Tag Archives: #ksyb

How to get people active/interested in a blog!

(Please note:- that this is not my formal response to the last challenge “Building Readership” but covers me until I do.)

As I am still contemplating the content of my final response to the last challenge in the current series of Kick Start Your Blog Challenge, (Yes, I know I am really late with it, but……. precious time!), I received this plea for help from an online colleague. A plea that is pertinent to the final challenge – Building Readership (Beginner) and Promote that Blog (Advanced)!


I have set up a blog with Word Press for Religious Education Co-ordinators in Melbourne and surrounds and emailed them the link. I set up a few posts myself and a few people replied to them, but I am feeling a bit dispirited about it as no-one else but me puts up posts and so few people (out of about 50 or 60 REC’s) have chosen to subscribe. I don’t know how to get more people interested. It was meant to be a way for us to share good ideas or ask questions of each other, but its not going to work if so few people look at it. Any ideas?


This is a quandary that so many of us face and despite being disheartened, hang in there and keep blogging away! Very few of us are successful overnight and it may take up to three years to become fully established, networked and to build a ‘good’ readership level. It takes networking, time and experience. However, here are some pointers and advice. Many of these members may be new to the online environment, so will need to be encouraged and taught how to use it.

Evidence of a great start!

  • A ‘niche’ blog has been established
  • An emailing list, with a specific interest,  has been alerted to the existence of a blog
  • An RSS feed has been set up. (It took me two years to work this out and another year to get subscribers)
  • Several people have subscribed already. This shows that there is interest and some who understand this environment.
  • Your blog has a purpose.

Further ideas to build readership:-

  • Use your emailing list – add this same question tothe emailing list to get  feedback, needs of the list and publicity. If questions are asked on the list, this makes the perfect time to write a post on that question.
  • Add the same question to the discussions on a number of social networking sites that you belong to eg Classroom2.0 and Guide To Innovation. If you are happy I want to add this as a blog post to my blog and try and get feedback from others as well.
  • Ensure appropriate categories and tags are added. There may be others around the globe interested in the searching for information and the search engines will pick these up.
  • If images are added to a post as a ‘stand alone’, ensure there is text provided to explain why they are there, how they can be used and seeking advice from readers about alternatives and ways to use them. Interact with questions as much as possible, to tease out those important comments.
  • Add links to  appropriate resources and other similar blogs via blogroll to encourage repeat visits
  • Ask members of the list to write a guest blog post. It can be typed up in a word processor, emailed it to you to post, with appropriate acknowledgements.
  • Find one or two others who may be able to help. Make them administrators, set up a roster to contribute etc.
  • Add some widgets eg  a clustrmap, geovisite and/or a feedjit traffic feed. You may be surprised how many people visit the blog without leaving a footprint. This will keep you motivated.
  • Add an email option for subscriptions to the blog.
  • Write effective posts
  • add an ‘about me‘ page, which quite clearly explains the purpose of the blog etc.
  • Check out some of the wonderful Kick Start Your Blog Challenges and read some of the blog posts created in response.
  • Add questions that are quick and easy to answer, to tease out those all important comments of readers.

You have a niche blog, your audience will be reasonably niche but it is global in aspect! If we can resolve the issue that you have posed, networking can be escalated, the use of blogs increased, online sharing empowered and the use of technology to its best advantage.
What would you advise? Do you work in a group blog? How do you encourage readership? If you have written a blog post on this please add a comment.


Adding Legs to my Blog (alias “Walking you through my sidebar!”

Add Bling to a Blog

Challenge #7 of Kick Start Your Blog looked at the use of widgets in a blog and the possibility of adding some bling! The sidebar(s) of a blog may need a spring clean and mine certainly did and still does. Here is what I did in the spring clean! Let me walk you through my side bar.

1. About Me My blog did not have an avatar on the sidebar, so I registered for a gravatar, added my photo and wrote a short piece about ambitions and passions. I will link this to may ‘About Me’ page.

2.  Categories This is an essential item on a blog, so that posts of a similar topic can be searched for. Search engines may also pick up on the categories. Maintained my drop down menu for categories. Tags should appear near the categories so that readers interested in more, can quickly choose a tag.

3. RSS Feed – allows interested readers to subscribe to my blog and receive notice of post updates. The “subscribe by email” option is also on the sidebar for those who prefer to receive it by email.

4. Search box: To retrieve blog posts on a particular topic (primarily for personal use)

5. Badges: It is with pride that these are displayed – nominations for the Edublogs Awards 2008, 2010.It is also with pride that I promote the amazing Global Education Conference 2010.

6. Blogroll: this aspect still needs tidying up, as some blogs are idle and there are others  to add. Then follows links to global projects, frequently used resources, blogs that are special to me (family etc) and my other blogs. Horror of all horrors – I had not added the Kick Start Your Blog Challenge to my sidebar. That was quickly rectified. As the blogroll gets longer, I shall consider putting this on a page rather than the sidebar.

7. Widgets: I am still trying to work out what widgets  wordpress will accept but Clustrmaps has been added. This is reset each year. Sometimes, I catch my students looking at my map, working out what countries the dots are from etc.  Geovisite has some great tracking options but cannot be added to wordpress.

8. Meta:- login for the blog. This should be at the bottom of the sidebar as only the blogger needs access to this.

I am not sure whether I need the latest tweets or  my latest post updates. A clock widget would be good so if anyone knows of one for wordpress, I would love you tell me as a comment below.

Class Blog – As my students use this blog, it has more bling but is also in major need of renovation. As our location is changing, I need to redo all my widgets and sidebar.

  1. Features most of the above except the blogroll includes links to my student blogs.
  2. Digital clock –  to inform our global contacts what
    day it is in Australia and what the current time where we live.
  3. A countdown to an important event or to the end of the year
  4. Student blog of the week
  5. Tags in a word cloud
  6. Geovisite tracking and mapping  objects
  7. Feedjit traffic feed

What do you see as essential on your sidebar? How does the sidebar on your teacher blog compare to that on a class blog?


Adding legs to my blog (alias “Walking you through my sidebar) https://murcha.wordpress.com/2011/02/06/widgets-and-bling-add-legs-to-the-blog/

The ‘eyes’ of the blog – Images! Kick Start Your Blog Challenge #5

#5 “Kick Start your Blog” challenge looks at the importance of images in blogs. Images tells a 1000 words. With increasing use of online spaces and easy accessability to a camera eg the mobile phone, images will increase in importance.

I am choosing the challenge to tell a “Story in 10 images” Here is the story:-

How could I use this photo gallery in class? Here are a few options:-

  1. Tell me the story of these images either in writing or use audio to develop a podcast
  2. Look at the photos above. If I were in those photos, what would I see, what would I hear, what would I smell and how would I feel. (Students could work in small groups to brainstorm using bubblus, google document, titan pad, ietherpad, wallwisher etc. It could be shared across schools with students mixed in groups from the schools brainstorming the story)
  3. Write a question to ask at at least 5 of these photos.
  4. Students take their own 3 to 9 images and tell a story in pictures
  5. Can you work out where the images were taken from? Research  online the flood disasters in Australia in January 2010. Write a post using links to the websites that you have found. If possible find videos, news reports, tweets, facebook pages, blogs etc representing many viewpoints. (for older students) etc
  6. Write a sequel to this story.
  7. What does this story say about the Australian cutlure?

How else could a story in images be used in the classroom? (And oops I cannot count as I have 11 pictures)

The Blog’s Brain in an Avatar!

Arriving at the airport with some degree of angst and anxiety, fearing I was too late for my flight to Canberra where the Australian Computer Educators’ Conference was to be held, I was taken aback to find that my flight was actually one hour later than I thought. Relaxing somewhat, I found my way to the departure lounge and  settled down into a seat to collect my breath. Several minutes later, a complete stranger came up to me and asked if I was murcha from twitter. After confirming that I was, I met face to face @lucybarrow– a fellow tweeter. She was also attending the conference and so a firm and continuing friendship has developed. It is also great to attend conferences and recognize others there or be recognized from online avatars.

The fourth Kick Start Your Blog Challenge looks at avatars. The brain of the blog can be likened to the author or blogger, the one responsible for the blog. Their online  representation can be shown in both a blog avatar and a comment avatar.

Kick Start Your Blog Challenge requires participants to look at the ‘brain’ of the blog ie the blogger themselves, with the theme of Avatars. Avatars are computer/digital/online representations of people.

My avatarsAnne Mirtschin avatar

I am happy to have my photo image as my avatar. This is my usual image – the one that Lucy recognized me from.

However, I also use a gravatar, so that when I My gravatarcomment on other people’s posts, this image appears with the comment. This gravatar is a more recent photo and was taken in winter time.

As part of the challenge, I also created a picassahead avatar. This is the result:-

murcha by picassaWhy is this avatar a representation of me? First, it has my online username and twitter handle – murcha. I am always in a rush and do not brush my hair as often as I should, so the hair is a little unkempt and crazy. My eyes are blue and as I enjoy a good laugh, I tried to choose a mouth that depicted that. In winter, I like to wear scarves to add a bit of colour to my very dominant ‘black’ coloured wardrobe. Oh, if only I could, I would change my prominent nose!! Many choose to depict themselves as an image that they would love to be, but I want people to accept me and recognize me as I am.

Here are two other avatar making sites that are favourites with my students

  1. illustmaker Facemaking tool (in different languages)
  2. Reasonably Clever lego avatars

All students in our school have avatars. It is important that safety is the prime consideration, whilst they are under our care. Some have chosen to draw their avatar in MS Paint, some prefer to use an online avatar maker (see above sites). Some older students have used their photo and cartoonized it beyond instant recognition using befunky. Two years ago, the preps (aged 5 years) lay on a piece of paper, their teacher drew their outline and the students then drew themselves within the outline. Year 10 students took a photo of their artwork, reduced the image size, published in on our shared network and preps used this as their avatar.

What sites do you like to make avatars? How have you used avatars with students? Any highlights or issues?

A Spring Clean gives my Blog Muscle

About me in a collage!

About me in a collage

The third challenge in Kick Start Your Blog required us to consider pages as opposed to posts.  Pages can be likened to muscles as  they give power, weight, flexibiliity and depth to the blog.The “About Me” page is important. I did not realise how important it was until I studied my statistics and found that apart from two of my most visited posts, the ‘about me’ page came up as the third most visited. Daily statistics also confirm that someone is always looking at that page.

Before and After a Spring Clean giving  my “About Me” Page more muscle

After considering what makes an effective post, it is only appropriate that I aim for an effective blog page. As I tend to be conservative and lack a creative writing style, my “About Me” page is quite classical in nature.

Before the spring clean!

  • too much text
  • was far too long
  • included outdated information
  • lacked multimedia
  • no detail about my background, interests outside school, details of my school

After the spring clean

  • added a caption to the image of my school
  • included a description of the school I teach at
  • Added a link to my blog post 10 questions to ask my blog which I completed for challenge #1 of Kick Start your Blog
  • generally tidied up text, added lists with bullet points and sub headings
  • Added a 1 minute video that I have just completed as part of my application for the Google Teacher Academy to letting visitors see what my classroom looks like.
  • As there was far too much text, I shifted a great chunk “How I got started” to another page. I then added this to the parent category “About Me’ and on the navigation tabs, it now comes up as a sub page. I also added a link to it within the home page. (I was rather proud of this as I had never done it before and was not sure whether it would work, but it did!)

The heartbeat of the Blog – Posts! (Kickstart Your Blog #2 – Advanced)

The second challenge in the Kick Start Your Blog Challenge (advanced) looked at writing effective blog posts. Blog posts can be likened to the heart beat of a blog. They determine the health of the blog, its status and future. It is the most important element of the blog. Therefore, those who wish to improve their blogging skills need to consider how to write effective posts. What makes an effective post? I love to learn and am therefore always looking for blog posts that help me extend my knowledge especially any that is of practical use in the classroom.
How to Compose a Quality Comment! is an effective post written by Linda Yollis. Linda’s blog came second runner up in the recent Edublogs Awards. Of even more interest was the fact that Linda was the winner of the Life Time Achievement Award. She was the winner over well known identities Steve Hargadon of classroom 2.0 fame and Sir Ken Robertson. Linda’s contribution to the blogging community was recognized by that community.
Why is this an effective post?

  1. The title is short, simple but tells me exactly what the post is about. As I am interested in blogging it captures my attention.
  2. Content:- The opening window continues to hold my attention. An interesting image summarizing the content of comments is near the opening sentences.
  3. Sub headings break up the text, allowing me to scan and browse through at will.
  4. There is variety in the content eg advice with practical examples, embedded movies, links to further resources. There is valuable information telling me how to create html code to  add to comments. This gives the  comment visual impact and active hyperlinks. Emoticon codes are also given within a table and I look forward to trying these.
  5. The post asked for some action. There is  a challenge to visit 10 blogs and leave a quality comment.
  6. Evidence of readership:- There are 84 comments from teachers, classes and students.  Some of these comments have used the html code shared in the blog post. There are reflections and evidence of learning from other classes from several countries. Linda has replied to all comments.

Would you agree? What else do you look for in an effective post?

Kick Start Your Blog with the Teacher Blog Challenge

Are you interested:-

  1. in getting both yourself and your students using 21st century tools like blogs?
  2. in learning about some new tools you could use in your classes?
  3. in being a mentor to teachers and educators who are just starting their journey with 21st century technology?
  4. in improving your blogging, extending your network globally and sharing with others?

Then the teachers’ blogging challenge is for you! This challenge is being organised through edublogs. This 30 day challenge, starts on Monday January 10th, and will have two components:-

  1. Two weekly challenges for those new to blogging
  2. Two weekly challenges to those who are experienced in blogging

The first topic will be “30 days to kickstart your blogging” and will cover topics such as writing effective blogs posts, embedding media, and building readership. Hence the hashtag for twitter, blogging references etc is #ksyb. Sue Waters and Ronnie Burt will provide the newbie challenges, Anne Mirtschin the advanced challenges and Sue Wyatt will provide a reflective post each week.

Be part of this great challenge and read So you are joining this first challenge! Fun, networking and learning for all!

Here is the first challenge for advanced teacher bloggers – Down Blog’s Memory Lane