Yikes – A Blog Post Each Week #YourEduStory

This year promises to be full of Challenges – New Job – New Study and almost a completely new role so this is the perfect time to “restart” my blog. When I started my blog my challenge was to overcome a “fear” of writing – writing was something I’d never felt confident about and struggled with all through my school years. Blogging was a good way to work through some of those issues mainly because it was short and to the point and easily edited at a later date.

When I was studying in 2008 I found that blogging was quite helpful for clarifying thoughts and writing about new discoveries. At that time I was studying a Masters in Education Information Technology and there were so many things to learn. Blogging was a great way to make sense of it all. Over the years my blog has served many purposes; reflective practice, a place to save “how to” information, and a place to celebrate achievements. Sadly it has had less and less updates over the last couple of years.

I intend to use the #YourEduStory as motivation to write about my new journey and in particular my new studies – Master of Education (Special Educational Needs). I am particularly interested in melding my two studies together in my work. I’ll keep you posted on how it all goes!

Thanks to for tweeting about this challenge @SteveBrophy3 @sduncan0101 @ccoffa @medg56 @hbailie @mrkrndvs I look forward to reading and responding to your blogs.

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How to Add Video to Your Blog with Vimeo

This is the method I use to put videos from my computer on my blog.

Most videos are too large to add directly to your blog so I use Vimeo to host the video. Vimeo works in the same way that Youtube works.

I have a Plus Account for my personal videos and we have a school Plus Account for Vimeo that students and teachers share. We started with a free account but I recommend subscribing to the “Plus” account if you are going to use it regularly as it much quicker to load and access the embed codes that you will need.

Some of my favourite things about Vimeo include;

Screen Shot 2014-01-02 at 7.18.01 AMThe ability to choose which frame shows up before the video is played.

That you can create albums of related films and then have a widget to display those videos on your blog. You can see an example here.



Screen Shot 2014-01-02 at 7.19.23 AM

That you can choose the “outro” of your video – I always choose the beginning of the video rather than other unrelated video previews.

The huge storage allowance – 5GB per week on the Plus Account


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Autobiographies to Begin the Year

Browne, Henriette - A Girl Writing; The Pet Goldfinch - Google Art ProjectAutobiographies

Often the year starts with students writing to teachers and vice versa so that teachers and students get to know one another. This post is to include some ideas about how and what to write when you introduce yourself. The finished autobiography can be used in the Tagxedo activity in the post below.

For students at my school this is a piece of writing that they will revisit when they write the script for their live radio show on The Berwick Lodge Student Hour, on 97.7FM Casey Radio and your students might find it helpful for other purposes as well.

Write it from 3rd Person Perspective –

Biographies are written as if someone else is telling your story. Paragraph 1 starts with the student’s name, second paragraph starts with he/she and the third paragraph starts with name again.

Make it interesting

Include some of the following (brainstorm with your students) – Interests, passions, hobbies, skills, pets,  favourites, clubs, groups, sporting teams that you are part of, great life experiences, awards, family background (if appropriate), and or a funny anecdote if you have one.

The autobiography can be short but a piece of writing with more words will work better in the Tagxedo image if you are going to complete that activity too. I think students should aim for 3 – 5 paragraphs. This is a great opportunity to reinforce the concept that a paragraph has a topic sentence that is followed by supporting sentences.

Be wary of writing an autobiography that is a  list. Lists are boring but by adding more information each topic can become a proper insight into the student’s life and personality. Have them tell a story by choosing the most interesting things about their lives rather than  tell every little detail.

Protect Your Online Privacy

Don’t include too much personal information i.e. date of birth, street address, private family business, lists of friends – as this is going to be published online.


The following are some resources that could help motivate students with their writing and give them some good ideas.

BioCube – suggested lesson plan is to have one student interview the other to introduce them to the class using the cubes they have made.

Scholastic example and possible starting web

BioPoem this could be a great way to warm up to the more formal writing


I’ve chosen some outcomes for assessment based on Grade 4, 5 &6 that I think are relevant but not exclusive. These are “AusVels” based on the Australian National Curriculum Standards for English in Writing.

Grade 4

  • form the possessive by adding just the apostrophe to regular  plural  nouns  ending  in ‘s’  
  • develop agreed criteria for text structure and language features to edit own and  others’  work 

Grade 5

  • plan, draft and publish a range of texts appropriate to purpose and audience, choosing and experimenting with text structures, language features, images or digital resources

Grade 6

  •  plan, draft and publish a range of imaginative, informative and persuasive texts, selecting aspects of subject matter and particular language, visual, and audio features to convey information and ideas 
  • use of a range of strategies to edit for meaning, for example removing repetition, refining ideas, reordering sentences and adding or substituting words for impact
If you try this with your students please let me know how it goes and what has been most helpful in making this a successful lesson.

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Wordfoto to Start the Year & the Class Blog

Getting To Know You #2

This is a similar “Getting to Know You” activity as my previous post except this time using an ipad and the WordFoto app.


  1. Introduce the students to the idea of the WordFoto so that they understand what they are working toward. Ideally use a photo of yourself with words that describe you that will also be part of the class blog as an example.
  2. The students can take their photo on the ipad and crop it to the size that will work best.
  3. They choose 10 words that describe’s them and add them to the word section.WordFoto only allows 10 words (at least in the free version that I was using).
  4. Choose a style that they like best – there were 8 styles to choose from. They can also fine tune some of the settings.
  5. Once finished the Wordfoto image can be saved to the Photo Library or emailed.
  6. The final step would be to use one of the blogging apps, Edublogs for example to post the image to the class blog.



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Tagxedo to Start the School Year & the Class Blog.


Why not start the school year with a Tagxedo of each student in your class? Add the final image to your class blog as a “getting to know you” activity.


  1. Introduce the students to the idea of Tagxedo so that they understand what they are working toward. Ideally use a Tagxedo of yourself that will also be part of the class blog.
  2. Model the writing process where students write a paragraph introducing themselves, their interests, hobbies and favourite things. This paragraph will be useful throughout the year for other things such as the “About”  on a personal blog. Explain to the students that the image will look better if the paragraph contains more words rather than less.
  3. Have a photo of each student ready to use and load it onto the computers or network where the students can access it.
  4. Open Tagxedo and follow the instructions below (Click on the thumbnails to enlarge them).
  5. Upload the saved Tagxedo screen capture  into the class blog.


English –
  • Writing (this could be as simple as a list of sentences and facts or it could be a more elaborate biography)

  • Saving and retrieving files and navigating the school network
  • Logging into the class blog
  • Creating a blog post, and uploading an image.

A similar activity using Wordle is described in this post called Word to Wordle.

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