Blogging Tip: Subscribe to a Specific Category

Back in February, I had the pleasure of working with the great staff at YIS for a few days. One of the things that we focused on was the use of blogs in the classroom. While RSS is a lifesaver for teachers using blogging, one of the issues identified was the need to wade through posts that weren’t relevant. As a math teacher, I don’t really want to be notified every time students blog for their humanities class. Wouldn’t it be great if teachers could use RSS to subscribe only to a specific category?

Fast-forward a few months, and I came across the solution! Turns out it is dead simple. The only requirement (that I can tell) is that the blog cannot be using a service like FeedBurner, which redirects all feeds from a blog into a single feed. Here’s how you do it:

You can use this same hack to subscribe to posts with a specific tag or by a specific author as well.

(h/t WPRecipes)

 

Posterous and the Yearly Class Trip

Every year since I’ve been here, our grade 8 students have taken a trip to Hoi An and Hue. This year is no different and the leave on Monday!

Last year the students came back from the trip and created showcases using Shutterfly. This year, we’re aiming for something different…

The team of teachers who are running the trip decided they wanted some sort of real-time blog-based updates of the trip so that parents could stay up-to-date on what was going on. I thought this was a fantastic idea and set off to do some investigating. While we are a 1:1 school, we don’t have a culture of blogging nor do we have easy access to open blogging tools such as Edublogs Campus or a self-hosted WordPress installation. There was also the added complication of not having the students bring their own laptops on the trip. (The last thing anybody in a group of over 70 people is another thing to carry!). Students would have to rely on internet cafes or the teacher’s laptop.

Enter Posterous!

Genki has been using Posterous for the YIS Field Studies blogs for a few years now. I had dabbled with it way back when it was first introduced but hadn’t really touched it since. So, after playing around for bit, here’s what I decided to do:

The 66 students would be broken up into smaller groups of 4 or 5 students per group. In all, I needed to create 14 different Posterous blogs (7 groups of students are going from Hoi An to Hue; the other 7 are doing the journey in reverse from Hue to Hoi An). I could have created 14 sub-blogs, but I thought it would be too difficult to manage the invitations and passwords and what not. I decided to create 14 individual Posterous blogs instead. To do this, I used disposable email addresses based on my Gmail (such as clint.hamada+unisgrade8-1@gmail.com) to register for each blog. I then registered each student’s email account with the associated blog.

So now we’ve got 14 Posterous blogs set up for the entire grade. In order to write their posts, the students just need to use their school email account to send an email to post@posterous.com with the pictures attached and the text in the body of the email. They can even add tags by modifying the subject line!

I’ve also created bundles in Google Reader that I have shared with the teachers on the trip. In order to check all the posts for their cohort of students, the teachers just need to check a single link!

Total time in front of my computer setting this up: under 2 hours, I would guess. There may be an easier way to do this in the future (if you have any ideas, please let me know in the comments!) and there may still yet be some complications, but this was pretty dead easy to administer.

If you interested in following along as well, use the following links. Posts should start coming in on Monday evening!

Hoi An to Hue

Hue to Hoi An

Image Credit: Japanese Bridge by Pigalle licensed under CC BY NC SA

Two Days in Yokohama

I’m currently sitting in one of my old haunts – Starbucks in Kichijoji, one of the places where my now-wife and I use to hang out when we first met!

I’ve just spent the past two days at Yokohama International School working with and getting to know a good number of their teachers as they prepare for their Connected Learning Community this coming August.

We spent a lot of time discussing blogs, Google Apps, portfolios, assessment and good teaching practice. I even managed to get involved in a few MYP discussions!

I’ll have a lot more to say on the experience over the next week or so but my fingers are currently getting numb as I sit out on the patio enjoying the blue sky (and cold wind!). Thanks again to Kim Cofino for the chance to work and learn with a great bunch of teachers. And welcome to some new teachers in my PLN, including Brian Farrell, librarian; Adam Clark, counselor; Adam Seldis, Econ and Humanities teacher.

Expanding My Horizons

Excuse me for some gratuitous self-indulgence. It will be brief, I promise!

I’m so stoked to be heading to Yokohama International School in about a week to help with their in-house professional development on:

  • reverse instruction
  • developing a networked classroom through the use of Learning Hub blogging portal
  • understanding how to mix and match web 2.0 tools
  • authentically embedding technology in an MYP environment.

It will be amazing to work with Kim and to spend a day watching and learning how technology facilitation/coaching is implemented in other settings.

I’ve given plenty of workshops to my colleagues at UNIS, but this is my first time working with another school. Needless to say, I’m both a bit nervous and extremely excited!

Image Credit: A Perfect Morning By Extra Medium licensed under CC BY NC ND