Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Tell Me about Your Convention Session

NCTE 2008 Ning WordleThe 2008 NCTE Annual Convention is only 3 weeks away. Before you know it, you’ll be in San Antonio attending sessions, giving presentations, and connecting with friends and colleagues.

How can you get your presentation underway now, before those 3 weeks fly by? Simply log on to the 2008 NCTE Annual Convention Ning and follow the instructions to post information about your session.

Once you kick off the discussion in the presentation forum, you’ll be able to

  • Build interest in your session before you even pack a suitcase! Share details about your presentation for other attendees who are looking for more than the online program tells them!

  • Post longer materials and additional resources—anything from a bibliography to a PowerPoint presentation. Don’t print out copies. Just point people to the materials online.

  • Introduce yourself with your profile page. Use your Ning Profile to tell people who you are, where you teach, your educational interests, and more.

  • Share session materials with educators who won’t be in San Antonio. We’d all love to attend the Annual Convention, but realistically we know everyone won’t make it. Use your discussion forum as a way to reach out to colleagues who are interested in your topic

  • Get reactions from friends and colleagues to the ideas and materials you’ll be sharing. Why wait? You can start the discussion now, and include related information during your session in San Antonio.

  • Point to other resources you’d like to attendees to know about. Are you a member of an NCTE affiliate or assembly? Do you do work with the National Writing Project? Want to encourage others to participate in educational events and advocacy? Just share the details in your session’s discussion forum.

  • Distribute follow-up materials and information after the session easily. Once your presentation is over, you can post any additional information or resources right in your session’s discussion forum.

  • Invite people to share their related handouts and URLs after the session. Session attendees mention similar projects or useful websites? Just point them to your discussion forum to post the details.

  • Ask for feedback and responses to your session. Want to hear what others have to say? Use your session’s discussion forum as a space for ongoing conversation about your presentation.

  • Document your participation in the session. When you’re gathering resources to share with your administration about your trip to NCTE’s Annual Convention, everything will be in one place!
Just visit the 2008 NCTE Annual Convention Ning to share details on your presentation—and read about the many other sessions that will take place in November in San Antonio.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Tips on a Good Blog Entry

You're starting out as a blogger. You have a blog set up. You know how to work the blogging software. But how do you write an entry that gets read? Here are ten tips that make a blog entry grab readers:

  1. Choose an attention-getting and accurate title.
    Like a newspaper headline, a good blog title draws readers in. It’s your chance to convince a reader to take a look at what you’ve written. But no bait-and-switch! Make sure that your title reflects the content of the entry.

  2. State your opinion clearly.
    Take a stand and make it clear. Your blog isn’t the place for meandering. If your opinion isn’t appropriate for the general public, choose a different subject. If you wouldn't stand up in front of your colleagues and share your opinion, don’t post it on your blog.

  3. Back things up with specific stories and examples.
    Once you state your opinion, explain it. Share stories or examples that show why you hold your opinion. The advice we give students applies: Show. Don’t Tell!

  4. Keep it short.
    You have a few seconds to catch someone’s attention. People rarely read all of longer posts. Focus on one specific topic, state what you have to say, and end the post.

  5. Chunk your text.
    People read webpages quickly. They scan more often than they read every word. Because of the way people read on the Web, it’s best to use short paragraphs and lists to chunk your content.

  6. Use visual clues.
    Headers, boldface, use of color—all these visual clues help people scan and read online. As you chunk your text, make the key ideas and sections obvious with visual clues. As readers scan a page, they’ll linger on these highlights.

  7. Include photos, video, and/or audio.
    Take advantage of the multimodal nature of the Internet. Use photos, videos, and audio recordings to help make your point. These multimodal additions draw readers’ attention and can emphasize your points.

  8. Link to outside sources.
    Add examples and explanations to your text by linking to outside resources. Studies have shown that links build ethos by indicating that the writer is connected to the greater blogosphere and web.

  9. Go with an informal, first-person style.
    No need to use formal, academic prose. Go ahead and use words like I, me, and mine. Be conversational and informal. You’ll draw in more readers.

  10. Proofread!
    Take the time to reread your entry before you publish it. Use a spellchecker if one is built into your blogging software. Little errors can slow readers down. And when your readers are other English teachers, they’re bound to notice any typos.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

In Search of Teacher Bloggers

This week’s topic comes from an email response I received to last week's blog entry from Jen Sekella of Dozier Middle School in Newport News, VA:

I would like to start a blog - but I don’t know where educators hang out and blog on the ’net.

Jen’s question isn’t about what a blog is. It’s not about technical how-to’s. It’s about community. Where can you find other teachers and like-minded folks?

There are lots of places you can start a blog. Free blog hosts include Facebook, Wordpress, LiveJournal, MySpace, Blogger, Windows Live Spaces, and Xanga. Additional sites are listed in the Wikipedia Weblog Software entry.

There are teacher bloggers on all those blogging sites, but you have to know how to find them. If you want to write short updates, Facebook could be for you. Look up some colleagues you know on Facebook, and build your network from there. Don't miss the opportunity to look at your colleague’s friends too. You’ll connect to other teachers quickly and easily that way. There are also some Facebook groups for teachers:

The easiest solution is to join the 2008 NCTE Annual Convention Ning. Once you sign up, you can blog on the site and you will be immediately connected with other NCTE members. Everyone is welcome, whether you will attend the Convention next month or not. It’s a great way to plug into the sessions and connect with people. The process is simple:

  1. Sign Up (or sign in if you already have a login).
  2. Back on the Ning Homepage, click the My Page link.
  3. (optional) Add any details to your profile (the info on “My Page”).
  4. Click Blog Posts in the left column.
  5. Start writing your blog entry on the next page.

It really is that simple. So no excuses. You don’t even need to know HTML codes. Sign up on the NCTE Ning and get blogging!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

NCTE Blogs to Note

On NCTE blogs you’ll find great discussions of educational issues and teaching ideas ready for the classroom. Read the entries below and share your feedback in the comments.

And don't miss the blogs that have been posted on the NCTE 2008 Convention Ning and elsewhere by NCTE members!

How about you? Do you blog about your teaching? Share details on your blog in the comments below! I'm building a blogroll, and I want to include YOU!