A Checklist for Bloggers

trung1145 Kite #5 Via Flickr
Kite #5
Via Flickr

Ready for five steps to better blogging?

ONE: From the top

Make sure you have an engaging title for your post. Also make sure your title isn’t too long.  Most research suggests you go with a title in between 45-65 characters in length.

If you need help thinking up an engaging start for your post, click here.

TWO: Be a visual communicator

Lucky us, we blog in an age of wonderful open use image providers.

Photopin, Photos for Class, and Flickr (use the creative commons search engine and be sure to attribute).

Use them and set the tone for your post.

The Noun Project is another phenomenal resource.  I’ve used it in creating this visual checklist for you to keep on your desktop:


THREE: Adjust your fonts

Use different colors, sizes, and types to provide guidance.  Each post should have at least two font ‘tweeks.’

FOUR: More, more, more

Provide relevant links.  Give your readers more to read, watch, or listen to.  Posts have the advantage of extending us, so be sure to extend your reader.  If you want to test the validity of a resource, you can use this tool.

FIVE: Give them something to talk about

Always respect your readers by asking them to join you in the conversation your blogpost starts.  Leave at least one question for readers to answer in the comment section.

Did I leave out a crucial step to better blogposts?

Tell me about it in the comment section below.





Creative Commons images via Flickr


Kite #5

Sowing ideas one post at a time

abbyladybug Pomegranate Seeds via Flickr
Pomegranate Seeds
via Flickr

How can we use blogs as fertile fields for ideation?

I do believe that my thinking helps to push that of others.  Sometimes in the way they agree, and sometimes when people disagree.  Opinions and ideas are often formed in what people read and how they connect to it.- George Couros

I love blogging. But that isn’t to say I’ve integrated it flawlessly.  I’ve abandoned blogs, started fresh in new spaces, and devoutly followed in the steps of other bloggers.  If you are looking for reasons why students should blog, click here.  If you want to be convinced that you the educator should be blogging, click here or here.

This post will focus on the applications for blogging once you’ve started.  This post might help you revamp your blog, or it might provide you with a few new approaches to learning in the great wide open.  Before we sample that menu, I’d invite you to listen to what some of my former students and colleagues had to say about blogging (just 5 months into the process):

You have all the innovation you need right there in your room” John Spencer (full video here)

1. Map out your menu

Be sure to include options for a wide variety of thinkers.  Here is a sample menu for an English class:

Made with Padlet

 Here’s a sample menu for a Global Perspective’s course:

Made with Padlet

2. Be adaptable:

Remember that we are teaching learners how to engage with a hyper-connected world (more on that here).

Remember that posts are containers. Sometimes my posts contain podcasts. Sometimes they curate tweets. Veer off script, test, trial, experiment.


3. Start and continue conversations:

Connected learning is about linking ideas, and seeing our community as one that values bridges.  A good post will connect us back to learning as well as connect us forward to applications, inquiry, or others.  Posts will formulate questions, and invite more learning in.

Here’s a sample comment a 9th grade student left on a 10th grade student’s blogpost:


4. Embrace the chaos:

“Failure counts as done. So do mistakes,” says The Done Manifesto.

Posts can be lists of questions, a curation of post it notes, or a single image looking for someone to ‘see, think, wonderfy’ it.

“Human beings are collectors,” says Austin Kleon in this talk, “…an artist’s job is to collect things.”  Use the blog as a means to preserve ideas, half-formed, partially-formed, fully formed.   As I type, I’m doing just that.  This post is an example of imperfection.  When I click ‘publish,’ I will share it with my PLN on Twitter and ask for help.

5. Commenting is an art:

If we learn to see ourselves all as ‘idea coaches,’ and to remember that each comment left on a post is an opportunity to encourage, support, or tease thinking out, we need to make the time to learn how to go about commenting a little bit better.  The art of commenting is every bit as important as the art of blogging.

Have a look at this comment left by a 9th grader on this post:


While you may want to develop your own commenting protocols (here’s mine), a good simple guide is to have students think over these ‘thinking moves,’ as a provocation for commenting.

Thinking Moves for Blog commenting – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires;


Has this post planted a seed in your idea garden? 

If it has, tell us about it in the comment section below.



The Pod People…

Ten quick steps to get your podcast on:


Step one: Listen to podcasts

Get a ‘feel’ for good podcasting. See how different episodes structure their segments.

Where to start?

Try here, here, here, or here…or here.


STEP Two: Go analog

Map out your show.

You don’t need to follow a template (like this one) exactly, but you do need structure, more on why here.

STEP Three: Find a quiet space and capture a conversation

I use a microphone.  You don’t have to, but it does help.  You need a small space, with as little background noise as possible.  Try to position your microphone or your computer up high enough to be near to the face of the people you are recording.  I use QuickTime Player to record.

If possible, provide questions to your subjects in advance.  I make sure to keep a notepad nearby to quickly make note of any follow-up questions I want to return to.

STEP Four: Listen to the recording and look for soundbites and organic pivot points

A good podcast is well-edited.  That means you’ve thought carefully about where you want to bring your audience in.  Do you have a clear hook? Do you preface or underscore crucial points? Have you curated the conversation?  Radiolab absolutely nail this.  Have a listen here.

Be sure to keep your episode moving.  Watch out for lulls.  Segments can be short and snappy.

STEP Five: soundscape accordingly

Don’t overwhelm the audience, but be sure to tease out the tension, suspense and wonder. Here’s a great example of excellent soundscaping.

STEP six: use GARAGEBAND to create your own intro

How to do that? Use loops.  It took me less than ten minutes to create the intro above.

Alternatively, Audacity is a nice option--here is a start to finish tutorial.

STEP seven: creative commons-use it!

There are different ways to get music for your podcast without ‘stealing,’  Here are a few go to places for open use music:





STEP Eight: share the links too

When you post your podcast, share it in a space (like your blog) where you can include relevant links to the topics (or music used). Give your audience access to readings/viewings/listenings that shaped your show.  Slate Culture Gabfest does this on their blog and on their Facebook page.


STEP nine: make room for your audience

The best episodes ask questions.  There is space for the audience to think.  Many pro podcasters ask their audience for their thoughts after the show drops.

STEP Ten: stories matter

We love stories.  Don’t be afraid to start or end your episode with an anecdote.  No one does this better than this show right here.

So step up to the mic and share away.  

Did I forget a crucial step? Let me know in the comments below.


Make your PD audible.


What if every professional development experience was curated as a podcast episode?

How can we use learning to beget more learning?

After UWCSEA Dover Campus hosted this year’s iPad conference, I sat down with Keri-Lee Beasley and David Caleb to capture their reflection as a catalyst for a broader school audience.

Here’s what they shared:

Featured in this episode are:

Pana Asavavatana


The link to her teddy bear project is here.


Nuances of New Literacies

PROSonny Abesamis Follow new life
PROSonny Abesamis Follow
new life

New literacies=new readers

I’ve written about ways to embed Twitter into Service studies, Psychology, Personal and Social Education, how to host Twitter chats, and a general post on Twitter for the IBDP student.

Why can’t I stop blogging about Twitter in 2016?

In September last year Twitter published a post which looked at how the US geological survey was using tweet data to track earthquakes. Using a surprisingly uncomplicated process, the USGS had found that by tracking mentions of the term ‘earthquake’, within specific parameters which they’d defined, they could better track seismic activity across the globe than they’d been able to via their previous measurement systems…….Twitter data is being used to track and respond to flood damage in Jakarta, to monitor civil unrest in Egypt, to predict crime in the US. These use cases highlight the societal benefits of Twitter data, beyond just keeping up with cultural trends. Rather than seeing it as a short-form message service mainly populated by Millennials, Twitter is a powerful data engine with wide-reaching benefits.   (full text here)


Political campaigns worldwide now use bots, software developed to automatically do tasks online, as a means for gaming online polls and artificially inflating social-media traffic. Recent analysis by our research team at Oxford University reveals that more than a third of pro-Trump tweets and nearly a fifth of pro-Clinton tweets between the first and second debates came from automated accounts, which produced more than 1 million tweets in total. This data corroborates recent reports suggesting that both candidates’ social media followings are highly automated. (Full text here)

As a former IBDP Language and Literature teacher, a core component of the course asks us to Examine different forms of communication within the media.  In 2016 it is impossible to leave Twitter outside of that conversation.

So, where are great resources to help us foster twitter literacy in an Ibdp Lang/Lit course?

1. “Make America Tweet Again”

Computer scientists from the University of Utah’s College of Engineering have developed what they call “sentiment analysis” software that can automatically determine how someone feels based on what they write or say. To test out the accuracy of this software’s machine-learning model, the team used it to analyze the individual sentiments of more than 1.6 million (and counting) geo-tagged tweets about the U.S. presidential election over the last five months. A database of these tweets is then examined to determine whether states and their counties are leaning toward the Republicans or Democrats.



Social media has empowered isis recruiting, helping the group draw at least 30,000 foreign fighters, from some 100 countries, to the battlefields of Syria and Iraq. It has aided the seeding of new franchises in places ranging from Libya and Afghanistan to Nigeria and Bangladesh. It was the vehicle isis used to declare war on the United States: The execution of the American journalist James Foley was deliberately choreographed for viral distribution. And it is how the group has inspired acts of terror on five continents.

4. Twelve ways twitter has changed our lives

Ten years ago, if someone told you people would be writing articles about hundreds and thousands of people watching a livestream of a puddle, you’d probably think they were making it up. Despite constant calls of “that’s not news”, viral moments have become just that. From #thedress to #thestory, Twitter amplifies these trends to the point they end up in newspapers.

5. #langNlit

The hashtag curates resources on the daily.


Yes, and…WHERE ARE GREAT RESOURCES for the ibdp literature teacher?




Anders Adermark Connected
Anders Adermark


Twitter is home to some of my favorite ‘colleagues.’ These are just a sampling of the Lang/Lit teachers I’m proud to follow:

Michelle Lampinen


Madeleine Cox


Sydney Atkins


Lindsay Lyon


Aynsley o’carroll


Neshali Weera


Uzay Ashton


Wonder if twitteracy is a thing? unsure as to whether or not twitter will provoke more reading and writing? 

Start here…and consider contacting that amazing list of teachers on Twitter above for a ‘slow chat’ debate.  Maybe we could even host it with students?

Chris Horizon


All Images Under a CC licence

new life

Connected via Flickr

Horizon via Flickr