Posts Tagged Blog

Add Some “Zip” to Your Teacher Blog

While your teacher blog can be an effective channel of communication for students, parents, and the community at large, let’s face it; without any images, your Teacher Webpage can appear a bit…well…boring. Never fear! Here at the iCafe we have several sure-fire ways to put a little “zip” into your Teacher Blog.

Get Organized – Use Tables

Using tables can allow you to place content exactly where you want it. Want an image to appear next to your text, rather than above or below it?  Use a table!

To add a table to your latest blog post, simply click on the Insert Table icon while editing your blogpost. From there, you can choose to use the Table Wizard to add rows and columns to your table.

 

Brighten Things Up – Insert Images & Links

Including images of what your students are doing in class, or anything that relates to the information you’re posting is a GREAT way to grab reader’s attention.  Another way to make your Teacher Webpage interactive is to include links to helpful sites, parent information, instructional materials, and more.  When you’re ready to add images to your Teacher Webpage, Check out our Working with Links and Images Cheatsheets!

Get the WOW Factor – Embed Content

In a nutshell, embeding content allows you to create a window within your teacher webpage through which visitors can view content normally found on other websites.  Some things you might want to consider embedding are:

Stuff to Embed:  Videos of Student Created Work (YouTube):


Stuff to Embed:  Instructional Materials from edu.Glogster, edu.Prezi, or other Content Creation Sites:


Embedding Content:  It’s not as Tricky as it Looks!

Embeding HTML sounds really tricky, doesn’t it?  Guess what?  Embeding content does NOT take a degree in computer science!  Boiled down, it’s as simple as Copy/Paste.    Still not convinced?  Check out the Embed Content on Teacher WebPage Cheatsheet , and give it a try!

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Blogging 101

Blogs are quickly becoming the most read resources in our technology driven society and are an element that we cannot ignore when thinking about integrating technology into our classrooms!  But how do you write a quality blog that someone would actually WANT to read and then actually walk away with some good information?  Well, to help you think through this, here are a few tips that I have found helpful:
 

  1. Be yourself – Write in first person and pretend as if you are simply having a conversation with a friend or colleague.  If your writing sounds too convoluted or presumptuous, no one will want to read it.
  2. Keep it short…but not too short…but seriously, keep it short – 300 words is considered by many bloggers to be the magic number you shoot for in a blog.  Less than that, too hard to get your point across; more than that, I’ve gotten too bored/busy to actually read your point.  What does 300 words look like?  Click on the picture below and take a look!
  3. 300 words

  4. Pictures – Everybody likes pictures!  Aren’t you glad I just added a picture above this point?  Of course you are!
  5. Use bullets – Honestly, blogs are scanned, they aren’t read…so use bullets to make your points quick and easy to find.
  6. Use bold text and headers – For a number of people,they only have the patience to read the headers and/or bold text, so use them, but be purposeful in how you use them.
  7. Take advantage of white space – Write in short paragraphs and leave white space so the reader has a moment to digest your ideas.
  8. Link it – Make a good point and then give a link to someone who agrees with you.  How can you disagree with someone who has a link to another page that agrees with them?  This is also a great way to share your resources!
  9. Know your audience – Blogs are great because you can focus on a specific audience (for example: I’m writing for future bloggers).  Write in a way that is meaningful to them.
  10. PROOF READ IT – I aint need to explain does I?

I hope these tips are helpful to you as you begin blogging!  Need some more ideas, though? Check out these sites:

 
Be sure to let us know what blogs you start for your class and Happy Blogging!

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“Blab” Reports!

I need to start this post off with a confession: I got a B in Chemistry when I was in high school…and I’m not a B kind of guy.  I didn’t get a B because I tried hard and just wasn’t a science person, I got a B because I had a great lab partner.  I just didn’t like the class.  Now, I loved the experiments…totally my personality to test things out, make things explode, tear stuff apart (my wife HATES that), but I just didn’t understand the need for those ridiculous lab reports!

LAB REPORTS!

I hated them!  I honestly didn’t know why I even did them…I would turn one in, the teacher would put some grade on it, give it back to me,and then it was organized in two ways: (1) I crammed it deep into the abyss of my backpack or (2) I stealthily placed it in the trashcan on my way out.  I never seemed to get the connection that I really needed to be learning from each of these experience (something I now realize as an adult and educator), and since I never held on to them, I wasn’t able to evaluate my learning at the end of the year.

My guess is that if you walked into the average high school Chemistry class today, you would find a room FULL of students just like I was.  Good kids, smart kids…they just don’t get the need for a lab report (or any other report for that matter).  But what if there was a way to make things like lab reports more interactive, something that could use pictures, videos, a more, while also being easily kept in order for looking back on?  Well…there is!  Blogs are your solution!

Blogs:

Many of you probably know what a blog is, but just to me sure we are all on the same page, here is a brief synopsis:

  • Blog = online web log (kind of like a journal)
  • Blogs are ordered sequentially
  • Blogs are electronic and therefore can have things like pictures, videos, and hyperlinks used inside them!

Blogs + Lab Reports:

So how would a Lab Report  look in a blog?  Well, let me show you…but before I do, I want to give you a few questions to think about while looking at it:

  • How could the fact that it’s housed online help develop your students learning over time?
  • How do the pictures impact the presentation of the facts?
  • How does embedding video help students learning over the long haul?
  • How can this intereactive lab report impact students differently than a paper copy?

Ok…that’s enough questions…now go take a look at the “blab report” (humorous combination of the words “blog” and “lab report”…laugh with me…makes it more enjoyable!)

Sample Lab Report

http://samplelabreport.blogspot.com/2009/07/experiment.html

So, what did you think?  Here are a few ideas that I found from this:

  1. By hosting this on a blog site, the student really can’t “lose” their lab reports!  They can always go back and look at what they did in the past and reflect on decisions or lessons they learned from their experiments.
  2. The pictures help them pay more attention to what is actually happening in the experiment while also helping them remember what things may need to be set up differently next time.
  3. The video really MAKES this page…they can actually re-live the experiment after it is over…look back at what ACTUALLY happened!
  4. By letting them take an interactive lesson (a lab) and chronicle it in an environment that allows for interaction (a blog), you have made this a memorable experience…one that they will probably really LEARN from!

Blogs are simple to set up, simple to use, and simple to maintain…sometimes it’s just hard to think of a way to use it in your classroom!  Hopefully this just pushed you in the right direction a little bit.

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