We’ve UPDATED Our WordPress Blogging Platforms

You all know that we’re a tiny bit WordPress crazy for a large number of reasons (too long to list here). And just in case you didn’t know, this includes our classroom blogs,  secondary department blogs, library blogs,  secondary and some elementary student BlogFolios (ePortfolios), as well as our district blogs. (The school websites, although wordpress-based fall into a slightly different category.) 

We’ve made some updates (backend and frontend) that have taken us to the next level. These can be grouped by communication (always the most important) and aesthetics (who doesn’t like ‘cool’). You’ll see new themes to choose and old themes retired from the list of theme options. Each theme has its own look and feel. It’s all about personal choice. New plugins such as Events Calendar, WP Smush (optimizes images for web), Easy Google Fonts, new MailPoet 3, and Post Grid offer a wider variety of options. As well, there are the tried and true: 

  • Gravity Forms (survey collection, signup form) – a powerful drag/drop tweakable form to collect all types of information. As an example, we helped one of our schools to use it for students to sign up for their own day of pro-d – Wow! Better yet, the information is stored within the blog so no need to be worried about where it lives. 
  • News Announcement – a scrolling information list to share reminders that pop out
  • Google Language Translator – no need for explanation here
  • NextGen Gallery – who doesn’t love images

If you or someone you know would be interested in a bit of face-to-face support or want to see what others are doing to get your innovative juices flowing, hop over to the Staff Development calendar for a new session called: Make Your Blog Site Work for YOU!  (Wed May 2nd; 3:30pm at Schou-TLC). 

We’re interested in hearing how you’re using your blog or if you would like your blog to do certain things. Drop us a line here or email our team. We’d love to hear from you. 

It’s 2018 – Moving Forward

It’s already  22 days into the new year! Recently we moved all classroom blogs and student BlogFolios to a new service allowing for growth over time. It’s been exciting to connect with people from all the team initiatives and be a part of their learning stories. 

LOOKING AHEAD:  As I’ve said before, change is the only constant one can depend. While I have written about available opportunities with regards to tools and platforms  in past posts, a few others are worth mentioning. You may wish to forward this information to anyone who might be interested – extending the learning for others. 

Synergy – Focused on innovative practices in communication, these teachers (primary and intermediate) use iPadcaster and green screen to bring experiences of past, present and future to life. Imagine having your own portable TV recording studio. What’s involved is a whole lot of research skills, organization and practice in oral speech; lots of practice. See the connection?

WordPress Class Blogs/Student BlogFolios  – Start the new year with a new theme look to wake up your audience, especially if you’ve been on the same one since you started. New themes (Frindle, Emmy, Lavelle, Merriment, NewFangled, Renden, Child Ed, Hand-drawn) and features like calendars, tables, Forms collection or direct notification to parents, serve to communicate the ongoing story of learning. Capture the heart by pulling “aha” moments, and connect them to curricular standards – leads to great dinner table conversation. Extend these stories in student BlogFolios as opportunities for private reflection. Engage student thinking as they work through the “evidence of their learning process” – I see core competencies here, don’t you? These connecting parent-student-teacher conversations are not restricted by time or place (happens anytime, anywhere).  

Google Classroom – our longstanding integrated approach to written output in a collaborative conversational environment. Simple interface allows any grade level access to this powerful tool. Take advantage of new extensions that support struggling writers (eg. voice typing. We’re working towards adding Read/Write).  Use any device available to you. 

O365 – all secondary teachers and students now have access to connect/work within this online suite of Office. Pilots will go out to elementary soon. This extensive suite includes all that you expect and more (eg. Sway). Consider this environment for collaborative teams (teachers or students). Another any device available to you.

iPad Apps – a couple to strengthen our Top Twenty List

  • Image Compress and Resizer – compress any image taken on ipads/phones for uploading to any site. Extremely simple slider makes a successful entry point for any age. Instructions here
  • Compressor – oldie but a goodie. This one uses a slider for that simple touch.
  • Video Slimmer – want something more? Add editing tools to the mix. Worth the small price. 

ADST – if you purchased Spheros and need a little support, find our instructions under the Curriculum tab of ADST. If you are interested in adding more Spheros to your collection or starting one, please email us. 

*Check the Learning Portal (Staff Development Calendar or February District Day) for upcoming sessions. 

*Check our Resources links on the sidebar for any new connections.

If you have any stories to share, please add your comment below. We’re always interested in what’s happening at the school sites. 

Mid November Reflections – Voices

It’s mid November and the leaves have displayed their Fall colours (either still hanging onto trees or splashed across the landscape). We truly live in a wonderful part of the world. 

One of our concentrations is to provide a written voice for every student. Six teams of classroom and LSS/ELL partnerships from six schools launched, each with their own set of laptops or ipads. These teams are using a variety of tools to support voice: Google Apps for Education, student blogfolios to reflect, Solo software (focused on CoWriter offering word prediction) or ipads with DoInk green screen, Explain Everything and padcaster. As part of the journey, the teams meet together to share and push their learning as well as document their ongoing story. Lessons learned and nuggets of connections will be shared here on our Teams page. Even better – ask them yourselves:

  • Maywood – Satpaul, Jason, Halina; 
  • Edmonds – Hayley, Angela;
  • South Slope – Grady, Deb, Jennifer A; 
  • Chaffey-Burke – Carlene, Alan; 
  • Suncrest – Balbir, Joe;
  • Parkcrest – Sheila, Scott;
  • UHE – Kristina (year 2);
  • Marlborough – Ann (year 2) 

We’re looking forward to strengthening our strategies.