Module 3

WordPress Portfolio

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How does one start a blog?

NAME

Blogging: Jennifer is correct — choosing the name often takes the longest time. Luckily “Summer of Tech” was open! It’s the only name that made sense since this blog will be a portfolio of my work for JumpStart to Tech by Jennifer Gonzalez.

TAGLINE

I have been blogging at WordPress since 2008 at What Else? 1DR, so WordPress and blogging are not new to me. So I knew I would like a “tagline” below my blog title. I’m thankful for this course, for newbies and for geeks, because it offers a chance to learn what may have been missed and gets newbies started in overcoming their trepidation of technology to become learners with their students in authentic technology use as tools for communication, reflection, collaboration, and curation. I knew I wanted a tagline that reflected how important jumping into tech is — just do it. There are many innovators today I could quote, but the name that shines in my mind is Seymour Papert. When I returned to school to finish my teaching degree in the 1980’s, one of the books read in my Eastern Washington University courses was Mindstorms: Children, Computers, Powerful Ideas [1st Edition, 1980]– far before the thought of a personal computer by most people except Seymour Papert:

“…computers can be carriers of powerful ideas and of the seeds of cultural change, how they can help people form new relationships with knowledge that cut across the traditional lines separating humanities from sciences and knowledge of the self from both of these.”

“In my vision, the child programs the computer and, in doing so, both acquires a sense of master over a piece of the most modern and powerful technology and establishes an intimate contact with some of the deepest ideas from science, from mathematics, and from the art of intellectual model building.”   [Introduction]

But what tagline?  At the website of Stanford School of Education’s Transformative Learning Technologies Lab [TLTL], I found the perfect tagline that fits my thinking of “doing” technology, not for the sake of technology, but by doing, we are learning deeper ideas:

“The good way to learn is to use it now.” Seymour Papert

I applaud everyone taking this “online collaboration,” for so many educators do not even try, do not find the time, do not see the relevance. But as Seymour Papert also said long ago:

“We see a much slower rate of evolution of the school, and that means we’re seeing a bigger and bigger gap between school and society. This gap is what I believe is responsible for the deterioration of performance in our schools and our educational systems. Because children can see this; they can see that school is irrelevant.”

Seymour Papert

Speech delivered at the eleventh Colin Cherry Memorial Lecture on Communication June 2, 1998, Imperial College in London

It is our students who do not see relevance in our schools, and educators reaching out to learn more will make a difference and close that gap, making school relevant to students again.

PURPOSE

Although this post is a reflection on the processes of creating a blog, the blog itself is more than a portfolio: it is evidence for a willingness and determination to be relevant for my students, who expect me to prepare them for a future neither of us know, but for whom “doing” and problem-solving together will provide them heuristics to apply when needed; they will be thinkers and writers and mathematicians and historians and scientists, creating and making, collaborating and communicating, networking and innovating through the resources of technology.

PRACTICALITIES

However, as Jennifer and several others have noted: technology is always changing, and while starting this blog, I discovered many changes in the administration area.  That means, a search for YouTube directions may not reveal the new help in video yet. Luckily I knew what I was looking for [categories, blog roll and links, tags]. I think that WordPress is in transition because sometimes the admin area looks like this:

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And sometimes like this:

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THEME

In choosing a theme, I look for this:

  • top photo, title, tagline
  • two or three columns [for widgets]
  • responsiveness: viewable on mobile [ tablet/phone] or desktop

WIDGETS

Widgets add information and personality to blogs, depending on the purpose and need. I added the “Recent Posts” widget as required. My optional widgets were:

Sidebar

  • Social Media
  • Search at the top [I often use that myself when looking for past posts]
  • Twitter Feed

Footer

ABOUT and CONTACT

The about page provides the authenticity of the blogger in purpose and picture. I explained the purpose and provided a picture and avatar. Then I decided to add a Contact Page as well. I learned to just play around and look at the possibilities. I can use Learn WordPress to know more because WordPress is a powerful platform.

I learned that while working and trying to decide what to do, the little circle with an i inside provides small help menus:

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In Learn WordPress I found this page which includes how tos for posts, categories, tags, menus, and more.  Very helpful.

MENU

With menu in place to display Home, Contact, About, and categories [reflection and tech practice], the blog is now viewable and ready for its three posts for Module 3.

NEXT STEPS

So, what do you think? Is the blog:

  • Professional?
  • Informative?
  • Personable?
  • Reflective?
  • Easy to navigate?
  • Easy to search?

What’s next?  Embedding!  I look forward to reading about this because it’s one area that always troubles me and causes me to go back to the How Tos!

I will also use what I learn here to update my own blog – it’s been awhile, and it’s purpose has once again changed.  At first it was reflective on lessons, then it was about school, and then it was reflective of educational interests, a more personal blog.

Update 7.3.16: I changed themes; it’s not as clean, but one  thing that is important to be able to show tags for each post on the post. I use those tags — by clicking on a tag, all posts with that tag are displayed.  As your blog grows, this is important!  My first choice looked clean and nice, but no tags on the posts! So, this theme design works better for my needs.  That’s the thing: as you blog, you learn what works for you, as with any technology.

So, how do you start a blog?

Just do it, and know that it will grow with you!

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How do YOU start a blog?

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