Tag-Archive for ◊ blogging ◊

Child Blogs
Monday, March 26th, 2012 | Author:

Today seems to be a day for thinking towards the future…

We’ve been blogging now for 18months and some children have asked about setting their own blogs up. Now we have class blogs and some children have access to write on these. We also have the children’s blog which everyone has access to, but the main problem with this is that after 10 posts, the previous ones are on page 2 and lost into the ether. After-all, no-one clicks on page 2 do they?

I could give them all access to their class blog and then when they blog they put their name in the tag to differentiate it, but each yeah I’d be moving them al around as they move class. I don’t fancy that!

So I want to use WordPress to setup the blogs instead. Now I don’t want to force a blog on every child as the thought of writing more than they need to would scare some children. So I want to do it as a sign-up system. So my initial thought was a google form where the children fill in some options, I look at the answers and then manually setup a blog for them. They could agree to a set of rules before they get the blog turned on and we could decide them with the children of course.

There is probably a plug-in or something that I could use, but here are some things to think about…

  • Do I set the children up as contributors so that they can write on the blog – and then I’d have potentially hundreds of blog posts and comments to approve…or do I set them up as a higher level so that they post and manage it themselves – with possible e-safety issues when comments come in
  • Is there an automatic way for new blogs to be listed somewhere? There’s no point making new blogs if no-one can find them. I could have a page called ‘Blogs by children’ but would I have to manually make a list of the blogs or could it be done automatically?
  • What happens if a child adds photos of themselves to the blog? If the blog was called ‘Amy’s blog’ then photos would have to be banned
  • Should the children be allowed to choose their own themes and widgets?
  • Should the children’s blogs auto-tweet as well?

Of course I might be thinking of all of this and then it turns out that only two children want their own blog, but still, if two children want it then I should be providing some way for it to happen. I wouldn’t want to be the person forcing them to use non-school systems or worse still, blocking it entirely.

So, if you are a WordPress expert, tips are welcome! If you are a teacher, what do you think? Should children have their own blogs or am I just giving myself more work?

Category: Blogging, blogposts  | Tags:  | 8 Comments
Anti(cyber)-bullying week
Monday, November 14th, 2011 | Author:

During a discussion with Year 3/4 teachers last week, we were talking about anti-bullying week which happens every year. Now we are lucky enough not to have a bullying problem in our school and whether this is down to our children, our staff or our policies, I don’t know, but it doesn’t really happen. So how could we cover anti-bullying week with a new slant?

I thought about our blogs. these are our portal to the world and we discussed cyber bullying. We came up with a plan.

Using a fake name and email address, I clicked on a blog post from each of the year 3/4 classes and left a comment. The comments were either about their line-dancing lesson or the ‘Dress up and Battle as a Roman’ morning. The comments were rude but not too offensive.

For example I said: ” I think you look silly in your shields and hats, I think the Celts would have beaten you”. I wanted it to be enough to get them angry and to question it, but not enough that they would cry or be too upset!!

Now this won’t get picked up by spam filters as I used a real-enough looking email address and name so that it would appear in the moderation queue.

I hadn’t thought of this as being risky until I shared the idea on Twitter so I wonder. What are the risks?

Children could get VERY upset – Hopefully not, we’ll only be displaying the message for a short time before we delete it or spam it as a class.

Parents could get involved – Again, I hope not! But if they do, we will discuss why we are doing it. I believe it is a serious message and the children are old enough and mature enough to deal with it. We are not asking parents permission before we do this and we will not even discuss it with them afterwards.

The messages will never go live and will only be seen by 30 children per class.

How do you cover cyber-bullying or online safety?  Is this a good idea? Or a risky one?

To YouTube or not to YouTube?
Thursday, November 03rd, 2011 | Author:

On our school blog we currently have a lot of images and pictures but we are starting to think of a better way of sharing videos. The way that I see it is that there are a number of tools available to us and they all have merits but recently my thinking has changed.

Previously we had used Viddler as YouTube and Vimeo were blocked in Hampshire schools. I know loads of people use Vimeo and it is a very similar service to Viddler but the videos tend to take longer to upload and convert compared to Viddler. When setting up Viddler accounts, we based it on the free model and created one account per teacher. This gave us 1GB of space but limited bandwidth, ideal for a school sharing some short, simple videos. The biggest problem with Viddler is uploading multiple videos in one go. If often uploads a couple then loses the rest and you have to start again. This is very frustrating, especially when my digital leaders (the children) are the ones doing the uploading.

But as I said, my thinking is changing. We now have the ability to use YouTube (and Vimeo) in school. So I am starting to think about using YouTube to upload videos and share them with an audience. These would all be on one school channel and the channel would be public to all. But I could also unlist the videos so that I still get the ’embed’ code, but the videos aren’t searchable. Obviously I will be following all other school policies and procedures.

There are many red lights that flash up straight away but are they valid?   Here are some of my initial thoughts and comments from people on Twitter:

The YouTube comments can be offensive!

True, but you can set the videos to have comments disabled or better yet, to be moderated before they go live. This works in the same way as our blog. Yes, it would be a little bit more work, but I think comments on YouTube could be a good thing.

What about child protection?

Well we either have permission to put a child on the internet or we don’t. Putting them on a (safe) YouTube page is no different from our school website or blog.

Why not use a service designed for schools such as SchoolsTube?

I could, but why not use the largest and most popular video service available? Why limit our great work to a small audience? Wouldn’t it be great if one of our videos got over 100 views? or 1,000? We’re about to create Clash of the Titans-style animations and sharing them with the world could be amazing.

Could the children start making their own channels? 

We manage our YouTube accounts through Google Apps, so maybe in the future, they could have their own accounts and add their own videos. Obviously they’d need to follow school rules, but why not?

What about the people that can’t access YouTube?

True, some schools would be missing out on viewing our videos because they are on YouTube, but then I would imagine a lot of these schools have most video-based sites blocked anyway! Plus, our main audience is our parents who would be accessing the videos from home where YouTube is enabled.

So what are your thoughts? I am in a primary school with children aged 4-11. Does the age of the children matter?

Which Blog Plugins?
Friday, September 02nd, 2011 | Author:

Just a short post today. I am often asked which plugins we have on our school blog to help it run and to manage it so I have made a list. Now I know there are people out there who have more knowledge and expertise than I do and I’d love them to correct me or provide new plugins too, but here is our list: http://stjohnsblogs.co.uk/which-plugins/

Hopefully you can find them useful too.

Bear in mind you will probably need a self-hosted blog for these to work rather than one from wordpress.com

Category: Blogging, blogposts  | Tags: , , ,  | One Comment
A useful plugin for WordPress
Wednesday, July 13th, 2011 | Author:

This post will appeal to about 0.1% of you, but for me, it marked a huge win and a triumph that I have finally found the answer to my problems.

We have one main school blog and then on each class blog we have a list of links that relate to our other blogs. The idea is that from any of our blogs, whether it be class 3, class 10 or the outdoor blog, you can get to all of the others.

This was setup manually so on each of our 15-or-so blogs I had to manually enter the addresses for the other blogs. They have changed a few times during the year (added reception, removed school council) and it’s been a pain.

But then today I found the Diamond Multisite Widget (available here) and this just automatically adds all of your blogs onto your page and you can also choose to add the latest comments from across your whole-school blog site too. I previously had the latest comments per blog e.g. the latest 5 from the clubs blog, now it shows them all. I’m much happier. It all looks better 🙂

Anyways, that was my little success today.

Category: Blogging, blogposts  | Tags: ,  | 2 Comments
Blogging with children
Monday, February 07th, 2011 | Author:

I originally wrote this article to appear in the Spring edition of User Friendly, Hampshire’s ICT magazine. As the magazine has now appeared in schools, I thought it would be a good idea to copy it below for you all to see. I wrote this in October 2010.

Do your children blog? No? Why not? Blogging is a fantastic way of sharing and celebrating the learning that is going on within your school. I know that you already do this with your learning platform, but blogging takes it to another level and allows your children’s learning to be seen from anywhere in the world. I am writing this in October half-term and our school’s blogs have been viewed 9,500 times in 7 weeks. (Edit 7/2/11 this is now 69,000 visits) We have had people visit from USA, Canada, South Africa and the Far East. This creates a huge buzz of excitement and we have had people comment that we have inspired them which makes us (and the children) feel very proud indeed. There is the blog feature within Wizkid and while this is great, it would limit the children to writing within the school and not for a wider audience. I am not sure about blog features in other VLEs, but I am sure they offer similar tools.

Before you start:

Check your photo permissions. You will have done this for your website and for your VLE already and this is just another thing on the list of tools that require photographs. You can of course blog without photos and just include the backs of children’s heads or just their work, it is up to you.

Three ways to setup a blog in school:

Pros Cons
WordPress.com Simple to setup

Free

Limited names available if you want class6 etc

You’d have to find and install plugins and themes

Primaryblogger.co.uk Simple to setup (you can have a blog in 60 seconds)

Free

Plugins provided

Themes provided

Spam filter provided

Not as much control as a self-hosted blog (but still great)
Self-hosted WordPress Full control over the name e.g. www.stjohnsblogs.co.uk

Full control over all themes, plugins and options

Small technical knowledge needed to setup a domain

Hosting £5-20 a year

Please note: There are other ways such as Blogger, Typepad etc but at the time of writing Blogger is blocked so I have focused on WordPress. I would suggest looking at primaryblogger.co.uk as it would help the majority of people get blogging in minutes.

Settings:

You MUST make sure that you check the box that says ‘requires admin approval before comments go live’, this can be found under the Settings>Discussion menu. This means that any comments from the outside world get vetted by you before going public. Just in case you get some dodgy visitors and comments.

Setup a map or globe from www.clustrmaps.com or http://www.revolvermaps.com/ so that you can see who has visited your blog.

Now what?

Now you can start blogging. Blog when you feel like it. Blog when you want to show things off. Blogging makes a great plenary tool at the end of a lesson to show what you have done or what you have learnt. You can also use blogging to ask questions for the readers and visitors. Use it to show off the ‘silly little things’ that happen in your school on a daily basis, parents will love this. This half-term we have had photos of aliens we have sewn together, leaves made out of numbers, instruction writing and games made in 2DIY.

One key thing is to get the children involved. We often login for them as the teacher and then let them write the text. This way they are becoming a part of the process, then you can check it and press ‘Publish’ before it goes live.

More advanced:

Why not combine it with a tool such as Animoto or Photopeach and make your photos a bit more exciting? You can embed most things into a blog so you could have a Google map or a Voki or a PrimaryPad.

Some examples:

http://www.stjohnsblogs.co.uk – St John the Baptist Primary, Hampshire (My school)

http://blackfield6ao.wordpress.com/ – Blackfield Primary, Hampshire

http://fordingbridgejunior.blogspot.com/ – Fordingbridge Junior, Hampshire

http://tobythepuppy.wordpress.com/ – Fordingbridge Junior, Hampshire

http://hmsastute.wordpress.com/ – Titchfield Primary, Hampshire

http://heathfieldcps.net/ – Heathfield School, Bolton

E-Safety to consider:

  • Make sure you have permissions to include the children’s names/photographs on your blog
  • Ensure that an adult is in control of what gets posted and when – both when writing blog posts and commenting on a blog
  • Talk to the children about the blog, what it is used for and ways of using it appropriately

One last top tip – Once you setup a blog, send my classes a comment and we’ll visit your blog and say hello. It’s always useful to share the experience with other schools.

For a more in-depth guide to setting up a blog including which plugins to use, please visit my blog: www.ianaddison.net and search for wordpress.

Ian Addison

ICT Coordinator,

St John the Baptist Primary School

Bears that travel…
Monday, January 03rd, 2011 | Author:

Just a quick post to share an idea that I’ve stolen magpied from a fellow teacher. I have asked and she is fine for me to do so and I am not claiming this to be my own idea at all. I am just taking it and developing it.I will link back to her work when this idea comes to fruition.

It all started yesterday morning when I saw a tweet from a teacher in New Zealand asking if anyone had a home for her class pet, Trevor. He travels the world spending a few weeks in different schools. While there, his hosts (the children) write about his journey, their area and country and they post pictures. You can see Trevor’s adventures here: http://trevjunior.edublogs.org/

Now I thought this was great and set about planning which teacher at school I would ask. I have lots of contacts on Twitter so the bear would have plenty of holiday homes around the UK to visit. But then I thought, what if others want to do the same? So I started thinking about planning a website to host it al so that anyone can get a bear and send it to another school.

With @mattlovegrove’s help, we will have one main site that explains how it all works and links to the blogs and then teachers can signup to blogs for their class pet. People can also offer their class as a possible holiday destination too. This could be done through a simple google form for example. The pets (and their children) can then decide where to send him to next.The site will be based on WordPress and full of guides to show how to blog, upload pictures, videos etc.

While he is away on holiday, there can be lots of communication between the two classes, building community cohesion/global awareness/whatever box you want to tick but mainly getting the children enthused about the world around them. We could also build up a google map for each bear’s travels so far. Then when the holiday is over, he may go back to his home class or he may go on to another holiday.(Maybe they could have a passport?)

We’ll start slowly, we’ve only just finished the initial conversation but I think we should have something to show in a little while.

So do you think your class pet needs a holiday? Could you get an additional pet just for travelling?

Now what do we call this? classpetholidays.com? bearsthattravel.com? Any ideas?

Letting the children loose
Monday, November 08th, 2010 | Author:

Yet another blogging post, it seems to be taking over at the moment but in a very good way. This week’s challenge was to see how children could get access to blog. I know Adam has been blogging, and that is fine for one child, but i want all of Year 5-6 to have the ability to blog eventually. So I needed to find a way of managing their accounts without adding them 1-by-1.

@hgjohn suggested using the Dagon importer tool. So I installed it and was blown away by the simplicity.

Firstly I needed a list of children, not a problem as we have CSV files of the children everywhere. I’ve used these to make logins for Purple Mash, our VLE and for J2E. I needed to give them all email addresses, but actually, these could be made up, so I made them up. I then gave them all ‘password’ as their password and copied this CSV, with all of it’s commas, into word. I replaced the commas with | as this is what the importer tool needed. I could then copy and paste these names into WordPress and set all of the children as contributors.

15minutes later and 240 children ( I decided to add Y3/4 while I was at it) now all have a simple login to their class blogs. As contributor they can write but not publish. Tomorrow I will start a trial with 1 very keen girl and hopefully our first children will be blogging by the end of the week.

You know what? This has all been hard work, but it’s well worth it. We showed our blogs to local pyramid heads today and they loved them too. So much so I am being shared amongst their schools to help set it all up for them.

Exciting times indeed…

Category: Blogging, blogposts  | Tags:  | 3 Comments