New School Year? Why Not Start a School Blog?

I always loved the excitement that comes with this time of year. Getting ready for a new school year always presented new possibilities and projects. In the past few years, I really enjoyed setting up a new year of blogs – one for staff and one for the school community.

What I have found over the past few years is that as a school leader, one must do a very good job at telling the school’s story using every form of social media that works.

In my last school, I found that blogging weekly to the school community worked very well. I started using a school blog when I started at St. Anthony School. Communication here was a big challenge, especially in a community where English was not the first language at home for many families.

I chose to blog because it was the only format that could be translated into different languages using the handy translation tool. I also felt that the days of the paper newsletter were over and that the community had to move to a more flexible form of communication.

I love to blog and I had used a staff blog as a way of communicating with staff members for several years. The school blog was an attempt to introduce the great communication tool to parents and the wider community.

One of the wonderful surprises that occurred with the new school blog was the amazing staff participation in the creation of the weekly blog.

an excerpt from the kindergarten entry from one of our school blogs

Generally, almost all teachers contributed something for the upcoming school blog post. As time went on, many added photos from activities that had taken place during the week before.

This was terrific for the parents and I think really encouraged wide readership of the school blog. From a principal’s perspective, this was wonderful as I received a weekly rundown of what each teacher was planning for their students.

The blog was certainly an act of love, and it did take most of my Sunday to put it together. I really believe that it was well worth the time, especially when students asked me to make sure that photos from their class be included in the blog!

I used Edublogs both for the school and staff blogs. For around $8.00 a month, I subscribed to their ‘pro’ service which allowed me to access their excellent help desk. This was money really well spent as my questions on some of the technical fine points of blogging were always answered within hours of my initial query.

So, if you are looking for a good project for the upcoming school year, why not take up blogging for your school or for your classroom. The work you put into it is really worth the effort. You will be opening up your world to the parents you serve.

Good luck, any questions? Please let me know, very happy to help!

Next post – how to put together a staff blog.

Our first Blogging Party!

Social & Policy Innovation in the Obama Admin 2o2
Social & Policy Innovation in the Obama Admin 2o2 (Photo credit: dpict.info)

I’m hoping to try something different at our next teacher PD session.  Our PLNs are essential. We have used them for the past three years.  Our teachers meet in grade or subject-based groups and plan their learning throughout the year.  At our upcoming consolidation session, we are going to attempt our first ‘blogging party’.

Rather than have the teachers present their findings orally, we are going to ask them to create a blog so that they can share their learning with the world!

To make this a bit easier, we are planning to teach them how to create a simple blog.  Audience is everything, we really want our teachers to share their great work with professionals around the world.

Our blogging party will be May 2nd.  We will post using the hash tags #ocsb and #bloggingparty.  Please comment, this will be a great motivator for our teachers!!

 

DGM Triad Evidence of Learning Document

Consolidation 2014

 

Tell your story or someone will tell it for you

@NMHS_Principal

 

How to set up your blog

 

1.  Go to https://www.blogger.com – you all have a blogger account as one of your Google tools.  Take a look at this OCSB Teacher blog run through Learning Connectionshttp://ocsblc.blogspot.ca/

 

2.  Click on the ‘new blog’ button on your dashboard.  You will then see a collection of templates to choose from.  You will also be prompted to choose a title for your triad blog.  Try something catchy!  Remember, ultimately your blog may be read around the world!!  Your will also get your address – please bookmark this! (good time to try Symbaloo)  Don’t worry if you have to come up with a temporary address to move on, your can change it in Settings after – your address is important, you want something as simple as possible – I am using triaddgmjunior.blogspot.com

 

3.  That’s it!  You have a name, a template you are ready for your first post!

a sample blog you can use!
a sample blog you can use!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4.  The rest is just a matter of trial and (a bit of) error!

Blogger  DGM   Edit post

5.  Try to set your blog up now!!

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Celebrating Student Voice

imagineTheFuture

“If we don’t tell the story of what is going on in our district who will.”

How do we work to enhance student voice in our school and what evidence can we look to for.

I am interested in exploring the ways we give our students a voice in our school.  More and more this seems to mean connecting our students to social media.

This past week has been pretty amazing at our school.  Our juniors were involved in two regional competitions – The Engineering Challenge and Destination Imagination.  Our teams placed first and second in both competitions.  They won because of their creativity, innovative skills and their ability to work as a team – no mean feat for kids in grades 5 and 6!

They were assisted by their teachers, an incredible group of volunteer engineers and parents.  All these adults worked selflessly for weeks to prepare the students for these events.  They really allowed the creative voices of their students come forward.

I can’t say enough about how important this is.  Our students have shown themselves to be incredibly creative.  Their voice really needs to be heard.  Because of the work of teachers, parents and volunteers their voice is out there.  What an incredible experience for our students!

Social media here plays a bit of a secondary role.  Social media basically gets the word out – actually it gives the students the audience that they deserve.  Here are some of the pieces put out by our teachers this week celebrating student voice.

Our first place team at Destination Imagination – students and parent volunteers

Student Voice – an excerpt from one of our student blogs – using kidblog- including responses from classmates and a’pen pal’ from Nebraska
The grade 4 teacher writes about their blogging project here:

Our classroom blogging community

February9

The Primary Blogging Community (PBC) was started by a primary teacher, Mrs. Wideen, here in Ontario last year.  It is a community of primary teachers  that want to share their students’ learning through the students’ personal blogs.  For the next 3 weeks (and the past three!), we are blogging with 3 other classrooms from around the world.  Our blogging community happens to be right here in North America.  They are  primary classes from Alberta, Nebraska, and Indiana.  You can imagine the enthusiasm when students receive comments to their blog posts from someone new!   This blogging experience provides them with a real audience that gives them authentic feedback about what they are writing on their blogs.  It gives them a voice and lets them teach their peers about something they know or feel passionately about.  And above all, it provides them with reading and writing opportunities (how to write a good blog post/comment) that they actually look forward to.  If you have not visited your son’s or daughter’s blog, please do.  If you would like to leave a comment, just let me know and I will sign you up!

7 random facts about me

Categories: Blog February 27, 2014 @ 11:00 AM 10 Comments 

1.  I am Russian.

2. I lived in Moscow until I was 8.

3. I like to draw pictures.

4. I go skiing every year.

5. I have  many sisters and brothers and my mother is expecting a baby.

6.  I have 1 friend in Russia and lots of friends here.

7. I am happy in Canada.

10 Comments

  1. Cole Cole
    February 27, 2014 at 11:14 AM

    What is your friend’s name? Is your friend a boy or a girl? What do you like about Canada?

  2. Dylan Dylan
    February 27, 2014 at 11:14 AM

    Sofiya,
    I am glad you are happy in Canada. Is Moscow the capital of Russia? What is your friend’s name that is in Russia ?
    From,
    Dylan

  3. Madison Madison
    February 27, 2014 at 11:16 AM

    You have an awesome life

  4. Chiara Chiara
    February 27, 2014 at 11:17 AM

    Hi Sofiya, it’s Chiara. Good job. I like it. I want to go to Russia. Am I your friend?

    • Sofiya Sofiya
      February 28, 2014 at 11:21 AM

      Yes,you are:}

  5. Matteo Matteo
    February 27, 2014 at 11:22 AM

    Cool and why did you move to Canada and not the states or do you have any relation with Canada? Or did you accidentally move to Canada like my grandparents.

  6. Allyssia Allyssia
    February 28, 2014 at 10:53 AM

    I’m glad you like Canada.Is there something you don’t like about Canada?

    • Sofiya Sofiya
      February 28, 2014 at 4:31 PM

      Yes,I don’t like that you guys don’t speak Russian because it’s hard to learn English.

  7. Austin (Mrs. Keene's Class) Austin (Mrs. Keene’s Class)
    March 3, 2014 at 9:35 AM

    Hi Sofiya, my favorite foods are pizza, pears, mashed potatoes, and blue jolly ranchers. I have one brother and one sister. I am the middle child. I have broken three bones in my body. They were both of my arms and my hip. When I broke my left arm, it was crooked. My favorite sport is basketball. I play football, baseball, and basketball. Those are some facts about me.

    • Sofiya Sofiya
      March 4, 2014 at 1:55 PM

      Hi Austin,
      How did you break your arms?:0

     

another student voice project from the junior kindergarten students 

Each morning upon entry, students have quiet reading time at the carpet. A few weeks ago I noticed Ally enthusiastically telling a story to a friend using the pictures of a book. I encouraged her to take my chair and share it with the whole class. This way the start of more student voice in our classroom as many others have asked for their turn as the storyteller! We all sit up close as the storyteller creates a tale inspired by pictures. It has been an exciting way to start our class and the tradition shall most definitely continue!

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#edcampottawa Blogging in the classroom

Notes on the sessions today at #Edcampottawa

Megan Valois @msvalois 

– great work on blogging – lots of information outlining the rationale for using blogging.

Terrific idea – to send a more detail home on what type of social media will be used in the classroom.

The letter from Megan’s blog is here – this blog is a terrific resource!

Now using blogging as a way to reflect on the work going on the the classroom.  Also books the iPads once a week to use the machines for blogging during the day.

Students learn how to give meaningful feedback and are expected to give feedback to other students’ blogs.

When students comment on other blogs, the majority of students will go back in and improve their posts – students are learning from each other!

Really interesting the work that must be done in advance of blogging – here are the main two sessions:

  • what makes for a good blog post
  • how to give effective feedback
second session at #Edcampottawa on student blogging
second session at #Edcampottawa on student blogging

 

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co-constructed chart Megan uses with her students prior to blogging – what makes an effective blog?  What make for effective feedback?

#ecoo Cube for teachers

Cube for Teachers is a collaborative platform designed exclusively for Ontario educators. Here, K-12 teachers are sharing thousands of links pertaining to curriculum-based resources, digital tools and teaching strategies as well as creating powerful PLNs. In this session, teachers will participate in an interactive workshop to fully understand the power of effective collaboration and learn how the features are saving educators valuable time.

Professional bookmarking for teachers - and its free!
Professional bookmarking for teachers – and its free!
  • Based on Ontario curriculum – search by specific topic areas, includes teaching resources
  • search returns ranked by relevance
  • data is current and relevant
  • searches 4 data bases at the same time – Province – Board – Groups – Favourites
  • groups can be any topic and you can invite people in

register at Cubeforteachers.com

Summary:

  • too many resources
  • too many providers
  • not enough time
  • not enough awareness

solution – use this as a resource for finding resources and contributing resources.  When you add a resource, you can tweet about it to create more awareness

David Miller

David.Miller@cubeforteachers.com

1-647-CUBE (2823)

go explore!