Tag-Archive for ◊ blogging ◊

Android Apps – WordPress
Saturday, November 15th, 2014 | Author:

To enable us to blog on our Android tablets, we have installed WordPress. We already have a self-hosted WordPress site so this is by far the best app to use to help us blog directly from the tablets.

Screenshot_2014-11-15-16-41-10

Once installed, it will ask you to sign in. This is for users with a blog at wordpress.com. Here you simply type your username and password.

Screenshot_2014-11-15-16-41-14

 

If you have a self-hosted site e.g. www.ridersblogs.co.uk then minimising the keyboard shows the option to add the self-hosted information too. Here you add the username, password and the address of your blogs.

Screenshot_2014-11-15-16-42-49

From here you are provided with a slimmed-down version of the WordPress site but it gives you everything you’ll need and you can browse comments and pages or simply press the “+” to add a new post.

Skitch    Screenshot_2014-11-15-16-44-11

Clicking on the screen will bring up the keyboard and clicking on the gallery (the red arrow) will give the option to add photos (right). Minimising the keyboard gives the option to publish when done.

With Android there is also the option to publish directly from other apps such as the Gallery or Skitch by pressing the share button share

From here you get a list of ways you can share (below) and one of these is WordPress. We found a slight problem with this as the default image for WordPress is set to 2000 pixels wide, which is huge and looked ridiculous. After much Googling, we found a (really obvious) solution.

Screenshot_2014-11-15-15-57-46

So we went into the settings page by pressing the menu option and then clicked on the name of the blog and changed the default image to around 400 pixels. This seems to be working for us at the moment.

Screenshot_2014-11-15-15-57-04  Screenshot_2014-11-15-15-57-17

 

 

 

Category: Android Apps, blogposts  | Tags: ,  | One Comment
Which Blog Plugins?
Saturday, November 01st, 2014 | Author:

There is an old post where I listed the plugins that we use on our school blog to keep it ticking over and after a few emails with different people recently, and considering it has been three years since that post, I thought I should update it.

At school, our blog site is www.ridersblogs.co.uk and we use WordPress Multisite and this post goes into a bit more detail, but it means that I can install small pieces of code, known as plugins, that will help my site to run in a different way. Some of these are vital, some are cosmetic, some are free and others are paid-for.

If you have any questions about blogging, or if you think I have missed something obvious, please let me know. I am always trying new plugins to see how they work and how they can improve our blogging experience.

Akismet – This should, in theory, catch all of the spam and prevent it from reaching your comment page. Some does occasionally get through but it does a good job of stopping most of it.

Custom Meta – Very simple but on the normal WordPress page there is a small menu giving 5 options such as log in and the RSS feeds. With this plugin, I can choose which of those 5 to show and for most of the time, it’s just log-in so that teachers and children can easily get to the sign-in page.

Diamond Multisite Widget – A huge discovery. So much so that I blogged about this plugin when I found it. When you have 20+ blogs as we do, it can be hard to curate a menu of the links to them all. What if someone accidentally find a a Year 6 blog, you’d like a link on there to other blogs in your school, right? This plugin does that. It puts links to all of your blogs on the side of each blog ensuring that there is always a list of the blogs that are active across the whole school. Before this plugin, I had to manually edit a list of links on each blog. Urgh.

User Role Editor – Another favourite. With WordPress you can different levels of user e.g. administrator but there are times when you only want children (or staff) to be able to do limited things such as write and edit their own blog posts. This plugin lets you create a role for the children and assign different capabilities to that role.

Unfiltered MU – Occasionally when a user wants to embed a video from a site such as Animoto or some sound from Soundcloud, WordPress was removing the HTML embed code. This plugin helps to prevent the code being removed.

Feedjit – This is a simple display of the last 10 or so people to visit your blog. This is great when showing it to a class as more often than not, at least one will be a non-UK based visitor leading to a discussion about where in the world that city or country might be.

WPMU Dev Dashboard (Paid for) – I have subscribed to the WPMU Dev package as it provides me with a range of plugins and themes that I have setup on different blogs within the school. I have also made a few blogs for other schools too so having extra, high-quality themes is very useful.

Easy Blogging (Paid for) – This is an amazing plugin. It is part of the WPMU DEV package but you can also buy it separately. What does it do? To put it simply, it can be set so that users of a certain level e.g. children, only see certain options when they sign in. So I have this set to allow children to only see “New Post” and “My Posts” and that’s it. They won’t get to see the comments or any of the other options that are potentially available to them. When combined with the User Role Editor, this becomes a very useful plugin. There is also the option to turn this on when logged in as a teacher meaning that the less-confident teachers can log-in, click “Enable” and be presented with a cut-down screen with just the things they need. Awesome.

 

A VLE Alternative
Wednesday, April 24th, 2013 | Author:

**This isn’t all finished yet, but I’ve been asked to post my progress so far – it also gives chance for feedback!**

This post was started because many schools in Hampshire are looking for ways in which they can remove their VLE and use an alternative. So I thought I would put together a post based on the common tools within a VLE, particularly the one used in Hampshire, and then give some ideas of alternatives. Many of these alternatives will be Google Apps-based or blog-based, but there are also others too.

The main thing to remember is that choosing a variety of tools is going to take more work than buying a VLE with all of the tools built-in. However, the obvious benefit to using other tools will be cost. Many of the tools used will be free but there is the obvious cost of time in setting up some of these tools and configuring them to meet your needs. Over the coming weeks, these pages will get updated to include how-to guides and videos.

The plan is that this post will develop into something I can share with schools if they decide to drop their VLE and are looking for alternatives.

For help with blogging or Google Apps, feel free to contact me for further advice. To setup Google Apps yourself, use the guide here or just get an overview here.

Some common tasks and VLE tools:

If you have any tools that could be added to these pages, please let me know so that I can add them on.

 

A Blogging Update
Saturday, February 16th, 2013 | Author:

Over two years ago, I wrote a blogging post giving some ideas for schools to get started and with the news that Posterous is closing, it makes sense to look at this and see if it is all still relevant. I must declare an interest in that I was a Blogger user, but moved to WordPress, so I do prefer the latter but maybe this is just because I am more used to it? But at the end of the day, just get blogging. Whether this is for you as a teacher sharing ideas or if it’s with your class, it doesn’t matter. Just do it.

When starting a blog, there are a few choices.

1) Blogger – This is free. This is very simple to use and takes seconds to setup. It’s easy to post to, manage and share your posts. An example from @shelibb is here. Simply sign-in with your Google login.

You can enable Blogger through Google Apps, but I wouldn’t suggest it because then your children can post without any input or control from the teachers. The first time a teacher would see the post or any comments, is when they are live to the world. Not great. Guy Shearer has written about a way around this. His article is here.

2) KidBlog – This is free. I’ve never used this but it comes highly recommended. This provides logins for your pupils too.
3) Primary Blogger – This is free. It uses the WordPress service, but has been tweaked with primary schools in mind. This means it comes with a stack of plugins and upgrades to improve it for school use. Takes a little bit longer than Blogger, but gives more customisation. I would avoid WordPress.com, although free, as it isn’t as good as Primary Blogger. One great option within WordPress (and I don’t know if it’s available in Blogger – I did try looking but couldn’t find anything) is the ability to have different levels and roles. So in my class, the teacher can write and post automatically, but when a child logs in, they can only write a draft post, which the teacher needs to check later.

 

This guide here says that Blogger is quicker, easier but with less options. It says:
So the choice is clear: If you want the fullest set of blogging features, you want WordPress, but if you’re looking for simplicity and streamlined blog creation and posting, Blogger is the way to go.

Now I know many people will want simplicity, but there are reasons for spending the extra time and going with WordPress.

Another way of blogging is to use a self-hosted WordPress. This is where you go to WordPress.org, download the WordPress software and install it online using a web hosting service. This will probably cost around £50 for 2gb of space and a domain name (via CS New Media). There are people that can do this for you though, such as John Sutton and Creative Blogs! It then gives you the option of having all of your blogs under one roof. Although financially this will only cost around £50, it is worth noting that there may be considerable time setting this up, learning how the software works and customising it for your school. There are many people that can help with this though, do get in touch for more information.

 

Our school blog www.stjohnsblogs.co.uk works using the self-hosted blog. I have the main, whole school blog, then there are 15 or so other blogs across the school that all follow the same rules and have the ability to have the same users. So, giving Issy in my class as an example, with her one login, she can login to my class blog, the School Council and the whole school blog. She simply logs in and chooses which one to post to. I can also then have one admin user which can manage every blog while every other teacher just has the login for their own blog. I get control, they get simplicity.

 

We have also recently started giving children their own blogs which they have been using to share a few ideas (www.stjohnsblogs.co.uk/children) As I said, WordPress does take a little bit longer to set up, but once it’s done, you only have to update it now and again (this takes a few clicks). So even if you have 100s of options, you don’t need to use them all do you? We have six year-olds that can blog on WordPress, so it’s not that difficult is it? In Reception, we blog with an app via our PlayBooks and there are also apps for Android and Apple too. You can also enable plug-ins to turn on the feature that lets you email your posts to your blog.

Why a paid WordPress over a free one? Embedding content e.g. Animoto, Photopeach and Youtube tends to work better in a paid blog.

As I said earlier, it doesn’t matter which tool you use, just try and start blogging with your class and share their learning with the world.

Category: Blogging, blogposts  | Tags: ,  | 4 Comments
Some Resources for a New Year
Sunday, September 02nd, 2012 | Author:

For many teachers, this week sees the return to the classroom and I have found that there are so many places to get great ideas and resources so I thought I would share some that I have been using lately. Some are old favourites, some are relatively new sites.

Literacy Shed – http://www.literacyshed.com (created by @redgierob)

I love this site. It is beautiful and I can’t believe how quickly it has grown. The site comprises of a range of videos covering different areas of Literacy such as Adventure, Fantasy or Mystery. There are also loads of other videos that cover other cultures or inspiration or animation and there are often ideas of how to use these videos in the classroom. One of the earlier examples was the animation from Pixar showing the birds on the telephone wire. This video could be used to discuss bullying. This can be found here. Another example is the clip from Finding Nemo that shows Nemo going to school for the first time. I will be using this tomorrow with my class to discuss feelings about the new school year and talking about any worries the children might have about joining Year 3.  (I must say that not all of the videos are from Pixar!!)

Videos are on YouTube and/or Vimeo so providing that is allowed in school, you’ll be fine.

7PuzzleBlog – http://7puzzleblog.com/ (created by @7puzzle)

This is a site that I will be using every week. Each day there are three (or four) challenges posted related to various different areas of Maths. These challenges are great for the start of a Maths lesson to get children thinking. I will be using these with my top-set Year 3/4 and although the site is only a few months old, there is a huge stack of challenges already.

An example challenge is below.

From the following list:

3   7   10   11   15   16   17   27   30   32   36   48   49   56   64   72   80   81

find the ONLY number left remaining when you eliminate:

  • square numbers
  • multiples of 8
  • factors of 60
  • prime numbers

Teaching Websites – http://www.teachingwebsites.co.uk/ (created by @markw29)

This is a collection of sites created by Mark Warner that include useful appz for tablets, great videos and also teaching news. There are loads of great tools here and it is well worth having a look.

Ideas to Inspire/Interesting Wayswww.ideastoinspire.co.uk (also Mark’s site)

I love the Interesting Ways series and these could be used for staff meetings and you’d still not be able to use everything in one year. There are tips for using tools from Wordle to Prezi and from Nintendo DSs to Visualisers. These are great crowd-sourced tips to get anyone started.

QuadBlogging – http://quadblogging.net/ (created by @deputymitchell)

We will be blogging (via www.stjohnsblogs.co.uk/class8) and one of the first things I did this Summer was to sign-up to the Quad Blogging movement started by David Mitchell. The aim is to link your class blog with 3 other classes to help promote the blogs to an audience. This project has had a massive impact to schools across the world and this term there are over 100 quads that will hopefully be blogging and commenting! Our quad consists of schools in Australia, New Zealand and the United States so it will definitely be bringing our learning to a wider audience.

100 Word Challenge / 5 Sentence Challenge – http://100wc.net (created by @theheadsoffice)

Another project that I have never really got involved in before is the 100 Word Challenge. This is a weekly challenge where Julia will set a prompt containing a few words or a picture and the children then write 100 words on that prompt. The 5 Sentence challenge is a similar concept, but for less-able writers. The children then write a blog post containing their 100 words and post the link on the 100WC page. Our aim will be to blog as many of the entries as we can but we may start by using it as a morning activity during the register.

Rethinking ICT – http://rethinkingict.wikispaces.com/ (created by @chrisleach)

There has been a lot of talk about the ICT curriculum and thinking about how we can approach this in a new way. Chris’ site has been developing a lot recently and is well worth a visit. As the year progresses, more content will be added and it will be a key tool in planning exciting ICT lessons.

 

And a few of my sites…

ICT Planningwww.ictplanning.co.uk

I have been trying to get this up and running for a few months now and it is coming together now. I have been adding some how-to guides, lesson plans and blog posts about different tools that we are going to use. I have also linked other ICT curricula on the site too. I hope that it will be useful for anyone that is thinking on changing their ICT curriculum this year.

Under Ten Minuteswww.undertenminutes.com

Another job in the coming weeks is to add more videos on to this tutorial site. I have added a couple lately and the idea is that there will be videos to cover a range of software and websites that we use in school.

 

What sites and resources will you be using this year?

 

Education Blog Awards
Saturday, June 16th, 2012 | Author:

I’d like to say thank you for all of the votes for my blog in both the ‘Teacher’s blog of the year’ and ‘Most Influential Blog of the Year’. Voting has now closed and this blog was outside of the top ten, but thank you for your votes and support anyway.

I had many tweets from people telling me they had voted and it makes me smile to think that my silly ideas, shared links and waffle help other teachers across the country.

So thank you again.

To see the full list of shortlisted blogs, visit here: http://educationblogawards.org/shortlisted-blogs-2012/

And a MASSIVE well done and thank you to Chris Ratcliffe for his hard work in organising the awards in the first place. It’s been a truly epic task and there are a lot of teachers and pupils who are thankful for his hard work.

Are you ready for seconds?
Saturday, June 16th, 2012 | Author:

Are you prepared for a child blogging about your school? What if the Never Seconds blog had happened in your school. What would you have done? How would you have reacted? Would it have been able to happen at all?

For those of you that have been under a rock for the last month, Never seconds is a blog created by a 9year old girl in Scotland with the purpose of rating her school dinners. Each day, she takes a photo, uploads it to the blog and gives the meal a score. Oh and she also happens to be raising money for charity (£45,000+) at the same time. She’s quite a girl is our Martha. (As an aside…@digitalmaverick tweeted and asked what if she had been rating her lessons rather than her lunches? Would we all be so supportive?)

This week, her local council banned her from taking any more photos as the publicity was getting a bit much for them but after a huge amount of support from the public and Jamie Oliver, the council changed their mind and Martha is now allowed to post once more. I have to say that I think the council have made a brave decision in changing their mind and fair play to them.

But the question remains, what would you have done if this happened in your school?

Now it must be said in the majority of schools, I would imagine that Martha wouldn’t have even been allowed to have her own camera in school, let alone in the dining hall to take photographs! So credit should go to the school for allowing her to be proactive in the first place.

I’m not sure what I’d say if a child asked me if they could take photos to share publicly. I think I would give them my permission and blessing but would the teacher in me want to check and approve what they were doing first? It also got me thinking…Do my children have their own blogs outside of school? Should I know about them? Should I check them?

We have been thinking about providing children with their own blogs, but my aim is to use these to share learning but maybe, just maybe, it will promote the use of blogging and the children will want to setup their own too for non-learning things. I know that since I’ve used Twitter in lessons a few children have created their own accounts, so maybe their own blogs are inevitable. Maybe I should praise it because if they’re blogging about something, anything, that they are passionate about then that should be encouraged? It sure has made me think about what we currently do and what we will be doing from September.

In a time when I am looking at how I teach, assess and share ICT across my school, Martha’s story has thrown loads more questions my way and although she’ll never know it, she has inspired me to rethink some plans for my school.

So, thank you, Martha. Enjoy your lunch.

 

ps: Steve Wheeler also blogged about the Never Seconds blog here.

Education Blog Awards 2012
Sunday, May 20th, 2012 | Author:

It’s that time of year again when the best blogs are highlighted and celebrated. This started last year after a conversation with Chris Ratliffe (@chrisrat) amongst others and the fact that there didn’t seem to be a UK-based blogging award. So Chris and his team got to work and one was created. I was lucky enough to be shortlisted last year in the teacher blog category and my school, St John’s, were shortlisted in the whole-school category.

Once a blog is nominated (by anyone), the top ten then get passed on to a selection of judges that then choose the outright winners.

Another great thing is that this highlights the amazing work that is going on in so many classrooms up and down the country and will hopefully get more schools blogging as a result. I know of at least two teachers that got curious about the awards and have since setup their own class blogs as a result. Which is great news for the children involved!

So why not vote for your favourite blogs here: http://educationblogawards.org/

Or look through all of the shortlisted blogs from last year here: http://educationblogawards.org/shortlisted-blogs/