Tuesday, December 2, 2008

30 days to Being a Better Blogger

I have been reading Discovery Educator Steve Dembo's "Teach42" blog for the past year and following his updates on Twitter. He is a former kindergarten teacher turned "passionate" education technology advocate and I consider him to be part of my "personal learning network!" Last month, he set out on an ambitious project titled "30 Days to Being a Better Blogger".

The idea originated last year with Darren Rouse at Problogger.com, but was not necessarily focused on educational blogging. Dembo's project was geared for educators, and I am going through the steps on this blog to show it's potential. He has added a wiki page here, and encourages educators to sign up for the challenge. While the idea was to do everything in November, the site will remain up and can be done at any time.

I have gone through the list of 30 tips (You'll note many changes have occured on this site!) and have included below some that I think would be good to share with students as blogging assignments. The links will take you to Steve's site where you can view more details about the task.

  • Day 3: Write a thank you note Students could write a note to a teacher or classmate, whose post or comment they appreciated.
  • Day 4: Own your CContent This is a great opportunity to talk to kids about copyright and fair use. What if someone took their intellectual property and used it for commercial purposes? This task has them add a Creative Commons License to their blog.

  • Day 5: Globalize Your Blog In this task, students add a Clustermaps widget to their blog to track where visitors are coming from. As you can see by the one in the upper right hand corner, this site has seen traffic from China, UK, Australia, India, Canada and several locations in the US since I posted it last month.
  • Day 8: Comment unto others Dembo remarks here that "sometimes the best way to improve your own blogging is to read and comment on others." This gives an opportunity for students to reflect on others writing, and thereby improve their own. As another member of my PLN, Dean Shareski says, "You have 2 ears and 1 mouth. This should apply with blogging as well." On a personal note, since starting this post yesterday, I've made at least 4 comments on other blogs I've read in preparation!

  • Day 19: Who do you love… and why? This might be a nice activity for your students to explore other's blogs and share what they like about them. It would give them practice linking to other sites and seeing what others are writing, what voice their writing in, and ideas on how they can make their own site better.

  • Day 25: Add a quick 1000 words to your posts This post explores adding images to your blog. Steve gives great examples of how to incorporate screenshots, logos, mashups and photos (Not by using Google Image search!)

  • Day 26: Tag, you’re it. Learn how to incorporate tags on your posts. Last year, by tagging I made a connection with Clay Burell, at the time an educator at an American School in Seoul, South Korea. Clay is one of the best bloggers/writers around, and I may not have made the connection were it not for a tag.

  • Day 28: Link It Up One of the ways that blogging is different from traditional writing is the ability to add links to the text you are writing about. If you refer to a news story, blog, or Web site, LINK TO IT!! This would be a good way for students to make their site more conversational and interactive.

I hope this gives you some ideas for working with students on their blogging. Next Tuesday, I'll be presenting at the 2008 TIES Technology Conference on "The Blogging Cycle". I'll be updating the conference wiki with resources (Including this one) in the coming days. If you give these a try, be sure to let me know how it went!!

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