Reader, you are important to me

My post for the Teacher Challenge Activity #8.

A paradox of my blogging experience is to dismiss the importance of readership to fully appreciate it.

Before I started blogging I thought that there was no point in me writing anything as, most likely, none of it would be original. Quite likely, someone else has said it before and more eloquently. The latter is certainly true and yet I have leapt into blogosphere.

Before starting with blogging, I asked myself, “If I can’t write for others, do I have enough reasons to write for me?”  Here were my original reasons:

  1. I needed somewhere to store and categorise my resources for ease of access from home and work. This includes my blogrolls, by the way.
  2. I needed a way to expound micro-blogging(Twitter); some thoughts are too complex to be limited in 140 characters or a series thereof (especially for a non-wordsmith like me)
  3. I needed a way to document my reflections on my practice; I’ve always been a reflective person with multiple failed attempts at written journals

These were and are selfish reasons – forget the readers, do it for me – but sufficient to get me started with blogging. They served me well as I’m still here, more than a year later. These reasons are still true and I do have meagre readership for which I’m very grateful as I am definitely not one to ask about how to promote readership (never really been good at selling my skills). Nevertheless, my readers have given me more reasons to keep blogging:

  1. I can crowd-source my learning. Coupled with Twitter, this is just so powerful
  2. It’s an avenue for conversations otherwise unlikely to happen. Kathleen Cushman of (please go there) once wrote to me “thank you for making your good thinking public”. Certainly, ego-boosting but mostly humbling because of the many who blog (and micro-blog) as a way of making their thinking accessible to a wider audience.
  3. Even though many are steps (strides) ahead of me, many more are behind me or, better yet with me. I certainly find affirming that there are others who share my journey.
  4. It helps me voice my support for ideas such as as well as people, e..g my posts or in blogrolls
  5. It has become a point of reference for me as a teacher and as an IT integrator

In short, blogging allows me to further my learning in the company of fellow learners – my PLN.

Truth be told, I have felt like Julie Powell (of Julie and Julia fame) as in feeling obliged to write something interesting for readers and I get a little nervous. Then I go back to the first 3 and then the following 5.  Signing up to do the Teacher Challenge – Kickstart your blog 2011 has not only allowed me to learn new things about blogging, it has helped me appreciate all the reasons I’ve listed above.

Here I am, undoubtedly flawed but always true to my passion for learning and finding ways to keep doing so for myself and my readers. Because, dear reader, you are now acknowledged as a travel companion. You are important to me because you are now part of my story. Let us enjoy the journey.

Badges as Blog Bling? Why not?

Since upgrading to Edublogs Pro, I’ve actually done a lot of the suggestions in the Edublogs Teacher challenge kickstart activity #7. I had a bit of fun playing with the additional themes and widgets. That said, there are free ones out there too like my ClustrMap which I added after starting this challenge. It’s interesting – and heartwarming – to see the increased traffic into my blog from many parts around the globe (Here’s my shout out – thanks everyone).

I like the 3-column view which gives me a lot of options on what to include. While I do have Google Reader for blogs I follow, I have included a couple of blog rolls as my way of recommending sites I like. I absolutely love the Tag cloud as a way of navigating to previous posts – especially Lesson Ideas. An ex-colleague (@plu) recommended having a Follow Me on Twitter widget and though I’m uncertain how effective it is, I like it. I also like having the Meta widget for easy access to administering my blog.

Although I have a few more widgets on my blog, the ones in bold above are my favourites.

Love2LearnAs an extension activity, I created this badge. I think badges are more popular in craft blogs and mine has a few. I checked out the html code of one of them from CASE Study and figured I can do this. Here’s how I did it:

  1. Create a badge. I don’t have Photoshop (yet) in my new mac so I did this using WordArt in PowerPoint (I kid you not!). I changed the text background to one of my underwater photos and saved the whole thing as a GIF.  It took me 15 minutes. You’re probably thinking I should spend more time on it! 🙂
  2. Upload the badge to the media library to get its URL.
  3. Create a text/html widget. I positioned mine high up so it’s immediately visible.
  4. Write up a bit of html to show the image and optionally have a hyperlink.
  5. I don’t actually know how the CASE study blog managed to show the html code as text (mine just gets interpreted). SO, I created a page which is hyperlinked to the “Grab this for free” invitation. I pasted the paste in the Visual mode (not HTML) so the html code is treated as plain text. It ties up nicely with one of the challenge activities of creating a page, don’t you think?

Cheers everyone and I hope you got something out of this post especially f it’s a challenge to create a better badge than mine. If you do, please leave a crumb trail so I can see what you’ve done.

UPDATE: Thanks to @mimbles, I now know the html tag needed so html code is treated as text – it’s textarea, funny that. More details in the badge page.

Teacher, be a learner – step out of your comfort zone

It’s serendipitous that the Edublogs Teacher Challenge Activity #6 involves embedding multimedia.


Today I had to present about Twitter, one of the tools in our IT Plate Degustation Menu – an initiative to help teachers integrate technology in teaching and learning. Each tool must be presented in just 5 minutes. It was fortuitous that this session followed a video conference with Will Richardson (I really love his approach – passion, shifts in teaching to match shifts in learning, etc, etc, etc).

I have never recorded my speaking voice before. I have played with audio tools and done mash-ups. I have also done a little bit of recording my singing (in a choir so not solo). BUT, as mentioned, I’ve never done recorded voice-overs. I avoided it.

I thought perhaps that @willrich45 will challenge teachers and will put some out of their comfort zone. I also thought that some teachers are still apprehensive about using social media. I figured then that the best way to emphatize is to step out of my comfort zone as well and do something I’ve never done before.

Ta Da

Before launching this movie, I told my audience (my teacher colleagues) about my little movie, how it was out of my comfort zone to make it (let alone show it), how as teachers we often ask students to do or create things we may never have tried before (think podcasts, blogging, etc) and how important it was to step out of our comfort zone to experience what it’s like to be a student – a learner – and try something new. Here’s the movie (This may not work in Internet Explorer, please try other browsers – thanks for the heads-up, @Kathryn)

Join Twitter (hyperlinked media, how I’ve always done it here in this blog)

and now for the embed….

I cringed the whole time (still am) but I did it. I created a recording and presented it. Teachers were most appreciative. It’s good for them to see that technology integrators also grapple with technology – sometimes because of attitude – and that the process of learning sometimes (often?) involves stepping out of one’s comfort zone.


Much was learned from this little exercise. Personally, I felt really happy to be able to conquer my aversion to recording, at least once. I’m still uncomfortable about it but maybe I’ll do it again….maybe. I am not ready to be in YouTube or TeacherTube

Many did sign up to Twitter after this. If not sign up, then at least express interest.

Some technical info

Images were screenshots (CTRL+shift+4 on my mac – I’m a PC/Microsoft girl, so new to mac)

Audio was recorded via GarageBand – built-in microphone

Movie was made using Adobe Premiere Elements (a tool we use at school so still being teacher as student here)

Final movie was compressed from AVI to m4V via iMovie

I have not used any of the above prior to this project. I’ve also upgraded to Edublogs Pro to have a go at embedding video, get rid of ads, etc. (Read more about the different packages in Edublogs).

This has been a challenge for me in many ways. That I’m even blogging about this (embedding the video even) is a little testament to how this Edublogs Teacher Challenge is helping me grow, not just as a blogger but as a teacher and as a learner..

Images in Blogs

The Edublogs Teacher Challenge Kickstart Activity #5 is about using images in blogs. I actually don’t use this facililty a lot in my edublogs – I do in my craft blog though. I get the power of images and the stories they can tell. Yet, this is actually a bit of a challenge for me here as I’ve obviously not been inspired to use images in my professional teaching and learning blog.

As I’m no expert, I have no tips as such but I can list tips for me using this photo (correction: these photos) of my daughter both as inspiration and metaphor.

  1. Share a captured moment; it doesn’t have to be the best quality photo in terms of clarity, exposure, etc. What activities in the classroom can be shared? Frank Noschese’s blog is full of them making his stories real.
  2. No worries about licensing on personal photos BUT issues about privacy, child protection (you know the drill) are still relevant especially if they are your students (READ: not your kids)
  3. If you must use online photos, educate yourself about copyright matters and make Creative Commons your friend
  4. Focus and nothing extraneous. Don’t put a photo just to have one; it must add to the message you want to convey
  5. When trying something new…just do it but wear a helmet, just in case.
Check this gallery out. I’ve never done one before and here it is. Yay! I’ve just learned something new. This kickstart activity challenge was well worth doing after all.

Avatar – See me

A post for the Edublogs Teacher Challenge Kicstart Activity #4.

One of the memorable lines in Avatar, the movie, is “I see you”.

Avatars provide a face*  to the digital words and sounds you put out there so people can see you. The nice thing about avatars is that they don’t have to be a real photo (mine currently is for this blog and Twitter). Avatars can be cartoonised (my FB profile pic) or caricatures (mine was via PicassoHead). I’ve even seen QR codes which are pretty nifty because QR codes can be loaded with contact details or a hyperlink to a blog (awesome partnered with mobile devices) so people can see more of you. Mine was done via

via Photoshop

via Photoshop

via Picassohead

via Picassohead



 Maybe it’s about time I update my avatar. Maybe.


*So what with the “face”?

In my About page, I mentioned my love for Philosophy. I remember when we studied the power of the face when we interact with people. I can still wondering then, “is this why faces were covered before execution by hanging or be-heading?”, i.e. to literally de-personalize. Faces make our interactions more personal, be it real or virtual/digital.

When you leave some comment below, will I be able to say “I see you“? If you haven’t got one, get the low down on @BrittGow’s post on ways to create avatars.