I’ve Moved my Blog!

I like this blog site except for the fact that I can’t post Ning badges. So, I have moved this blog over to Edublogs. Please come and visit me there!

Day 14 Comment Challenge

Ok, I admit I’m too tired to attempt the activity for day 13 so I’m moving on to Day 14. Today’s job is “turn your blog over to your readers and ask them to write a post through the comment section.” That sounds easy enough!

Here is my question: How do I get all the non techie teachers and administrators at my school to start learning about web 2.0 tools, trying them out and seeing their value?

Day 10 Comment Audit

Ok, I’m sneaking right by the day 9 activity and moving right along to day 10 on this the 11th day of the 31 Day Comment Challenge. If I have time I’ll come back to day 9 another time. It’s Mother’s Day, I spent a good part of the day outside weeding-yes I actually enjoy that, and taking photos of the blue jays as they came in to collect their peanuts which is something I hadn’t done in a long time. So, now before I get too far behind I will do a quick look at Michele Martin’s 6 Reasons Why People Aren’t Commenting on Your Blog and see how many of them apply here.

1. You sound like a press release.

Nope, I’m not seeing that at all.

2. You sound like an infomercial.

Well, I did ask about starting a Ning for elementary tech teachers and I do mention it in my posts when I get a chance but I don’t think that it qualifies as sounding like an infomercial.

3. You sound like a know it all.

Since nothing could be further from the truth I don’t think that’s a problem here!

4. You haven’t shown them how.

I’m guilty on this one but I don’t really see myself writing for people new to blogging. However, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to add this somewhere. I did invite the teachers/admin that I work with to check out my blog. They would all be new to blogging. However, looking at visitor paths showed me only one person from my district checked it out.

5. You haven’t created the right atmosphere.

That’s very possible. I’m the shy, quiet, awkward one in a social setting with new people. I’m probably coming across the same way here. Since starting this project I am seeing the importance of open ended questions and responding to comments to encourage the conversations. So, this is something I’ll keep working on.

6. You just don’t seem that into it.

I am passionate about my new job and I think that shows through in my posts.

Now, why I think people aren’t commenting on my blog.

1. I’m new. I’ve only been blogging for six months. I’ve never been a big writer so I’m still trying to find my own voice.

2. Everyday teaching topics-nothing hot off the press, no research, nothing controversial, just topics that are important to me.

3. Don’t comment consistently elsewhere. I read many blogs through RSS so commenting means going through some extra steps and knowing from that blog I’ll probably find a link to another blog and may never get back to my reader. Even when I am on a blog I don’t comment often. Through this challenge I am doing better and hopefully by the end of the month doing at least one comment a day will have become a habit.

How can I improve?

The blue jay pictured above had a hard time getting a peanut out of the feeder. I think the feeder may have been a new experience for him. However, he was persistent and kept attacking the peanuts from different angles. He’d hop down on the ledge take another look and try again. Despite my creeping in closer and closer he kept at it until he got the reward. I feel like that blue jay. Blogging whether it be reading, writing or commenting is a new experience and even though it can be time consuming I keep working at it to learn more about it and to try and improve. My reward is to become a more educated member of the blogoshpere.

Now, I’ll go out on that limb and ask my readers; Do you feel welcome? Do you have any suggestion on how I can improve my blog and get more comments to get a conversation going?

Day 9 of the 31 Day Comment Challenge

Due to the busy week and not being home much in the evenings, four lacrosse games this week, I’m a little behind and mixed up in the daily jobs for the Comment Challenge and guess what? That’s ok! This is something I’m doing for me and if I don’t get to every task or fulfill it exactly right that’s alright as long as I’m trying to improve and taking the time to reflect. So here goes…

Day 4 Ask a Question in a Blog Comment

One of the tasks I’m working on with this challenge is to visit the blogs of people that leave comments on my blog or people that have joined my Ning. That’s not something I have done consistently. So, on one of these visits I went to Nexus and left a question regarding Google Reader. Not a great open ended question, but at least it was a question and a move in the right direction. And Diane did leave a response that was helpful.

Day 5 Comment on a Blog Post You Don’t Agree With

Even though I actually did this activity a day or two ahead of time it was not easy to do. I tend to be very quiet and just go with the flow. If I don’t agree with something I may complain to my friends but I avoid any confrontations. When I did my comment I wrote it in the comment section. I felt I was ranting and it left me feeling very uncomfortable. The response from the blogger was very kind and the person did not feel it was a rant at all. After reading the response I felt better.

Day 6 Engage a Commenter in a Discussion/Day 8 Comment on a Blog Outside of Your Niche

Ok, I cheated a little bit here. I did find a blog through Technoroti and it was a topic I never read about in a blog before. However, it included two other passions-photography and gardening. I’ve decided I need to find something to learn more about that doesn’t directly involve school . I’ve been spending way too many hours learning on line these last 6 months. I love it but it is becoming too consuming. So, I’ve decided I want to become a better photographer. I can still use the computer to learn but it won’t just be school related learning. So far I’ve only been to one blog. It was a very simple blog. It was a photograph accompanied with a short description. From my brief visit I don’t think the blog will help me become a better photographer, but I did enjoy some photos. The comments were mainly one line comments. I can do that! I did leave a comment for another commenter. Like I said, I cheated! I will try to make up for these two steps this weekend by finding more substantial blogs and leaving a more reflective comment.

Day 7 Comment on what you’ve learned so far-include 3 lessons learned

Lesson 1-I think I will learn even more if I engage in the practice of asking more questions on blogs. I need to work on making them more open ended and thoughtful.

Lesson 2-Although disagreeing with a post made me very uncomfortable I survived and was not perceived as being negative or wrong. Since I survived perhaps I’ll try again. The downside is that this type of comment takes longer to write because I want to make sure I have it worded correctly.

Lesson3-I am thankful I was prodded to look for other blogs outside of education. The blog I read was not really helpful but I will be back looking for some sites on photography or gardening that I will be able to learn from. Reading about other topics I’m not particularly interesed in might be a good idea but time seems to be a short commodity these days so I’m sticking with topics of interest for right now, at least I got away from education!

31 Day Comment Challenge

I saw a Tweet for the 31 Day Comment Challenge. So, I headed over to Kim Confino’s site and read about it and decided I would participate. Yesterday I went to two sites and left comments. Today I found out there are some suggestions/rules for the challenge. For a change I’m ahead of the game. One I did yesterday was on a site I had never commented on before and I disagreed with what the person said-I think that’s an upcoming activity. So, now I’ll back track and do yesterday’s activity and answer the self audit questions.

  • How often do you comment on other blogs during a typical week?-Less than once a week.
  • Do you track your blog comments? How? What do you do with your tracking?-I keep track of comments on my own blog and try hard to respond now that I know that’s a good thing to do. About a week ago I signed up for coComment. I use it to see read what other’s have written since I was there and to see if the blogger responded.
  • Do you tend to comment at the same blogs or do you try to comment on at least one new blog per week?-I’m not a regular anywhere.

Then I took a look at Gina Trapani’s Guide to Blog Comments. Since I’m still pretty new to this and haven’t done much commenting I’m doing well with her suggestions. The one thing I need to do is own my comment. I usually sign with open ID and that puts down my web name and I don’t sign my name in my response. So, that’s something I’ll try to remember to do on future posts. I agree that’s important. Sometimes my comments start to get too long or I start to get off topic but usually I catch that and fix it before posting.

I’ve been giving some thought to why I don’t comment more often. One reason is that often what I want to say has already been said, so according to Gina Trapani I’m doing the right thing by not saying it again. Another reason is that I’ve never been much of a writer so when I do a post, even if it’s short, it’s probably taken me quite a long time to put my words down in a way that I like. Hopefully, the more I write the quicker I’ll become at posting a comment.

Ok, now off to read a few posts in my rss feeder, I have over 1000 to choose from, and find one to comment on. Shouldn’t be too hard….

Twitter Poll

I asked my first Twitter Poll question last night, Does your elementary school have a tech (computer lab) teacher?

Here are the results:

17 people responded

4 have full time tech teachers-1 will be cut next year.

In one district only the Title 1 schools have a tech teacher.

2 have part time teachers-1 also teaches art and 1 manages the library and is only allowed to teach keyboarding.

2 have a TA or aide as the tech teacher

2 have technology facilitators and 1 will have a facilitator next year.

6 have no tech teachers although one will be having technology added as a special next year and one will have a facilitator next year.

What do these results mean to me? Photo from Marcin Wichary\'s flickr photostream

I feel fortunate to work for a district that has supported technology for a long time. I’ve been here for over 20 years and we’ve had a tech teacher all those years! It’s always been one of our specials. We’ve come along way form those AppleIIEs! We did switch to a TA for about 7 years after our computer teacher retired. But this year we switched back to a certified teacher.

I know there are students in our school that would get little or no time on computers if it was left up to the classroom teacher. I’m sure our district is not unique in this respect. This leaves me very concerned for those districts with no tech teachers or facilitators. If we’re to be preparing our students for the 21st century how is this going to happen if they don’t have access to computers at school and in a more meaningful way than just drill practice.

I’m wondering more about the role of the facilitator. Our lab is open every other day-I go back and forth between two schools. When I took on this job I was hoping to encourage and work with teachers to get them in and use the lab on the days I’m not there. We have a TA that is in the lab to take care of the technical problems and assist teachers when they bring in their classes. Some teachers are using the lab but I have not provided any assistance with trying new tools or anything else. This will become a goal for next year.

New Questions

Those of you that are facilitators, do you work with every teacher? Are the classroom teachers open to learning/trying new things? Do you like this position or do you think being a teacher in the lab would be a better way to reach all the students?

Those of you that are tech teachers in a lab, do you like this position or do you think being a facilitator would be a better way to integrate technology? Do you feel you meet with your students often enough?

Photo from flickr.com Marcin Wichary’s photostream.

Ning for Elementary Tech Teachers

Well, I’ve had 3 people tell me they’d join my Ning for elementary tech teachers if I set one up. So, I decided that was enough motivation to get me started. I was going to put it on my growing summer to do list but changed my mind and started it now. It was very simple since I chose to keep it that way. For now there’s no fancy background or logo just a basic background. Now I just need to put the ideas that have been floating around in my mind on what I what to accomplish with this Ning down in writing and get started.

Why a NING?

As a first year tech (computer lab) teacher, but over 20 years teaching experience, I feel alone. I do ask the classroom teachers what they’re doing in class and try to do projects that go along with their classroom learning, but it’s not the same as sitting down with a grade level team and planning out the weeks together. I see a Ning for elementary tech teachers as a place where I can at least go to ask advice and share ideas and sometimes vent frustrations. I’m hoping it will also become a place where we can share lesson plans. I’m not sure a Ning is the best venue for this but at least it’s a start and something we can discuss.

What to Include on the Ning?

Photos of how are labs are set up.

What web2.0 tools are we using and how are we using them.

How is Internet Safety being addressed. What can/should we be doing at the elementary level?

Post an example of a completed project with grade level and basic directions.

Discuss how to get teachers using technology in the classrooms.

Share links that we use in the lab.

Blog-I’m looking forward to using the Ning blog as a personal blog where I can write weekly about what’s happening in class and what I might change next time around.

Discussion about keyboarding-when do you start? How much emphasis do you place on it?

Who Should Join the NING?

Elementary technology teachers that are looking for new ideas and are willing to share and learn.

Taking a quick look at my Twitter Poll answers to the question; Does your elementary school have a tech (computer lab) teacher?, the Ning might also be helpful to those of you that are on your own teaching computer skills. (I’m quickly seeing that our district is very fortunate to have a tech teacher.)

Anyone else is also welcome to join. Come and give your 2cents on how these and other topics should be addressed in class.

What Else?

I’m sure I’ve left out many things that could be included here. But that’s ok. That’s one of the things I like about the Ning. It’s easy for others to start a discussion or a group.

If you’re someone that can benefit from the Elementary Tech Teachers Ning I hope to see you there!

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