Writing Takes Time. Forget the Rush.


Cause I’d rather pretend I’d still be there at the end.photo credit: Βethan via photopin cc

Oh my what a busy start to the year it has been. In the blitz that September and October have been we have fully launched our students blogs. Blogging is a learning process for all of us. From what standard of writing we expect on our blogs to the simple mechanics of how to post to your blog. My students have embraced blogging and are enjoying writing for an authentic audience. I had to chuckle one day when one of my students said “You know, blogging is better than writing in my notebook because now I know someone is actually reading it.” Wow, talk about getting it and being motivated by it.

On Friday I was talking to a good teacher friend of mine who asked “When are you going to write your next blog post?”. I was a bit stunned. I have 3 drafts I am working on but they aren’t quite there yet. Some of my posts take months to write simply because I need to think things through. Others, like this one, I can whip out in under an hour.

Her question also made me think about my students. Some have written over 10 posts since getting their blogs 2 weeks ago. Others have only written the 2 posts I asked them to write for me.  I suspect some of my students are writing their blog posts quickly and in one shot. Tomorrow I want to talk to them about how writing takes time and not to fear if they can’t write a long essay in under an hour. Writing is a skill and it is something that they are learning to do well and efficiently.

I as their teacher, also want to remember that writing takes time. We all need to remember that it is okay to take a bit longer on something to ensure that we deliver a good product. It’s time to forget the rush, slow down and take our time.


Digital Vs Paper Portfolio Round Two

photo credit: JD Hancock via photopin cc

Last  month I wrote about my struggles with deciding on whether or not to create a digital or paper portfolio to use in my upcoming job interviews for teaching positions.  Being the kind of person I am, I decided to tackle the challenge and create both.

Out of necessity I created a paper portfolio for an interview I had with a local school division two weeks ago. The process of deciding what goes where in your portfolio is a very personal and interesting process. Ultimately you are trying to represent who you are as an educator in a format that you can use to strengthen your points in an interview and to speak to someone simply looking through your portfolio at leisure. I found that the way I wanted to set it up was in a way that spoke to my strengths and my interests as well as being asthetically pleasing. (Get thoughts of tacky ABC graphics out of your head!). When I arrived to the first interview I made sure to be very familiar with what I had put in my portfolio and how to access it with ease and grace. In no way will I claim that I aced the interview, but I will say that there is something quite empowering about having something tactile to show when you are making a point in an interview.

Now onto my digital portfolio building adventure. After I had created my paper portfolio and had an idea of what I wanted to include in any format of the document I started the process of putting together my digital portfolio. Now because I blog on a regular basis I decided I wanted it to be a part of this site. I had decided on embedding a flipsnack presentation for each section of my paper portfolio.  However as I found out, wordpress does not allow you to embedd flash content into your blog, I panicked for a bit  but resisted the urge to ask my computer programmer of a brother to help me out after a while I figured it out on my own. (Just involved linking images to outside URLS).

As I have already mentioned each thing I wanted to highlight is presented in a seperate flipsnack presenation. Part of this is because I want to keep it short and snappy; there is nothing worse than having to flip through 100 pages of a digital document. The second part is I wanted to see if I could create a digital portfolio that would transfer across platforms. In particular I wanted the portfolio on my blog to transfer onto my ipad. After a bit of fiddling, I figured it out! I simply created PDFs transferred them to my iPad and opened them in iBooks. With no programming, the PDFs open beautifully in iBooks and people are able to quickly easily flip through the various pages.

The week I finally put everything together I had a series interviews and decided there was no better time to test out the new iPad portfolio.

How did it go?

Well, I was a bit nervous at first and wasn’t sure if I should just use it on its own or ditch it completely. In the end I decided I would ease into it slowly and just use the iPad to highlight the “Technology in education” section of my portfolio. I liked having the option of using my paper portfolio for a tactile example of my work and the digital version in the iPad. Having the iPad immediately gave credit to the fact that when I say I am at ease with tech, I have something that shows I really am!

As I start interviewing more I am sure that I will be using both again and refining each as I go along. I will also be keeping my online portfolio  and am already looking into ways to improve it! I encourage anyone who is looking for a bit of a challenge and perhaps a way to stand out of the crowd a bit to look into creating a digital portfolio!  There are challenges along the way but the satisfaction that comes from knowing you can work across platforms is quite wonderful!

Need a new way to get your kids to writing? Try storybird!

A few months ago I came across a wonderful web-based program that helps get the creative juices flowing and inspires writers using beautiful pieces of artwork!

The premise is simple, you pick from a gallery a piece of work that inspires you and you begin to create your story. The illustrations on Storybird are simply amazing! If you want you can browse through the gallery of work or you can meander through a variety of topics and find work that hits a cord with you! One you have chosen a set of artwork you and have entered the creation space, it is as simple as dragging pictures into the white rectangle and writing! You keep adding and writing until your story is done! The simple navigation of the program makes it easy for students of all ages to use!

What a perfect way to get reluctant writers to write using visual prompts!

If you explore the account settings for teachers you can create class lists where you can set assignments for students, grab the embed codes for their storybirds and many more perks! Check out their site at: http://storybird.com/teachers/ and see where the power of beautiful art can take you and your students!

Below is an example storybird I quickly created for this blog post, if you click on the link below the image it will take you story entitled “Dreamland”.



Finding Inspiration

With the fall term in full swing and the doomsday of assignment due dates looming, finding inspiration seems hard to find.

Here are two great sites that I found while bumbling along the net that brightened up my day.

The first is Storybird.com, where you can use artwork as writing prompts to create your own book. Or if you already have a story you can find amazing art to match your vision!

The second is Toondo.com, a site which allows users to create their own comic strips quickly and easily.