(by Diana Beabout)

Week 1: Blog Posts and Comments

Image by Werner Moser from Pixabay

I still remember the first blog post I wrote for COETAIL nine years ago (we didn’t have the orientation unit and I had no experience ‘blogging’) and how I labored over it and wondered if what I had to say was even relevant and interesting. I was quite nervous hitting that “publish” button but then within a few days I had some comments from other cohort participants and as I left comments on others’ posts and replied to comments on my own posts, meaningful interactions grew. 

I was encouraged to see many of you engage in sharing and discussions through comments and replies on the orientation unit and Week 1 blog posts. You’re already building community! 

Week 1 focused on moving from Lurker (lots of comments about this term!) to Connector and many of you shared your journeys using social media. In her blog post “From Lurker to Connector”, Megan reflects on role as a consumer of information and poses questions about who is creating the content she consumes and how she and her students can become creators of their own content. In Amy’s  “My Journey from Lurker to Connector”, she notes how her engagement online has shifted as she’s moved to a different teaching role and considers her next steps. Coleton reflects on how her engagement online has fluctuated along the “lurker” to “connector” continuum in “If you’re a lurker and you know it, clap your hands!” She also reflects how the past year, with the move to online learning, has impacted her need to connect with other educators and pushed her to reflect on her use of social media. 

Week 3: What I can learn when connected with others?

This week we will be focusing on how connections can strengthen and deepen our thinking and understanding. We will also uncover ways in which the connections that we create can support new learning opportunities. Connected learning “combines personal interests, supportive relationships, and opportunities. It is learning in an age of abundant access to information and social connection that embraces the diverse backgrounds and interests of all young people.” And this is a major component of the COETAIL program and community. I have personally shared the impact of how my connections through COETAIL and my PLN continue to impact my work with teachers and students and have enriched my learning and perspectives professionally and personally. I’m looking forward to watching how your own professional life is enriched as you connect with other educators and professionals and the impact it has on you and your approach to how you work and interact with your students and school community.

Blogging Tips

Widgets: Everyone has their blogs up and running and we encourage you to develop and personalize your blog over time. You can try out different themes and look at adding widgets. (widgets are tools or content that can be added, arranged, or removed from the sidebar(s) of a blog)

Large Files: There is a limit on what you can directly upload to your WordPress blog. Large file-sized video/audio files should always be hosted elsewhere (like YouTube, Vimeo, Google Drive) and should never be uploaded directly to your blog site. Once uploaded to an external site you can embed your video/audio in a blog post pasting a link (YouTube), using an embed block, OR hyperlink to the external video.

Embedding videos into a blog post is a great way to share content. A video or document that is embedded (instead of just linked) makes it easier for the reader to view the content. See below for a simple video about embedding a YouTube video into WordPress posts.

Hyperlinking in a comment:
A great way to keep a conversation going and share resources. The trick is you need to use an HTML code to do this in the comments. Don’t worry – you don’t need to be a programmer to do this! You will need this line of code <a href=”URL HERE”>Highlighted anchor text here</a> and you can add your link in the “URL HERE” space. Just insert in with your comment text and your link should work. 

Add a question or two at the end of your blog post to encourage interaction from visitors to your blog. See an example of this at the end of Justin’s blog post “Research musings”. 

Headings can add interest and organization to your post by making it more readable and serving as visual cues that help communicate the essence of your ideas. Before beginning a new section of your post, think of a heading that will apply. Check out David’s blog post “Learning not to Lurk” and his use of headings. 

Checklist for the week

  • Check-in with the My Courses page to see your readings for the week.
  • Write a reflective blog post on this week’s content and comment on at least one of your cohort members’ posts. (You are encouraged to comment on as many of your peer’s posts as you like as this contributes to the discussions and sharing among our community)
  • Add the URLs for your blog post and one of your comments to your grade sheet.
  • Consider sharing your blog post on social media with the #COETAIL hashtags so your peers can see when you post.
  • G.E.T. participants: This week, work through Unit 8 of Google for Education’s Advanced Training: Teach Beyond the Four Walls of Your Classroom.

Image by Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay