Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself. ~ John Dewey

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Last week I had the pleasure of running a lab site in an Enumclaw 5th Grade class as part of my work with the district over the past couple of years. It’s a lesson that I first taught in 2009 and is still as relevant today as it was then.

The students were working on opinion writing. They were writing in Google Docs which made it easy to have students peer edit with their editing partner. At the same time, there was an opportunity to have them experience commenting not just on someone you know and are in class with, but also learn to leave a comment on someone you don’t know and probably will never meet. That is a whole new level to commenting.

So here’s the lesson….it took about an hour:

  • Have students share their opinion writing with their editor buddy giving them “comment only” rights to their document. (Students in this class had shared their writing with their partner before….this time we change the permission to be “comment only”).
  • Take time to read your partners writing and leave comments on their work.
  • Now close your computer and have a discussion about the difference between a compliment and a comment.

What a great conversation to have with students. We started listing what makes a compliment and what would be a good comment. The image to the left shows what the students came up with. We then talked about how you might give both to someone. Everyone likes compliments but they don’t really help the author with their writing. But if you make a compliment/comment sandwich you can do both! So we practiced in table groups what a good compliment/comment sandwich might sound like.

An example:

“I really enjoyed reading your post. I am wondering if you could add more details when you talk about the house. I couldn’t quite see it in my head. I really like the way your story ended, it made me laugh”

The day before the lesson I went to Twitter and did a search for #comments4kids 5th to find 5th grade classrooms that were blogging and looking for comments from others. In no time at all, I found the two following classes:

We took the links from the tweets and put those into Google Classroom for the students to have. Once we finished our conversation on compliments and comments we had the students open their Chromebooks, click on the links and practice writing compliment/comment sandwiches on other 5th graders writing. This lead to some more great discussions:

  • What do you put in the name field and why using your first name only is OK when leaving comments.
  • If you don’t think their writing is very good what do you do? What do you say? Or do you not say anything?

My favorite part of the day was as we were debriefing the activity, I asked the students what it was like to leave a comment on someone you have never met before?

“Weird” was the best we could come up with. We unpacked weird to be not knowing the person, not being able to explain yourself, and you didn’t want to hurt their feelings because you don’t know them.

A compliment/comment sandwich isn’t new. In fact, it’s a strategy for writing emails as well. I’d even call it a digital literacy strategy that can be used whether you are leaving comments on writing, on others blogs or any digital writing where someone can’t see you physically. It’s a great strategy to start teaching kids. Again…nothing new here I know….just thought I’d share my lesson for others.

1000 Blog PostsSo…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 matters

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…..

blogit
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 writer….you have readers. 

What if during class time you pulled up a blog post written by a student and read it together as a class? What if you had a discussion about the writing; what you liked? What could be improved? What does the author (seeing they are sitting there in your class) thinks about the piece? What if you looked for the strongest sentence, or the weakest sentence and gave the author feedback on how to improve their writing the next time? What if you have a couple different students respond to the same article and their responses were different? What learning could happen from this teachable moment?

What if a blog posts gets tweeted or shared on Facebook? Can you track how many people saw that link? Or how many potential readers a student might have had? Can you teach about the spread of information within social-networks and then apply that to where status updates go when you post them on Facebook and how quickly a readership can multiply?

It’s strange all the learning that could come from a simple online contest that incorporates social-networking and sharing.

Just a thought…. 

 

High School BlogAt 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 feed for that tag and pull that into the Virtual Bulletin Board site. This way students can post an announcement about a club, upcoming activity or just a thought out to the rest of the high school by simply writing a post on their own blog. They then keep ownership of the announcement. I’m hoping this will be useful for clubs, sports teams, athletics, and kids and general.

What I also like is that because our container is a blog, we’re not limited to just text. Videos, audio, images….kids can decide which medium best gets their message across. We can easily embed videos in the sidebar, in posts, in pages. Making the site even more unique and engaging. 

In the end it needs to engage them…students have to see it as a place to go to get information that is relevent to them. If we can succeed in that then I’ll have met one of my goals for the year…..wish me luck!

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 you
You 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 topics
At 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 have time. Not all ideas make it to a full blog post, some get crossed out, others get folded into each other. It’s the brainstorm phase of writing….just like we teach kids. 🙂

3. Keeping web pages organized
http://welkerswikinomics.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2008/11/diigo.pngThis came up in class yesterday. How do you keep all those sites open, or organize that you want to talk about in a blog post? In Firefox I use an extension called Tabloc that allows me to ‘Lock’ a tab (still looking for a good one for Chrome is anyone has one!). So if my browser closes or I need to restart those tabs that are locked, stay safe and saved. I also have gotten better at tagging web pages in Diigo and using the highlight features as well. Social bookmarking takes time to understand and time to find out how tagging works and how to use it for you. I have a system that works for me and I’m going on 5 years without using bookmarks within my browser…..everything is in Diigo and Delicious (which are connected so when I save to Diigo it auto-saves it to Delicious….a perfect backup system!)

4. Find a blogging interface that works for you.
There are many different blogging interfaces that you can use to actually write your blog post in. I’m a huge fan, and honestly would have a hard time blogging without ScribeFire (Firefox Add-on). I’ve tired to blog just using WordPress and visually it just doesn’t do it for me. I know that many people use the Flock Web Browser and find the built in blogging application very good (I think it’s my second favorite). Scribefire is the only reason I still use Firefox. My day to day browsing has moved to Chrome and I find that I don’t blog as much because it means going someplace else to write. That’s what I love about ScribeFire, it’s just there, in your browser waiting for you to start writing.

Take time to try out a couple blogging applications and see if one fits you and your style. You gotta be comfortable with your flow of thought, writing, and idea process otherwise writing will become a chore not a pleasure.

5. Finding your Flow
In the end….I think it’s about finding your flow. Some people blog at the same time every day. I know Kim Cofino (cause we talk about this kind of stuff in the office) does most of her blogging on the weekend, because that’s what works for her. I found that I need it cool, I blog better, ideas flow when I’m in a cooler temperature. So I either blog in my home office with the A/C on or here on the couch with a fan blowing on me to keep me cool. I didn’t realize this was an issue for a long time here in Bangkok. It’s only been about 6 months that I realize I don’t write because I’m uncomfortable, hot, sticky, and not in a thinking mode.

Find your flow, find which time/day works for you, what place, which application. Take time to try things out. I’m constantly looking for another blogging application to replace ScribeFire and just haven’t found one that I like better…that enhances my flow of ideas and process of writing.

6. Write to your community ~ Know your audience
A blog website whether you like it or not is about branding. Your audience want’s to know what they are going to get when they go to your site. You know what to expect when you go to CNN, BBC, NYTimes, TechCrunch, Mashable, etc. Your blog needs to have a focus. That doesn’t mean you can’t go off topic once in awhile, but the majority of your blog posts should be to a specific audience. I focus broadly on education and specifically on educational technology. But I also talk about my love of baseball and travel as well……after all it is my site. 😉

So that’s it…find your flow, find your audience and blogging can be enjoyable.

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 month the blog saw it’s 4000th FeedBurner subscriber which just blows my mind and with the 4800+ crazy Twitter Followers I’m just in awe.

So those are the numbers behind the content. Of course the content is really where the story is told. In the comments and e-mails that I get when I put my thinking out there no matter how mundane or controversial it might be. Each post has taught me something, either in the simple matter of thinking it through as I put my thoughts down, or on the numerous comments that have made up the conversations that are this blog. I thank you for reading and hope that this year of blogging adds value to the body of knowledge that we call the Internet!

As we continue to set up and learn about blogging in the 5th grade we’re finding ways to both teach skills and tie blogging to the content in which the students are learning.

Idea: Can we move the students’ science journals online?

http://blogs.isb.ac.th/wins/files/2009/09/dscn0009.jpgThe Set Up:
Two classes of 5th Graders. Mr. Armitage’s Class and Ms. Hellyer’s class took time this week to post data from a recent science experiment on their blogs.

Skills:

  • Write a blog post
  • Take a picture, transfer it to a computer, upload it to the blog, insert into blog post

Task:
Each student will now look at the data from a student in the other classroom. As a group (the same groups that they did their own experiments in) they will discuss what they notice about the data, compare it to the data they got, and then give advice via comments to the students on what they should do next or what they might want to retest.

Skill:

  • Leaving good comments (explain your thinking clearly to others)
  • Understanding variables within the experiment and be able to explain/give advice on what the scientist should do next using scientific language
  • Read Data from another scientist

If you have a look at the data from the students you’ll notice that they have given very little details on what the data is about. This is done on purpose as we want the commenter to have to interpret what the data is saying and give advice based on the data shown (all students have done the same experiment and have that background knowledge to work from).

But as an outside class, or commenter you could also help by just having a look at the data and telling us what you notice or observe. What does the graph tell you? What do you notice about the data collected?

This is just our first in what we hope to be many socialized scientific experiments this year. This is our first attempt at moving the student’s science notebooks online where they can be linked, commented, displayed, and reflected on throughout the year and years to come.

Edubloggercon09groupphoto.jpg
Last year I was pretty critical of EduBloggerCon. For me it was too big, too scripted, and…well…you can read the post.

This year….smaller, deeper, and more thoughtful. Exactly what I was hoping for and personally what I need to push my own thinking. It was one of those days where you went to one but watch others via Twitter. You wanted to go to all the sessions…and in some ways you did via the conversations that happened between the actual sessions.

Last year I said it was too big…around 250 people. This year around 75 people….not a bad size.

Last year it was to scripted….this year it was flexible, adaptable, and conversation based. Not adaptable enough for my taste but that was due more to the people that went than the organization of the sessions.

With empty sessions all over the wiki, nobody should complain that the conversation wasn’t what they needed. If you wanted a conversation the spots were available to put up a topic. I did just that wanting to discuss the changes that are happening with blogging because of Twitter and this whole “live stream” service (more on that later).

So….here are my take aways from EduBloggerCon 2009

Best Practice of PD (My live notes)
A great session that had a group of about 30 break into smaller groups, discuss ideas on what worked at our schools and then came back together to share as a group. We came to the same conclusions that it seems we always end up at:

  • Getting administrators on board is key
  • You have to meet teacher where they are
  • There are different approaches, no one right model/way to shift teachers
  • Change is hard
  • Change is frustrating

Build Your Own Tool (My notes)
A great session that allowed us all to dream about the tool we would create if we had a coder. That’s exactly what Mark Wagner wanted out of the session and has had success with when he rents a coder to create applications for him.

Where School Reform Meets Madonna:
This session was too deep for me to even take notes on….I was too busy thinking about the conversation that was going on. It was a great intense hour with one liners that filled twitter faster than any single one person could type.

My take away….or just good reminder…came from Scott McLeod when he reminded me that kids that are 14,15,16 years old are all about ME. How do we tap into that ME and make the world relevant to them? It’s where they are developmentally and it’s not a bad thing. These kids are trying to find out who they are, where do they fit, and the web and their web presence is a part of that. How do we tap into that ME, find what is passionate to them, and then find them an audience that makes learning relevant? It’s good to be reminded just where these kids are at. We talked about that they don’t use Twitter or blog because that is about spreading your message and not about ME. ME is about ME and my friends, it’s exactly what Facebook offers them…a place to hang out with their friends, talk with their friends, and be with their friends. Can we tap into this? Can we use this to our advantage? How do we use this in a learning enviornment? Should we?

Edu Blogging:
Lastly was a discussion I lead on where is EduBlogging heading and/or is it dead already?

It was a good discussion that talked about how the conversation is changing. That at a point in time we use to actually take time to read and leave comments on blog posts. Now we read, and retweet blog posts. We talked about how Twitter is the new aggregator and is replacing RSS as a way people are getting their information. On this blog for example, I have more readers that come via Twitter then I do via the RSS feed.

Because of Twitters live constant scrolling feed, we also talked about how the “life span” of a blog post is shrinking. I use to get comments on a blog post lasting weeks. Now I post a blog, it gets a comment or maybe two in a the first 10 minutes, gets retweeted for about 20 minutes and then it’s old news. I’ve also been running tests about the timing of blog posts. Being in Thailand I found that blog posts that I posted on my lunch hour had fewer views then those that got posted late at night. I have a theory this has to do with time zones as most educational twitters are in North America. So I’ve set different blog posts to go live at different times and have found that I get more readers on a blog post if it is posted around 3pm EST. This is a great time to release a blog post as educators on the east coast are just getting out of school and checking Twitter, while educators on the west coast are checking Twitter over lunch. Depending on the blog post I can see views fluctuate by the 100s.

Now…please do not think that I’m all about the number of readers. It’s just an experiment that I’ve been running (and seeing I’m posting this at 11pm EST we’ll see how it goes) to see if the “life span” of blog posts are getting shorter…so far….I think they are.

We then talked about our students blogging and what is the reason for it. David Warlick brought us back from a rant at one point to focus on that all of this, whether blogging, or twitter, or facebook updates, it’s all about conversations and communication. Yes, the conversations are changing. But in the end we’re just communicating with different tools. Whether it’s paint drawings on walls in a cave or quick 140 character Twitter messages. We have an internal need to communicate and that’s the fundamental skill we need to be teaching students.

So those are my “official” take aways from today. Of course all of these conversations have been had before, and could have been had on the web. The real reason I’m here are for all the conversations that can’t be had via the web. It’s shaki
ng hands, giving hugs, and just catching up. It’s the quick conversation over lunch or over a drink. It’s the time together with people that is the reason we all decend on Washington DC. I look forward to the rest of the conference and just being with other educational technologists.

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I’ve found myself lately looking for posts on ideas or concepts that I know exist and not being able to find them. As I’ve been looking through the blogosphere I’ve been interested in how few people put a search on their blog so that others can search their content. So I thought I’d write a post on how to create a Google Custom Search for your blog.

There are a couple things I think every blogger should do when they get started to help others find their content.

1. Sign-up at Technorati.com for an account and go through the process of registering your blog with them. Technorati is a blog search engine that tracks blogs and tags on blogs throughout the Internet. It’s a great place to go to search for blog posts and a community every blogger should belong to.

2. It you have a Blogger Blog I don’t think you have to worry to much about Google indexing your site…as Blogger is owned by Google. However, if you have a self-hosted WordPress Blog or a blog at WordPress.com or Edublogs.org, I suggest you use the Google XML Sitemaps Plugin. It creates a Sitemap of your blog that Google and other search engines can use to easily index and keep your site up to date on search engine results.

http://www.yourshortestpath.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/12/custom_search_google_homepage.jpg3. Every blogging platform that I know of comes with a search widget….but I have found the Google Custom Search Engine to be more reliable in returning results on my own sites. I use it constantly to find posts, pictures, and comments left by others on my blog.

Creating a Google Custom Search Engine (CSE) is pretty easy.

  • Go to http://www.google.com/cse
  • Sign in with your Google Account
  • Walk through the process to create your custom search engine.
  • When you are through Google with give you a snipet of HTML coding
  • In a WordPress blog you can paste this coding into a text widget on your sidebar
  • In a Blogger Blog you can paste this snipet of coding in a html gadget
  • Typepad users? Not sure….maybe someone can leave a comment and tell me what the process is?

Once you have the search engine code embeded on your site Google will index your site and create the search results. Adding this code also helps Google index your site and search results for the main Google search and Google Blog search.

I hope this helps…or reminds some bloggers out there add a search to their blog.

The conversation that has been going on around Twitter over at Utechtips.com both here and here has lead to other e-mails and discussions around building networks and specifically how do you get people to comment on your blog?

The problem is….you can’t make people comment. What you can do is write compelling blog posts that make people want to leave comments. How do you do that….I’m not sure.

Seth Godin outlines 9 rules of blogging:

  1. Use headlines. I use them all the time now. Not just
    boring ones that announce your purpose (like the one on this post) but
    interesting or puzzling or engaging headlines. Headlines are perfect
    for engaging busy readers.
  2. Realize that people have choices. With 80 million other
    blogs to choose from, I know you could leave at any moment (see, there
    goes someone now). So that makes blog writing shorter and faster and
    more exciting.
  3. Drip, drip, drip. Bloggers don’t have to say everything at once. We can add a new idea every day, piling on a thesis over time.
  4. It’s okay if you leave. Bloggers aren’t afraid to include links or distractions in their writing, because we know you’ll come back if what we had to say was interesting.
  5. Interactivity is a great shortcut. Your readers care about
    someone’s opinion even more than yours… their own. So reading your
    email or your comments or your trackbacks (your choice) makes it easy
    to stay relevant.
  6. Gimmicks aren’t as useful as insight. If you’re going to
    blog successfully for months or years, sooner or later you need to
    actually say something. Same goes for your writing.
  7. Don’t be afraid of lists. People like lists.
  8. Show up. Not writing is not a useful way of expressing your ideas. Waiting for perfect is a lousy strategy.
  9. Say it. Don’t hide, don’t embellish.

These are some great ideas that hopefully have you thinking. But the best idea is

Link, Link, Link, Link

Learn to use the power of linked content. That is what makes the web a….well….web. Understanding how to get your blog linked into the network is important. So here are a couple things I would start with as a new blogger and I hope that others will add their ideas in the comments below.

1)Register your blog with Technorati
Technorati is not only used as a search engine by other bloggers (those most likely to leave comments) but many people use RSS feeds from the different Technorati tags to aggregate information. Being connected into Technorati gives you a wide net as those tags can be and are used for other search sites as well.

2)Learn to use Technorati tags
After you have registered your blog spend some time learning about tagging information. If you are using your own hosted WordPress the Tag to Technorati plugin is an easy way to make sure you are tagging your posts and that Technorati will pick up those tags.

If you are using Blogger. Get use to using what it calls labels (Why blogger doesn’t call them tags like everyone else is beyond me!). If your blog is registered with Technorati and you label your blog posts then Technorati will pick those up as Technorati Tags (Or so is my understanding I don’t use blogger…anyone?).


(Click here to enlarge)

3)Leave comments and leave your URL
The best way to get eyeballs on your site is to leave comments on other blogs and make sure you leave behind your blog address as well. Many times the author of the blog will follow the link to check out who left the comment and to learn more about you (I do) and other commenter’s do the same.

4)Link, Link, Link
Link to other bloggers. Read other bloggers and make sure you link to them. Those links (known in the blogosphere as Pingbacks) show up as comments on most blogs and it’s a way to again link information together.

5)Content
The amount of content on your blog makes a difference as well. I for one benefit from just the sheer amount of content I now have on my blog (some 660+ posts). That content is picked up by search engines and nearly 40% of my traffic each day comes from search engines (Google specifically). So just know that it takes time. People do not just show up and start commenting on your blog. There is a process that readers go through from lurking to commenting.

Write what you’re thinking, be true to who you are, and find your niche in a niche market. My niche is as an international educator. I have the feeling if I was to move back to the States that I’d be just another educational blogger. But I have a niche as an international technology educator. There are a few of us out here, but it’s still a pretty small niche.

I got my first comment on my 10th post. I didn’t get two comments on the same post until around the 100 post mark. So it takes time, write because you want to, write for you, don’t worry about the comments. What I have found lately is how much I end up searching my own site looking for something that I wrote, a website I know I mentioned, or just to reflect on what I was thinking. I write as a way to store my thoughts, as a way to reflect on my practice and share with the larger community. If you decide to leave a comment great….if not I have my thoughts down to share with others if they ask.

Find your niche, find your purpose, and then just blog!