Digital Dewey – Pam Niewman’s blog

Clairvaux Catholic Primary School teacher librarian Pam Niewman has developed a bright, attractive and useful blog, Digital Dewey.

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Pam explains a little about her blog.

I’m happy to say my quest to learn as much as I can about Web 2.0 has been ongoing. I think I am finally beginning to realise the benefit of networking and collaboration – it took a while. It’s quite funny that you get to know people by their avatar. I will keep looking for these avatars to appear online.

I have no doubt that I will continue to develop my Web 2.0 skills, but I’m also keen now to get others at school enthused and start the process with them. Of course I am already working with the children in this way.

There are challenges ahead – a new Library to be built and developing my role as teacher librarian to suitably meet the needs of children’s learning in the 21st century.

Pam blogs regularly and includes examples of how certain social media tools have been used for learning. She has made several clever ToonDoo cartoons, an animoto and more. If you are looking for tips about resources to use for learning and teaching, Pam’s blog is certainly one to subscribe to.

Student blogging with Verona Gridley

Verona Gridley, classroom teacher at St Luke the Evangelist School has developed an excellent blog that acts as a resource for her students.

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Verona explains how she uses JuniorsJig with her students.

When our students reflect on what they have learnt in class, they are proficiently taking out some of their implicit understandings and clearly documenting it in the form of a blog. By both reading and commenting on others’ blogs, students start to learn from each other. A blog is a tool. It is a learning tool that can be tapped into by students, parents, and the global community.

Our Class Blog has enabled me to integrate all curriculum areas by promoting multiple literacies and skills. Through reflection on our discoveries and experiences we are able to share and deepen our understandings. It shows growth over time of our new learning, connecting with experts and finding out from broader sources.

There are growing connections with readers that show the great advantages of being part of a network and receiving feedback from contributors within a broader community. Our class has received feedback from all corners of the globe. When we received comments from beyond the school community a new digital dimension is opened. Overseas teachers, students and parents are taking the time to read our blog and leave meaningful and thoughtful comments.

Students are aware, that they are able to reach out beyond the schoolyard to share discoveries and experiences and in turn touch someone enough to leave a thought or offer a new perspective. Our young students can reach an authentic audience, that gives feedback and contributes new ideas and thus become part of a tangible global community.

I love the idea of students having a global and authentic audience and I believe that students take more care and effort with writing that will be read and commented on by a number of people. Congratulations Verona for providing this opportunity for your students as well as using your blog to communicate with parents and friends of the school.

Edublogs awards 2010

Many of you will be pleased to know that the nominations are now open for the 2010 Edublogs awards.

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  • Nominations: Close Friday 3 December
  • Voting: Ends Tuesday 14 December
  • Award Ceremony: Wednesday 15 December

Categories are:

  • Best individual blog
  • Best individual tweeter
  • Best group blog
  • Best new blog
  • Best class blog
  • Best student blog
  • Best resource sharing blog
  • Most influential blog post
  • Most influential tweet / series of tweets / tweet based discussion
  • Best teacher blog
  • Best librarian / library blog
  • Best school administrator blog
  • Best educational tech support blog
  • Best elearning / corporate education blog
  • Best educational use of audio
  • Best educational use of video / visual
  • Best educational wiki
  • Best educational podcast
  • Best educational webinar series
  • Best educational use of a social network
  • Best educational use of a virtual world
  • Best use of a PLN
  • Lifetime achievement

The Edublogs staff explain on their blog how the process works.

This blog was fortunate enough to receive “First runner up” in the best librarian/library blog section and it was very exciting. So act now and nominate your colleagues, friends and sites that you find inspiring (however, you cannot nominate your own sites.)

Penny Bentley’s blog

Penny Bentley began blogging earlier this year. Like a duck taking to water, Penny has found blogging an excellent way of sharing, learning and reflecting. She explains the process:

Earlier this year I signed up for a 12 week, online professional development program. As a teacher of secondary maths and science I have an interest in finding new ways to engage and motivate students. Well, the VicPLN program was eye opening, challenging and arguably the best PD I have ever done.

I used to consider social media, like Facebook, to be a waste of time. Something my kids use instead of doing more important things, like homework. Well, things have changed. I am a blogger, I use twitter, Facebook and many other applications on the web. My blog, CLOUD9 started out as an online record of my journey through the VicPLN program. I blogged about my reading, new discoveries, frustrations and thoughts about classroom applications. I was able to display media such as images, slide shows, video and audio. CLOUD 9 started to feel like my personal place on the web.

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One of the best features of blogging is the authentic audience. Every time I made a post there was feedback, support and encouragement. I started to develop confidence in my ability to use technology, to create amazing things and to put myself out there in cyberspace. By the end of the program I was hooked, I could see the enormous potential for student engagement.

So, my desire to blog didn’t end with the PD. For a while the web felt like a lonely place, I missed my daily feedback and interaction.  There was a need to rethink the purpose of CLOUD9. It was important for me to enjoy blogging, to provide information that is educational and useful to teachers, to make smaller but more frequent posts and to have feedback. I decided to continue blogging about useful web tools, games, virtual excursions and any other application that may be useful in the classroom. CLOUD9 will provide bite sized professional development for teachers, with a taste of maths and science.

An unexpected outcome of blogging is that now I have a record of my 2010 professional development. I am beginning to view my blog as a digital portfolio of skills and achievements; it’s like an alternative to the dusty filing cabinet.

If you’ve been thinking about starting your own blog, Penny is an excellent example to follow. Well done Penny!

Feature blog – Bev Novak’s NovaNews

Former Head of Library at The King David School, Bev Novak has been developing an interesting blog. Bev uses her blog as a forum for writing about, processing and sharing her learning with other educators. Bev generously shares her learning journey on her blog and here, for readers of Bright Ideas. I recently read that a tweet that said that “all teachers should blog”. Bev’s blog shows what can be achieved in a short amount of time and if you have not yet started your own blog, Bev’s newly found enthusiasm for blogging may well set you on your way!

Just on six months ago, I had absolutely no idea what a blog was, had never read one and certainly had no idea how to create one.  Life changed dramatically though  when I decided to enrol in the VicPLN program being run by SLAV in conjunction with SLV.  That first evening of peeking at the program content is forever seared into my memory.  The list of tasks to be completed was daunting to say the least!  But my heart froze when I realized that the very first task involved creating a blog.   “A what?!” I thought!!  A blog, I calmly said to myself.  Skimming down the tasks posed for that first week, I realized I had no choice.  Every task listed for the week involved writing a response on my blog.   “Ugh!!!  What have I gotten myself into?!”  was the next thought that passed through my mind.


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Deciding that the best advice I could follow was that which I always give to nervous looking kids about to sit a test or exam, I took three deep breaths and began following the instructions set down.   It was, I recollect, a very long Saturday night!


But I did it! That feeling of seeing my words floating out into cyberspace really was fantastic.  An incredible sense of achievement and success, unlike any I had experienced in a long time, flooded through me!  While I admit that the early stages of creating the blog were akin to writing on a wall in Chinese without knowing if the paper was upside down or inside out, a certain familiarity soon set in.  The ‘dashboard’ and I soon became friends.   Because I was working in the warm comfy environs of the VicPLN, I often experienced the warm fuzzy feelings of others lending a hand, helping me figure out the seemingly impossible.   And of course, the warm guidance and encouragement of our wonderful mentor – Judith Way – was there, every step of the way.


It has only been at the completion of the VicPLN that I started to look back and consider the process I had worked through.  It was indeed a journey, a journey that had a recognizable path in which my blog moved from being a spot to record what I had read, played with and discovered over the previous week, to that of a personal storage spot for links and information I had gathered.   Along the way, as I recognized I had an audience, I accepted that I could also use my blog as a place to showcase my own achievements using a range of presentation tools to which I had been exposed through the program. The final stage of my journey has been understanding that blogging is a dynamic process, one in which readers can comment on the content of a blog or indeed on the comments posted by others, a process which, by its very nature, enables the interaction of people with similar interests to connect and share with each other.  In turn, for me, this has been a fantastic way to expland my Personal Learning Network.


Today, I am totally hooked on blogging.  Reading the blogs of others which incorporate thoughts, ideas and knowledge, has become an addictive occupation for me.  So too has the writing my own blog.  Feedback received in the form of comments on my blog or email or Twitter exchanges received over the week, feed my enthusiasm.   Sharing insights gleaned from various readings, experiences and knowledge acquired from a vast range of sources is currently the thrust of my blog.   Where it may head in the future however, I do not yet know.  But to know that I contribute to the growth of others in the same way that others contribute to my growth leaves me with a warm afterglow.  To those of you out there who’ve not yet discovered the blogosphere, I encourage you to spend the time exploring.  Come join the amazing journey.  While you have much to contribute you also have a great deal to learn.  And, after all, aren’t we all lifelong learners?

Thanks Bev for your unbridled enthusiasm for blogging and learning and for spreading the word via Bright Ideas!

Social Media Reading List for School Leaders

Hans Mundahl is an American “educator working in experiential learning and technology”. He has developed a YouTube video and accompanying wikis to build a remarkable resource for developing social media learning in schools.

As his Social Medi Read List wiki explains,

The idea for this page is to build a ‘best of the web’ reading / watching list for school leadership regarding using social media for school advancement. Rather than talk about how great social media is we’re using social media to build this reading list. Articles will fall into one of these topic areas:

  • What is this stuff: Simple explanations for common social media tools
  • Making the Case: Does social media really matter?
  • iPhone: Making the case for bringing your message to hand held devices, in particular the iPhone.
  • Joys & Concerns: Case studies of successful and unsuccessful social media engagement.
  • Good Models: Effective blogging, tweeting, FB’ing school administrators.
  • Next Steps: What steps should schools be taking next?

Anyone who is interested in social media and wanting to introduce it to a wider range of teachers at their school will find the video and wiki useful, informative and persuasive. The wiki is a particularly good resource as all educators are invited to edit and add content to it.

A Backyard Beginning – Hawkesdale P-12

By Tadfish

By Tadfish

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.

Lori, California

Thank you so much for sharing your backyard. When we all share like this, it makes our world just a little smaller and better.

She Wolf

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:-


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
  • E-safety
  • Past students
  • Resources
  • 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
  • Flagcounter
  • 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.

It’s not about the tools, it’s about the skills

Author of the wonderful award winning Langwitches blog Silvia Tolisano (Twitter name is @langwitches), has written a must-read post. Looking at the advent of Web 2.0 and the way it is perceived by parents, Tolisano addresses the skills developed and used by students in using tools such as blogs, creating podcasts and adding to wikis rather than the tools themselves. To read this post, go to Silvia’s blog now!

Feature blog – Eltham College Junior Library

Raeanne McLean, teacher librarian at Eltham College of Education Junior School has shared her experience of developing Web 2.0 resources for her students. She explains: 

I finished my T/L course at CSU at the end of 2007 and then was excited to implement the things I had learnt. The course had given me the confidence and tools to try out new things on the web (but precious little time to do it!).

  In 2008 I saw the promotion for The Victorian School Libraries Learning with Web 2.0 Program through SLAV. I am a hands on person and jumped at the chance and bought 8 other teachers onboard from our school. We set up a time each week in the library to work through each activity. We all found that we ‘played’ with the features during the week. I learnt so much by completing this program as I hit inevitable problems along the way that I had to solve.

The idea of setting up a blog was always on my ‘to do’ list but I didn’t feel confident enough. After the program I had a greater understanding of how to do it and the various applications that could be utilised.  I have set the blog up specifically for years 3 and 4. There is so much out there but it is certainly a start for them and me. The students have really enjoyed it and have visited it from home and made comments. I have a link from our intranet under the library page so they can access it anywhere.



 An unexpected bonus is from the teachers and parents as a few have come and asked me about it. It has given the library yet another profile and avenue to be promoted. As I try different applications my confidence grows. I have dipped my toes into the blogging world and I am enjoying the experience.

It’s great to see that teachers, students and parents are benefitting from Raeanne’s blogging endeavours. Well done.