Friday, January 28, 2011

Web 2.0 Toys

 I have used three Web 2.0 tools in this post: Voki, Google Docs, and Polldaddy.  I've used Voki and Google Docs before, but not Polldaddy.  they were all relatively easy to use, but a lot of the time when I go to embed something I have made, no matter what platform I am using, and the platform I am using is not a choice for the embed code.  It's really frustrating.  Sometimes I use the generic ones, but other times I just have to play with it and try them over and over again.

I like using Voki to create talking avatars to give instructions for tasks.  Unfortunately, students tend to listen to the avatars more than they do to me.  I guess it's just the digital age.

I love Google Docs.  I use it for everything.  I also use it to compile student information at the beginning of the year.  My survey would not fit on my blog so I just linked it.  It was made with Google Docs.
Web 2.0 Survey

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A Story Without Words...The Version I Wanted

At work today, I could not get Slide to work on my computer.  That's why I had a voice thread in my previous post.  As I suspected, it had something to do either with my work computer or their firewalls.  So, here is what I had wanted to post.

A Story Without Words

Saturday, January 22, 2011


My Favorite Avatar
I like having students create avatars, but I find a few things difficult about them.  I want students to create their own avatar, but even putting a time limit on it doesn't help them move faster.  I can understand why.  I just spent two hours playing with avatars.  I also find some of the logistics difficult; student following directions, is sometimes an issue.  Then, there's the issue of the sites not always offering easy ways to upload the avatar (aka. a link or something).  Finally, the biggest issue I have is that almost all sites have at least one thing (item of clothing, etc.) that I'm afraid my administration would find inappropriate.  Because of this, I normally choose the Build Your Wild Self avatars to use with my students.  Though...I really should branch out and trust them.  

I already had an avatar for blogger and another one that I have used for all of my other accounts since then, but I had fun making another one.

If I Could Add an About Page...

From what I can tell, Blogger does not have the capability to add pages.  So, my about page would look similar to the one for my class.  Mine is very short, because I just made the page and have not been able to upload pictures to it.  Plus, with my class site, I don't like to put a lot of personal information on it. 

An Effective Post

Different blogs have different purposes.  There are blogs for informing and blogs that are supposed to create discussion.  5 Good Resources for Learning the Periodic Table is an effective post for an informational blog.  Informational blog posts should be chunked into sections  and/or have headings.  When you are reading blog posts you're not expecting a dissertation.  Discussion blog posts are meant to provoke discussion and therefore need to be longer and have questions or opinions to discuss.

Friday, January 21, 2011

5 Steps to Writing an Effective Blog Post

  1. You need a catchy title for your blog post and it shouldn't be too long.  This is also a good rule for emails.  Plus, it is equally annoying when reading a blog to have an untitled post as it is to get an email without a subject.
  2. There is such a thing as a post that is too short and a post that is too long.  Too short would be one of those one-liners.  Really?  What was the point of the post?  Give at least a good paragraph.  There is such a thing as too long, also.  To me, if you have to scroll the length of the screen more than twice and the post is all words, then your post is too long.
  3. When you mention a website, a post, and other things such as that, please link to it.  Preferably, make the link open in a new window, so you can see the link and keep your place in the post.
  4. Explain! Explain! Explain!  Don't assume everyone knows what you are talking about.  If needed put definitions in your post (a post is an entry in a blog; it is similar to a journal entry, but on the internet).
  5. Break up the monotony with pictures.  It gets boring to look at words the whole way through the blog.

7 Things You Didn't Need to Know About Me

  1. There are only two things I won't eat.  Green peas and cheez-its.  I can't stand either one of them...not the smell, not the sight, not (God forbid) the taste.
  2. I am a 2nd Degree Blackbelt in Tae Kwon Do.  I wish I had time to go to karate again, but between work and kids...I don't right now.
  3. In 7th grade, I lived in Paris, France for about 6 months.  My dad got sent there temporarily for his job.
  4. In 5th grade, I had a bicycle wreck and pretty much slid across the pavement on my face.  Pulled every singe bracket of my braces off me teeth.
  5. I no longer ride bicycles.  I've tried and I just can't do it.
  6. I hate clowns.  I won't go so far as to say I am afraid of them, but they creep me out.  My blood pressure goes up when clowns are around.
  7. I won't break up fights between girls.  I'll break up a fight between boys, but not girls.  Boys fight with an unspoken, unwritten set of rules.  With girls, there are no rules.  I've seen nails pulled off, weaves pulled out, and clothes shredded.  Girls are vicious when they fight.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A Response to Mratzel

First, please view the comments made by Mratzel to my previous post, 10 Things You Should Know About Blogging with Students.

I understand about "Big Brother" always watching what you are doing in you classroom.  I don't know what you teacher, but I teach math and this is the first year I have taught 8th grade math, so needless to say, I'm behind on the curriculum.  This is our third day of snow in Georgia causing our school to be closed.  So, we have no time for fun blogging and anything but teaching the curriculum as fast as we can.  Normally, I do fun stuff after state testing, but 8th grade is a make-or-break testing year, so for the month between the first test and the second attempt for those who fail the state test, I will be reteaching the curriculum under the assumption that everyone failed.  It makes no sense to me to spend one week with the ones that fail when you can spend  four with everyone.  To me it's like putting all your eggs in one basket.  Also, after the state testing everyone is doing projects and doing all the fun stuff that we haven't had time to do all year.  I've had parents complain in previous years about it.

Kids today....They are so used to instant gratification.  I see this when teaching math.  We are doing algebra problems with multiple steps.  If they can't get the answer in one step, they don't want it.  I can't tell you how many times I have told students that the time for one step problems has passed and they need to get over it.  Driving a car takes more than one step, and I'm aware that is more fun than Algebra, but get over it.  Video games have extra lives and bonus points.  High speed internet gives them instant access to everything.  Facebook gives kids instant access to what is going on: who is dating, who broke up, who just scratched their nose.  Everything in their world is instant, so when we ask them to do anything that is not instant they are going to resist.

I wish I had the answer as to how to help the ones that won't try when the going gets tough.  For years, I've been sure there is some type of game or group building activity out there that will show students the value in trying to do hard things, but I can't find it.  I found one for explaining the differences in how students learn and answering the question of "why do they get to use a calculator and get more help and I don't...that's not fair."  But I just haven't found one for this situation.  Let me know if you do.

Since I Can't Figure Out How to Comment on a Comment....

#1 - Does anyone know how to comment on comments?  It must be a setting or something I can't find, because I know I was able to do it before.
Janelle said..."I'm using blogs as portfolios with my sixth graders this year." 

I'd really like to know how you have your portfolio blogs set up.  How often?  What types of things do students put in their portfolio blogs?  Also, if you post about this on your blog, could you please link to it?

K Trask said... "What platform do you use for your students? I use Edublogs."

When I blog for myself, I use blogger, because I can have more creativity with the look of it.  I use KidBlog when I blog with students, because it gives me more control over the content they see and create and still gives me ease to add users.  I just wish they could make their blogs more personalized.  I've tried Edublogs and Blogger with the students, but unless someone has a book better than the one I have bought already that will tell me how to set it up with ease and with control, then I don't have the time.  Our school computers are so finicky as to what they will allow and some platforms require students have emails.  I know there is some way to have one gmail address and turn it into a bunch more, but gmail is blocked at our school and I'm not that good at forwarding gmail stuff to my email.
Finally, please share anything and everything on this blog and on my other blog, Best Practices in Teaching.  We have to share with each other.  I understand the whole "I own what I create thing," but we are teachers...almost nothing is free!  But, we have no budget and we don't get paid enough to create our own budget, even though most of us wind up doing that to the chagrin of our spouses.  They are sparsely populated, but could use all the comments and additions they can get.
By the way...I have no idea why I have different fonts and different sizes and colors in this posts.  Sorry for the visual inconsistancy.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Activity 1 - Advanced - Extention

10 Things
You Should Know about Blogging with Students

  1. If your students are at least middle school aged, most of them know more about blogging than you do...and if they don't, they will figure it out fast!
  2. Administrators and parents don't know much about blogging and are all but afraid of it.
  3. Don't underestimate the power of blogging with students. Students who you have a hard time reaching in the regular classroom will come alive online.
  4. Choose your platform wisely. Choose it wisely for your private life. Choose it wisely for your professional life. Choose it wisely for your students. And avoid mixing the three.
  5. You need to have a discussion or blog posting to set up rule about blogging. This could be similar to allowing students to help create a "class constitution." A place for students to add rules as they find a need is a good idea as well.
  6. You yourself need a plan for handling inappropriate posting. The last thing you want is for the beautiful blogging atmosphere you have created to become a place for harassment or bullying.
  7. Let them post! Let students create their own posts as well as responding to your posts.
  8. Promote readership by having student constructively respond to other students posts.
  9. Let them play! Show students new tricks like wordle, flickr, googledocs, ect. to add to their postings.
  10. Read other blogs to get ideas for your blog. Get inspiration from every resource you have. Your ideas for postings topics don't have to come from electronic resources. Find a good old book of journal topics and use some of those. Just keep them posting!

Activity 1 - Beginner - Extention

I joined the Teacher Challenge’s 30 Days to Kick Starting your Blogging to do just that... to kick start my blogging again. I took a professional learning class called 23 Things that introduced me to all of the Web 2.0 tools available. I had previously thought of myself as pretty technologically advanced since both my bachelor's and master's degrees were online, but I found out how much had changed in the few years I had not been a student.

I want to see what other teachers are doing with blogging and see if they have any suggestions. I met with a lot of resistance from parents and my administrators when I wanted to blog with my students. I was completely shocked! On top of that, I found very little in the way of resources available to help with the resistance. I also had problems finding a blogging platform for which I could easily sign students up and control their access to the outside world (a parent concern/resistance) and the access of the outside world to them. I didn't know where to go from there and kind of gave up.


My name is Jessica Tipton. I have been teaching for 7 seven year and have spent the last 5 years at Winder Barrow Middle School. Since moving to WBMS I have taught 2 years of 6th grade math, 2 years of 7th grade math, and now teach 8th grade math. I guess I needed to be retained. I have a wonderful husband (Lance), two children (Anna, 7, and Landon, 4), and two cats (Dora and Riley). I absolutely love teaching and I am doing what I was born to do. Technology and having an aptitude for it has been a surprise and I hope to find a way to incorporate it into teaching as much as possible.