Thursday, June 25, 2015

Week 3 Checklist for Blogosphere Course

You are just about finished earning your six hours Professional Learning credit! Below is a checklist of the items that need to be completed in the third and final week of our class. Remember, all tasks from all three weeks need to be finished in order for you to receive credit. Also, stay tuned for a simple blogging challenge to keep your blog updated over the remainder of summer. The last thing I want to happen is for you to return to work in August and not be in the blogging habit or forget how to post on your blog. Thus, I'll soon be posting a very simple summer blog challenge in hopes to keep you motivated and on track with your blog. 

Monday, June 22, 2015

5 - 4 - 3 - 2 - 1 Blast Off into the Blogosphere Week 3

Can you believe it?! You've made it to the third and final week of the Blasting into the Blogosphere online course. Hopefully, your blog is up and going and you've made a minimum of five blog posts prior to this week's task, and if you're participating in the course you've also left feedback and comments on other blogs from this course. Comments are always appreciated by the blog owner, as it signals that someone is actually reading your blog. It's also just as important as the blogger to respond to those comments left by your readers! This keeps people coming back to your blog.

As you approach the final week for this course, I hope you will truly discover and fine-tune your niche for your blog. (This was discussed more in week one.) Determining the purpose for your blog and then setting a goal for a minimum number of posts per month, week, etc. will help keep you focused. I encourage you to open your calendar and set "appointments" to make a new blog post each week, bi-weekly, monthly, etc. If you would like for me to send you a Reminder, please join my "Blogging in the Blogosphere" Remind class and I will send out reminders via text message. Hopefully, this will help hold those who truly intend to blog regularly accountable beyond this course!

As far as your blog posts for the final week of this course, here are the topics for each of the required posts this week: 
  • What is your favorite professional book that you have read? Blog about how it has impacted you. Be sure to include a picture of the book cover and a link to the author's website or the book on Amazon for your readers to quickly explore more about the book. 
  • Share one organizational tip or strategy that you use to help you manage the daily tasks in your role as a classroom teacher or administrator. Describe your strategy and include a picture if applicable or to provide your readers with a visual. 
  • What is your plan for your blog beyond this course? Will you maintain your blog as a tool to communicate to students, parents, and/or other educators? How often do you plan to post on your blog? If you don't plan to continue with your blog beyond this course, explain why (include what you learned and didn't learn that has impacted your decision to stop blogging). If you do plan to continue, make a plan and set some goals. Research shows that by writing your goals down and sharing those goals with others,  you are more likely to succeed at achieving and following through with your goals. Don't forget to join my "Blogging in the Blogosphere" Remind class and I will send out reminders via text message. 
  • Bonus blog post: write a post about a topic of your choice. Whatever you decide to write about should inspire, humor, or provide a glimpse of empathy for your readers to connect with your through your blog. 
Your final tasks for this course are to leave a comment on two different blogs from the list of Course Participants and to leave a comment below here on my blog post to reflect on the following question: On a scale of one to five, 1 being I only gained flex PD credit hours and 5 being I gained lots of inspiration and ideas to continue blogging beyond this course, how would you rate your "Blasting into the Blogosphere" course experience? Provide a brief reason to support your rating and any other feedback or thoughts you'd like to share about your experience. 

NOTE: Throughout this course, I wanted the focus to be more on your blog's content and your interaction with other bloggers and less about the "how-to." However, I do plan to post some blogging how-to video tutorials in the future here on my blog. As I post these, I will share them via my "Blogging in the Blogosphere" Remind class if you choose to subscribe. 

Monday, June 15, 2015

Blasting into Week 2

There are so many variations and purposes for blogging in education. A classroom teacher can use a blog in place of a traditional newsletter or website to communicate with parents and students, or even as an online portal to share content and encourage discourse about class content. Administrators can create a blog as a platform for communicating to parents and staff about upcoming events, as well as to spotlight outstanding students and staff. All educators, in general, can implement blogging as a means to reflect on daily happenings in their educational role, share pedagogy strategies that work, or provide tutorials and tips in a variety of areas in education. As a participant in the "Blasting into the Blogosphere" summer PD course, you were asked to blog about what you want to learn and how you intend to use your blog in your educational role. Many of you expressed interest in learning about how others use blogging with students and/or as a communication tool with parents.

In Week 2 of our "Blasting into the Blogosphere" course, we will explore some blogs created and maintained by educators of all types. Thus, your first order of business this week is to check out the following blogs.

After perusing the blogs, choose ONE blog that inspires you the most and answer these 5 questions in a blog post this week. Please be sure to include a link to the blog you are referencing. 

For your second blog post this week, I would like you to share your favorite educational website. As you write your post, please provide a link to the website, give a brief synopsis about the site, and then share why it is your favorite educational website. Then, read other Blogosphere course participants blog posts, choose one blog post, and leave a comment/feedback for your fellow colleague.

Need more reasons to support your blogging habit, and yes, I hope it does become a habit, read these two articles: Why Teachers and Students Should Blog and How Blogging Transformed My Classes. How can I support you in your quest to blog this school year? Answer this question in the comment section at the bottom of this blog post. 

We have blasted into the blogosphere!

Congrats new bloggers on taking the first few steps to get your blog up and going! I have had so much fun reading your new posts and making note of your creativity in naming your blogs.(See a list of the course participants' blogs here.) Oh, and your most recent post about your favorite office supply or classroom tool definitely gave me, as well as your other readers, a glimpse into your personalities!
You are all off to a great start. As a recap of what you were supposed to work on the first week of this online blogging course, I have created a checklist for you. Please let me know if you have any questions over any of these items. Week Two's assignments will be up later today.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Let's Blast into the Blogosphere!

Today marks day one for our online learning course, Blasting into the Blogosphere. During this three-week course, we will learn all about blogs and blogging, specifically for educational purposes. Every Monday (June 8, June 15, and June 22) I will post the tasks that need to be completed for the week. Then, throughout the week, I'll post tutorials and tips that will help you complete the tasks. While many of the tasks can be completed all in one day, it is not advised that you do so. I would like this course to be interactive through blog comments and other collaborative tools shared throughout, so please participate accordingly. At any point throughout the course if you run into issues or have questions, please don't hesitate to contact me. If you are receiving summer professional learning credit for this course, you need to make sure that you are signed up and complete all assigned tasks by 11:59pm (CST) on Friday, June 26. (If you are outside of Aledo ISD, email me and I will help you get registered.)


  • Watch EduBlogs "What is a Blog?" video. 
    • Learn how to set up your blog through Blogger with this great tutorial created by Shannon Petty in Godley ISD. (NOTE: All educators who are part of a Google Apps for Education, or GAFE, district automatically have a Blogger account with your GAFE login. If you do not have a GAFE account, watch this "How to Set Up a Blog from Scratch." This video is a bit longer, but it has some great tips and how-to's.) 
  • Create your blog, if you don't already have one, and then share your blog link here
    • You may want to do the next task prior to creating your blog in order to have a better idea of how you want to use your blog in your role as an educator. 
  • Read EdTech Sandy K's post, "Blog Topic Ideas for Educators" as well as one or two of the articles she mentions in the "Want some more advice?" section of her post. 
    • Think about the suggestions and information shared on these blogs. What stands out to you the most? Please answer this question in the comments section here on my blog
  • Write your first blog post, or first post for this course, by answering the following questions. 
    • Why are you taking the "Blasting into the Blogosphere" course? 
    • What do you hope to learn from the course? 
  • Reflect on the following questions and post your answers on your blog as your second blog post
    • What is your role in education? (i.e. classroom teacher, specialist, administrator, etc.) 
    • How do you plan to use your blog in your role as an educator? 
      • Examples: Class newsletter to communicate with parents and students; school-wide newsletter to communicate to staff, parents, and/or students; lesson ideas and tutorials to share with other educators; personal reflections about your role as an educator; etc. 
  • Find or take a picture of your favorite office supply or classroom tool. Post this picture and write about why you can't live without it as your third blog post this week. 
  • Visit other course participants' blogs (see the list here) and leave a comment on at least two other blogs. 
Other Helpful Resources:
Remember, all of the above tasks should NOT be completed in one sitting or even on the same day. Spread it out over the course of the week, as I will post additional tutorials and helpful information along the way. 
Happy blogging! ~ April 

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Online Learning Opportunities

Let's face it, teachers aren't truly off during the summer. While most may not report to a school building and a classroom full of kids, teachers still look for opportunities to improve their craft. The summer of 2015 is no different! What IS different for many teachers in my school district this year is where and how they learn and grow. As a means to foster a growth mindset and provide anytime-anywhere learning opportunities, I will be facilitating a couple of online learning "courses" in which educators throughout my district will receive professional learning credit hours. No, online learning is not a new concept, but for teachers to pursue this avenue AND receive credit for flex days and/or Gifted and Talented hours IS new for us. I would LOVE for you to join us! Send me an email if you have quesetions.

Online Learning Opportunity #1: Blasting into the Blogosphere!

Online Learning Opportunity #2: Let's Chat! #aLEADo