Thursday, October 9, 2014

Student Blogging Basics One Sheet by David Theriault

David Theriault created a Google document for his class.  There is a lot of good information for any student or teacher that is interested in blogging. Be sure to check it out. 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Adding Media (Pictures or Video) to Your Kiblog Post

In this post I will show you how to add video or pictures to your Kidblog post. After logging in and clicking on the new post link you will be here. 

Notice right above the tool bar on the writing area there is a link that says Upload/Insert Media. Click that link. 

You will then have a pop out menu that looks like this. Notice the three tabs at the top We will look at the From Computer tab first. 

Click on the Select Files link and it will open another pop up menu. From here you can search for the pictures from your computer you want to add. Please note this view is on an Apple computer. Your computer pop up screen may look slightly different. 

After you choose your picture click on the Open button/link at the bottom of the page. 

You will be redirected back to the original pop up page. The picture will show up below the box. Here you can choose the alignment of the picture (I almost always choose centered.) You can also add a caption which is great for accessibility for blind readers. When finished click the button/link Insert Into Post

Now you will see the pop up menu disappear and the picture will appear in the post window. 

Back to the pop up window. The second tab, From URL, opens up the following choices. All you need to do is add the URL to the box (that means the address of the picture from the address bar.) You can also add the Image Caption here and Alignment.

The third tab is Media Library. This allows you to pick media that has already been used on the blog or media that has been uploaded by the teacher. 

Do you have any questions or comments? Please leave them in the comment section. 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Publishing a Post in Kidblog

If you are not sure how to log into your account, please read the last post. After logging in, follow this tutorial to write a post. 

Now that you are logged in, look at the top, right corner of the page. You will see several links to choose from. 

All Blogs is a link to the default page you are already on. My Blog shows your page with just your posts. Click New Post to write a new post. 

Now you are on the post writing page. Type in your title and the body of your post. 

After you have finished writing your post you should probably add some tags. Since this post is about reading, Alan added reading as a tag. Alan also added his name. This will allow Alan to easily find his posts on the main class blog page. 

If your posts are moderated you will push the link to Submit for Review

This page will load after you Submit for Review.

Notice the note that says (This post needs teacher approval). This means the post will not show up on the main classroom page until the teacher approves it. Now go bug your teacher until he or she approves it!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Logging Into Your Kidblog Account

Here is a quick walk through for you to see how to log in to your student account. 

First, go to your blog home page. Your teacher will provide the link for you.

In the top, right corner of the class page you will see a Log In link. Click the link.

On this page you will see a drop down menu under user name. Click on the drop down menu and find your user name. 

This is what it looks like when you click on the drop down menu under Username. 

After you choose your user name, put in the password supplied by your teacher. If your password works you will now be logged in.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

The Blogging Connection: A Guest Post by Sarah Gorbatov

This post was written by Sarah Gorbatov. follow her blogging on Come Somersault with Sarah!

I have had many great memories during my years blogging, but my favorite has been learning about our world in Mrs. Yollis’ third grade class. Mrs. Yollis has a class blog that describes her class activities with students, parents, and other teachers around the world.  During the middle of the year, we had a project called “Our World Our Stories.” Students from seven elementary schools from three different continents and six different countries (Australia, New Zealand, U.S.A, Canada, Ghana, and Belize) participated. Each class led a topic and published a post every week, and all other classes would leave questions and comments. Some of the topics discussed were school games, hobbies, favorite foods, and each classes’ environment. Through this activity, I learned about the daily activities of children around the world. It also taught me about the difficult life that children in some of the other countries have.
When it was our turn to lead, we wrote about our favorite schoolyard game at Chaparral Elementary School called Bamboo. The game is played with two parallel bars and two people on opposite sides trying to tag each other. As part of our post, we included a video of how the game was played. The best part of the day was when our nature-loving teacher, Mrs. Yollis, joined in the fun. She was smiling from ear to ear as she played and tagged most of my friends and me.  In addition, she brought our class mascot, a fluffy, soft bear named Beverly, out to play. One week later, we were pleasantly surprised to receive a video from our blogging classroom friends, Canada and Australia, of their classes playing the exact same game of Bamboo and having a marvelous time. The project Our World Our Stories came to an end once every school had a turn to lead a topic. To honor this project, we had a small celebration through video. Every class put together a video of their school singing a verse of the song “Make New Friends.” The teachers then put all the verses together to create the entire song sung by the seven classes. It was interesting to hear everyone singing it with different accents.
We also learned about the world through Skyping with numerous different classes all over the world. My favorite class was in Australia, where my best blogging friend lives. We both regularly comment on each other’s blogs and have learned many interesting things about one another. The biggest challenge was the time difference. We Skyped at the end of our day, which was the beginning of their school day. Sometimes we were so involved that we would lose track of time and stay after school to continue our conversations.
In addition to regular Skyping, we also had mystery Skypes. This was when we didn’t know who we were skyping with and would try to find out what country, continent, or state they lived in from the clues they gave us. Our class worked as a team to be successful and find the location of the other classroom. Each child had a specific job, such as Question Keepers to type the questions and answers, Inquirers to ask questions, and Google Mappers to review atlases for clues. Some of our mystery Skype calls were with classrooms in Louisiana, Massachusetts, and Iowa. Sometimes our class guessed the location first, and sometimes the other class would win. However, both classes always had a great time and learned a lot about each other and the map of the United States. I always looked forward to the next mystery Skype call.
Through this blogging experience, I have learned about the world and made new virtual friends. It also made me feel very lucky to be living in the United States, because in countries such as Belize and Ghana, they were very poor and didn’t have as many things as we have here, such as a nice playground and school supplies. Now that I am in fourth grade, I have my own blog and continue publishing posts on my experiences.  I also stay in touch with my blogging friends, who have taught me many things about their cities, and I try to make new friends through the blogging community.

[For Reference, below is the URL to the Our World Our Stories final celebration and the recess game Bamboo.]

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Ideas for the Use of Google Forms on Your Blog

Google forms are really handy to use when embedded on your blog. I have used them for all sorts of things over the years. In September when we held our student council elections I embedded a form created for students to vote for their selections. This made it very easy to see who won the election and we didn't even have to count the votes.

Here is a form I created to get some feedback (and require some reflection) from my students after working with digital tools in my classroom. It is very easy to break down the data after using the forms.

Here are some other ideas to get you started:
  1. Use them as an assessment tool.
  2. Take a poll.
  3. Collect web site urls.
  4. Collect student emails/phone numbers.
  5. Collect parent emails/phone numbers.
  6. Sign ups for parent/teacher conferences.
If you have any to add please leave them in the comments section. 

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

How to Embed a Google Form in Blogger

After you create your Google form, you ned to click the Send Form button on the top, right of the page. Next you will see the link to share, Send form via email or Embed. Choose Embed.

Now you will have the Embed form dialogue box come up. You can copy the HTML code in the box. First notice the size of the form in pixels.

At this point it is a good idea to change the form size to fit your blog. Typically you want your width to be around 500 pixels. The height is something that you have to play with to get right. I prefer to have the whole page of the form showing on the post. This means you will need to change the height of the embedded form to your liking. 

I changed the form height to 400 because the form only has one question. Next you will need to click the HTML button on you blog post page. You will find it on the top, left side of the page.

Notice that I have already placed text and pictures on the post so you will immediately see all the html code on the page. I simply scrolled down to the bottom of the page and pasted the code I copied earlier. 

The '<iframe src=...' is the actual code for the form. 

This is what the page looks like now with the html for the form added. If you don't have anything already put on the post you will not see nearly this much code.

Now you click back on the Compose button and you can see the form is now part of the post. At this point you may want to go back and adjust the width or height of the form html to make it fit right. 

When you are finished, publish your post and it will show up with the form embedded on it. Now all you need is people to come and respond to your form! 

Monday, September 29, 2014

The Ugandan Global Project: A Guest Post by Miriam Gorbatov

This post was written by Miriam Gorbatov, follow her blogging on Miriam's Magical Moments.

In all my years of blogging, I have had many different memories, but this memory was beyond great.  In third grade, my teacher, Mrs. Yollis, got the class involved in blogging.  This was an amazing opportunity to learn about the lives of other children around the world.  The highlight of the year for me was the Uganda Project.  We corresponded with a class in Australia, a class at Chaparral Elementary School, one in China, and one in Connecticut. We all wanted to keep this school in Uganda from losing a piece of land that they used as a playground. This class in Uganda, Africa, was grateful for anything they received.  The children had to walk three miles to school and three miles back just to get a good education. In contrast, the children in America often get driven to school even if the school is within a few minutes’ walking distance. They were also grateful to have any meals they could receive.  I felt heartbroken that we have anything we want, but they had nothing.  I also admired how hard they worked to receive an education.  Our school was determined to help save their playground.  Together, the five different classes organized a three mile walk around the neighborhood to raise money for the school.  
The five classes started the walk at the same time, at 10:00 am.  After walking for only ten minutes everyone was pretty exhausted.  But we all knew that we were going to finish the walk to help the school whether or not we were tired.  When we finally finished walking, we sang a song that we learned from one of the other classes. The song was about saying hello in all different languages. Though everyone was exhausted from the walk, we were still really enthusiastic about helping the class in Uganda.  I had learned a very important lesson that day that one should be grateful for anything one has or has an opportunity to do because these children are struggling even to get meals or a piece of land to play on with no playground.  
Over the next week, we continued to collect donations to help the school in Uganda. Mrs. Yollis taught us about the different types of currency from all of the countries. The teachers then counted up all the donations from all of the other classes that did the walk.  All the schools involved collected a total of $19,592. The teachers sent the money to Uganda, and we got a response saying that they had enough money to purchase the land for the ABC Divine Foundation Primary School, ensuring the children now have somewhere to play. We have also provided enough money for the school to start building a sheltered kitchen and dining hall. Everyone was very cheerful because all our hard work had paid off on our project, and it had been a great success.
This experience has inspired me to continue blogging about my experiences and travels. I hope to one day become an elementary school teacher and share what I have learned with my students.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Calling Student Bloggers: We Want You!

Are you a student blogger? Are you willing to share what you have learned from blogging? If so, we want you!

Blogging4Kids is looking for student bloggers to write posts about blogging. Some of the topics we would love to add to the blog are:
  1. Why do you like to blog?
  2. What have you learned from blogging?
  3. How has your attitude about learning changed since you started blogging?
  4. What transformative learning experiences have you had through blogging?
  5. Why should other students try blogging?
  6. Why should teachers encourage student blogging?
Please leave your contact information here and I will get back to you.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Blogging4Kid Superlative Student Blog: Come Somersault With Sarah!

Sarah is another former student of Linda Yollis, and has a great blog, Come Somersault With Sarah! Sarah has been blogging for four years and does a great job of writing posts that include good text and great pictures. 

When you look through Sarah's posts you will notice that she shares a lot about herself. She is a very talented musician and she shares her talent on the blog. You should also notice the sidebar where Sarah has several visitor counters and a special widget that keeps track of her most popular posts. 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

I'm Ready to Have My Students Blog, What Do I Do First?

The hardest thing to do with any new endeavor is to figure out how to get started. Before I started blogging I spent several months looking through class blogs from Australia, New Zealand and Great Britain. There were a lot more of those than ones in the United States at the time. I spend most of that time trying to make sense of design, options and content.

Before you ask your students to blog, you need the experience that can only come from blogging. You need to create your own. Actually, I think you should create and post on two different blogs.

The first blog you should create is a class blog. You really need to have the experience of creating something that represents your classroom, your students and yourself. You need to think carefully about the types of information you need to share, and just as importantly what you should not share. You need to think about blogging in an education context.

The second blog you should create is a passion blog. You should have the experience of writing about something you are absolutely passionate about. The entire focus of the blog should be about that one thing that makes you happier than anything else. You need to understand how important it is to be able to share something important to you, not just to someone else.

Then, after you have been writing posts for a couple months you should be ready to get your students started. Remember the lessons you have learned and share them liberally with your students. Don't forget the focus you have to make your education posts representative of the learning that happens in your classroom and also don't forget the joy you have when you are writing what you care so much about. Then you will truly understand why you need to have your students balance their blogs with content from your classroom and from their hearts. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Authenticity and Student Blogging

What does authenticity in blogging mean? Are we talking about an authentic audience or authentic writing? I will look at both in this post.

As the co-creator of the hash tag #Comments4Kids and the guy that runs the blog, I think I have a pretty good idea about audience. When it comes to an authentic audience, the people reading the blog have to want to read it. This means you can't assign someone to read a blog and leave a comment and expect it to be an authentic experience. This does not mean you should not assign students to read and comment, just that it probably won't be authentic.

But, don't students need an authentic audience? I am not sure they need one, but I think we all hope they find one. If your goal is for your students to have authentic audiences, then you need to allow your students the time and opportunity to go and find blogs written about the topics that interest them. Explain to them that they should try to have conversations on those blogs and try to get those bloggers to then return the favor. This is about building tribes more than it is about blogging.

What does authentic blog post creating look like? Just like with an authentic audience, an authentic post has to be one the creator wants to make. Again, this does not mean you should not assign topics for the students to create posts over, just don't expect them to be authentic.

So, how do I get my students to bog authentically? The short answer is, you can't. What you can provide is time and opportunity to allow them to create posts over what they want to share. Don't expect every student to want to create content to share online either, they all won't want to do that (and that is perfectly acceptable!) The important thing is that you give them opportunities to share their stuff too.

Monday, September 22, 2014

What's the Deal With a Creative Commons Copyright License?

What is Creative Commons and why would you want to license your blog? For this post we will assume that the posts you are creating for your blog contain only content created by you. This would include using your own pictures, videos and written words. You may want to peruse the Electronic Frontier Foundations page title Legal Guide for Bloggers as well.

The purpose for licensing your blog with a Creative Commons license is that it makes it much easier for others to share, mix and/or use your content. If you aren't thrilled with that, you probably want to stick with the standard copyright license which gives you complete control over the content you create. If you don't change your license it will automatically be considered under the normal copyright.

The reason I license my work online with a Creative Commons copyright license is that I want my work to be used and shared by others. I love the idea that something I created can be inspirational to another teacher or student and that they can build on my ideas and make them better. Instead of having to ask me permission directly, I can give permission through the license which makes it much easier to be used by another. 

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Blogging4Kid Superlative Student Blog: Miriam's Magical Moments

I am starting a new series showcasing outstanding blogs by students. These are student created blogs that I recommend new blogging students read and comment on. Who better for teachers to have model student blogging than actual students? 

The first blog is Miriam's Magical Moments. Miriam is a former student of Linda Yollis, an amazing elementary teacher whose classroom blog, Mrs. Yollis' Classroom Blog, has won many education blogging awards. 

Miriam started her blog in January of 2011 and has been posting ever since. What I enjoy about her blogging is her excellent use of pictures that help her tell her stories. Miriam 'reports' on her life, her travels and what she has learned. I have enjoyed following her exploits for years and am truly impressed by how she has kept blogging even after she left Mrs. Yollis' classroom. 

Blogger: Weather Widget

Adding a weather widget to your blog can be useful. On Blogger I have use the Accuweather weather widget for years. After you create your weather widget on the site, copy the html code. 

Then go in to template: add a gadget: html/javascript. Then paste the code into the box and save. Here is a video that explains the process:

And this is what your widget should look like:

Friday, September 19, 2014

How to Make a Good Blog and Comment

Scott Boylen's students created videos on how to make a successful blog. He graciously agreed to share two videos created and chosen by his students. 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

10 Steps to a Successful Blog

Scott Boylen's students created videos on how to make a successful blog. He graciously agreed to share two videos created and chosen by his students. 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Is Your Blog Accessible? Here Are Some Widgets That Can Help

Blog accessibility by seeing impaired or language impaired visitors is a very important and yet often overlooked requirement of a good student blog. Here are a few widgets/gadgets you may want to add to your blog to help it be more accessible.

Some good widgets/gadgets you may want to add to increase accessibility:

AnswerTips this widget allows a person to double click any word on your blog and get its definition as well as a clickable pronunciation key.

VozMe this widget/plug-in allows a person to highlight a passage which will then be changed into an mp3.

Google Translate this widget/code allows people to translate the pages into a language they may be more comfortable with reading.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Kidblog: Visitor Stats Widget

As in Blogger, Kidblog has a widget to track visitors. You can find it in the Settings: Widgets section on your dashboard. Simply click the check box next to Stats and you are good to go. As you can see below, the Visitor Stats widget gives you a nice world map and shows both the number of views as well as where the visitors are coming from. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Blogger: Blog Stats Widget

One of the most valuable widgets on any student blog is the one that tracks visitors. On Blogger it is called Blog Stats which is found in the Add a Gadget on the Layout page. Everybody wants to know that what they are posting is being seen and we all know that very few visitors actually leave a comment. This widget allows students using Blogger to see their work is still being seen.

Count this in the Must Have category. 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Welcome to Blogging4Kids!

This site has been a long time coming. My first foray into encourage student blogging was  Comments4kids started in 2009, and ever since then I have vowed to create a similar site dedicated to student blogging.  And so it begins.

My goal for this space is to bring lots of student blogging information. I will be reviewing blogging platforms, provide information on how students can write excellent posts, and sharing exemplary student posts. I want this to be a one stop resource for teachers or students who want to start blogging, but don't know where to begin.

If you would like a specific topic covered, would like to write a post on student blogging for the site, or would just like to have a conversation feel free to contact me using the information in the margins.