Week #2 – 31 Day Blogging Challenge

This past week I completed the activities for Day 7 – Day 12. I strongly encourage any blogger to complete the challenge activities; it’s a great learning experience to say the least! I’d also like to say thank you to all the challenge participants for enriching the challenge for me so far. Thanks for all your comments and encouragement!

I’d like to make special mention of Sue Waters. Her blog is an amazing resource for the challenge, and blogging in general, and I know I wouldn’t be learning half as much if it wasn’t for her!

Here’s what I learned in the challenge this week:

Day 7 – Plan Your Next Week’s Posting Schedule – I think this will turn out to be one of the most important tips I’ve learned so far. I used Google Calendar for this last Sunday. I like the email reminder that Google sends the night before a scheduled event. I scheduled two posts this weekend: one related to the 31 Day Blogging Challenge, one unrelated. In terms of productivity and life balance, 1-2 posts a week is realistic. 

Day 8 – Comment on a Blog You’ve Never Commented On Before – Done, thanks to the challenge participants. I commented on Colin’s and Joy’s blogs, both of which I’ll keep reading after the challenge is done. One important realization – I do need to find a way to keep track of comments and co-comments. 

Day 9 – Run an Advertising Audit On Your Blog – Although this activity is not listed for the group challenge (probably because I don’t think teachers create blogs for profit), I included it here because I didn’t know that some people blogged for a living. Now that I’m aware of it, it makes sense. I don’t know why I was so surprised to discover that for some people, work means getting up and posting every day. Once again, my mind has been opened just a little more to the new and unexpected ways that technology is changing the way people live, work and interact with one another.

Day 10 – Declutter Your Sidebar – As far as aesthetics are concerned, I like clean, simple design lines in general so my sidebar was not cluttered. After reading other participants reflections, I decided the only thing missing was a prominent RSS feed subscriber. I added Feedburner last night. I hope I added it correctly. I hope even more that I see some subscriptions soon!

Day 11 – Dig into Your Blog’s Statistics – I’m installing Google Analytics to get the data I need to do this properly. In terms of comments, the highest number is found on posts associated with the 31 Day Challenge, my art blog project and my PLN post.

Day 12 – Introduce Yourself to another Blogger – I returned the favour and commented back to Jeanette after she tagged me for this challenge activity. I do believe that this will be an ongoing aspect of blogging and expanding my PLN, although I’ll mainly stick to commenting and co-commenting for now. Digital immigrant at heart, I still do not feel comfortable emailing complete strangers.

Day 14 – Analyze Your Blog’s Competition – After reading this activity, I realize that time will be needed in order to properly analyze and find the answers to the questions posed. I’d rather spend a few days on this and learn from the activity than complete the activity quickly just to get it done. This self-directed learning opportunity affords the luxury of time, so check back next week for the reflections on this activity and those that follow.

Image: “7” by Lincolnian on Flickr.com

31 Days to Being a Better Blogger

To enhance my learning and improve my blogging, I’ve decided to join up with others and explore the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog Project by Darren Rowse which is connected to Steve Dembo’s 30 Days to Being a Better Blogger. I had started doing this on my own, but I know that being a part of a group learning experience is much better for me.

I’m determined to figure out as much as possible before starting my classroom blog and that time is rapidly approaching! I decided this after reading Sue Waters’ latest post on the subject. Thanks, Sue for the motivation! I hope I linked back correctly!

Edublog Awards

Ouch!! by /kallu on Flickr.com

Although it is a busy time of year, I found time to post! I am guilty, I admit, of placing sugar cookies and gingerbread ahead of posting on my priority list this past week!

If you haven’t already, you really should check out the edublogs nominated for the annual Edublog Awards. Education blogs, or edublogs, are written for many reasons, as shown by the various nomination categories. Anyone can vote (do it before December 21) and the winners are revealed just before Christmas – an early gift for those who celebrate Christmas!

The edublogs nominated are impressive. The educators responsible are doing amazing and inspirational work. I’ve been following some for awhile now, such as Will Richardson’s Weblogg-ed and Clarence Fisher’s Remote Access. More recent favourites include Jan Smith’s Huzzah!, Miss Wyatt’s Technology in our Classroom and Sue Water’s Mobile Technology in TAFE. Congratulations to you all!

There is so much to learn from these people. While some edublogs offer great examples of how to use blogging to enhance students’ learning, others are set up for the sole purpose of resource sharing (you have to check out Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day – too good not to know about!).

Hopefully you’ll find the time to learn something new from these extraordinary educators! And some time for sugar cookies and gingerbread too, of course…

Six Things Learned in My First Two Weeks

Reflection time. Here are six things I’ve learned about blogging in my first two weeks:

  1. Maintaining a blog takes time. I’ve spent 3-4 hours per week designing and writing posts. I realize that it’s a work in progress and I like the continuous improvements as my blog evolves.
  2. Visual appeal is important. I created a Flickr account and added the link to my page. One thing I want to learn next is how to include photos in my posts, especially copyright free images off the net.
  3. I want to use my blog to help build my PLN. Blogging is a good way to build a personal learning network. Check out Sue Waters’s recent posts on the subject – if you hurry, there’s a survey you can fill out.
  4. Activate your Widgets – I waited (impatiently!) for little red dots to appear after I added a ClustrMap (a widget suggested by Jan Smith – thanks Jan!). I knew people were visiting my blog, but no red dots! Turns out that an email from ClustrMap that I misread was really the way to activate the widget…oops!
  5. I’m enjoying myself. Writing relaxes me, it always has. It doesn’t matter if I write with a pen or with a keyboard. There is, however, something extra special about a beautiful, handmade journal and a really fabulous pen…
  6. Bloggers can be compared to rock stars. Steve Dembo at Teach 42 wrote a great post full of encouraging words for beginning bloggers:

“When you get right down to it, the best way to be a successful blogger… is to be one. To put yourself out there, to be bold and promote yourself, to be confident in your worth and quite simply to be the Rock Star you truly are.”