1000 Blog Posts

1000 Blog Posts

So…this is blog post 1000. Crazy to think and yet at the same time I’m pretty late to the game for someone who started blogging in September of 2005. A quick look of others who I know started blogs around that same time. Dean Shareski is at 2800+ blog posts and Clarence Fisher is 3100 and counting. Both making this 1000th blog post look like nothing! I still remember setting up this blog in my computer lab in Shanghai. I downloaded WordPress and followed the directions to install it on the little server I was running at the time. I remember coming to the page that asked to name the blog and not knowing what to call it. It’s not something you think about usually until you are faced with it. So I looked around the room and there in the corner was “The Thinking Stick” a wooden bat my friend had given me and that I used when teaching. Mr. U was always known for walking around the room with “The Thinking Stick” when we were doing some really deep thinking. So that’s how this blog got its name. If I knew that day that my professional life would forever be changed would I name it something else? Absolutely! But you don’t know…..you don’t know if anyone is going to read your blog. Even now some 9 years later I don’t know if anyone reads this. The difference is I blog for me now, for my thoughts, for my own reflection and allow myself to think through things and to share my own learning with anyone that happens upon it. So 1000 blog posts and probably the turning point for me was this blog post here. I still go back and read it every once and awhile just to remind myself of sitting on the couch and writing that one….a moment for sure. Not that I have this out of the way…..I can go back to blogging about stuff that actually...

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NYT Summer Reading Contest…What If

NYT Summer Reading Contest…What If

A teacher brought this contest ran by the New York Times to my attention the other day as they were starting to prepare for teaching summer school. This is the third time the New York Times has ran the contest where they ask students to submit 350 word responses to articles they read on the site or in the newspaper.  Each week they will choose a winner who’s winning response will get posted on the website as well as shared on Twitter and Facebook. A great way to promote student work through the NYT. Also not a bad way for parents to get their students involved in reading and writing over the summer. Reading and writing for a purpose around a contest.  But I think it could be more….what if….. CC: By Mike Licht What if students had a blog where they could write as much as they wanted and linked back to the articles they were writing about? From what I can tell the New York Times doesn’t show/allow trackback links which kind of stinks as then students would automatically be linked to the piece they were writing about. Of course the way around this is to simply leave a comment on the article or piece of media you are writing about. Just like I’ll do on the link above in a comment. What if your child or students where responding to articles and wrote 1000 word responses or 1500 word responses or 200 words? What if we connected those responses to the articles they were writing about, reflecting about and learning from? What if some other readers of those articles followed the links to the students’ blogs and continued to read their reflections there? What if someone left a comment, or tweeted, or shared on Facebook one of the students’ responses to an article? What if we taught students how to build a network, how to use hyperlinks, and how to write for the audience that reads the New York Times. Of course students could still enter the 350 word contest and in writing blog posts probably make those 350 words more precise giving them an even better chance as winning the contest one week to the next. Once students realize they’re writing is linked to the New York Times and they start getting readers, then we start talking about improving the writing, working on technique, voice, grammer, etc. Because now there’s a purpose to be a better...

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Virtual Bulletin Board

At ISB we’ve struggled over the past couple of years in defining our web spaces. Although we’ve been getting better at using the “Core 3” (Moodle, Google Apps, WordPress) we still need to define spaces based on purpose and audience.  One thing I’m focusing on this year is creating what I’m calling a Virtual Bulletin Board for our high school students. A place where they can find and post announcements in whatever format they choose.  Here’s the site: http://inside.isb.ac.th/high Audience: High School Students at ISB Purpose: To get announcements out to students, information from the office, campus updates Once we have defined the audience and purpose we can then start to create and mold how the site will work. I know there are probably better bulletin board systems out there than a blog….but I’m committed to showing teachers and students just how flexible the WordPress platform can be. The platform of WordPress is so dynamic, so powerful and so customizable that really your imagination is the limit. If you have clicked on the link above to the bulletin board site you’ll be thinking to yourself “it still looks like a blog to me” and you’re right…it does for now and probably will for awhile yet.  Steps to making it a virtual bulletin board. Step 1: Every school computer in the high school has this page as its default start page for every browser. So we are forcing eyes on the page to begin with. It becomes crucial that we spend this year gaining the trust of students and showing them this is the place for them to come for information. Next year we roll out 1:1 in the high school where we will no longer control the home page of the browser. We need to get this right or we’ll loose them. Step 2: We have created the “quick link” section that links students to all the other applications they need in the high school. Step 3. Work with the high school administration to push announcements and updates to students on the site. Step 4: Train students to post things to the site Step 4 is what I’m most excited about and I think shows the true power of WordPress and going with a blogging platform. My idea is that we’ll have students post announcements on their own blogs (every student already has one) and then have them tag the announcement with the word ”hsannouncement”. Using the AutoBlog plugin I’ll then grad the RSS...

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Blogging Process – Find Your Flow

Brian Grenier wrote a blog post back in 2007 that I think I missed where he asks the question how do you write a blog post? Miguel Guhlin just wrote a great post in response to Brian’s thoughts. In my COETAIL course yesterday we had a great discussion around how blogging was going for those in the class. All of them just 5 weeks into blogging. It was interesting to hear that many of them say blogging as publishing. That they had a lot of drafts waiting to be published but they wanted them to be “perfect” or “publishable”. “The thought that other can read this, that a future employee can read this makes me want it to be publishable.” It was great to listen to them talk among themselves and the different feelings they had about being a blogger. They asked me what I thought and along with Miguel talking about how he writes a blog post I thought I’d share my thoughts. 1. Blog topics are all around youYou are passionate about something whether teaching, technology, your kids or your car. Be passionate and writing is easy. If your not passionate about the post, or idea, you’ll know cause you just won’t do it. This makes it hard when a teacher (like me) asks you to blog about something you might not be passionate about. That makes blogging an assignment….not real blogging. Real blogging is about you….about your thoughts, your feelings, your ideas…..the blogging you do for classroom, is just classwork. 2. Write down ideas or topicsAt least two or three times a day I think to myself “that’s a blog topic” and for a while I would sit down to write a blog post and not be able to remember what it was that spurred that moments thought. So I’ve started writing blog topic ideas down. I use the stickies app on my MacBook and Google Tasks via a Chrome extension that lets me quickly jot down topics. I also have a notebook in my backpack for those times when a computer isn’t near to jot stuff down in. Everything from grocery lists, to blog topics. Lastly, I use my iPhone where I have a page of notes that are blog topics. No, you don’t have to have as many places as I do, but I know those are the spots I look for when I...

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The Stick Turns 4!

I can’t believe I’ve been blogging for 4 years…and that after 4 years….I still have things to say. 🙂 Last week while working with 5th Graders on their blogs and talking about blogging one students asked, “How’d you get to be famous?” I love 5th Graders! My answer: You have to write something that people want to read, and the more you write the more Google finds you and the more people read you. But first…you have to write something that people want to read. Of course I could have gone into niche markets and finding a way to blog about something that someone else will want to read, but I figure students have a built in niche of other students. The book reviews that 5th graders write will show up on Google and other 5th graders might just find their content. Crazier things have happened. So to celebrate The Sticks 4th Anniversary I thought I’d share some stats that just blow me away. According to Google Analytics: From September 19th, 2008 to September 18th 2009 There were some 69,517 Visitors to the blog viewing some 103,617 pages and new visitors made up 79.33% of all viewers. Absolute Unique Visitors was 55,469. 45.38% of viewers came from Search Engines while 32.49% came from referring sites (RSS, Twitter, Facebook, etc) and 22.13% direct traffic to the site. The most interesting of all the figures to me is this year Twitter beat out all RSS readers as the #1 referring site to the blog with 13.62%. Twitter truly is the new RSS Reader. That or there are so many different RSS readers that they split the rest of the views. Google Reader and Netvibes were the top two RSS Readers. The most viewed blog posts of the past year: Interview Questions for International School Job Fairs Evaluating Technology Use in the Classroom Pre-Paid Data Plan on an Unlocked iPhone Google Calendar Sync with Palm Stages of PLN Adoption Also this is the first year I’ve had Google Adsense on the site to try and off set some of the cost of hosting this and the other 4 sites that I run. This year I made $98.04 to help offset the cost which run me approximately $200 a year. So I’ll make back about 50% of my costs….not to bad for just a couple of little ads here and there. Earlier this...

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