About

For the latest challenge in the Edublogs Teacher Challenge, we had to create our ‘About Page’.  This was actually something I did very early on in setting up my blog.

Why set up an About Page?

  • It allows the reader connect with the blogger
  • It shows the reader where the blogger’s passions lie
  • Twitter followers can use it to find out about the blogger/tweeter
  • It makes the blog more friendly
  • Readers will trust the blog more when someone shows ownership

I think an ‘About Page’ is very important for a blog.  If I can’t relate to the person writing the post I will often navigate away from the blog fairly quickly.

Contacts Page

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Image: Flickr Contacts by hobvias sudoneighm

For this challenge, instead of adding an ‘About Page’, I decided to add a ‘Contact Me’ page.  This is a way that people can find out more about me or contact me if they would like.  I think this is a great addition because sometimes you don’t want everyone to see your comment and now on my blog you have this option.

Rather than making it a stand alone page, I joined it to the ‘About page.’  To do this on an Edublog, I changed the attributes (on the right hand side) from ‘main page – no parent’ to select a parent.  In this case I those the ‘About Page’ as my parent page.

When do you go to a blogger’s ‘About Page’?

What do you like to see in an ‘About Page’?

How can people contact you through your blog?

Boost your Blog

As part of the Edublogs Teacher Challenge we were asked to share our 5 tips for creating a blog.  This is something I have done quite a bit of in my classroom and now I have a good reason to share it.

Generally the discussions we have in our classroom tend to be about class or student blogs but interestingly the aspects of a blog children found important, I believe, transfers to professional blogs.

When teaching children about the comprehension strategy of evaulation, blogging is a brilliant genre.  We have used this rubric developed by Clarence Fisher, which has been very helpful.  But this year I hope to make our own rubric for our class.

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After using this rubric we discussed what we liked about the blogs we looked at.  It was quite interesting to see that the kids responses mainly came from the logistic side of the blog, with the navigation being more important than the writing.  I guess we wouldn’t pick up a book that was the size of a table as it would be too difficult to read.  A blog shouldn’t be any different.

Here are the 5 top responses from the children;

1. Easy to read: The blog should be easy to navigate and read.  Pictures are a great way to break up lots of writing and don’t forget to use paragraphs!

2. Links need to open in a new window: When we are working through a blog we like to glance at different links as we go.  But there is nothing worse then having to try and find your way back.  By simply setting your target (found in the link box) to open in a new window when you set a link it makes it a lot easier! And it allows people to come back to your blog.

3. Ask questions: We like to comment on blogs but this is a lot easier when there are questions to respond to.  It is easier to follow a list of questions than to think of writing about them from scratch.

4. Pictures and colours: Over crowded blogs make it really hard to concentrate, especially the blogs with ads on them.  They tend to put the ads in the wrong place.  It is easier to read if the writing is separated by pictures relating to the text.  And make sure you pick a good colour for the text.  Not all of them are easy to read!

5. Threaded comments: When you are reading through a list of comments it can be difficult to follow the conversation.  That is where threaded comments come in.  Thanks to Kathleen Morris who showed us how easy it is to do this (Find it in Plugins).

What are your 5 tips for boosting your blog?

What frustrates you when you read a blog?

Please leave a comment.

My blog as a cloud

Part of the first teacher blogging challenge was to create a Wordle cloud of your blog. As much as I love wordle, I find I use Tagxedo more. Similar to wordle it creates a cloud of words, with the most used words appearing the largest. But what tagxedo adds is the shape. You can choose from the shape menu or uplaod your own clip art/photo or shape. For this one I used the footprint as it is my blogging footprint!

Another great feature s that If you roll the mouse over the cloud it becomes larger. You can save the cloud as a jpeg or use the ‘save in web’ tool to copy the iframe code into a post.

I love using word clouds as a reflection tool. Recently I took my Selection Criteria (Job Application) and entered it into Tagxedo. It was very interesting to see the words I used most and it made it clear what I am passionate about.

Tagxedo

My Life as a Blogger – the challenge

I have only been blogging now for about 12 months.  Actually now I think about it I have been blogging for the last few years.  My first experience of blogging came when I moved to England to teach about 6 years ago.  As I was sitting in the library to check my emails I was peering over my shoulder at a fellow traveller uploading pictures and writing an online diary of their trip.  Now this was in the pre facebook days and was exactly what I needed to share my pictures and what I had been up to with my family back home.  Over the 4 years I was away it proved as a great tool to share with family and friends and I still love looking back and reflecting using Mel’s European Adventure Blog.

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For some reason, until now, I have never linked this blogging with the blogging I do now.

Last year I was searching Google for some reason and happened upon Kathleen McGeady’s class blog.  I instantly fell in love with what she was able to achieve in her blog and was very quick to get on board with my own class blog.  It was such an invaluable way to add links for my class to use, share what we had been doing in the classroom and give the kids real opportunities for writing.

It didn’t take long for us to see the wonderful benefits of our blog in the classroom.  With a few comments left on other blogs we soon grew a network of people who we now collaborate with around the world.

The next step in my blogging life was to find the plethera of teacher blogs out there.  Kathleen McGeady’s ‘Integrating Technology in the Primary lassroom,’ gave me a lot of help in using web 2.0 tools in my classroom and also reminded me about my twitter account!

Through Twitter I was able to find some wonderful blogs such as What Ed Said,  Edte.ch, and many others, which you will find filling my Google reader at the moment! I soon  realised the potential of using these for inspiration in my teaching and reflection.

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That was when I began my own blog! And why you now find me doing the Edublog Teacher Challenge!  So why am I doing the challenge?  As someone quite new to the idea of blogging, especially professional teacher blogs, I often have the feeling that I am not qualified enough or I struggle to think of interesting posts and  because of this I tend not to post as often as I would like.

Therefore the Teacher blogging challenge is perfect for me.  I look forward to publishing many posts over the next month.