Silly Teacher, Blogs are for Techies?

In my Master’s classes, I am the go-to girl for using technology in the classroom. In reality, I know a lot less than the bloggers I recommend on my blog roll. For this reason, I decided to become a blogger. I have noticed that several mainstream teachers need advice in using various technologies to help all their learners reach academic goals. Moreover, I hope to entice a few to actually use rss feeders to keep current on the latest trends in online technologies.  As a former business major, I quickly learned that successful people read trade journals, newspapers, and now blogs! Why should educators not do the same?

Benefits of Blogging

However, I only began blogging last week. Before I had not noticed the several benefits for blogging, which include:

  • Sharing information, lesson plans, ideas
  • Keeping current with edtech trends
  • Updating bookmarks
  • Collaborating on lesson plans and ideas
  • Networking with other like-minded individuals
  • Extending the knowledge I have learned from reading other blogs
  • Discovering ways to put this knowledge into practical use in my classroom

    Adapted photo by ChrisL_AK licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic.

Adapted photo by ChrisL_AK licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic.

Set-up Advice

The transition from a blog subscriber to a blog author was not easy! Even after referring to some very helpful resources, I found myself technically impaired. I wanted to include the best apps, widgets, images, and tools on my site. I would see an item I wanted on another blog and coveted it. I was beginning to believe a person had to be a techie to be able to create these incredible blogs. However, I eventually learned the information I needed after sifting through several sites, FAQs, and forums.  Many of my “Ah hah!” moments came through trial and error. However, this took a lot of time, which is why I hope the following advice will save you some frustration:

  • If you are just beginning to blog, set aside a few days or more to set-up and write the blog.
  • Browse some of your favorite blogs and decide how you would like your blog to be set-up.
  • List the information you would like to include in the blog and plan the lay-out.
  • Choose a template, which matches your lay-out and suits your personality.
    • I spent 2 hours trying to figure out how to create pages only to figure out that the problem was with the template I had chosen.
    • This video tutorial from edublogs will help explain some of the template details, but may be a little different from whichever host site you are using.
    • If you look at the template picture and description, you will be able to find out if it supports additional pages, several columns, widgets, custom headers, custom colors, and so forth. Here is a handy graph I wish I would have had when choosing my theme!
  • When using widgets, please note that  you can click on any of the blue widget buttons and move them. This way you can put the widgets in the order you want on your page. For example, you may want to have text followed by your avatar followed by your categories.
    • You can also add some widgets, such as text, more than once. For example, I added a welcome message on this site then my avatar followed by text describing me!
    • For screen shots and more information on widgets, read this handy guide by the edublogger, Sue Waters!
  • When finding and attributing images properly, I found this guide helpful.
  • If financially possible, become a supporter of your blog host. Often, the price is reasonable, goes to a good cause, and saves you time by offering you easily accessible widgets and tools.

Tips in Design

Now that you have set-up your blog, you must pay attention to the design. The design of your blog ensures you attract and keep readers. Several sources offer tips and various opinions. Therefore, I provided a top five of characteristics that I enjoy seeing in other blogs.

  1. Make your blog scannable.
  2. Create enough white space with headings, short paragraphs, bullets, and images!
  3. Take the time to hyperlink and pingback.
  4. Make the blog accessible to a variety of learning styles by adding images, polls, videos, or podcasts.
  5. Check your grammar before posting.

I would like to thank a very creative blogger, Karenne Sylvester, for inspiring this post through her blog.

teacher bootcamp avatar

Your boot camp challenge for this week:

Add a few comments to the blogs you enjoy! This experience will help you learn how the blog process can spark some thought-provoking discussions.

Do you have a tip for teachers to get computers in the classroom?  Please, contact me to have that idea featured on a future Tech Tuesday blog!


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Shelly Terrell

Shelly Sanchez Terrell is a teacher trainer, instructional designer, adjunct professor, and the author of The 30 Goals Challenge for Teachers: Small Steps to Transform Your Teaching and Learning to Go: Lesson Ideas for Teaching with Mobile Devices, Cell Phones and BYOT. She has been recognized by the ELTon Awards, The New York Times, the Ministry of Education in Spain, and Microsoft’s Heroes for Education as an innovator in the movement of teacher-driven professional development and education technology. Recently, she was named Woman of the Year 2014 by Star Jone’s National Association of Professional Women and awarded a Bammy Award as a founder of #Edchat, the Twitter chat that spurred over 400 teacher chats. She has trained teachers and taught learners in over 25 countries and has consulted with organizations worldwide such as UNESCO Bangkok, The European Union aPLaNet Project, Cultura Iglesa of Brazil, the British Council in Tel Aviv, IATEFL Slovenia, HUPE Croatia, and VenTESOL. She shares regularly via TeacherRebootCamp.com, Twitter (@ShellTerrell), and Facebook.com/shellyterrell. Her greatest joy is being the mother of Rosco the pug.

7 comments

  1. Hi Shelly, congratulations on setting up your blog and you already have the gold star from me! Which you should wear with pride.

    For a person who has been blogging for just a week it is obvious that you have done a lot of research and are using what you have learnt. Well done. I’ve seen people blogging for a year that haven’t appreciated what you have in a week.

    Sorry about tweaking your blog without telling you. I keep forgetting I must mention it before I do. Let me explain why. You had done an excellent job but because I view it in Flock rather than Internet Explorer I could see that visually it had a problem that you weren’t seeing.

    Here is the screenshot of what your sidebar looked liked. Since many of your readers from twitter are tech savvy they would use Flock or FireFox as their web browser so that was why I fixed it for y ou. And now that I done it you can look at the code I used and know how to do these types of edits in the future.

    Can you explain what you mean by “Do you have a tip for teachers to get computers in the classroom? ” For them to get access or to get them to use?

  2. Sue Waters,

    Thank you for fixing the column. Much of the html code I have learned, I have forgotten. However, blogging is helping me remember it.

    Next week, I will be talking about getting computers to use. In the US many of the schools still lack computers in the classroom. I am sure this is a problem in other countries as well. Many teachers tell me that this is the reason they do not integrate web 2.0 learning. I have talked to one teacher who has found one solution that works for her. I hope others will respond and tell me what works for them.

  3. Hi Shelly, yes lack of access to computers can be an issue. I’m not sure what it is like where you are but here they have at least one computer per room.

    One trick teachers use is have a list of the students next to the computer and the students update their blog any time during the day. They have to cross their name off the list when done.

    • Sue Waters,

      Your idea of having a list is wonderful for classroom management. I will definitely add this to an upcoming TechTuesday blog on helping teachers to maximize computer use in the classroom. Even with one or two computers, the students can still participate in Web 2.0 learning and reap the benefits of this type of learning.

      Thanks for the wonderful ideas!
      Shelly

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