My Favourite Blogs

Wow, who would have thought a year ago that I would have favourite blogs, or even a blog of my own.  But I do, it’s fun being on this journey.  I’m writing this post for the Edna blogging corner challenge.  I’ve been thinking about it all week – it’s really tough trying to decide which are my favourite blogs.

Back in May, when I was doing the SLAV Learning with Web 2.0 program (from whence this blog was born), I set up a google reader account and started subscribing to some blogs.  The first few included Lucacept; The Hub; Learning Gems; Hey Jude; Bluyonder, and weblogg-ed.  I chose three of these because I’d recently heard the authors at conferences (Jenny Luca/Lucacept, Will Richardson/weblogg-ed and Greg Whitby/Bluyonder); The Hub I had already been subscribed to by email (and straightaway saw how much better it was to view a blog through a reader), the final two were linked from or mentioned by Lucacept or The Hub (I think)…which brings me to one of the fascinating and fantastic things about RSS and reading blogs – you keep finding more great stuff to subscribe to!!

My Google Reader now has 39 subscriptions and I have subscribed and subsequently unsubscribed to a few more along the way when they didn’t deliver what I was expecting.  I’m still finding it manageable because using the reader via iGoogle is very quick and easy although there are a couple I could probably lose.  That’s the thing about reading blogs though, you keep finding links to other interesting blogs – it’s exponential – when you don’t read any, you don’t find out about any others so you just don’t go there.  As soon as you start regularly reading a couple you start to follow links to others, they look interesting so you subscribe to them…and on it goes.

I’m still subscribed to the original six, and they are still delivering the sort of content I’m interested in.  Others that I’ve added that I would particularly recommend are:

Jeff Utecht’s The Thinking Stick

Sue Water’s The Edublogger – full of great advice about blogging, especially in educational settings.  Also her Mobile technology in TAFE, excellent ideas, advice and how-to’s.

Michelle Martin’s The bamboo project – kind of like Blogging corner with Web 2.0 Wednesday challenges, but lots of other interesting stuff too.

Victoria Davis’s Cool Cat Teacher Blog – one very with it and wise teacher with some great ideas and the thinking behind them.

Lauren O’Grady’s All teachers are learners, all learners are teachers – a young teacher with lots of great ideas and a real spark of enthusiasm…and a local (to me in Melbourne).


6 word stories

We run a short story contest as part of book week and the expectation is that stories will be at least 1000 words.  That seems like a very big ask to me and I’ve been wondering if there is another approach.  I’d heard a bit about some ultra short story ideas so I did a bit of searching.  The first thing I found was a reference to a book that has been published called Not quite what I was planning: six word memoirs by writers famous and obscure.  The YouTube video has a sample of what is in the book with a music track and it is great.  The writers have selected pictures to illustrate their stories (or have they been inspired to write their 6 words by a picture they found??) either way the result is a very engaging 4 minutes or so.

When I went to show it to some colleagues at school I discovered that YouTube was now blocked (it hadn’t been previously but it seems we now have a blanket ban) so I went searching on TeacherTube.  I didn’t find the original one but I did find Six words on education which is described as Staff at Durant Road Middle School were asked to submit six-word memoirs about their educational philosophies.

Again, a fascinating video with some very wise, heartfelt and amusing sentiments.  It doesn’t have the visual appeal of the first one, this is simply some clever text effects on a black background, but it is very engaging none-the-less.  I’ve forwarded a link to my principal as it is exactly the sort of thing she likes to open staff meetings with.  I’d like to see if we can come up with some of our own.

The possibilities are endless.  Six word responses to a text.  Six word descriptions of your happiest/saddest/proudest/scariest moment.  I’m definitely going to try to get some kids involved and I’m thinking that next year for book week I’ll get staff to write their 6 word story about the book that has influenced them the most or similar.

I hope you get to see the first one, this blanket banning of YouTube is driving me nuts!  I’ve recently downloaded a YouTube downloader so that I can get the videos when I’m at home and show them at school but I’m fully aware that this almost certainly contravenes copyright – as I understand it, it is ok to show students a video directly from YouTube but it is not ok to show a downloaded copy.  I’ve only used this feature so I can share stuff with colleagues.

And I’ve only linked to the videos here instead of trying to embed them.  I’ve found the only way I can embed a video is to do that, and only that.  If I write any text or add tags or categories I end up with the blank box.  I’ve decided life is too short to keep worrying about that one!


Find a new toy!

This weeks blogging corner 2008 challenge was to find a new web 2.0 tool to explore.  I decided to check out Diigo as I’ve heard a bit about it lately.  Diigo is a social bookmarking site along the lines of Delicious with some extra features.  What I like is the ability to highlight sections of text and add “sticky notes” with your own comments which are retained when you next visit the site.  I didn’t install the Diigo toolbar, just their “Diigolet” which seems to function as well as I need.  There’s a lot more to Diigo that I can’t at this stage see myself using, quite a few features that are very Facebook-like a wall for comments, messaging and sharing with friends.

Having been an enthusiastic Delicious user for over 18 months now I’m not sure that I need to change, but I’m happy to be convinced if you think I should be.  Actually, I’m not sure whether it is simply a choice of one or the other, I’ve been reading lots of blogs lately and people often seem to have both listed.  I wonder how they maintain the two or whether they use them differently?

One thing that drew me to Diigo for this task was reading yesterday about an Interactive Whiteboard challenge that has been set up.  Participants are asked to  

Please join the Interactive Whiteboards in the Classroom group on Diigo. Favourite your Whiteboard Challenge blog posts to the group and use the tag ‘whiteboardchallenge’ (all one word). This means that everyone in the Diigo group will have notification of all the Whiteboard Challenge blog posts.

I can see that part of it being really useful for collaborative projects and it is better than delicious’s network in that it includes a forum for discussion.

I’ve exported my delicious bookmarks and imported them into Diigo.  Very quickly realised that the bundles from Delicious don’t translate into Diigo’s lists which means I’ll have to do that manually.  The bundles feature of Delicious is one of my favourite features and what really makes this style of bookmarking different to the standard browser favourites.

I shall continue to play with Diigo and see if it wins over Delicious or not, or if there is room for both in my life…

By the way, I’m heatherb on Diigo and dashingdevo on delicious.


Me the learner

I registered as part of the blogging corner group some time ago and I’ve been receiving the email updates but this is the first time I’ve participated…now that the SLAV Learning with Web 2.0 program is over I think I need a weekly prod to produce something, I hope it will be worth reading!

Me the learner.  Wow, where do I start.  This year has been amazing.  It started with a SLAV conference back in March where the Learning with Web 2.0 program was promoted.  I’d seen it in the flyer but hadn’t paid it much attention but the presentation by Lynette and Leslie from Yarra Plenty Regional Library (they ran the course) pushed my buttons and now, barely 6 months later I’m preparing to present at the next SLAV Library technicians conference on our Web 2.0 journey.  The “our” is my entire library staff of 8 who have all (almost) completed the course.

We have 2 libraries as we are a 2 campus school.  We now communicate using instant messaging, we have a blog called “Did I speak to you about…” which is where we have a meeting when we can’t have a meeting.  Our procedures manual wiki is going ahead in leaps and bounds.

After meeting up with an old friend at another SLAV conference I decided to set up a staff reading challenge.  She had done this successfully at her school and it sounded like a great idea.  We have lots of staff who read widely and we regularly host staff morning teas to display our new purchases.  I had already planned to create the “Reading Cafe” blog to promote online discussion about books and reading.  The idea of the reading challenge (staff are challenged to read a number of books, 2 of which must be young adult, before the end of the year) soon meshed with the blog to become a challenge where participants must post a blog entry to register the books read for the challenge.  In this way I would kill two birds with one stone and, by stealth, introduce some of our staff to the idea of blogging.  It has been moderately successful so far.  Quite a few people have registered and have been made writers for the blog but only a few have actually completed a post.  I hope to entice more next week when we celebrate book week (yes, I know it’s a week late, but it clashed with science week and parent teacher interviews and we simply weren’t going to be ready in time) with an online staff book quiz that offers bonus points for anyone who posts a review during book week.  And there will be prizes.  I have my fingers crossed for a flurry of activity.

I have been learning to do new things all along the way and as soon as I do, I try to teach/show/share with someone else.  It’s a great maxim that learn/do/teach is the best way to consolidate learning and I believe it is SO true.  The best thing about my web 2.0 journey has been the sharing and learning from each other…which is why it makes so much sense to me to start contributing to blogging corner – hope you agree!