cc licensed flickr photo shared by Jim Blob Blann


The truth is out and and I am exposed.

I’m a newcomer to blogging and have mostly experimented with ideas in my blog through trial and error. I’ve been pretending to know what I’m doing, and hoping for the best. I have experimented with the look and feel of my blog and, as a visual thinker, I have tried to incorporate images to support my ideas. And I knew even then it was just – well, okay.

Some of the struggles I’ve had include:

•Topics – Figuring out what to say and how to say it. Justifying that anybody should or will care. Balancing between making the blog  ‘mine’ or extending class discussions and assigned responses.

•Layout and Graphic Design – I care about how things look, and get frustrated when I can’t get a post looking quite right. I have also struggled with how Google Reader sometimes handles the formatting. (I always check, but haven’t always been able to do something about it.)

•Comments – Apologies to all –I was completely oblivious on what to do with them (mostly because I hadn’t figured out how to subscribe to them using RSS). To anyone that’s commented on my blog in the past, I promise I’ll do better (I have nowhere to go but up)!

•Privacy and Freedom – My blog is simply where I’m at in a given place and time, yet the internet is unforgiving and forever. This doesn’t scare me, but makes me wary. As someone who works primarily in the Arts this can feel rigid at times. And as somehow who teaches high school it can feel limiting as I’m always aware of the boundaries.

These struggles have lead to the following questions:

1) I spend most of my day exploring creativity. How does blogging help or hinder creative exploration? The arts involve lots of experimentation – can you (or to what degree should you) experiment when your audience is potentially anyone and everyone?

2) Are there examples of bloggers who create using different types of text (visual, audio, written…)?

3) Are there good sources for improving the look or design of a blog? Many of my students are visual artists and I would like to show them some possibilities.

4) I appreciate the guidance, encouragement and wisdom Sue Waters shares, and I would like to extend this to my high school students. However, this guidance may not necessarily be connected with a specific class I teach (think the arty crowd). Instead, I’m sometimes approached by the type of student who seeks out unique opportunities and wants to connect with others. Specifically, how do I help these students begin to safely create their PLN?  Is this even  appropriate if it’s not directly part of a class?

In the spirit of support (calling on creative writers and visual artists) – a creative writing student I taught last year (she’s in 1st year university now) – has created her own blog and is attempting to establish her own PLN through Twitter and a Facebook group, but I know she’s finding it challenging. Luckily she is patient and tenacious.

I realize that’s exactly what I need to be, too.


10 responses to “Exposed

  1. “Get frustrated when I can’t get a post looking quite right” – well the easiest way to show you ideas on improving formating would be for me to log into this post as demonstrate. I will let you think on that because you need to feel comfortable letting me log in. That way after I’ve done it you can look at how I achieved the look.

    “Examples of bloggers who create using different types of text” Best example is Darren Rowse (Problogger) who uses a wide range of mixtures when writing posts.

    There are lots of ways of improving looks depending on limitations of which blog service you use. I’ve written lots of posts on this on my different blogs. Would you like some links?

    Regarding PLNs and students — a lot of educators do this when they engage in global projects with others. The thing is if you are using tools like blogs you do spend time educating them on appropriate online behaviour which helps them when they do eventually create their own PLNs.

    • Thanks Sue – I think I must be missing something in how WordPress is set-up because I’m not uncomfortable, I just haven’t found where to turn this on/off. Help?

      “…well the easiest way to show you ideas on improving formating would be for me to log into this post as demonstrate. I will let you think on that because you need to feel comfortable letting me log in.”

      • Hi Anne-Marie, it is simple — says she who writes the instructions on how to do it.

        Check out this information here. You want to change your setting to Option 1.

        Regarding “ideas on improving formating” what I meant is I can show you how to structure your post better so it looks better in Google Reader. But the best way is for me to log into your blog dashboard.

        That is why I said you need to consider if you feel comfortable with that. Any way have a think about it and if you want me to send me an email (my comment in your blog dashboard includes my email address).

        • Thanks for the clarification – I’ll have a look at the link and see what’s up. Also, thanks for the support and advice – it really is appreciated and provides valuable help and information. I had a quick look at the work of Darren Rowse, but will re-visit when I have more time.

  2. If your students are the ‘arty’ type get them to use their blog as a gallery to show off their work to the world. Have them research the web and write posts about ‘arty’ sites they have found.

    But the most important thing Sue mentioned – make sure the students are internet savvy and know how to behave online when creating their ‘positive digital footprint’.

    • Great ideas – it’s always a challenge when working with students who by definition ‘push boundaries’. I spend a lot of time discussing a positive on-line identity and the types of issues that arise as all nearly all of these students already are on FB, mySpace, and many have Youtube channels. The private (actually not-so-private) and ‘professional’ seem to blur for many young people.

  3. Interesting that so many of our experiences are similar. In this new world it is difficult to assess whether or not we are the only one that does not totally feel comfortable. Let me reassure you-you are not. I too did not know what to do about comments and have not totally got my RSS feeds going. I think the thing we need to remember is that there are not hard and fast rules when it comes to blogging. We can put our own flare on it and should feel comfortable doing just that. I know there are some rules of etiquette to follow, but there are a lot of very helpful people out there to help us stay on track. Remember-we are all figuring this out together.

    • Thanks for your support – I agree that there seems to be a similar learning curve we are all experiencing. Also, thanks for picking up on my struggle to keep my “own flare” on my blog. In fact, your comment helps give me the confidence to blog “my way” !

  4. Some suggestions suggestions:
    Check out all of the classes at Point England School. Kids can often show you the way!

    As for writing with multimedia, check out Richard Miller (Rutgers University, English Dept) Can search in Youtube or find here in my collection of useful resources:

    One of my students reminded me that he is leaving an intellectual trail – a VALUABLE intellectual trail if done well:

    You must read an lidten to this exchange with Room 10 at Pt. England School to understand the power of blogs:
    and this, which shows another aspect of Pt. England School:

    With regard to the privacy issue, consider these 3 blog posts:
    Read, listen and watch all materials (including all comments) included in the following three
    blog posts:
    Mr. Chamberlain on his blog titled Dear Kaia: Voicethread and Video
    Dear Kaia
    Intrepid Teacher: Singing Hearts


  5. John,

    First of all my apologies for not replying sooner. I discovered that my blog is set to hold comments that have many links. I have since changed my settings to ensure that in the future I will be notified of held comments. It seems I have much to learn about blogging.

    I thoroughly enjoyed looking at and listening to the many multimedia examples you suggested. What excellent work the students and teachers have done! This is very timely as I’m meeting with my principal tomorrow about setting up a Youtube channel for my film production students.

    Lastly, I find I am learning from my students all the time, and particularly like the idea of a “valuable intellectual trail.” Such a solid idea and easy to understand. I already use the metaphor of a trail with my students when we discuss the internet – this just takes that to another level.


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