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Aug 28, 2015

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Blog Your World!

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Welcome to Blog Your World!, a workshop designed specifically to introduce you to the wild, world of blogging. As a person who has been blogging for two years, I’m excited to serve as your guide in introducing you to the Edublogosphere, a vibrant community of blogging educators that spans the globe.

To get you started, I’ve prepared a short audio welcome! You can find it online at the EduBlog I created for you to share your ideas!

Previous Presentations

Multimedia Presentation

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Presentation Outline

Essential Understandings

Benefits of Blogs

Challenges to Blog Adoption

  • Threat/fear of an authentic audience
  • Lack of control over conversations, especially comments, in student blogs
  • Lack of time for educators to “keep up.”

Joining the Conversation:


  • You’ll need to use an email address you can check here and now. A Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail account is recommended.
  • Flexibility
  • RSS Aggregator

Getting Started

Enhance Your Blog

Some blog providers limit what you can add to your blog sidebars. However, there is still a lot you can do. Experimenting/tweaking your blog is important. There are a variety of tools you can use or add to your blog to enhance it; some are listed below.

Site Statistics

  • Track RSS Subscribers Using Feedburner
    • Have people subscribe to your blog and request blog updates via email:
      • Feedburner
      • FeedBlitz - Allows people to subscribe to email versions of blog entries
  • World Maps: These allow you to show a world map that represent visitors as dots.
    • ClustrMaps: Requires email account.
    • FreeHitMaps: Kelly Schwichtenberg likes it because You can choose from 6 styles and it’ll give you your code without an e-mail address. I also like this map because you can click on the pin to see more specificlly wehre the hits are from.
    • GeoVisitors - Allows you to see who has visited your blog in the last 24 hours on a global map.

You've been marked on my visitor map!

  • Number of Visitors
    • StatCounter: Put this code on every page, and you can find out which of your blog entries are popular by counting the hits, etc.
    • CQCounter
    • Technorati
    • BlogPatrol - Get a hit counter for your blog (tracks unique IP Addresses)


Learn how to add images to your blog.


Link rolls allow you to include your favorite blogs (also known as a blogroll), as well as lists of links from your favorite social bookmarking tool (e.g., Blinklist, Simpy, Diigo, to name a few). This is a great way to share what you’re reading/thinking with others simply and easily. Example 1: Work Linkroll and [|Example 2 of a Professional Blog]]. Most of these include RSS feeds you can use.
  1. LinkRolls: Allows you to select generate a list of links based on a tag that you’ve used to described web site. You can create several linkrolls based on the tags you use (e.g. one for Educator Blogs, another for ClassroomPodcasts).

Blogroll Tools

All of the following tools require you to setup a free account.
  • Blogrolling: Allows you to create dedicated
  • Bloglines: Allows you to share a list of blogs you subscribe to and is organized based on the folders you have in Bloglines.
  • Google Reader: Easily display your SHARE items in Google Reader via your blog sidebar.

Book Roll

Share your favorite books with your readers.
  • Library Thing - Lets you create and share your virtual booklist/reading with book covers, etc.

Tracking Comments

While most blogs services come with comment services, you can use these to enhance a blog that does not support commenting.
  • Haloscan - Enable commenting on your blog if it lacks that feature.
  • - online chat

Want to Setup your Own District Blog Platform?

Resource Links

Collaboration brings voices to a Digital World.

Why don’t you type up your writing assignment like you do your stories?” I asked my 13 year old daughter a few weeks ago. Her response shocked me. “I have to write it up at school by hand, so why use the computer?” she replied. My daughter publishes her stories and poems online via a wiki, but has given up trying to turn her assignments in via a blog or wiki…her teacher won’t accept them.

A recent Pew Research study showed that twelve to seventeen year olds share what they think and do online, while one in five teens remix content from a variety of sources, synthesizing and making new creations. Yet, when these children get to school, they are forced to engage in irrelevant activities with no real audience, without the technology they have learned to use and without appropriate role models.

The study also found that 56 per cent of young people in America were using computers for “creative activities, writing and posting of the internet, mixing and constructing multimedia and developing their own content.” Research and technology are driving profound changes in expectations for the use of technology in schools. These are embodied in the International Society for Technology in Education’s (ISTE) National Education Technology Standards (NETS) for students AND teachers.

Schools are expected to overcome obstacles and help children develop skills required in a digital world to “produce and innovate” using technology. The revised standards are organized into six categories: creativity and innovation; communication and collaboration; research and information retrieval; critical thinking, problem solving, and decision making; digital citizenship; and technology operations and concepts.

Under communication and collaboration, you will find:


(A)collaborate, publish, and interact with peers, experts, and others employing a variety of digital media and formats
Example: Expert Voices -

(B)communicate information and ideas effectively to multiple audiences utilizing a variety of media and formats
Example: Flat Classroom Project -

(C)develop cultural understanding and global awareness by engaging with learners of other cultures.
Example: International Teen Life -

(D)contribute to project teams to produce original works
Example: 1001 Flat World Tales Project -

This is work that is done, not in isolation, but in collaboration with others outside of school. Click on the links above to see examples of each.

“These teens,” shares Lee Raine, “were born into a digital world where they expect to be able to create, consume, remix, and share material with each other and lots of strangers.” What should schools be doing? Should they ban the technologies children use at home in school, or model appropriate use in school? And, what does modeling mean for us as educators?

Blogging: Reflecting on Best Practices

“Last week, I heard Stephen Krashen (author of Power of Reading) and Larry Cuban (author of Oversold and UnderUsed: Computers in the Classroom)speak at two different conferences,” I shared with a colleague.

“When did you go to TWO different conferences?” she asked in a shocked voice. “How can you afford to go to conferences and at the beginning of the year with all the budget cuts?”

“I didn’t physically go to the conference,” I replied. “I listened to a podcast, or audio recording, of their presentations. If that’s impressive, I also listened to Mike Huffman from Indiana Schools talk about his state-wide, 200,000 desktop computer deployment—all 200,000 computers are running free software on Linux (which replaces Windows). It’s mind-blowing to be able to listen to people that I never would have heard before!”

And, I had to add, “Later this month, there will be a K-12 Online Learning Conference for educators—and it will take place entirely online. Imagine doing an online conference for a District our size without having to bring everyone together in one place!”

Often, we’re expected to model best practices in training that we do, but have no idea what best practices look like outside of our experiences in the District. As a district administrator, I’m thrilled to observe classroom teachers working to publish student writing online through the use of blogs (View Example). However, both teachers and administrators can engage in reflection on the work they are about through the use of blogs.

In July of 2005, I embarked as a edu-blogger, or an educator that blogs about education topics. It has fostered wonderful dialogue, reflection on my own practices, and allowed me to construct a personal learning network that has brought me in contact with others across the Nation. Since information and events are moving so rapidly, the only way to stay up to date is to engage what is going on. A way to process this is to write in a blog.

Blogging Administrators

Administrators are beginning to blog, but here are three of five reasons Scott McLeod (Dangerously Irrelevant) shares:

  • Information sharing and progress monitoring:
    1. Sharing news and events - Blogs are ideal for principals to quickly post news items for their school communities.
    1. Progress monitoring - Community members often are interested in the progress of a school’s ongoing activities.
    1. Status Alerts - Another type of blog post might be a quick message to alert the community of a short-term problem, event cancellation, etc.
    1. Marketing and public relations:
      • Marketing - Because they’re electronic, blogs are both faster and less costly than paper communications.
      • Public Relations - A blog is a great way to bypass local media and get “your own version of the story out there and to get feedback.”
      • Community Building - Blogs can be an excellent tool for facilitating feelings of community within a school organization. View Example.
      • Customer Relations - Principals who are actively and publicly interacting with school stakeholders, listening to their concerns, responding to those concerns and other questions, and generally being accessible (p. 56) are facilitating good customer relations and building goodwill within the school community.
  • Thought leadership and advocacy
    1. Thought Leadership - A blog can be a great place to put thoughts out there for the community to chew on. Is a school considering a new initiative or an important change? Does the school want feedback on a particular topic or issue? The principal could post some information and questions on the blog and solicit community participation.


We sometimes find ourselves inundated by a flood of new ideas, projects and activities. Reflecting on our reactions to these ideas, as well as how ideas impact teaching, learning and leadership in our specific concepts can enable us to take risks. Better informed with a deeper knowledge of what we’re about, reflective blogging can transform our experience as mice in a treadmill to knowing how to find new sources of cheese for the children and the organization we serve.

Interested in getting started? Contact Miguel via email at “”

Personal Learning Networks:

Blogs as Webs of Connected Learning

“It’s as if there’s a layer of conversation lying on top of the regular web,” shared David Warlick at the TechForum Tx that took place on November 10, 2005. At the same time, he introduced the concept of a personal learning network. Facilitated by blogs and RSS Feeds, the purpose of the PLN is professional development within his area of interest.

This idea of building your own professional development network—where you find who you can learn from, ask questions of them, comment on their thoughts and links, and have them do the same for you—is one of the major benefits of blogging and podcasting. It is the art of conversation captured in digital format. This article shares how blogs enable both adult learners and students to create their own personal learning networks. It also examines possible solutions to address unintended consequences among student blog use.


Digital conversations are taking place in the blogosphere…but are you a participant? I recently asked technology directors on the Technology Education Coordinators’ Special Interest Group email list (TEC-SIG) if they were having the types of conversations that others were having. I was struggling with the use of blogs in education, and I wanted other Texas Ed-Tech directors to discuss it with me. Email lists are no longer part of the “inner circle” where the best conversations take place.

Instead, those conversations are taking place in spaces like,, and the millions of blogs available on the Web and the comments people leave on them. As the masses of India and China find their own voices online, build their own personal learning networks drawing upon many more people than we have access to in the United States, know that isolationism just will not work, either for you, your children or your students.

If you’re not a part of the conversations, you aren’t aware of the issues until they hit home—like the problems with and the use of this online space by students at a high school in a San Antonio, Tx school district. By now, the inappropriate use of has been discussed across the Blogosphere, but if you aren’t a blogger, and you did not “catch the news,” then you missed the opportunity to learn. However, if you are a part of the conversation, you can learn, contribute and perhaps, learn as others learn. And, learning with others makes the difference since learning is a social process…and has now gone online with blogs. Learning with others means you take control of the flood of information and data coming into your life.

There are three aspects to using blogs, podcasts and the RSS feeds that tap into this digital conversation, 3 incentives for building virtual personal learning networks; these are explored briefly below.

1) BLOGS ENABLE PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT NETWORKS Anne, a blogging teacher, describes the benefits of a blog-based personal learning network. This type of network—taking advantage of blogs and RSS feeds—allows us to tap into people that we would not otherwise have contact with. In a blog entry, Anne writes about how a librarian’s blog—The Shifted Librarian—allows her to learn about a conference she could not attend. She writes, “Those learnings led me to even more learning on the blogs of those who had presented. Talk about professional development” (Source:

Personal learning networks give us access to varied information sources, and, more importantly, to people whom we can ask questions of, provide us with coaching and mentoring, as well as challenge or extend our thinking (Source: David Tobin at In the connected world that we now live in (note that I did not write “going to live in” or in the “21st century”), NOT creating your own personal learning network cuts you off from what you need to survive and thrive in a “flattened world” (as Thomas Friedman describes in his book, The World is Flat). Using RSS feeds, we are able to process a greater amount of information than was previously possible by surfing to different web pages. In a moment, we can get the pulse of conversations, then dig deeper as we need to so as to discover what is of merit.

2) BLOGS ENABLE DIGITAL CONVERSATIONS At David Warlick’s presentation at TechForum Tx, one of the presentation slides showed how David was making connections between blogs, building his own personal learning network. For example, he started reading Steve Dembo’s blog (, and something mentioned in that blog made him explore another.

Like David, I started out in the same way. I began simply with one or two education-related blogs (e.g. Bud the Teacher and and then added blogs as I went. But adding blog feeds my RSS Aggregator is not what digital conversations are about. It’s not enough to read, it’s also important to write.

To accomplish that, I started leaving comments relevant to the blog entries posted on other’s blogs. As I posted each comment, I included a link back to my blog ( On my blog, I would expand on the conversation in a way that I only hinted at in the comment. In this way, I invited other bloggers to visit my blog and, in turn, leave comments on my web site. The nature of the comments left on my site has been very helpful. They are helpful because they give me information and advice that I wouldn’t have had if I depended on my “traditional” personal learning network. That is, people I interact with every day where I live and work. In a way that email lists could never do—because not everyone can be subscribed to every email list I work on—blogs enable me to learn from strangers.

3) BLOGS FOSTER TRANSPARENCY Blogs enable us to see what others are thinking—or lack of thinking—as they build a web of connected learning. Most adults automatically protect themselves—although there are ample examples of those who have not—when using virtual spaces like and It is alright for them to encounter adult content that is considered inappropriate for use in K-12 settings. However, school policy dictates that participating in these adult sites—adult, not because they have XXX content perhaps but because they deal with adult content including pictures—requires approval. Most teachers and administrators who blog are aware of the lines they must not cross.

Blogs and podcasts add a level of transparency that only a few are comfortable with. To be honest, some people don’t want to make their thinking known to others. Or, sadly, they do not believe their thinking is worthy of being shared.

Unfortunately, most students are not sophisticated enough to allow only some of their thinking—and feelings—to be transparent. For some, the inappropriateness of being transparent in certain areas adds a titillating effect that is difficult for them to overcome. This inappropriate use…this misappropriation of adult spaces by children has resulted in a whole new conversation.

This conversation has profound implications for blogging in classrooms and school districts. Blogging teachers are advocating that commercial blogging sites not be filtered out of the school’s network. However, virtual spaces like—as wonderful as they are in connecting people—can be places where cyber-predators abide. As such, they are blocked by default through various content filtering systems. Before we discuss the alternatives, we need to ask ourselves some questions.

QUESTIONS WE MUST ASK AS EDUCATORS Sitting in a meeting with campus administrators in mid-November, 2005, I had the opportunity to ask a few questions. Unfortunately, most had not heard of virtual spaces like But after we discussed the benefits, the question they had was, “Can we guarantee that all teachers will supervise students appropriately? Can we prevent teachers from letting students use these resources inappropriately?” The answer, evident to all present, was “No.” With that conversation in mind, and as a result of a podcast posted by Bud the Teacher where he challenges the idea of filtering out commercial blogging sites, I have a few questions to ask as well:

  1. Do the benefits of access outweigh the dangers to our children?
  2. What right do we have to expose children to danger for educational purposes without parental consent?
  3. Do parents—who may be technology illiterate—truly understand the dangers their children face when they are turned loose on home computers?
  4. Even if these benefits outweigh the dangers, and parents are complicit, can school district administrators and teachers really choose to endanger children simply to teach them the art of digital conversation and create personal learning networks?

As a parent, I want to sign-off on any use of virtual spaces that my sixth grader engages in. She is a budding flower, and like any dad, I’m worried and want to protect her. The fact is that she has an naivety and innocence to her interactions with others. It is difficult to impress upon her the dangers of real people as sexual predators, much less virtual predators she will not see coming until it is too late.


The art of digital conversation, of building personal learning networks, is more about knowing when we need information, as well as knowing how to identify, locate and evaluate it. And, then, as if that weren’t enough, real life forces us to effectively use that information to solve real life problems. In short, blogging can help us—as well as our students—develop information literacy. It is our role as educators to scaffold blogging activities and efforts.

Blogging Guidelines - SCRIBE Initiative in SAISD

The SCRIBE Initiative features students writing in weblogs, a.k.a. blogs. Instructional Technology can help you get started blogging in your classroom with your students.

Instructional Applications

Weblogs as personal knowledge publishing parallels Susan McLeod’s description of journals as a way to…

help students explore and assimilate new ideas, create links between the familiar and the unfamiliar, mull over possibilities, [and] explain things to the self before explaining them to others. The analog for this kind of student writing is the expert’s notebook the scientist’s lab book, the engineer’s notebook, the artist’s and architect’s sketchbook (the journals of Thomas Edison and Leonardo da Vinci are prototypical examples). (2001, p. 152)

Blogs can be used in classrooms in the following way with blog entries including:

  • Reading responses;
  • Articles and items of interest that they find on the web that are related to class-texts about writing, for example;
  • Research responses (akin to the double-entry journal as defined by Bruce Ballenger in The Curious Researcher);
  • Personal explorations on topics ranging from “Ten Things I Really Like About Myself” to favorite family traditions and pet peeves; and
  • Off-topic blogs/journals. Our students, of course, have an open invitation to submit off-topic blogs/journals. Off-topic posts have included a lament about a flea-infested apartment, a link to an article about the Sims Online, a link to downloadable Esheep and “They’re so cute!” comments and various day-in-the-life-of-a-college-freshman blogs.

Students “take real-world writing more seriously when it is done on the web, where it might actually be seen and used” (2000, p. 241). Many students today regularly email friends and family, converse via instant message daily, participate in multiplayer online games with people from around the web, and surf Internet sites much as earlier generations read magazines and newspapers. Students see the web as a public, playful place different from the writing spaces they typically work in within the classroom. Recognizing this, some composition teachers now assign individual hypertexts or group hypertext projects such as webzines, hoping to tap into the students’ sense of play and familiarity with online environments in order to stimulate investment in and engagement with their writing.

Excerpt from article available online by Charles Lowe. Read the article in its entirety.

Technical Information

In December, 2005, the Office of Instructional Technology experimented with different blog platforms, including Wordpress, Blojsom, Multi-User Word Press, b2Evolution and others. Criteria for selecting a blog platform included the following criteria:

  1. The blog platform had to allow complete control of whether posts were public or privately viewed depending on login. This was helpful for setting up “walled gardens” to protect students who needed to blog as part of assignments but had not yet obtained parent permission to have their work published on the Web.
  2. Easy account management
  3. Easily customizable skins/templates to change the look and feel of the campus blog site.
  4. Aggregation of Real Simple Syndication (RSS) feeds for parent and child blogs. This refers to an overarching “parent” blog with sub-blogs (“child”). This allows one to have a campus blog with multiple teacher blogs embedded within one site for easy management.
  5. The solution had to be free—as in no cost—to the District.

There were other criteria as well. The District began using b2Evolution and has found it a robust, community-supported tool.

Getting Started

  1. Notify your campus administrators of your intentions for the project and obtain support for the project. Who knows? Your whole campus may want to join you!
  2. Contact parents and get signed permission forms for all participating students (should be your whole class). Copies of permission forms must be on file with Instructional Technology Services prior to project commencement. (Get copy of the Student Web Publishing Permission Form)
  3. Reach the Office of Instructional Technology Services at 210–527–1400 or via email to We will schedule an organizational meeting to share guidelines for success. We’ll help you organize a timeline for implementation, collect critical data on project participants, and serve as your liason. For example, students can record audio; and this content can placed online for others to enjoy.
  4. Schedule in Classroom Meetings and modelling with Instructional Technology and Reading English Language Arts staff.
  5. Launch the Initiative: Encourage others–teachers, parents, students, administrators on and off campus–to read your students work and leave comments.
  6. Periodically assess students’ writing and enthusiasm for making their work known to others.

2nd Grade Lesson Plan: Writing and Blogs

This is a sample lesson on using blogs for publishing student writing in 2nd grade.



UNIT TOPIC: Writing about a real or imaginary trip


From TEKS Grade 2

  1. 4A - Use vocabulary to describe ideas, feelings, and experiences
  2. 14B - Write to discover, develop and refine ideas
  3. 18A - Generate ideas for writing by using prewriting techniques such as drawing or listing
  4. 18E - Use technology for writing: word processing, spell checking, printing


1. Computers

2. Internet access

3. Class Blogmeister Accounts


Some background info: The idea for I wish poems comes from Kenneth Koch’s Wishes, Lies, and Dreams.

Day 1 - MiniLesson: Pre-Writing

  1. Share the following with students:
    In class, you’ve been working on a story about taking a trip. Today, we’re going to play with words to make a poem. Poems can tell a story using word pictures. Here are a few pictures of animals to get you thinking. We’re going to make a picture map of different animals. How would it feel to be one of these animals?

    # Run the Powerpoint slide show so they can see some of the animals. As a group, pick one of the animals that is shown. This will be the animal that you use for a collaborative writing workshop.

    # Make a word map as children describe the animal and then how the animal feels.

    For example, for a picture of a golden retriever (first slide):

    Here are some of the things that might come to mind:

4. Share the Being an Animal slide show with students and ask them to make a word map to describe a picture they choose. You might want to print out black-n-whites of the animal slides and let them do the word map next to the picture. You could also brainstorm words that describe, as well as feeling words, and list those on a whiteboard/blackboard so that students have a list to choose from when describing their animal of choice.

5. At the end of class, collect the graphic organizers students have made for next time.

Day 2: Writing the Poem

  1. Ask a student to summarize what the class did before.
  2. Using the word map you created as a class, write a “group poem.” Begin each poem like this: I wish I was a [name of animal] and spend the rest of the poem telling why. For example:

    I wish I was a golden retriever so that I could run and play in the grass all day long, \\ I would go and see my friends and sniff noses \\ Let my friends brush my fur \\ Listen to the ants as they played on my paws

    I wish I was a dog because you get to be treated by a king and eat. I wish I was a dog because you get to play a lot. I wish I was a dog because you grow big. I wish I was a dog because I can make smiles with my tongue.

    # Make sure that the poem includes one line from each child in the class. Put that poem where all the children can see it as an example.
  3. Pass out their graphic organizer. Now, you are going to write your own I Wish poem about being an animal. You can’t change animals until after you’ve tried a new one.
  4. At the end of class, sit (or stand if sitting is not possible due to room arrangement) in a great big circle and ask children to read their poems. Some ground rules include:
    -We are going to share our poems with each other.
    -If you want to say something to the author of the poem, it has to be something nice about what they wrote.
    -Until it is your turn, please keep your paper face down in front of you, either in your lap or on the floor.

Day 3: Publishing the Poems

  1. Collect all the poems and make a photo-copy of them.
  2. Model how to login to the ClassBlogmeister account and type in the group poem.
  3. Publish the poem and show kids that it is on the Internet. Be sure to tell them that only other classes at the partner campus will be able to see it.
  4. If lab time is available, have students type their poems into their ClassBlogmeister blog. You will want to log students in so that they can get started. If not, divide them up into groups of 5. Ask them to vote on the best poem and make a list of why they think it should be published. Publish the 5 poems by typing them in yourself or getting students to type them in.

Day 4: Commenting on Other Class’ Poems

  1. Ask students in pairs to read one other poem written by a class.
  2. Each dyad will make 3 points and include them as a comment to the author of the original poem.


1. Ask students in another class to assess the poems. They might .use this simple rubric (under development).

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