So let me just start with saying I am so much more confident in my blogging abilities than I thought I would be. Since setting it up last week, I now know there are many places to look to get help if I have questions online. Google has become my best friend.
I’ve also learned some new tools on WordPress. I like the option that you can respond to others within the notification tab (the bell icon at the right top of the blog page). I used to go back and forth between blogs to respond to comments. I like that I can comment on the notification tab without having to switch and have four or five tabs open at a time of all different blogs. I’m still trying to find the same function on the app on my phone. I like the phone app for being able to post things whenever, but the format isn’t as easy to use for me like the computer.
I also learned how to make links in the comments of other people’s blogs. This HTML code is now saved on my computer for easy access for the next time I want to link in a classmate’s comment section. If anyone has been able to find an easier way than this, I would love to know.
This week has been all about blogs. I think everyone has heard the word blog or blogging. I knew the basic idea of what it was, but I was just at the surface of what a blog can be and what bloggers do.
Things I’ve learned about blogging:
- I’ve been blogging for years without knowing it. (I use my Instagram as my blog)
- In my Rettberg and Blood Readings post, I learned about the three main categories of blogs: Diary, topic-driven, and filter.
- After doing my own research to find more info on blogging, I was faced with the scary side of blogging. Be cautious about what you post. Be aware of what you share.
- In my final comments about blogging, I found that blogs can be a learning opportunity, especially for teachers. I can use blogs to teach students how to be critical readers and writers of what is out there.
- Bloggers show you only what they want to show you. You might be only getting one side of things. An example is a blog I follow Love Taza. She writes and shares moments about her life and family, but going through these posts, you don’t see the (toddler tantrums, fights with husband, things that make us human). You only see a snapshot of her life, dictated by her. This doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing, but it’s good to be aware that what we see/read might not be the whole picture.
This past week has been crazy with the new semester starting at school. I have been trying to survive posting last minute grades, getting used to a new class schedule (gaining a new class), and working with new students. I noticed my personal posts come across as more of a quick little anecdote for the day. Sometimes, I think that is ok not having to read/write a big long post, and just having a blurb into my day.
Other posts for this week included:
Just a little moment in my day (I’m still laughing at this)
Is it weird that at the end of these posts, I want to sign my name or do something to let my reader know it is finished? This coming week, I’ll look at other blogs to see how they finish their posts for some inspiration.
So after a week of research, reading articles, reading classmates’ posts, and looking at several blogs themselves (some I already read, and some I just started following a few days ago), I think I was looking at trying to find an answer the wrong way. I started out being so formal about the whole thing. I wanted to find ONE definition/answer of what a blog is and have all by questions to be able to be checked off and answered. How long do post need to be? How many pictures do you need? What is considered content of blogs? I realized that blogs are an ever-evolving thing and the minute you try to put blogs into a closed box/category, something changes so it bounces right out.
From Jill Rettberg, I learned that there can be categories of blogs: “filter, diary, and topic-driven blogging”. For me, I liked that you can organize what a blog is by its content, but it still wasn’t a definitive answer for what a blog IS.
To Travel the Great Beyond found a very interesting source by Jeff Jarvis that said “blogs are whatever they want to be”. There aren’t limits and boundaries to what can be considered a blog. The only limits created are created by you, which doesn’t mean those same rules apply to others.
I touched on this in my original post about blogging that blogs are their own entity. They can be whatever I want for my own purpose. The saying “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” rings true for blogs. What I consider to be “blog content” might look different to someone else. Perspective is huge in this matter.
While trying to answer the question “what is a blog?”, I took a new angle on my search which was “why do people blog?”
Rebecca Blood said,”I strongly believe in the power of weblogs to transform both writers and readers from ‘audience’ to ‘public’ and from ‘consumer’ to ‘creator’.” She saw blogging as a way for people to go from passively watching/reading to being able to participate.
From everything I read, common trends I noticed about blogs and bloggers were people want to feel connected/included, and people wanted to feel important. As humans, I think we all crave that feeling of being wanted and heard. People blog because they want to understand the world and they want to be understood. It’s a way for people to connect even if other barriers stand in the way (distance, language, etc.). Blogs are a personal platform where your thoughts can be turned into information for mass consumption. It can be a no pressure/judgment place to share anything you deem important to share.
We had a wonderful speaker at our Teacher In-Service Day, Garrison Wynn, who talked about perspective and success. He said “The smartest people in the world are not in charge, they work for the action takers.”
His big message: Would you rather be RIGHT or EFFECTIVE?
Just something to think about.
While doing some research about blogs and what bloggers do, I kept thinking about Blood’s article warning about what you read and write in blogs saying, “Their sarcasm and fearless commentary reminds us to question the vested interests of our sources of information and the expertise of individual reporters as they file news stories about subjects they may not fully understand.” I couldn’t stop thinking about that statement. As a teacher, I always talk about not taking everything you hear, read, or see as fact. It reminded me of the State farm commercial poking fun of people who read something on the Internet and accept it as the truth. This was an exaggeration of course, but it happens all the time. We read one article and the comments on it and most times see only one side. That does not mean that’s the only side. I’m thinking with blogging, where ANYONE can post about ANYTHING, we need to be both critical readers and writers. I think we need to be aware of personal bias.
I was also wondering about monetizing blogs, a way to get paid for your blog. While reading 7 Ways to monetize your blog, it made me think of how bloggers could make money. They can have ads, but other ways to generate money is by talking about their sponsors and/or products. I have been reading a few blogs for a few years and when they talk about a product, I always wonder “Do you actually like/use that product, or do you just need to plug it in to get paid?” While reading blogs, I’m now checking for ads or signs that the blogger is making money and what their sponsors are.
This led me further into looking up The Dangers of Blogging and there is a lot to keep in mind (some scarier than others). A few things I will be looking further into:
- Everything you post to the public can be seen, even if you delete it.
- When sharing your thoughts and opinions might not be the best idea.
- We read about how Dooce’s blog posts got her fired from her job
- Chris Moody was sued for sharing an article
(Again, these are told in the author’s point of view. Are we reading/knowing the whole story?)
- Know your rights. There are legal guides for bloggers to help with this. Do your homework to protect yourself.
So, the question of the week: what makes a blog a blog. We all use the word blogs and have an idea what is being talked about when someone says blog, but there doesn’t seem to be a definitive answer. Wikipedia has it’s own definition of a blog as a “discussion or informational website published on the World Wide Web consisting of discrete, often informal diary-style text entries (“posts”). Posts are typically displayed in reverse chronological order, so that the most recent post appears first, at the top of the web page.” After readings from Blood and Rettberg, I don’t think this definition covers what a blog can be. In chapter one from Blogging by Jill Rettberg, she breaks blogs down into three categories: diary, filter, and topic driven blogs.
Diary blogs: like Dooce.com (which is hysterical by the way), are places where an author(s) can create and talk about anything, and usually they are the subject of their posts. They create snapshots into their life which they deem to be public information, unlike a diary where private moments are kept private.
Filter Blogs: like the name suggests, are blogs that filter information for the reader. These blogs are used to find certain information and links and give you comments on said links. An example from Rhettberg’s reading is Metafilter, which has links to articles, blogs, and websites, and the author’s opinion and/or summary of it.
Topic-driven blogs: Again like the name suggests, are blogs that usually chose a topic to focus on and to write about. For some reason, when I think of this type of blog, my first thought went to the term “mommy blogs”. “Mommy blogs” like Mommy A to Z focus on parenting: tips, tricks, advice, and a place where people can share their experiences with kids and parenting. You don’t need to be an expert; it’s where people who share certain interests or hobbies can have a platform dedicated to it.
To me, this still doesn’t necessarily explain what a blog can entail. What is the blog in general? I think it’s more than just the different kinds of posts. I connected to Rettberg’s description that “blogs are not a genre, but a medium”. It’s not limited by the categories within them and it is not a category of something else. Blogs are their own entity.
I thought Rebecca Blood shed some light on what blogs are. She writes that the term blog was coined after “Peter Merholz announced in early 1999 that he was going to pronounce it ‘wee-blog’ and inevitably this was shortened to ‘blog’ with the weblog editor referred to as a ‘blogger’.” Did anyone else think about the word WE while reading that? It makes me think of something anyone and everyone is included in while still being a part of some exclusive club. From what I gleamed off the reading, blogs are a sense of belonging. They are a way for people to participate in “the outside world” and/or “their own world”.
I ran some errands with my mom today after work. She needed to stop at the ATM, so I pulled up for her. After getting her money and receipt, I was driving away, my mother scolded, “Jeanna!! You didn’t even say thank you!” I burst out laughing and said, “Mom, it’s a machine” and she huffed and replied “It’s still rude.” 😂😂
First of all, let me start off with saying how terrified I was of taking this class. As I said in my introduction, I am not very good with technology. It definitely is pushing me out of my comfort zone and testing my patience while learning what feels like a new language, technology language. I don’t like the feeling of not knowing how to do something and when I’m not automatically good at it, I don’t like it right away (sounds bratty, I know). I had to remind myself several times what I tell my students all the time: “Calm down. If something doesn’t immediately make sense, you might have to read it again. Read carefully. Be patient. JUST TRY IT”. So far as setting up my blog goes, it has been a lot of trial and error and re-reading, but once something clicks, it seems way easier and gives me that boost of confidence in my abilities for this class. I truly think this class will be good for me being a teacher where some students “just get it” and some need more time and practice before they are able to do it. I definitely have more empathy already. I sometimes forget what being a student is like. Things that I teach make sense to me, but it is not the same for my students, who are trying new things for the first time. I think these weekly posts will help me reflect both on this class AND how my own teaching helps students who are learning. I’ve learned so many new things in the past two weeks, but I’m going to break it up into the things I found most important/helpful!
- That RSS is a life saver. My RSS post raves about how easy it is to keep all my sites organized in one place, and I can keep track of everything I’ve read.
- Linking keeps me sane! Again with my obsession to keep things neat looking, I love that you can link text into your document instead of having big long URLs in the middle of your blog post.
- I finally know the difference between tags and categories and am in love with both! It all clicked for me when I read from Lorelle on WordPress that “Categories are the site’s table of contents. Tags are the index words.” This was an excellent analogy for me. I added both widgets to my page so it’s helpful to find what I’m looking for. It’s also helpful for me to view other blogs to look up something by either categories, or key words instead of scrolling down the entire list to try and find something.
- Creative Commons is very customizable to fit every author’s needs, which is important in the ever growing and changing needs of the internet. In my CC post, I chose attribution-NonCommerical-ShareAlike (CC BY NC-SA) because I want people to be able to use my work, but still credit me and not be able to profit off of it.
- I’m still struggling with flickr helper. The flickr cc attribution helper has not been working for me in the way the guides and YouTube tutorials have showed me. The hints pop-ups tell me it might be my theme I’ve chosen for my blog is not compatible. Instead of the menu option Medium.com attributor, I have to use the default setting. If anyone else had similar issues or know any way to fix this, I would love to know.
EXTRA: I wasn’t prepared to like posting about my personal life. I love to write, but I don’t usually like to share things, especially to people I have never met. I have found that writing to an unknown audience feels empowering. I don’t feel judged or self-conscious about the things I’m talking about in my posts. Maybe it’s because I don’t see or know my audience, or maybe because I can be in the comfort of my own bed sharing the thoughts I have, but either way, I like it! 🙂 Some things I’ve shared:
If you ever need a fundraising idea, I have two words for you: DONKEY BASKETBALL!! Our seniors are going on a trip this spring and to raise money, they hired a company from WI, Dairyland Donkey Ball, that brings these donkeys to you to ride and try and play basketball. Some of the teachers and faculty from FHS created a team, and I don’t remember the last time I laughed so hard!!! The donkeys have a mind of their own and kept bucking people off of them!! Our superintendent has a bruised hip from his shift in the game! It was hysterical to watch, and our students raised over $12000, so it was a success!!
P.S. In the background, you can see our principal in the light purple suit (our colors are purple and gold). He was a part of the sanitation crew who were in charge of clean-up if the donkey had an accident during the game!
This time last year it was -30° and today it was 36°!! I know for people who aren’t from MN, 36° is freezing, but for fellow Minnesotans, it felt like a heatwave! Today I went ice fishing with my fiancé and his family, and we didn’t have to set up our pop-up fish houses. We just sat on chairs and buckets outside on the ice. The only downside was the massive amount of snow that had melted from it being above freezing and turned into five inches of water on top of the ice. By the end of the day, we left with a small pond around us, and cold feet from slushing in water. I couldn’t get over how warm the weather was for the end of January!! With my hometown’s annual Icebox Days coming to a close this weekend, which celebrates us being named one of the coldest cities in America, it made me question could this really be The Icebox of the Nation?