Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Persistence- The Key to Successful Classroom Blogging

My mom and brothers in 1990
I've been fortunate to have been invited to speak about blogging at a number of schools and conferences. One of the points that I always try to make in my talks about blogging is "keep blogging even if only your mother is reading your blog."

Teachers (and many others) often give up on blogging because they think that no one is reading their blog posts. It takes persistence to make a blog work if you're the only author. Keep writing even if only one person is reading it. That one person may tell another about your work and then you'll have doubled your readership. But if you stop writing because you think no one is reading then no one will be reading or sharing your blog posts.

To take this idea to classroom blogs remember that it takes time and persistence to get students and their parents to regularly check your classroom blog. These are the pitfalls to avoid that I'll fully admit I fell into the first time I tried to use blogging in my classroom. My first use of a blog was simply to distribute information and have students comment on it. The pitfall here was allowing to students to email comments instead of posting them on the blog when they forgot their log-in credentials. My second use of blogging was having students write reflections of what they had learned during the week. The pitfall here was, again, letting students email their reflections instead of posting them on the blog. The whole point of having the classroom blog was to have students share with each other and comment on their classmates' ideas. When I didn't have the persistence to say, "no, you need to reset your password" then the blogging activity lost its momentum. When I started saying, "no, you need to post to the blog" then my classroom blogging activities became successful.

How to Add Voice Comments to Google Documents

The sharing and commenting features in Google Documents are fantastic for giving students feedback about their work. Likewise, those features are great for students to use for peer editing. But if you want to really add your voice to then you'll want to add the Voice Comments application from Learn.ly to your Google Drive account. Thanks to a Tweet from Alec Couros I learned about a Google Documents voice comment tutorial produced by Jennifer Roberts. Her video tutorial is embedded below.

5 Sites Students Can Explore to Learn About Career Options

One of my favorite parts of having a student advisory group of sixteen to eighteen years-old students was talking with them about their college and career aspirations. One of the great things about the web is that students can quickly discover and research career options as opposed to having to consult a few books in the school library or career center. Here is a handful of sites that students can use to learn about career options.

Career Thoughts is a site that aims to help students make informed career decisions. On Career Thoughts students can find career profiles that outline what a person in a particular career field actually does, the education requirements for that field, salary ranges, and employment prospects. The Career Thoughts YouTube channel provides even more information through video profiles of careers. Students who are ready to start applying for jobs will find plenty of resume writing, job hunting, and interviewing tips on Career Thoughts too.

iCould is a UK-based website that features videos of people sharing their career stories. The stories cover people in all types of careers and at all phases of their working careers. One of the the main purposes of iCould is to expose viewers to what different types of jobs really entail. Visitors to iCould can search for stories by job type, life theme, or keyword tags.

Inside Jobs is a site that offers information about careers and the training required for them. On Inside Jobs visitors can search for career information by keyword or browse through categorized collections of information. Each career in the list has a short video featuring someone in the industry explaining what they do and how they got into the field. Inside Jobs provides lists of schools that offer programs related to the careers that students are interested in. (Note that the schools do pay to be included on Inside Jobs).

Career Sighted is a new website designed to help students learn a bit about jobs in careers they have an interest in. The videos introduce students to the essential functions of each job and education needed for it. The videos feature real people talking about their jobs and what they like about them. Career Sighted is only a couple of months old so at this point it only has a few dozen videos, but hopefully they'll be adding more over the next few months. 

The Atlantic has a great article titled What People Don't Get About My Job.The article is comprised of 26 contributions from readers explaining what most people don't understand about their jobs. There is one job for every letter of the alphabet. In the article you will find jobs like Kindergarten Teacher, IRS employee, zookeeper, and even unemployed.

Tagboard - Organization for Following Hashtags

This morning while I was preparing to give a talk about personal learning networks at the TIE Conference in South Dakota I was watching the conference when I saw Gwynn Moore Tweet about Tagboard. Tagboard is free tool that allows you to enter any hashtag and view all of the Tweets, Instagram pictures, Facebook posts, Google+ posts, and Vine posts associated with that hashtag. All of the posts are displayed in a bulletin board or Pinterest-like display. You can reTweet and or reply to messages while viewing Tagboard.

Applications for Education
One of the things that I always mention in my talk about online personal learning networks is that you don't have to always be connected in order to benefit from having an online PLN. You can check in for fifteen to thirty minutes per day during the commercial breaks of your favorite television show and glean a lot of useful information in that time. A tool like Tagboard could enable to you catch up even faster because you will see more messages in the same amount of screen space. You can also participate in multiple social networks from the same screen while using Tagboard.