you check out the student and class blog lists on these two teachers class blogs.

Leave a comment about how you think blogging can be an everyday occurrence in your classroom. How could it be used for literacy, numeracy, science, history, health, music, art, PE etc?