Time to reflect

Image by Mahdi Ayat

We are going to learn some new skills on our blogs this week, but we need to take a little time out and reflect whether we can do everything we’ve set out to achieve – properly. 

What have you learnt so far? The following are key stages in learning how to blog and have video help linked to each point:

1.Sign up for a WordPress Blog 

2. Logging into your WordPress Blog

3. The WordPress Dashboard

4. Choosing a WordPress Blog Theme

5. Tidying Up the Blog and Adding Widgets

6. Adding a post with an image and link: adding this to a Widget.

7. Creating a Blogroll and adding Links in WordPress.

Be patient whilst the videos load. The set of videos is also available from the School Blog site.

Image from ZeRo'SKILL

If you feel confident enough to go on ahead, why not add in more widgets? See if you can add a Clustrmap to your blog. Clustrmaps enable you to see where people who visit your blog are from. See if you can find out how to get the code and add it to another text widget.

Add some more posts using the link from our Nottingham High School Blogs ICT Development page.

Do you want to add a photograph? We can arrange to lend you the ICT department camera and you can take a photo to upload to your blog.

Why not leave a comment on your friends’ blogs?

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Blogging: Basic Links & HTML

Students should complete two different activities this week, adding links to the BLOGROLL widget and creating a TEXT widget to input an image with a HYPERLINK to a popular site.

1. Adding links to the blogroll is an easy process. Have a look at a video on this page about the blogroll to learn more about a blogroll. On the dashboard, there is a blogroll Links faq section. This shows you how to add new links to the widget. Perhaps ask your friends for their blog url’s? Or, add any websites which you read regularly.

2. Create a text widget in the the sidebar, add an image and then create a hyperlink from this to an external website. The steps to completing this are: a) create new blog post. (This does not need a title as we’re only using the image and the html wich will be associated with it. b) Insert an image. c) Create a hyperlink to an external website. d) Select the html tab. (There are two editing tabs in posts; Visual and HTML.) e) Select the text (using Ctrl C) f) Navigate back to your text widget you created earlier. g) Paste the text into the widget. (You will have noted that the text is in html.) h) Save the work in the widget, close and visit the site to see the results.

Please remember that help for wordpress blogs is available on the support page.

Extension: Add another blog post, comment on a friend’s blog, investigate other widgets.

WordPress Widgets

This week we’re going to continue with blogging and will spend a little more time adding to the design appearance of the blog. We’ll begin work on adding widgets to the sidebars of the blogs. The following widgets will be added:

Archives (a list of all blog posts by month)

Calendar (shows current month and highlights the date when a blog post is published)

Links (web links to websites which interest you)

Tag  Cloud (words which appear in a cloud form, based on ‘tagging’)

Avatar (created from a text widget)

In order to create an avatar, follow the instructions  from the Mangatar website. Once your Avatar is complete and it has been emailed to your school email account, right click on the image and SAVE it to your MY PICTURES folder. From there, it can be uploaded as your avatar to the text box widget on your wordpress blog.

WordPress has a link to help those who forget how they constructed a widget. Find this here. To the right of the help text on this webpage there is a  list further explaining how to go about inserting and working with supported wordpress widgets. Go ahead and try out others if you wish. However, take care not to clutter your sidebars and always SAVE and PUBLISH your work.

If you enjoy the idea of creating Avatars, you might wish to visit this website which lists 12 sites to create cartoon characters of yourself. Similalry 18 Sites might have something which appeals to you. Not all of these might be accessible from the school network, so perhaps try them from home.

Spring Term – Week 1: Blogging with WordPress

Introduction: What is a Blog?

  • A blog (weblog) is a special type of website that displays entries or posts in reverse chronological order. The most recently written post appears at the top. The posts themselves consist of text, images, links to other websites and also, a way for readers to leave comments about the post.
  • Blogs can function as online diaries, soap boxes, journalistic ventures or internet scrapbooks. They can cover any number of subjects from pop culture to politics, to what you had for lunch yesterday. All you need to start blogging is an email address and something to say. There’s more than one free blogging service that you can use. For this exercise we will be using the free www.wordpress.com and your school email address.
  • When you register the wordpress blog, you MUST sign up with your school login name as your username, and your school network password. Speak to the teacher if this presents any problems.

Step 1: Define Your Subject Matter

  • Before you create a blog, it is important to plan or prepare what you are going to write about.
  • For this section of work, your blog title will be, ‘My Christmas gifts.’ As a start, it is probably a good idea to write out a list of the items you received and another for those which you gave to friends or family.
  • This link to a teacher’s Christmas list will give an example of what your blog post title and entry should cover.
  • You must include:

a) The Title of the Post (as given above). b) A sub-heading for each item on the list. c) A description of every item on the list. d) The BEST price for each item which you bought on the list. (You will need to research this from various online shops.) e) An image for every item. You need to ensure that the image is clear, cropped correctly and not pixilated.

Step 2: Name Your Blog

  • There’s no limit to what you can name your blog. Some blogs have names that relate to their subject matter – some blogs have completely nonsensical names that are just catchy. The easiest way may be to name your blog after yourself. Take care not to reveal your full name in the blog domain name or title. Students should sign up to WordPress using the formula we use for all Web 2.0 logins: first name, followed by at least one initial of your surname, followed by your age, e.g. http://www.jamieb12.wordpress.com.
  • A blog’s name should ideally be memorable, short, easy to spell and free of hyphens. Please remember to type up your blog URL, your username and your password in the document we created for this purpose.

Checking Your Name’s Availability

  • Technically, you can name your blog whatever you’d like. However, there are limits to what your blog’s URL or web address can be.
  • As we will be using a hosted blog service called WordPress.com for your blogs, you are assigned a web address, which will look like this: www.yourblogname.wordpress.com
  • You need to check your potential blog name’s availability when you sign up for an account.

Step 3: Confirm your Account Registration

  • Click through to your blog from the confirmation email you receive from WordPress.
  • Insert your username and password to login. Once you have logged in, a DASHBOARD appears. We will save the full blog URL in the Google document set up to capture student web URL’s.

Step 4: Change your blog’s appearance

  • Add a theme.
  • One or two columns or sidebars.
  • Widgets
  • Custom banner.

Step 5: Write your first post

Your first POST will cover the topic, ‘My Christmas gifts.’

A helpful presentation on adding images to your wordpress blog also has good instructions which can help with the general working of your blog posts. Slideshare also has several good guides; ‘How to set up your own blog using wordpress’ (low quality visuals but good instructions) and WordPress for Dummies –  how to set up your first blog. As we’re using wordpress.com and not .org, (a self-hosted blog) the first four slides are not relevant to us.

Once you are ready to insert widgets, there is a help guide here. You can also work ahead and follow the instructions for the next lesson (on widgets).

Please insert your URLs here.

Credits: Doug Belshaw (E-Learning Co-Ordinator), New Media Drivers License Michigan State University, Alan Carr, Mrs Krummel. Image sourced from Creative Commons.  

Internet Safety

We’ll be completing a project on Responsible Internet Use over the next three weeks. This will cover:

1. Internet Safety: To include acceptable behaviour in communicating online, being careful online, (via any medium including social networks and chat) the passing out of personal details and arrangments regarding meeting up of new online friends. This lesson comes with a questionnaire from the ThinkUKnow website.

2. Cyber bullying: To include aspects of harassment, bullying, stalking, and any other type of abuse.

Image from the NSTeens website.

Watch the short videos below which cover the principles of online safety which we talk about in class.

Take care when setting up an online profile.

Post to be Private: Know who you’re “Friending”.

Tracking Teresa: How hard is it to track children online?

Try some of the following quizzes: (Image from: http://www.carnegiecyberacademy.com)

Cyber Bullying Quiz Do you know how to deal with cyber bullies?

Online Gaming Quiz How safe do you keep yourself when gaming online?

Netiquette Do you know how to behave politely online?

Cyber Defence Quiz

Complete the Cyber Bullying report

3. Other factors to be aware of: Phishing scams, virus downloads, data protection (not to use other students login details, log off if one finds a computer with a staff member logged in) copyright and plagiarism of online resources.

Our first step is to get students to answer a questionnaire regarding their online habits. Click on the image of the girl below to be taken to the form. PLease DO NOT enter your surname – only your first name.

Girl-on-computer-420x0
(Image sourced from essentialbaby.com)

Students are encouraged to visit the web links to the right hand side of the blog entry, in their own time.

Spreadsheet Completion

studentThis is our final week on spreadsheets. Students will complete a short assessment in order to test some of the skills they have learnt in the last couple of weeks. Students will also need to complete an evaluation of the Harry Plotter project.
Although I will be assessing students’ progress on spreadsheets based on how far they have got at this point, students are encouraged to finish all the tasks in the Harry Plotter project. This will ensure that you have completed the spreadsheet skills you require at Key Stage 3.

(Image sourced from Garfield Elementary School)

Spreadsheets Lesson 5

QuestionMarkWe’re nearly at the end of our section on Spreadsheets now and sometime in November we’ll move on to study Internet Safety. Students should then continue to work through Spreadsheets in their own time, until they have completed all the lessons.

Task 1: The Spell Cost spreadsheet which was done in the previous lesson (Lesson 4) needs to be adjusted. Open the pdf file called Spell Cost Modelling sheet and follow the instructions. Create your own Word document and type in the answers to the questions. Save it as ‘Spell Cost Modelling’. There is no need to print it off.

Do you remember what ‘Modelling’ is? Spreadsheets provide a mathematical model of every day situations. i.e. planning how much money one would have to charge each student who attends a fund-raising class disco. Formulae can also be inserted into spreadsheets to answer ‘what if …?’ questions. ‘What if the cost of the hall hire increases?’ ‘What if we have to charge every student an extra £1?’ ‘How much profit will we make then?

The spell cost modelling sheet will help you to practice this.

Task 2: The Hogwalk’s Student Stationery Shop. This exercise is in Lesson 5 from the teach-ict website. It requires you to plan your own spreadsheet. For this, you will need to print off the planning sheets. Once you have completed the exercise, put your name on the planning sheet and hand it to me.