Blogging, collaboration, Uncategorized

Collaboration~Your Key to a Better Blog

Back in the day teachers were master hoarders.  They kept great lessons to themselves, self created activities were top secret, and articles written were published with one author and one author only.  

Then along came tools like Google, and all of a sudden people were able to easily collaborate together.  This meant a huge cultural shift in educational settings. Every educator is faced with the question of “to collaborate or not to collaborate.” It also raises these questions: “What does good collaboration look like?” and  “Why would I want to collaborate if what I am doing is working for me?”

creativecollaborationisawesome.jpg

 

When it comes to blogging, I learned that my posts became much stronger when I was open to sharing and collaborating with my colleagues. My preferred method of sharing was through Google Docs. I was fortunate to have some really good writers on my team.  People who have a different perspective than mine are invaluable critics of my work.  People who are more detailed oriented than me are also invaluable to my work.  I like to move quickly and think big and picking things apart just isn’t in my nature.  We all have weaknesses even if we don’t realize it.  Being open to critique will identify your weaknesses and help make whatever you are creating even better.  

Being open to criticism is a refined skill. The things is, once you pause to consider how it could help you produce higher quality work, it becomes essential.  I encourage you to find one or two people who are willing to look at your posts before you post. Look for someone who isn’t exactly like you.  A little dissonance can be a good thing in a critic. What you don’t want to hear is, “looks good to me”.  This is not helpful.  With a good critic and collaborator your written work improves and it might even spark a new idea for your next post.  

Now that I am working for little ole’ me, I miss having my team around to look over my work.  I am so used to collaborating that I am positive that what I am creating now isn’t as good as it used to be because I am missing out on their input.  So if you have a couple of people who are game to work with you, take advantage of it and be open to their ideas, and critiques.  

I have shared this video several times in the past during training sessions, but it is really beneficial for those of us who have a difficult time working with constructive criticism.  

Austin’s Butterfly 

Do you have a favorite method to share and work together?  Please leave me a comment on your views of teacher collaboration.

 

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Uncategorized

How to Make Blog Post Titles That Rock

OK so you’ve committed yourself to attempting to create and to keep up with your blog.  You’ve got your first post idea rolling around in your head and maybe you’ve even started drafting out the content. Great! Now how what about that title?  The trick to a solid title is to catch the reader’s attention and convey immediately the point of the post. Teachers are busy people and like things to be to the point.

I have a teacher colleague who always started his blog with, The Time When.. It worked for me as a reader because I knew he was going to tell a story and reflect on the event. Other teacher bloggers might use titles like How We Beat Long Division, or Three Tips to Successful Calculus Problem Solving, or When the Chicken Came Out of the Egg.

Here are five ways to make your titles stick and be amazing!

Use Strong Language

Sounds simple enough but you want to use words that convey emotion. Words like unbelievable, amazing, rock, impossible, and mind blowing are good examples of words that will catch reader’s attention. Every teacher wants to achieve the impossible right?

Use Numbers

This is a very common but effective strategy to title creation. I use it often enough for sure.  Titles like 3 Ways to Master Notability, 5 Things You Didn’t Know Your Second Graders Can do Better Than You, or 10 Ways to Use Google Classroom Today!”  This lets your reader know exactly what they will get out of your post.

Ask a Question

Opening your blog with a title question is a great way to increase interest. Question titles like Want to Know More About Pages? or Did You Know That Your Students Can Change The World with One Google Hangout? Using questions isn’t my favorite method because as you can see sometimes your title becomes lengthy, but its a good strategy to have tucked in your back pocket if you get hung up on one of the other methods. Change is good right?

Use Specific Words

Nouns and adverbs are great ways to start a title. Words like how, tips, tricks, why, when work really well in titles. Titles like How Your Students Can Create 3D Images, or Tips and Tricks for your Google Drive, and Why You Want to Let Your Students Play on their iPads.  

Create Your Title After You Have Written and Revised Your Post

I often start a post with a title in mind and then completely change it after I have revised the post.  Sometimes I end up with two different topics in my writing and break it into two different posts.  Don’t feel like you have to have the title first. Working backwards is really helpful. Teachers work backwards all the time so this should feel pretty natural.

Basically, your titles should be catchy, simple, and to the point. There are actually blog title generator websites, like BlogAbout and HubSpot that will generate a title for you. When I am desperate I will use these but your voice will always carry  greater emotion and energy.

Next up in my blogging series on teacher blogging:  How to Make Your Posts Even Better With Collaboration

Blogging, Uncategorized

Be A Teacher Blogger

Tell Your StoryShare Your HeartBLOG

Classroom teachers should blog. Its a tool that can increase reflection, inform parents and supervisors, increase interest in the classroom goings. I come across so many teachers who exclaim, “I don’t have time to blog!” and “I don’t have anything to write about worth reading.”  If you are a teacher, trust me, you have lots of content to write about. You have stories to tell, field trips to document, announcements to make, and praise to give. If you are a teacher, you are tasked with documenting your professional growth, reflecting on your practices, and making it better. If you are a teacher, blogging is an excellent platform to model written communication for your students. Blogging accomplishes all of these things. Here are 5 things to consider when starting your own teaching blog.

Don’t Get Hung Up on Perfection

It’s easy to get hung up on perfection when writing. Don’t do that! One way to rest assured that your posts are ready is to have a trusted partner read your pieces before you publish them.  Your audience of parents, students, and fellow educators are a super forgiving group. They will be grateful for your extra effort in communication and story telling.

Keep it Simple

Think of blogging as a narrative update for what’s going on in your classroom. Your blog posts can be as long or short as you like. It isn’t necessary to write several paragraphs every time. Some posts might be two photos with a few lines of text. Keep it simple and purposeful and it won’t seem so daunting.  Parents love seeing their kids featured, and will enjoy keeping abreast of what’s happening in your classroom.  Even parents of teenagers will appreciate the more detailed narrative of a blog as opposed to the usual 15 minute conference twice a year.

Share With Your Target Audience

If you only want to share it to a small group of people, do it. You don’t have to publish it to the world if you aren’t ready yet. Tools in WordPress.com are great for keeping your blog a bit more private. If you do want to share it out to the world, use Twitter as an avenue for sharing.  Be sure to tag your tweet with hashtags that will be seen by more people like the ones mentioned below.

Use Your Blog as a Reflection Tool

By documenting your school year in your blog, you can revisit it during those pesky evaluation conferences. It is an excellent documentation tool as well as a reflective tool for you as a professional. Some teachers enjoy blogging about a successful lesson or activity. Other teachers like to blog about their ideas. Even in today’s digital world, Principals are often impressed by your amazing blog.  You decide how it can support your own professional growth throughout the year and you can’t go wrong.

Use Twitter to Locate Good Blogging Examples

Later I will be sharing out my favorite edu blogs to read, but for now I encourage you to get yourself connected on Twitter to find some blogs. Good educational blogs can support your own learning and provide examples of enjoyable and interesting blogs. Search hashtags like #edtech #edchat #tt4t #ipadchat to get started.

I myself needed a little motivation to continue my own blog for the year 2016 so I am going to use a thematic structure to my blog. Each month I will blog about a particular topic. This month my theme is Teacher Blogging. I am also going to be setting aside a little time each day to write something with the goal of one post per week.

How can you get started with your own blog?  What is holding you back?