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BTW was created by Patrick & Julie Johnson, two Canadian educators with an interest in eduction & technology. This site showcases our interactive IBOOKS for students, but we also explore educational issues in our INQUIRY segments and share lessons/teaching ideas in our TEACHING TOOLS sections. Use the Labels section in the sidebar to navigate by topic or simply browse.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

TEACHING TOOLS: Creating Teacher Blogs

This year, in addition to being a grade 2 teacher, I am also the Technology/Literacy coach for my school. One of my goals for the first few weeks of schools was to help teachers develop blogs. Like any school we have staff that are very comfortable with technology and others who are less comfortable and less experienced.

Here is a list of strategies I used to support those teachers less comfortable and experienced with blogs.

I Developed Blog Templates.

I found one of the biggest challenges for teachers creating a blog was figuring out the layout of their blog. This was especially true with teachers who have little blog or web creation experience. Luckily, there is Google Sites to support them! It gives users the ability to create user templates and save them in a public gallery where anyone can access them. I thus created custom templates for our school for primary, junior and intermediate classes (insert links). Once the teacher accesses the templates, they just need to fill in a bit of information, customize their Google Calendar and they are ready to go. I was surprised how popular these templates were and teachers seemed to like that everything was setup for them to get them started.

I Gave Teacher Their Own Subdomain.

I bought the domain goodfellowps.com from hover.com for $15 (my school paid for it). From there I was able to create free subdomains for my teachers blogs: e.g. teacher.goodfellowps.com. Teachers using Google Sites could map these subdomains at no additional costs (other web hosts charge $10-$20 for this service). This was a big selling feature and got teachers excited about created a blog for themselves, because it gave them their own blog identity. They felt like they owned their own corner of the web.

I Provided Blog Tutorials

To support their blog creation, I created a web page that walks teachers through the process of creating a blog with Google Sites (see website). I used my iMac to create screen casts walking teachers through the process of creating a google account, creating a blog with a school temple, customizing their side bar, posting blogs and customizing their google calendar. This support was part of PLN and thus easily accessible from anywhere on-line.

I Provided Blog Link Resources

To help teachers further develop their blog sites, I provided an accessible library of sites they can link their blogs to. I created collaborative Google Spreadsheets for each division, which I filled with quality links for each division. That way they wouldn’t have to spend time searching the internet for applicable sites. Rather, they could just cut and paste as needed.

These approaches proved to be very successful. Most of our staff now have blog sites, including several tech-wary teachers. And everyone seems pretty happy with them, too!

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