Global Teacher - WEB 3.0 Community and Research Project

Archive for the 'Blogging' Category


Blogging -Curiosity to Creating

Posted by heatherblakey on 31st July 2008

We have all been in a situation where we pretend we know what people are talking about, even though we have no idea. Being both a parent and a teacher at my school, I didn’t want to show my ignorance amongst a group of parents as they talked about their blogs. It sounded to me like they were just talking about web pages, but I wanted to see if was right, so there began my introduction and interest in investigating blogging.

The initial blogs I encountered seemed to be mostly diaries of people’s holidays or child’s development and I wasn’t sure whether a blog would be useful for integration into my teaching. As I was browsing the DEET website I discovered Global Teacher and decided I wanted a blog. I wasn’t sure what I would use it for but I knew if our parents were talking about them and using them, then it was something that was likely to become part of our student’s world in the not too distant future if they weren’t already.

After putting out a call for help through the Global Classrooms Project I found help from Heather Blakey. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to work with Heather and another Murrumbeena P.S. staff member (Debby Wall) to get up and blogging. I now see blogging as an integral part of the teaching and learning within my IRC (Information Resource Centre) program. The IRC comprises our school library a multimedia computer lab and interactive whiteboard facilities. All students have a 45 minute lesson in the IRC each week. I have been the IRC teacher just over 6 months, after being a teaching Reading Recovery for the previous 4 years.

My first blog is an information blog. It doesn’t vary much from a standard web page, but it was a starting point. Through it’s creation I acquired the basic blogging skills, and became familiar with navigating around a blogging environment. This blog has now become my contents page for all of my teaching and learning blogs.

I was looking for some inspiration for my second blog and I found it in Heather Blakey’s Magic Garden Project. Through this blog I found my ICT knowledge and skills soared. The students responded to an amazing story telling session by Cora Zon through a range of multimedia projects including digital pictures, animations and podcasts. It also lead to an improvement in our ICT resources as I had to ensure software and hardware were available and operational for students to complete their tasks.

I felt I had been focusing a lot of my energy on the ICT aspect of my program at the expense of the library component. With this in mind and Book Week approaching I decided my third blog would have a library focus. I wanted an environment in which students could communicate with each other about literature with a focus on our library resources. This blog has heightened my awareness of copyright, I found myself removing pictures of book covers I had copied from the internet. I have planned to replace them with student illustrations.

As I look back at my blogs I see growth from one blog to the next. Each blog’s purpose becomes more meaningful as I grow in my understanding of blogging and how I think about blogging changes. Blogs can be designed to suit the purpose of your teaching and learning. The main purpose of my IRC blog was information, the Magic Garden blog publishes and celebrates student work and the Book Club blog encourages responses to and communication about literature. All of my blogs will continue to be works in progress. My goal and challenge for future blogs is to provide a platform for student inquiry and for global communications.

Our students are highly motivated to see their work published on blogs so they can share their work with wider communities. They also enjoy the connection between home and school. It gives purpose to discussions of appropriate and inappropriate sharing of personal details, use of copyright material, permissions for use of photos and many more www issues.

I am excited to about where blogging will take my teaching and learning in the future, and where teaching and learning will take my blogging.

Happy blogging, Angela Houghton

Posted in Blogging | No Comments »

The ePlanks Podcast - on a cyberwave near you!

Posted by Jess on 18th May 2008

This is a cross-post with technoLOTEapril 21 001

The ePlanks podcast is up and running! We have 4 episodes all ready to go for your listening pleasure. ePlanks is a project that I (Jess McCulloch) am working on with Anne Mirtschin. We are trying to lay the ePlanks of the virtual classroom and a Web 2.0 school. We’ve been a bit busy lately with my little iPod and it’s voice recorder -which has become my favourite piece of technology lately!

Episode 1 - We talk to Virginia as she begins her journey as a blogger. We ask her what she thinks of the whole Web 2.0 thing. She’s feeling a bit left behind, but that’s ok - never fear, Jess and Anne are here!

Episode 2 - We found Sandy Phillips from the Victorian Department of Education’s Education Channel and so we sat her down and asked her how Global Teacher got started, which is the blogging campus we have set up many of our students and teachers with for their blogs.

Episode 3 - We (myself, Anne and our greatly treasured librarian, Faye) had a little chat amongst ourselves in the car about blogging as we drove back to Hawkesdale from Melbourne. melbtohdalemap2

We chatted about how we started, some fears and just jumping in and trying it.

Episode 4 - As part of our ePlanks project, Anne and I decided to go and visit Coburg Senior High School, who are not just talking the talk of a 21st century school, but also walking the walk. You will have to listen in for more details of this pretty amazing school.

We are planning many more episodes for ePlanks, so keep an ear open - we are on the cyberwaves!

Click on the player here to listen to our episodes, go straight to our podomatic site, or you can subscribe through iTunes.

Posted in Anne Mirtschin, Blogging, Jess McCulloch, Web 2.0 | 1 Comment »

The importance of making comments on blogs

Posted by murch on 3rd April 2008

 ”A comment a day encourages bloggers to have their say.” (A quote from one of my twitter friends.)

comments on blogs

 When using online tools, the power of leaving comments when viewing other people’s work should not be overlooked. Comments can be made on blogs, podcasts at www.podomatic.com, teacher tube etc and even be added to some vokis and voicethreads.

I can still remember the excitement, when our classroom blog received its first comment. Someone was actually reading our post on the www.backyard.globalstudent.org.au It read:-

Your “backyard” is beautiful! Thank you for sharing it with the world. (Lori, California)

…and the comment was  from overseas!! How absolutely fabulous!! That was it, the posts went up regularly - all students wanted comments, so they knew they had to complete the work, write interestingly and well, add images, if possible, for added impact and there was a need to proofread.

Here are more reasons on why comment!! (taken primarily from an educational angle)

  • There is an authentic audience that is now tangible. Another memory from early this year, was hearing a simultaneous whoop of delight from my year 9/10 IT elective students when they discovered people were commenting on their posts. Now, that is a sound, we rarely hear in our traditional classrooms!!
  • Comments can be so highly motivating. There is an authentic audience and real people are reading (it is not just for an assessing classroom teacher).
  • They can lead to conversations. Students from the USA made comments on older student blogs asking for feedback on what USA was mentioned. That made my students sit down and think!!
  • Connections are made by replying to the email address that must be shown when commenting.
  • Establishes social networks The most experienced bloggers  maintain good social networks as they email replies to all comments and conversations extending the post to even greater depth and levels.
  • Teaches students and adults cybersafety techniques. Comments on most blogs require approval before they are published online, so students are taught responsibility for diagnosing and filtering appropriate material.
  • It may activate student-led learning. Comments on some student posts have aroused the curiousity of students - the location of the person making the comment, the need to research further a comment on Mt Helen’s volcanic eruption, a question that requires higher order thinking skills etc
  • An increase in personal confidence. People care about the writer and the content of the post. Further dots are appearing on their clustr maps etc. Students want to share their work and here is proof that they are - whether it be another teacher, parent friend or global visitor.
  • Encourages regular posts - which helps increase reading and writing skills
  • May drive the blogger to read the commentator’s blogs and learn about other cultures, ideals, thoughts, geographical areas and learning activities taking place in other schools around the globe.

Next time, you read a post, even if it is just a short one liner, please make a comment and it will make a big difference to the writer- whether they be experienced or inexperienced.

Posted in Anne Mirtschin, Blogging | 4 Comments »

Keeping students cybersafe!

Posted by murch on 28th March 2008

As we are pioneers in cyberspace, cybersafety is a concern that is being refined and evaluated all the time - trying to balance transparency with privacy, allowing students some freedom, yet protecting them and ensuring their safety at all times.

Students complete posts in classtime but many find it so enjoyable, they post at home keeping a running journal, adding multimedia and producing online digital portfolios.

Here is what we have done in our classrooms this year, in relation to cybersafety:-

  • Watched videos on cybersafety, consulted various online sites (see suggestions) and hold ongoing classroom discussions.
  •  Constantly reinforce the need for safety during class eg no surnames, no addresses/phone numbers and other personal details to be placed online.
  •  Students create their own avatar using MS Paint or use other avatar creating websites  This becomes their personal “photographic ID” for blogging purposes, voicethreads and other online sites. (See the image of a global voicethread below for some of the grade 3/4 avatars.)

avatars on voicethread

  • Parents sign permission forms agreeing to publish student work online , online photographs, on the condition that no names are attached and group photos to be used where possible.
  • A folder and checked lists are kept to enable us to ensure these conditions are adhered to.
  • A partnership with parents is essential, so an information evening with grades 4-6 parents was held early on in the year, outlining the pedagogy for the use of blogs and other web2.0 tools and outlining cybersafety issues. A “techno corner” article appears weekly in our school and community newsletter.
  • Parents are encouraged to ‘adopt’ a student who may not have the internet at home. This ensures all students may get comments even those whose parents do not have internet access. Again, there are many watchful ‘eyes’ (both parents, staff and community) on our students, to alert us to any impending problems or issues.
  • We have a great staff and many of them voluntarily read student posts and comment on them, including our principal. So students are aware that they are constantly being monitored.
  • I have joint administration rights with my students on their blogs, so comments and posts can be edited if need be and comments and incoming links moderated.
  • Jess McCulloch, our LOTE teacher, a techno savvy person and I are currently applying RSS feeds for each student’s blog to our google readers, so that we are alerted to any new posts that students put up.

Here are some further activities we will do:

Further parent info evenings or invite parents to  classes so they can see what their children are doing.
Add links on our blog sites outlining cybersafety protocol.
Produce a form for Students to sign in the presence of their parents alerting both parites to correct internet protocol.

Further interesting reading and links:-

10 digital rules

 Postcript: It is only when you hear of Al Upton and the possible consequences that it makes you even more aware of trying to keep our students safe and that wonderful tool of blogging intact and ongoing. However, we can never guarantee they will remain 100% safe, but maybe we can give them the skills to cope with the dangers and surprises that may lurk out there

I would alos like to add this comment from John Pearce a fellow Victorian teacher, who has been a real pioneer with younger students and blogging.

Hi Anne,

“Nice list and ideas. Another suggestion we have used is to include a page with a set of rules to all of the student based blogs we set up eg http://leaemibps.globalstudent.org.au/ There is a copy of the rules in Word format at http://johnp.wordpress.com/tutorials/

On a slightly related tack we also asked our students to consider the issue of copyright by directing them to http://mrpbps.globalstudent.org.au/copyright-4-kids/ and then write a page on their blogs in response. Despite most students composing some reasonable responses to the task, many still were fast and loose with images. :(.”

Posted in Anne Mirtschin, Blogging, Welfare | No Comments »

Pedagogy to justify student blogs in Australia

Posted by murch on 18th March 2008

The majority of our students have set up their own blog space. A little risque as some of you might ask. After all some are only in years 4,5 and 6 and the even riskier end is year 9 and 10 teenagers. Well, so far so good.

Some have tried to put images on posts, to give their stamp of personality but this has led me to talk to them about public perception, cultural impact and plagarism. Most students have immediately complied and removed possible offensive material.

Cyber safety is constantly being addressed and talked about. Most have created their own avatars and are in the process of adding them to their blogs and their comments.

Much of the time it is student directed learning as they work out what they might need and the image they wish to project. eg Many started creating a personalized header image, using the panoramic option in irfanview.

Some have added posts for Chinese (mandarin Chinese is our LOTE). The principal and various members of staff have commented on the posts, and comments from overseas are starting to come in. (A clustr map widget exists in edublogs now.)

A meeting was held with grades 4-6 parents and part of that time was spent outlining our goals with student use of web2.0, including blogging. (See the slideshare below for the content). One parent commented from the floor that her 11 year old boy no longer wanted to play game……the staff who were present held their breath for the next comment……(as there had been rumblings as to the need for any technology at their age)……. but the next comment delighted us all…………..he only wants to blog now!!!!
Some are using it as journal entries about their daily acitivites with others adding any school work that they are proud of producing.Below is the presentation given to parents, using pedagogy to justify the use of web2.0 and predominantly blogging.

Posted in Anne Mirtschin, Blogging, Web 2.0 | 3 Comments »