Friday, July 21, 2017

13 blogging basics every blogger should know about


Do you ever have time in your life where different experiences seem to converge and create either a need or a solution? I have experienced this over the past few days and thought I would turn it into a blog post in case it could help others.

First event:
Recently, I posted what turned out to be a very popular post on how to host your own blog images without using a third party host. The blog post got a large number of views, and I got several DMs, text messages, and Voxes thanking me and asking for more help with blog images. 

Second event:
At the end of the school year, I asked if there were any teachers who would like to join a different sort of PLC for the 2017-18 school year, called the Innovative Teaching and Learning PLC (ITLPLC for short.) We have been doing a book study on Voxer this summer of George Couros' book The Innovator's Mindset (which has been awesome!) In Chapter 11, George asks the following Quesiton for Discussion: How are you actively sharing your learning with your school and global community? Several of the teachers in the Voxer group stated that they wanted to be more reflective and wanted to share their learning to a greater capacity. They also shared that they were afraid that they didn't have time to blog.

Third event:
Two different people who follow me on twitter have asked for consulting help with their blogs. They are at two different places with their blogging journey (as we all are), where one is just starting and one is at a standstill and wants help staying on track and committed. 

These events lead me to this blog post. I wanted to share some Blogging Basics. There is no magic sauce. Other people may have different ideas. Here's what I've found has worked in my 8 years of blogging.

1. Don't compare your blog or your journey to anyone else out there. You and your story are unique and should be shared and not compared. 

2. Make time to learn each day. While you will be blogging about things that you are passionate about and are knowledgeable about, the technical side of blogging will require you to Do the Work and learn something new almost each and every day. You will be uncomfortable, it will take time, and it will be rewarding.

3. Blog regularly. Whether it's once a week or several times a week, your readers will want to see regular posts from you.

4. Forgive yourself when you don't post. It happens to most bloggers, and it will probably happen to you. Give yourself permission to take a break, but make sure the "breaks" don't happen too frequently. 

5. Put your social profile links on your blog. Either use social media buttons or post your links on a Contact or About Me page.

6. Learn how to schedule posts ahead of time. You can write several posts at once and schedule them to go out at specific times. 

7. Use an online photo editor like Canva or Picmonkey to create graphics for your blog. Take your own photos or use free stock images to create eye-catching graphics. Use at least one image per blog post. 

8. Actively engage on twitter. Share links to your blog posts; include graphics from your post or that are relative to your post.  

9. Have an About Me page and a Contact page.

10. Include links to previous posts in your blog posts.

11. Leave comments on other people's blog posts and respond to each comment left on your blog. 

12. Use white space and readable typeface. Readers want to get through content fast. Try chunking content and leave a blank line between paragraphs. Make sure your fonts aren't too curly or hard to read. Avoid cluttered backgrounds and designs so that the readers' eyes can focus on the important part of your blog - your content. 

13. Keep a blog idea list. This can be done indifferent apps on your computer or phone or it can be as simple as written in a notebook or planner. Do whatever works best for you. Sometimes I start blog posts with titles only and keep them in draft mode until I can go back and expand on the topic.  


What would you add to this list? Leave me a comment below (and I will be sure to respond!) 


Pin this image so that you can refer to this post later.


PS - Thank you, Ashley, for the beautiful stock images above! 





Tuesday, July 18, 2017

How to host your own blog images


Recently, I had an overnight hospital stay for some planned surgery. I knew that coming home I would have some down time away from work, and I had planned to write some blog posts as well as do some maintenance on my blog. 

Imagine my surprise when I checked my blog last week and saw the following image several times in the right-hand margin of my blog! 



I went straight to Google to see if this was a common issue, and it turns out that it is. Photobucket, a photo-hosting site, without warning, changed its policies and limited third-party hosting to only paying customers. I almost fell out when I saw the price... $400!

Now, photobucket has(had) a great thing going. With as many customers as photobucket has, they could have charged us a reasonable amount and we would have accepted it and paid it. Unfortunately for them, there are a ton of comments across the Internet of people who feel like I do - that it is a ridiculous amount and they will find another option for image hosting.

I immediately turned to help from the Xomisse website. I found a blog post with instructions on how to host images on my own blog and not have to use a third-party site like Photobucket. 

(To see the instructions from Xomisse for Blogger and Wordpress, click HERE).

My instructions are for blogger, since that is the platform that I use for The Compelled Educator. 

First, open a new post, and title it "Images for Blog." You are NOT going to publish this post. You will only save it and close it, leaving it in draft mode. 

In the picture above, you can see that I uploaded new images for social media buttons (downloaded for free from this site) as well as our Compelled Tribe badge. 
Above, you can see the HTML code of the images that I have uploaded. If you are only uploading an image and not linking it to anything, you can highlight the code in YELLOW and paste into an html widget in your blog layout. Hint: Look for the second set of triangular brackets and copy the brackets and everything in them.

The href just prior to the image code will link the image to another "location." (See green highlighted text above.) 

For example, the social media icon containing the envelope will take blog readers to my email address. To do the same on your blog, use the following code just prior to the code for your social media icon. 

<a href="mailto:thecompellededucator@gmail.com">

You need to change the text in red above to YOUR email address. 

For twitter, facebook, pinterest, etc... just change the text in the quotation marks (above) to the web address of each.


Pin the image below to try later on your own blog. Feel free to contact me if you need help!




Wednesday, May 31, 2017

5 strategies for success with strong-willed children


Have you seen the video below? In the video, Aaliyah (the daughter of Nailah Ellis-Brown, the CEO of Ellis Island Tea) has her mind made up! 

   

I love the video because Aaliyah reminds me of my own daughters. I have two strong-willed girls that, when their minds are made up, won't change their minds easily. (I think I know exactly where they get that!)

As you watched the video, what words came to mind about the toddler? The dad? The mom? How does this relate to us as educators?

The mom and dad had different strategies when faced with the strong-willed child. Dad told Aaliyah the correct information over and over. Still, she wouldn't give in to what he was telling her. 

The mom (Nailah) had a different tactic. Instead of trying to convince her daughter that she should accept what Dad was saying, Mom asked the daughter to count to four. 

This is a great tactic when trying to change our beliefs about something. Sometimes we have to experience cognitive dissonance in order to change what we believe. 

Have you ever worked with a student who had certain beliefs that were hard to change? How about a strong-willed student? I've known educators who have reacted on opposite ends of a spectrum when working with strong-willed students. I've known some to  get frustrated and quit on students, and I've known some use patience and consistency as they work with students.

While there are some differences in dealing with toddlers and dealing with teenagers, I wanted to share 5 strategies for success from Cynthia Tobias:

Five Strategies for Success
1. Choose your battles.Don't make everything non-negotiable. Is this a battle worth fighting? Choose the things you want to go to the wall for and leave the rest alone.
2. Lighten up, but don't let up.Ask them, "Are you annoying me on purpose? If you are, you are so good at it." Smile more often. When you are a strong-willed child, nobody is all that happy to see you when you walk in the room.
3. Ask more questions and issue fewer orders."Are you about done with your homework? Are you going to mow the lawn before dinner? Are you about ready to go or do you want to be late?"
4. Hand out more tickets and give fewer warnings.Take more action and show less anger.
5. Make sure your strong-willed child always knows your love is unconditional.They have to know no matter how they act that you are still going to be there for them.

 



Wednesday, May 24, 2017

A new teacher group we're starting at our school


I've shared before on this blog that the teachers at our school have 2 off periods during their school day. One period is for planning, and one is a PD/PLC period. This allows teachers of a content area to share a period with others who teach the same content. This is a huge help with pacing, curriculum planning, and using results to drive instruction for teachers in a small group. 

This year, in addition to weekly PLC meetings, our teachers have met as a PLC during Collaborative Hour, where they have learned a literacy strategy each nine weeks to implement as part of our school-wide literacy plan

Next year, we're trying something new. It's called the Innovative Teaching and Learning PLC (or ITLPLC for short). 

I recently sent out a school-wide email, asking teachers if they would like to be a part of the new PLC. You can see the email below:

Are you a teacher with creative ideas that you implement in the classroom? Do you know your content standards well? Are you looking for a support network of other innovative teachers at HHS who will brainstorm, encourage, challenge, and uplift you? 
Next year, we will pilot a new PLC, and if you answered yes to the questions above, this PLC may be for you! 
For those who would like to be a part of the PLC, there will be a book study this summer on George Couros' book Innovator's Mindset. The PLC will be for any teacher in any content area. *This means that you would be in the "Innovative Teaching and Learning" PLC and not a PLC with your content-area teachers.  
If you would like to be a part of a new PLC called "Innovative Teaching and Learning," please let me know by Friday at noon, as Carrie and I are working on the master schedule for next year. 

 I had 18 teachers respond that they would like to be a part of it, so I immediately ordered George's book for them. 



I also asked each teacher to sign up for Voxer and send me a Vox so that I can create a book study group for our ITLPLC.

On the master schedule, I broke the large group into 3 smaller groups spread out across 3 periods (so that it would work in each group member's schedule). This way, there are three small groups that will be able to support each other throughout the year during a designated PLC period, and the entire group will be connected on Voxer, too. (We have over 200 teachers at our school. Teachers can go weeks without seeing certain other teachers in the school.)

We're "building the ship as we sail it," and we'll see where this idea takes us. Our school is known for it's willingness to try new things and take risks. I'm excited for teachers to have this intentional time in their schedule!

How could you create an opportunity like this in your school? 
What other ideas do you have about this ITLPLC?


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