The absolutely amazing and multi award winning teacher Anne Mirtschin from Hawkesdale P-12 College has kindly shared information about how her blogging journey with her students began:
Three years ago, a rich picture studies case grant from DEECD required us to use web2.0 tools. A quick request to my computer technician found some information on web2.0 tools including blogging. The article was produced by Heather Blakey of Soul Food Cafe blogging fame. By a strange coincidence, I also received an email to say that a globalteacher and global student campus was being set up, so I immediately enrolled. As I had no idea what to do with these blogs, I, in usual form procrastinated.
As luck would have it, our librarian Faye Matters had attended a SLAV PD in Melbourne, heard a lady called Heather Blakey speak and immediately booked her up for a cluster PD session and art workshop at our school, Hawkesdale P12 College.
Heather squeezed in some time to come to my IT class and discuss the possibility of a backyard blog. We were researching volcanic evidence in our area, and backyards seemed a logical beginning as students had lots of interesting things to talk about – and they all love their backyard. The backyard blog began as a class blog. Students wrote about their backyards. I would grab their file out of their folders and post it onto the blog. Imagine our amazement and delight, when after one of the first posts we received several comments!
Your “backyard” is beautiful! Thank you for sharing it with the world.
Thank you so much for sharing your backyard. When we all share like this, it makes our world just a little smaller and better.
These comments acted like magic to my class and me. Somebody was reading our work, we seemed to have a global voice. Later we found out, it was Heather’s wonderful blogisphere who were reading and commenting. However, we were up and blogging. Soon students from years 5 to 10 had individual student blogs. It was hard work, as there was so much to learn and much of our work was by trial and error– posts, dashboards, tags, categories, widgets, pages etc all had to be learnt. However, Heather created the wonderful “25 steps to web2.0”. Each day for the 25 days to Christmas, Heather and her blogging friends would add a post each day, illustrating some aspect of blogging.
From humble and unknown beginnings, my globalteacher blog became my class blog, and now features the following:-
- Posts with tutorials
- Posts with class instructions
- Active web2.0 tools for interactive global project use eg wallwisher with Malaysia and voicethread with Boston
- Instructions when I am absent including a link to a backchannel, when it is possible for me to connect with them virtually eg chatzy etc
Pages include the following
- About Me – a vital and important page where most visitors will go to seek out validity and nature of the blogger.
- Current timetable and list of current classes
- Code of conduct
- Past students
- Global projects
Widgets and sidebar features include the following:-
- A flikr widget that shows photos added to my online photo album.
- Time clock
- Categories etc
- Various world maps to visualize where virtual visitors are from eg clustrmaps
- My slideshows (ppt presentations) uploaded to slideshare
- List of classes taught with student blog links
- Student blog of the week in 2009 as the school received a box of usb drives as part of a campaign. The usb drives were the weekly prize.
- Links to resources and global projects
Posts contain hyperlinks where possible. This is an efficient means of directing students to further online pages and adjusts them to appropriate 21st century literacy.
Postscript: Unfortunately, busy time commitments have prevented me from working on the backyard blog so it rests peacefully at the moment, knowing that it has taken us to the globe!
Thanks Anne. What a brilliant start to what has become an amazing Web 2.0 presence at Hawkesdale P-12 College.
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Thank-you so much for this interview. I am currently grappling with how to get a blog started with my class. I know the benefits outweigh the effort but heck where do I start? It is nice to know that it is okay to start small.
Thankyou once again for an insightful post.
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What a very neat journey of blogging with a class. It is fun to hear how others are using blogging to connect their classroom with the world.