Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Your Own Blog in 10 Minutes or Less

The purpose of this blog is to demonstrate concepts you can use in blog posts. The posts you will see here are taken from real blogs. In each post, you will see a short explanation of why the post was selected followed by the actual post.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Why Should You Blog?

Tom Peters makes a compelling argument. Right around the 1:00 mark is especially good.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Introducing Your Blog to Your Readers

For writers, getting started is the toughest part. What do you say in that first post? This may not be the best example, but it does provide a sample. When I left my position as principal to take a central office position, the question of how to communicate with teachers districtwide was one problem I needed to solve. For me, a blog was the answer. Here is what I said to teachers in that first post.

How can we make communication easy enough that it will actually happen? This blog hopes to provide at least a part of that answer. I write the post and you read it—it’s that simple. No going to the Xerox machine to run multiple copies which are then distributed to schools, where even more copies are made, which are then distributed to mailboxes, where others quickly read and toss or try to figure out where to file random pieces of paper. Put your hands on that communication a couple of weeks later? Good luck!

Seconds after I write this post, it is available for you to read. Don’t worry about printing it out and filing it—come back next week, next month, or next year, and it’s going to be here for your review.

Coming soon will be a calendar not only for the system as a whole, but for each school. Wouldn’t it be nice to know what’s going on around the school system with a couple of clicks of your mouse? Stay tuned. It’s going to happen.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Publicizing an Event

The last post consisted only of text, and there is nothing wrong with that. Your posts are more interesting, however, if there are pictures. At the top of the box where you compose your text, you will see several icons. One of them allows you to insert a picture. The process is much like attaching a file to an e-mail message. When you click the icon, a window appears asking you where your picture is located. Navigate to it (perhaps on the desktop), click "OK" a couple of times, and your picture appears.

You can also drag a picture into a post. Find a picture you like and save it to the desktop. Click and drag to the exact spot you wish the picture to appear. You can then resize and center it.

Pictured above, R. L. Young Kindergarten Teachers, Carrie Nabors, Roxanne Lamberth, and Tammy Liner.

All over Talladega, you will notice information concerning kindergarten registration happening this month. We are excited about serving your child!
For more information you can [provide phone number].

Friday, September 25, 2009

Link to Information to Parents

Many times, you will want to direct your readers to others sites or documents. You have the ability to create a link in your blog. Readers click on the link and it will take them to what you want them to see. To create a link, highlight the word that you want readers to be able to click. Next, look for an icon at the top of the box which resembles a world with a couple of chain links. A box will open asking for the URL to which the link should take readers.

One of the best ways to help your child succeed in school is to encourage reading at home. Just 15 minutes a day can make a huge difference.

These tips from the National Association of Elementary School Principals can help.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

News for Parents With How They Can Follow-Up

Rick Shelton is well known around Alabama for his combination of wit and substance. In my former school system, we brought him in work with students on writing skills. How can we communicate to parents some of the major concepts so that they can reinforce them at home? With one blog post, we have the potential to reach everyone.

How many times do we hear this statement from students? This coming week, Rick Shelton will share some insight into overcoming this problem. For example, when teaching expository writing, Shelton has these suggestions for the students:
  1. Make an “expert list.” This would be a list of topics where you are really good, have a good bit of knowledge, and you had a great interest.
  2. When you are asked to write an expository piece, pick something from your expert list.
  3. List three reasons why you like that subject. (“Because” is a pretty good starter.)
  4. Write a paragraph about your first reason. Write another paragraph focusing on the second reason, and then another paragraph focusing on the third reason.

For most people (whether they are 9, 29, or 89) getting started is the hardest part about writing. This simple technique is one that we all can use.

Rick Shelton will spend six days in our schools. His schedule is as follows:
  • August 14—Graham
  • August 15—Henderson
  • August 16—Young
  • August 17—Salter
  • August 18—Houston
  • August 22—Ellis
Rick’s ability to relate to students through humor that gets their attention, and practical writing techniques which hold their attention, has him in demand all across Alabama and neighboring states as well. For a schedule of what classes Rick will work, what modes he will address, and what times all of this will happen, contact the individual schools. In addition to the work he does in countless schools, Rick is the author of Write Where You Are and Hoggle’s Christmas.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Starting Off on the Right Foot

A blog is a great vehicle for a new principal. In this post, Pattie Thomas lays the groundwork for a plan to increase attendance and decrease tardies and checkout. (It worked.)

Raymond L. Young has a new club...The Top Dog Club. Students must meet the following criteria to be a member:

NO Absences
NO Tardies
NO Checkouts

Membership lasts for six weeks. This past six weeks Top Dogs had the privilege of lining up first for lunch and received a certificate. Congratulations to the winners!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Emergency Announcements to Parents

What if you wake up to snow and need to alert parents? What if the start of school must be delayed unexpectedly? If parents have the confidence that what they need to know will be displayed on the blog, one quick post gets the word to everyone.

The opening of school tomorrow will be delayed. School will open at 10:30.

The Zora Ellis Ellis Band will still leave for State Assessment as scheduled at 10:00. Band students Will report to the bandroom by 9:00.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Allowing People to Subscribe Through E-Mail

You hope that people visit your blog often. The problem for readers happens when they start to follow many blogs. Going from one URL to another takes time. You can make it easier for them by allowing them to receive your posts in their e-mail. Here is how to add an email signup to your sidebar:
  1. Go to
  2. If you have more than one blog, select the one you wish to edit.
  3. Click on "Layout" on the left-hand side of the screen. You will see an outline of the elements in your blog.
  4. On he right-hand side of the screen, click "Add a Gadget."
  5. Scroll down until you see one called "Follow by Email." Click the plus sign.
  6. Click "Save."
  7. You will see your new gadget listed in the sidebar. If you have other elements in the sidebar, you can drag this one higher or lower to position it where you wish.
  8. Click "Save arrangement."
You could write a post such as this one to tell people how they can subscribe to your blog:
Blogs have become part of our culture, and with most things in life, there is some "best practice" for handling them. Those who like to read multiple blogs may find they are spending more time than they would like going to each site, especially when there is no guarantee there will be new content there.

What if every time something new appeared on one of your favorite blogs, it came to your e-mail? In the case of this blog, you are one mouse click away from making that happen.

On the right-hand side of this screen, you will see a link that will allow you to subscribe to this blog through your e-mail. Click it, fill in your e-mail and other instructions you see on the next page. After that, you will never have to worry about missing a post from this blog again!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Embedding a Video from YouTube

You can have a video clip appear right in your blog post, and it's easy. You have probably visited YouTube many times in the past. One the right-hand side of the screen, you will generally see two pieces of information. One of them is the url for that video. The usual "http://" will be evident. You could embed that link in your blog. People could click it and go straight to the YouTube video.

A better method is to copy the "embed code": 

  1. Just below the video on YouTube, click the "Share" link. 
  2. Click on "Embed."  
  3. Examine the check boxes and check the desired ones. Each one will change the embed code slightly. 
  4. Click "Copy."
  5. Go to the draft of your blog post. In the upper left (probably just under the title, you will see a button that says "Compose," and one that says "HTML." Select "HTML."
  6. Click on the spot where you wold like the YouTube video to appear and paste.
  7. Click on the "Compose" button. You will see a large square representing the position of the video.

On this Memorial Day, we bring you a tribute to our fallen troops.

The music is "Dante's Prayer" by Loreena McKennit. The creator of this video does not give her name, but writes, "The pictures are from various sources on the web, and the editing is done painstakingly by hand using Windows Movie Maker. This took me forever, but I hope it will be appreciated."

Yes, I can assure you it will...

Friday, September 18, 2009

What If There is No Embed Code?

Not all YouTube videos have an embed code. In that case, simply copy the URL. Create a link in your blog which takes you to that URL.

  1. Key the words which will form the link. For example, in this post, I chose "Click here to view the video."
  2. Click and drag to highlight the words which will form the link.
  3. Click the "Link" icon above the post.
  4. Click the bullet beside "web address" if it is not already clicked.
  5. Key in or paste the URL for the video. He sure the "http://" is included.

Talent we have not discovered is all around us, and perhaps within us. This video is one of those heart-warming examples. Looking at Paul, a seemingly average man engaged in an average life, who would have expected the musical gift that he displayed?

Doesn't it make you wonder what treasures are around you which have yet to be discovered?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Comical Video Embedded for Welcome Back to School Message

TeacherTube is another popular site for videos. The concept is the same. Look for the embed code. Paste it into the blog post.

Do you find that the video too wide or too narrow for the your blog? Click on the HTML button at the top of the post and examine the code. You will see "width" followed by a number. You can click and change that number. In this particular blog, a width of 600 is just right.

The excitement of a new school year is in the air. Much work is happening in buildings to get them ready for a new year. With so much to do and so little time, every year we wonder how it will all get done by the time children arrive--and every year it all falls into place.

Our in-service will be held at Talladega High School on Monday, August 6th. Sign-in will begin at 8:00 Our program will begin promptly at 8:30 and conclude around 11:00. The central office will take care of registering each of you on PDWeb, and the sign-in sheet will be available for you when you arrive.

Activities for the afternoon of August 6th as well as plans for August 7th and 8th will be held at the individual schools. Special education teachers will meet together in the Graham lunchroom on August 8 from 9:00-11:00. Principals will communicate the schedules for their individual schools.

Welcome back! It's going to be a great year.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Blog into the Future

One of the challenges of blogging is follow-through. When we create the blog, we are full of ideas. We can't wait to put those ideas into our blog. Then, for one reason or other, a lull occurs. We realize that we haven't posted anything new in weeks. Where did the time go?

That's life. Life happens. We get busy. Yet, to our readers we must be steady. If we expect people to return on a regular basis, we must post on a regular basis.

We can have our cake and eat it too. We can have our ideas in spurts and yet post on a regular schedule. When a create a post, there is a little link below the box that says "Post Options." When I click it, I get to choose a date on which the post will appear. That means I can create half-a-dozen posts at one sitting and schedule each one to publish on a particular future date.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Extra! Extra! Read All About It

I hear it all the time...Our school can't get any coverage in the newspaper. Let us mess up and we are all over the front page. But when we do good things, it never makes the paper.

Here is a little secret...the newspaper can't print what the newspaper does not know about. If you want positive stuff in the paper, send positive stuff to the paper. It's that simple. When you create a blog post and post a digital picture, you have done 90% of what you need to do to get newspaper coverage.

Copy your post into an e-mail message to the appropriate person at the local paper. Attach the digital photo which you posted on your blog. You already did the work when you created your blog post.

Now you simply get to re-purpose your work by sending it to the paper! Be sure to let your contact at the newspaper know about your blog.

If your blog is good and gains a reputation for reporting newsworthy material, do not be surprised if your newspaper reporter begins to visit your blog and calls you to get more information about something which appeared.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

A Blog Post Can Brighten Your Day

A blog can inform. It can entertain. It can allow you to share your ideas with the whole world.

This blog was composed on 2009 to serve as a model. That's light years ago in the world of social media.

Since that time, we've seen other social media platforms gain popularity. We've also seen "free" sites limit your reach by forcing you to pay advertising dollars to reach even those who have decided they like your content.

All the while, blogs have maintained the place where you can create content of any length and do it for free. You can include pictures, audio, video, and arrange it any way you like. If you decide to move to another blogging platform, you can take all of your content with you.

Your blog is your "home base."

I have edited the posts on this blog in order to keep the information current and minimize "dead links." The surprise to me is how little editing has needed to be done. Blogs have stood the test of time.

Some see life as a continuum, constantly moving from "Point A" to "Point B." Others recognize the pendulum at work. It swings one way...and then the other. When something seems "dead," just wait. Like the song says, "Everything Old is New Again."