Tag Archives: Blogging

Back to class and classroom blogging⤴

from @ John's World Wide Wall Display

IMG_0133.jpeg

For the last few (twelve) years I’ve been a enthusiastic proponent of blogging by pupils. I only actually carried this out in the classroom from 2004 till 2008 when I started work in North Lanarkshire as an ICT staff development officer.

Since then I’ve run plenty of courses around blogging, continued to blog myself and investigated lots of blogging systems. I also support pupils setting up e-Portfolio blogs in many classroom in flying visits. I spent a couple of years working on Glow Blogs and continue to provide support for Glow Blogs on a part time basis.

I’ve got a strong opinion of the positive value of pupils posting about their learning. I hope as I provided support and encouragement for pupil posting that I kept in mind the difficulties of organising this in class.

I am now back to eating my own dog food and again in the position to blog about ‘Teaching, ict, and suchlike’ from the position of a classroom teacher.

In many respects I’ve landed on my feet. I’ve got a very small class of delightful pupils, a good range of hardware and due to the small numbers, bandwidth that is not awful.

However I am feeling pretty out of my depth in regards to the changes in curriculum and practise that have happened in my absence from the classroom.

Beginning with blogs

On the practising what you preach front I’ve started using Glow Blogs. We set up e-Portfolos a couple of weeks ago. I am pretty pleased all the hard work of the Glow Blogs team has paid off from a technical angle. I am not working to hard on the idea of profiling yet, just trying to get the class enthused about owning their own space.

We have also started a class blog Banton Biggies – The Tallest Class in Banton Primary and the pupils have made a couple of posts. Fell free to pop over and leave us a comment.

First thing I’ve noticed is that it doesn’t get any easier organising time for pupils to post. The ideal is to give them enough time to write a well written reflective post, but also not missing out on too much of the current classroom activity.

The other thing that has changed is the familiarity of current pupils with the Internet. There is a lot of that I need to explore and discuss. Being a YouTuber is an aspiration of more than one pupil I am working with.

Of course this familiarity with the Internet does not come packaged with some of the things I an interested, safety, copyright, controlling your own data, along with technical skills, knowledge of file types, urls, keyboard shortcuts and the rest. A lot of learning will hopefully be sparked by discussing blogging.

We have also started using Glow O365, mostly word and Onedrive so far and I’ll have a fair bit to reflect on that too. I also set up a Yammer group for the pupils, with little instruction about what to do with it. There was a huge wave of enthusiasm from the pupils, but left to their own devices they have mostly posted hi messages. I think I’ll have to seed the group with some ideas to get things going.

Joining some dots

What I am hoping that I can do with the blogging is to start the pupils reading other pupils posts making some connections perhaps with other small schools. Hopefully I can get a podcast together too, watch that space.

Get in touch if you have pupils posting that would like a few comments or would be interested in some sort of blog to blog communication. It might take me a wee while to get going but that’s the direction I hope to travel in.

Featured image: Flickr Photo: simpleinsomnia – CC BY stamped with attribution with FlickrCC Stampr

Be Nice⤴

from @ John's World Wide Wall Display

beenice
  1. They comment on other people’s posts.
  2. They like other people’s posts.
  3. They share them.
  4. They…

from: What do nice Internet users do?

Click through to see all 12 points from Dave Winer who should know, having blogged as long than anyone.

From a education PoV good advice for reading and responding to pupils post, but applicable everywhere.

Featured image: Nice to be important by Michelle Grewe on Flickr shared with a Creative Commons — CC0 1.0 Universal license, which was nice.

Look back at random⤴

from @ John's World Wide Wall Display

random-flickr

Here’s a fun thing to try if you’ve been blogging for a while (Warning: may not actually be fun). Get a random date from when you started blogging until present (eg using this random date generator), find the post nearest that date and revisit it.
….

  1. What, if anything, is still relevant?
  2. What has changed?
  3. Does this reveal anything more generally about my discipline?
  4. What is my personal reaction to it?

from: Revisiting my own (blog) past | The Ed TechieThe Ed Techie

I’ve a random button1 here and occasionally look back without the the discipline that Martin Weller suggested.  I gave this more thoughtful approach a go.

I came up with this: Impermanence and Comments from 10 years ago.

That post was just a placeholder to link to a favourite post by one of my pupils. There was not much analysis, but hopefully pointing out that pupils posting and engaging with an audience is a powerful tool in the classroom.

I do think this is still relevant, there are a lot more primary school using Social media and blogging now as there was then. I also think that it is good to have examples of pupils doing the blogging and that can have value. Now it seems like a lot of posts come from teachers as opposed to learners.

It is also particularly relevant to me as I’ll be returning, with some trepidation, to class teaching after more than eight years next week.

What has changes is the average 10 year old is a lot more used to publishing to the Internet, plenty use FaceBook, instagram or have a YouTube channel. I wonder if writing for the web will have the same excitement.

I am not sure such a short post reveals anything about my discipline, except that I’ve consistently believed that blogging should help to give an audience and purpose to pupil writing and learning.

My personal reaction was quiet pleasure at finding the pupil’s poem and the cross continent conversation that went with it. I do hope I can help provide opportunities for pupils to do the same again.

Finally I remembered that the Sandaig Site will probably be decommissioned very soon. This made me a little sad. It did let me edit the post and click the amber button to send the original poem post to the Internet archive.

Screen Shot 2016-08-10 at 12.20.50

The Featured image on this post is one of my own flickr photos, created by blending two random CC flickr photos, with this toy or its slightly older sibling.

1. The link on my blog uses a trick appending /?random to a WordPress blog url gives a random post, I learnt that from an old dog.

Can You Share the Link, Please – Read Write Respond⤴

from @ John's World Wide Wall Display

In regards to sharing openly, Doug Belshaw recommend s creating a canonical URL. The intent is to provide a starting point for people to engage with and build upon your work and ideas. This could be one space in which to share everything or you could have a separate link for each project. What matters is that it is public.
  Arron Davis on the importance of sharing and linking. As well as being a great link this is a test post, pulling in content from my pinboard links with FeedWordPress and saving them as a pending post, with the custom format of pinboard. The posts are marked as pending, allowing me to mark up the quote and add some text.  The title of the post should link to Arron's blog rather than mine. I hope there is a nice wee pinboard icon on the left.

ImageOptim⤴

from @ John's World Wide Wall Display

imageOptim

I know we are in the days of lots of free space, but it is worth remembering when blogging (or making webpages) shrinking images is worth doing for your visitors.

I don’t always do it, but today as I updates a Glow Blogs Help page, I saved nearly half the space by using, ImageOptim — better Save for Web.

There are other tools, but this one is free & open source, works on a Mac, but lists and links to windows & linux tools.

Microcast 3: Whose blog is it anyway?⤴

from @ John's World Wide Wall Display

IMG_0080.jpeg

Last week I attended the morning of the Always on (them) event at the University of the West of Scotland. This was organised by Professor David McGillivary. It looked at Digital and Social Media use in Education.

Last week I posted a brief summary of my talk and links to the audio I recorded for EDUtalk.

I ended my talk with a few questions that I though were worth thinking about. This is the first of a few microcasts doing just that.

Here a three questions I think go together:

  • Are we getting the best out of Social Media?
  • Should pupils be more involved in posting?
  • Do we read others productions or are we using SM mainly as a broadcast?

These are the easiest questions to start with. They come from the recent rapid expansion in the number of schools blogging and using Twitter across Scotland. I am comparing it to how I though blogging was going to go when I was actively involved in classroom blogging with pupils from 2004 till 2008.

At that time I primarily though about blogging as an activity for pupils. I also tried to get my pupils reading some other pupil blogs, doing a wee bit of commenting, occasionally blogging in reaction and the like. This was quite time consuming. It did lead to some interesting experiences.

We did not perceive much of an impact on our local community or even parents. Only getting engagement online for parents when we went away for week long school trips.

Reading class and school blogs more recently I get the impression that they are more targeted at local community and parents and are largely authored by staff.

A couple of days before the event I tried to see if I could gets some numbers to back up this impression.

Glow blogs consists of 33 instance of WordPress one for each Local Authority and one central. Each has a home page listing up to 40 of the most recently updated public blogs.

I did a bit of scripting to:

  • Scrape a list of urls from each LA page (1212 blogs)
  • Download the RSS feed latest posts from each of these blogs (9002 posts)
  • get the authors for all of these posts.

From that I could guess that users that were Mr, Ms, Mrs, Miss, Dr and the like were adults, there are a few who use their glow usernames which I discarded and some who have initial second name who I presume are adults. Finally I removed a few familiar faces who I know are not pupils.
This left me with 15% of posts that could have been posted by pupils. I suspect it is even lower as some teachers use their full name as their display name on Glow Blogs.

This is quite different that the figure I would have guessed 10 years ago. At that point I though blogging would have become a place for pupils to share their learning and gain audience and for teachers to post for professional development. It looks like we are using blogs more to broadcast to parents and community.

I’d be really interested in finding out about school use of Twitter in a similar fashion. It appears to me that most of the tweets are coming from teachers. I wonder if there is discussion of what is tweeted with pupils, if classes look at other schools tweets. How much engagement between classes and learners is going on? Is Twitter part of learning or is it mostly used by schools to showcase that learning?

In both blogging and tweeting is the idea of more pupil voice a good one? Is it too complex to manage? Is there anything to be gained by engaging with other classes and groups of learners?

I have always presumed that these were good ideas. They don’t seem to have gained the popularity I expected.

I seem to have ended up with even more questions than I started with. Given it looks like I’ll be teaching in school next session I am looking forward to testing some of these things out in reality.

featured image: Portable shortwave transmitter | Flickr – Photo Sharing! used under a Creative Commons — Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic — CC BY-NC 2.0 licenses.

Not Just Confidence. But Integrity. A ‘sort of’ Review of ‘The Confident Teacher’ by Alex Quigley⤴

from @ Just Trying to be Better Than Yesterday

confidentThere’s a long walk up from York City Centre to Huntington School but it’s a beautiful day, unexpectedly beautiful, and I’m soaking in it. My first visit to the city and, after a nervous, sleep-interrupted night in a TravelLodge, Research-Ed is getting ever closer. I’m listening to Teenage Fan Club. I recall it clearly; Songs From Northern Britain; a nod to my three hour trip from Glasgow the night before; the real Northern Britain. To the jangly guitar twang of ‘Ain’t That Enough’ the humble and ordinary looking Huntington School appears to my right. Yet despite that ordinariness, a welcoming aura surrounds the place.

That welcome feeling defines the school. Throughout the day, the words ‘honourable’, ‘humble’ , integrity’, pepper my notebook. Personified in their remarkable head teacher, John Tomsett, and the one speaker I really want to hear, Alex Quigley, Huntington School in May 2014 is everything you expect it to be. Pupils, in on a Saturday, justly proud of their school, go out of their way to assist. I get my talk out of the way – a poetry-based analysis of Scotland’s curricular development. Yeah, I know, right- and wallow in the atmosphere. If I had ever wondered about the kind of school I’d like to be a part of then on that day I found it.

Two years on, and both John and Alex have become successful authors. There’s a lot of them about in Education. The Twitter world has spawned a multitude of new voices. These two rise above them all. The humanity and integrity I witnessed two years ago shine on every page of John’s book – I blogged about it here – but Alex’s new book, The Confident Teacher, is a different thing altogether.  I loved his first book, Teach Now. Becoming a Great English Teacher. However, the new one achieves something of which most other Education books find themselves falling short.

Like the echo chamber of social media, very few teachers I know bother to read Edubooks. They don’t have the time. There’s a feeling that reading about new approaches and techniques is just another burden on top of the mountain of work we have to complete already. I can teach well. Why should I read your book? Alex’s book does something quite remarkable. I read a lot of these things and, perhaps for the first time, I think ‘The Confident Teacher’ speaks to teachers as equals. It understands the real issues we experience and never patronises. It is practical, positive, hopeful. It is a book written with integrity, humility and a deep, deep passion for teaching. It has knocked me sideways.

Leaving York that night on the evening train back to Northern Britain, I reflected on what I’d experienced that day. I remember little of the sessions apart from my own, the day was too much of blur for that. But I took away an image of the kind of experience I’d hope my school provided. I love my school and hope we display the characteristics of Huntington, at least on some days.

This might not be a book review as such, but I’d recommend Alex’s book to any teacher looking for some practical advice on how to improve our day. Reading it took me back a couple of years; to a school that operated on confidence, with confident staff and pupils. Read it now.


Missing the Music of What Happens To Us⤴

from @ Just Trying to be Better Than Yesterday

phone-690091_960_720I suppose the last straw, the final nail, came when someone about two rows in front lifted up their phone to film the opening lines  of ‘Caroline, No.’ It wasn’t the first time that night that I’d wanted to shout out, ‘Put your phone down. He’s there. In front of you. Brian Wilson. You’re missing this!’ Our desire to capture what we think might be beautiful or valuable or historical, and the newly attained ability to do so – I wonder how many filmed moments are ever watched more than once or twice –  deflects our attention from the real moments, the moments we experience in the flesh.

And in our haste, we miss the shy couple who, instinctively, reach out for each other’s hand when they hear the first chords of ‘God Only Knows’, turning to smile fondly; the elderly gent, smartly dressed and previously reserved, jumping to his feet like an excited child for ‘Help Me Rhonda’; the involuntary gasp of many at the engrained familiarity of ‘Wouldn’t It Be Nice.’ The music of what happens to us.

It’s such a shame when we waste our time staring through the lens of a phone, hoping to capture a memory, especially when the truly interesting stuff is often happening all around us.

That desire to grab hold of the moment has become a commonplace factor in the classroom too. Teaching can be a collection of wonderful moments and technology allows us, more than ever before, to freeze those in time; social media inadvertently encourages us to share those moments, hoping they’ll be noticed and loved equally by others. Perhaps we have gone too far though. Choosing to capture the lightbulb learning moments can mean we miss the ‘Pet Sounds’ of real learning in our classrooms. Rather then the shiny, perfect essay by little Ryan, we miss the effort in Alice’s attempts to write in full sentences for the first time or the pleasure Ross displays after being praised for his improvement.

Increasingly, lately, and for too long, I’ve been too guilty of looking for those bits of teaching; my attention focused on one lens, missing what is really happening in my classroom, what is happening all around me. I’ve undoubtedly lost focus, forgotten what was important. So, for a while at least, I’m putting my lens away.

This is not a big huffy abandonment of Twitter or blogging. Just a recognition that, for a time, I need to put the phone away, step back a little, and find out what I loved so much about teaching in the first place. Rather than watch some wobbly footage of the best bits, I’ll have a look at the audience instead.

Your friends don’t really want to watch your footage of Brian Wilson, no more than they really want to see your holiday snaps. They’re probably not that over-excited about hearing about how many of your kids got ‘A’s  either. Not everything needs to be for forever. But just don’t miss out on the important bits. The music of what happens to us.


A Thousand Thoughts⤴

from @ John's World Wide Wall Display

thoughts-are-water-drops

There are a thousand thoughts lying within a man that he does not know till he takes up a pen to write.

William Makepeace Thackeray from: BrainyQuote

This is my 1000th post on this blog. Just over a year since I marked 10 Years Blogging here on John’s World Wide Wall Display.

The main benefit from blogging these 1000 posts has been the thinking that goes into them and their unpublished siblings. The main beneficiary of my blogging has been me (I see my stats). Even without many readers it is worth it.

Thinking about this post has given me the chance to think about where and what I post. This blog would be bigger if I had not hived off my DS106 blog where I’ve over 200 posts. I move them when I though it might make this blog a little strange. If I could figure out how not to break links I would now recombine them.

I am becoming more and more interested in the indieweb concept of publishing all of your content to your own space and pushing that out to silos. I’ll be thinking about all the other places I post content soon.

The second greatest thing about blogging is reading other blogs.

Serendipitously 1 I read this:

Other than writing a daily blog (a practice that’s free, and priceless), reading more blogs is one of the best ways to become smarter, more effective and more engaged in what’s going on. The last great online bargain.

Here’s the thing: Google doesn’t want you to read blogs. They shut down their RSS reader and they’re dumping many blog subscriptions into the gmail promo folder, where they languish unread.

And Facebook doesn’t want you to read blogs either. They have cut back the organic sharing some blogs benefitted from so that those bloggers will pay to ‘boost’ their traffic to what it used to be.

BUT!

RSS still works. It’s still free. It’s still unfiltered, uncensored and spam-free.

from: Seth’s Blog: Read more blogs

One of the most enduring features of my blogging years has been the reading of other blogs via RSS 2. I’d suggest that if you are interested in using the Internet to read, RSS is a great thing to learn about.

The post linked above shows one way, but there are many other services and app that will help you read, news and blogs from across the Internet. Currently I uses inoreader.com and Feeddler RSS Reader Pro 2 (iOS), to read blogs.

Featured image credit: thoughts are just water drops by Benjamin Balázs on Flickr kindly shared in the Public Domain. I though this on was interesting given my recent interest in the accidental allure of blended images.

1. one of my favourite words: searching here serendipitous 7 & serendipity 12 posts

2. I like to write about RSS too. Currently I’ve mentioned RSS in 161 posts

New Blog: Glowing Posts⤴

from @ John's World Wide Wall Display

screen_shotglowing-posts

I’ve started a new blog Glowing Posts | Collecting interesting #GlowBlogs Posts.

The title says it all. The purpose of this new blog is to collect some examples of interesting ways that Glow Blogs are being used. I’ve found some good ones already.

The idea is to highlight posts rather than whole blogs. If you know of any you can let me know via a form on the site, twitter or any other way you can thing of.