Thursday, June 23, 2011 and

How to use pictures from

Find a picture you want to use.
It won’t let you copy the regular sized picture.
Here’s what to do:

Click on picture to get to the picture without all the additional items.
Copy that URL
Don’t forget to remember or write down who the photographer was. Give credit where credit is due.

Go to
(Notice there is no .com)
Paste the URL of the picture at the bottom where it says “Create your own…..”
Enter/return (depending on your computer)
When it finishes converting and loading, right click on picture and save it again.
You’ll notice that it is a png. format inside of jpg. That’s okay.

Now go to
This is a free version of Photoshop. If you want to do a lot of the special effects, you can buy a premium package.

Click: Get started now
You don’t have to register to use this.
Click: Upload a photo.
Find your photo and upload it.
Once picture opens, look at the things you can do.
I am going to crop this picture to remove the extra area on the sides.
Follow directions. Use arrows to move sides, top, bottom to where you want it.
When finished, click okay.
Click: Save and share (It won’t make you share it.)
Save it to your computer. You’ll notice it saves it as a jpg.
It is ready to upload to your blog. Remember to use the jpg version since that's the one you cropped.

Logo from Mobiletor

Thursday, June 3, 2010

One More Thing - How to Leave or Read Comments

Look at the end of a published post. There is a spot that says "comments". Click on that to make a comment about the post. That is how your students respond, but they have to be signed in to their own blogs to be able to leave a comment.

That is also where you respond to their blog posts. If you need some examples, go back to my classroom blog and look at the post about leaving advice. (There is a link for my blog over to the right under "Other Links." It says "Sims' Blog".) When you get there, look at the end of that post, and click on "41 comments". A separate window will pop up and if you wanted, you could read everything all the students wrote.

You will also want to "Follow" all your students' blogs. By doing that, every time they do something on their blog, Blogger will notify you on your "dashboard" on the "Reading List".

Don't forget to E me if you have any questions or need more help. I'd also be willing to come back one morning if there are some of you who would like me to spend some more time with you. (No charge! I'm a cheap date!) Happy blogging! I think that the more you use it, the more you'll love it!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Ideas for Using Blogs in Your Classroom

Using Blogs to Provide Information to the School Community

You can start a class blog to...
• post class-related information such as calendars, classroom events, homework assignments and other important class information.
• communicate with parents and invite their comments.
• post photos of class activities.
• invite student comments or postings on issues.
• publish examples of good student writing done in class.
• exhibit student art, poetry, and other written work.
• build a class newsletter, using student-written articles and photos they take.

Using Blogs to Enhance Student Learning

You can create a classroom blog entirely for student learning. You can use the comment feature to...
• assess student learning by posting writing prompts and having students respond.
• post photos and have students respond to them.
• gather and organize Internet resources for a specific subject, providing links to appropriate sites in a blog entry.
• post tasks to carry out project-based learning tasks with students.
• create a parent/child blog with writing prompts for parents to work on with their children.
• complete project work in small groups, assigning each group a different task.
* provide online readings for your students to read and react to.

Students can create their own blogs to...
• post their own ideas, reactions and written work.
• post their reactions to writing prompts.
• react to photos you post.
• keep a journal for class.
• keep a learning log for class.
• write about their ideas and opinions about topics discussed in class.
• keep a digital portfolio of their work.
• write comments, opinions, or questions on daily news items or issues of interest.
• showcase their best work.

Informal Professional Development

You can create a blog to grow professionally. Use your blog to...
• reflect on teaching experiences.
• write a description of a particular teaching unit.
• save links for later use.
• collaborate with other teachers.
• describe what worked during a lesson and what didn’t.
• provide teaching tips for other teachers.
• write about something you learned from another teacher.
• explore important teaching and learning issues.

You can also read the blogs of other educators to...
• get teaching tips.
• learn about the content area that you teach.
• find out about professional development opportunities.
• get information on new learning technologies.
• learn about teaching and learning issues.
• collaborate with other teachers.

Other Ideas

Week in Review
Appoint a weekly blog team in your elementary classroom to write that week’s blog entry, describing the events of the week in Room XYZ. Invite moms and dads to comment and watch the excitement grow! Soon you will have students begging to write the summaries.

No need to miss out
Those who are at home due to illness will not feel as disconnected from their classroom, a great boon during flu season!

Find the Facts
Post a statement with no supporting facts. Ask students to find facts to support or refute the opinion, using links to reliable web sites and their own persuasive explanations. This could work well for environmental issues, political issues, or any topic that is debatable.

Critique a site
Post a link to a web site related to a topic you are studying and invite students to give their personal evaluation: Does the site show bias? Does it seem well-researched? Is it a reliable source?

Comment on current events
Post a link to a current events story and ask students to comment on its implications in your local community or their own lives. Even young students can respond to stories from the local paper’s online pages.

Write a sports story
Have students write a newspaper-style sports account of their own soccer game or swim meet. Be sure that they do not use full names of any participants. Initials work best (this is a good place for a mini-lesson on Internet safety). Or they could write up actual school teams, but that is not as personal. Encourage them to read and comment to each other or to invite parents to comment (younger students).

Report on a vacation or long weekend
When returning from a break, ask students to write a blog entry from the point of view of the family dog on their weekend trip or even as the duffle bag/suitcase they packed and took along. Always encourage commenting on other’s stories.

Role-play a point of view
Have students write a blog entry from a different angle. Have them write as an inanimate object, such as an igneous rock when you are studying types of rock. Choose curriculum-related people or objects and assign a specific thing they must talk about, preferably something that will prompt a heated opinion and require that they demonstrate understanding of curriculum, as well. Ex. You are a colonist, and you just found out that they are going to tax your tea.

“Meet” during snow days and unexpected days off
If you teach in an area of the world that is prone to sudden days off due to inclement weather, make a deal with your students that they will earn extra credit for posting to the blog on such days. As soon as you find out that you have the day off, go on the class blog as a teacher and post a prompt, even something as simple as “What unexpected surprises did you have this snow day?” After they come in from playing in the snow, they’ll love having something else to do. Note: for those without Internet access at home, allow them to WRITE on paper for extra credit and help them find time at school to post, so they do not feel left out.

Report on a field trip or virtual field trip
Have students act as reporters telling about a field trip or special event. They can pretend to have interviewed a cow at the farm they visited or be straightforward in reporting the real events of the trip. Students could also write up a virtual field trip they took online in class.

Write a neighborhood or community tour with pictures
As a culmination of a unit on your community or local history create a neighborhood or community tour blog. Each student (or pair) can take and upload a picture and tell about it. Then invite others in the school or parents to make comments about their favorite locations. Be sure that you do not include any picture of students, for safety’s sake.

Bounce around a hot topic
Middle-schoolers always have an exaggerated sense of what is “fair.” Use their strong opinions to spark dialog on your blog. Should backpacks be allowed in class? Are the required gym uniforms fair? Listen for hot topics, then use them to develop logical thinking and writing with support for your opinions. High schoolers can take this even further by discussing topics outside their immediate surroundings.

Make a “suggestion box” blog
Invite students to contribute ideas to make the classroom a better place or make it a better course.

Question blog
Invite students to submit a question about course content, related ideas, or “I have always wondered” in advance of starting a new unit. Asking everyone to express one curiosity before starting the unit will give you a place to focus and make the content more meaningful to them. This idea is sort of an electronic KWL Chart!

Study hint blog
Give extra credit for study hints posted before a test or quiz.

Fitness blog
Encourage students to post ideas for healthy eating and exercise. They can tell how far they ran or what healthy options they have found in the cafeteria.

Organization tips
Invite students to share tips for how they stay organized, not just for school, but for life. Maybe parents can contribute too: “I always put a post-it note on my steering wheel to remember to drop off DVDs at the rental place.” Seeing how others stay organized really helps the more scatter-brained folks who never thought of these ideas. Ask some teachers and others in the school to contribute, too -- maybe even the principal. Learning support and ADHD students would really benefit from this one.

Recipes for success
At the end of a unit, a marking period, or even school year, have students write “recipes for success” in that unit, class, etc. These can remain for others to try in the future. Encourage actual recipe format, including ingredients and procedure.

Recipes—for real
As you study fractions, world languages, or different cultures, nothing is more popular than using recipes. Have your students share one on the class blog then comment if they try one that another student posted.

Blog Ice Breaker
This is especially effective near the start of the school year. Use student-selected pseudonyms to register your student users (they must tell only you what their secret identity is) and allow them to comment outside of class on hot topics from class discussion for a few weeks. After a few weeks, ask in class if anyone thinks they know who the others REALLY are and if they can match all pseudonyms to actual classmates. This is a great way to allow even the shyest people to comment without fear to start the year and to find out which quiet, non-participants in class are quite vocal at a computer. Your students will know each other far better, creating a greater sense of classroom community.

Four Images
As a first blog entry to allow students to get to know both each other and the blogging tool, use an adaptation of this idea from high school math teacher Dan Meyer. Ask each student to use four images to describe himself/herself and explain how those images define who they are.

Lab research collaboration
In a high school science class, encourage students to share lab data they found and collaborate in writing up lab reports on the class blog. You can require lab report format, but other lab partners can read and comment on reports they feel are great (or lacking). This also allows students to se the variety of data collected from the class. Even if you only require one “blogged” lab report a marking period, the process will make a difference.

Continuing Stories
Start a blog story (set up the setting, characters, and initial situation in an opening paragraph) and let each student who visits comment by adding a sentence or two. If someone gets unruly or ridiculous, the other authors will quickly comment to that effect! You can make the story support curriculum, too. For example, the story could be “historical fiction” about a family during the Civil War or baby geese that are migrating.

Continuing Vocabulary
Start a blog story at the beginning of the year as you begin vocabulary in your English class. Each week, require students to add to the story, using a logical sentence that both fits the story and uses one of that week’s vocab words. The stories will become lengthy and outrageous as the year goes on, but the kids will be re-reading the words over and over to reinforce them -- and laughing as they do! They will NEVER forget those words!

How to Create Your Own Blog

1 Go to

2. You will need an Email address and password. Type it in. Sometimes you have to try different passwords if it is already in use.

3. Name your blog (type in blog title)

4. Blog address – I usually use the title of the blog without the spaces.

5. Check availability. This can take several tries and be very frustrating.

6. Once the address is approved, type in the word verification then continue.

7. Choose a template. You can always change it later and I’ll show you how to do that.

8. Continue

9. Your blog has been created!

How to Change Your Template

1. Once you have made your blog, you might want to change the template, or background, for a more unique or individualized appearance.

2. There are several sites you can go to, but one of my favorites is I also like Blogger also has new templates and layouts.
Students like to go to, but that is obvious blocked. If you have your students do this, make sure the ones they select are school appropriate.

3. Once you find a template you like, “get the code” and follow directions.

4. Blogger may ask you if you want to save your widgets. Click yes.

How to Add a Gadget to Your Blog

1. At the top right of your blog you’ll see the following:
Email address
“New Post”
“Sign Out”
2. Click “Design”
3. It will take you to your Layout.
4. There are two places you can add a gadget – side or bottom
I put the larger items, such as my blogging rules, at the bottom and put my links to the side. The side items are easier for the students to find. You also won’t have to scroll to the bottom of your blog to find them.
5. Click “Add a gadget” and explore.
6. Please note that there are many gadgets that would not be school appropriate if your students use the “Most popular” or “More gadgets”.
7. “Polls” can be interesting. You’ll see that I added that on the blog I did about Beowulf.
8. Click “Link List” to add links to your students’ blogs or other sites.
9. Give it a title. (I called mine “First Period Blogs”.)
10. Type in the URL for the site.
11. Type in the New Site Name. (I called mine “Rie’s blog.)
12. Click “Add a Link”
13. Two ways you can continue:
a. Do steps 10, 11, and 12 for each of your student’s blogs and then click save after you have added all of them.
b. Do steps 10, 11, and 12 for one blog and then click save. If you do that, it will take you back to the dashboard. To add more, click “edit” by First Period Blogs and it will take you back to the gadget.
14. You must click “Add a Link” each time you add a new URL.
15. When you have all your links added and saved, view your blog. I always double check to make sure they do link. If not, you’ve done something wrong.

On your layout page, if you want to change the order of your gadgets, just grab and move it. Don’t forget to “Save” when finished.

How to Add a Video to Your Blog

from YouTube

I always show this video to my students before teaching them how to make a blog. There are numerous "In Plain English" blogs about multiple subjects. You might be able to find some to use.

1. Find a video you want to use. (Try if YouTube is blocked at your school.)
2. Click “embed”
3. Embedment code will pop up.
4. Click on it, hit “control a” then “control c” to copy it
5. Go to blog and make “New Post”
6. Paste (control v) code into post area
7. Add your credit for where you got the video
8. Return/Enter (depending on your keyboard) and type whatever you want to say about the video
9. Publish Post and view blog