PLN and Blog Instructions

Personal Learning Network 
and Blog Assignment

Background:

This is an ongoing assignment that will be developed over the course of this year. We are breaking new ground in an effort to tear down classroom walls and establish global connections. Consequently we will no longer rely on the teacher to be the sole distributor and filter of information, but rather will use the tools at our disposal to create a learning environment where we can relate what is happening in the “real world” to the material we discuss in class. The diagram below helps to explain the goal of this assignment. 


In the past, students have been given assignments, which were completed, turned in, graded, and returned with feedback from the teacher. The result of this traditional approach is that you only see your work and only receive feedback on your work from your teacher. In this assignment you are going to create a public blog that relates the material we are exploring in class to what is currently taking place in our world. You will be expected to read and comment on the blog posts that your classmates write as well. People outside of our school district will also have the ability to read and comment on your blog. Some of them might be people in the field, others might be people who are just interested in the topic you choose to write about. The number of people outside of class that read what you write will depend on how effectively you use your personal learning network.  In this model you will not only have the opportunity to see the work of your fellow classmates, but will also see the work of bloggers from around the world. Your teacher will not be the only one offering feedback on your work, you will also receive feedback from your classmates and others outside our school district. 

This is your chance to shine! Use the skills you have learned in your classes at HPSD, on the computer, and in life in general to show the public that you have a voice, that you care about important issues, and that your opinion matters. Every topic we discuss in environmental science can relate to one of the major environmental issues of today. Throughout the year, you may find an issue that interest you. Feel free to  allow this issue to direct your writing.  Global warming, energy, famine, and many of the other major environmental issues we discuss could easily serve as the direction of your blog. 

Create Your Blog

You will be using Google's Blogger to maintain your student blog. Make sure you are signed into your Google Apps account at Hanover. You then need to go to http://www.google.com/blogger and create a new account. 

Students are required to create a student blog using Blogger. Every two weeks students are required to post at least 1 new blog entry. Be sure to complete your blog entry by Friday's class at the end of each two week period. Every other Friday we will set aside time to read, comment, and discuss each other's blogs as a class. 

Your first blog post should tell us about yourself. What you like or dislike, what you would like to learn in environmental, or anything else you would like us to know. Please remember not to post any identifying information to your blog. The public should not be able to determine who you are or where you live!  

The rest of your blog entries should deal with current events that relate to class. You will have two weeks to locate articles, websites, video clips, or other forms of media and compose a blog post. Link to the information you discovered in your post and explain how it is relevant to what we are studying. Make sure to include personal opinions and feelings.

Watch the videos below for help in creating your blog. The first word in your blog's title must be your last name followed by a unique title. Do NOT just call it Environmental Blog. Use your school username to create your blog address. For example mine would suterjasonk.blogspot.com. 

YouTube Video


YouTube Video

Set Up Your Personal Learning Network

This first part of this assignment is to begin building your personal learning network or PLN. This network will use online tools to connect you with experience people all over the world who are writing and sharing information about current environmental issues. I have included many resources below to aid you setting up your PLN. We are going to begin the year by focusing our efforts on two fundamentals of any PLN. Feedly and Twitter. 

Setting up Feedly:

So Google discontinued Google Reader last summer! Now I have to change everything over to Feedly, but it is not that big of a deal as they both work fairly similarly. The good news is that you can sign into your feedly account using your Google Apps for Education account! 

The following video will aid you in learning to use Feedly. You will then need to find five blogs that you would like to follow. As the year progresses feel free to change the blogs that you follow to meet your interests. I have provided links to some great environmental sites with RSS feeds as part of this tutorial information. I believe it is important for you to look at these and follow the ones you find interesting. You are required to follow a minimum of 10 blogs throughout the course of the year. 

YouTube Video


Environmental Blogs:

Blog Suggestions:

The following blogs are just suggestions I gathered a few years ago. There might be new blogs out there to follow, do some looking around! 

Tree Hugger:
RSS Feed - feed://www.treehugger.com/index.xml

Ecogeek:
RSS Feed - feed://feeds.feedburner.com/EcoGeek

New Scientist:
RSS Feed - feed://feeds.newscientist.com/environment

Green Autoblog:
RSS Feed - http://green.autoblog.com/rss.xml

Life Goggles:
RSS Feed - http://feeds.feedburner.com/Lifegoggles

Real Climate:
RSS Feed - http://feeds.feedburner.com/realclimate/HYVV

Other Blog Resources:
Some of the blogs listed above can be found in the following blog posts.  What I have provided is just a sampling of what is out there. All of the blog posts below list what they consider the top environmental blogs.  You might find some here that are more specific to your interests.  







Top 10 Environmental Blogs by Chris

Formerly Required Blog:

I use to require you to follow this blog, but it does not look like Mike keeps it up to date anymore. You may still want to check it out. Sustainable Thoughts by Mike Despines - Mike is a former Hanover High School student with an incredible background who researches and writes about the Environment.  He has given his talk, The American Dream, The World's Nightmare, to my Environmental Science classes for the last two years.

RSS Feed - http://sustainablethoughts.org/

Twitter:

We will be using Twitter this year in a variety of ways. If you do not have an account watch the following YouTube video to learn how to set up Twitter.  You may pick your Twitter name, if you already have a personal account you should consider creating a Twitter account to use exclusively in school. Think of this account as your professional Twitter account. One that you might share with future employers. 

Twitter is a great way to add to your PLN. Consider browsing through the suggested environmental twitterers and picking your favorites.  You may of course chose people to follow that I do not have listed.

Environmental Twitterers:

http://www.twitter.com/NWF - National Wildlife Federation

The Ultimate Environmental Twitter List on TweepML - 100+ Top Environmental Twitterers.  TweepML allows you to add list members with a few clicks.  You can easily follow all 100+ people listed or pick and chose the ones you want to follow. 

Feel free to search the internet for more environmental twitters that might better fit your interests. 

Including Your Classmates in Your PLN

Once you have created your Blog on Blogger and your Twitter account we need to share that information with your fellow classmates.  You are required to follow the your classmates with Google Reader and Twitter.  In order to share this information please fill out the form below. As students fill out the form their information will appear in the spreadsheet below that.  You will have to manually add their blog address to Google Reader.  Once everyone has created a Twitter account, I will create a TweepML list to allow you to quickly add your classmates to your PLN.  

Student Blog Addresses

Student Blog Addresses


Grading

How are we going to assign the a grade to this?  There is two parts to this question really.  Lets look at the hard part first.  How am I going to grade your PLN?  This is a bit difficult!  As you know, PLN stands for personal learning network.  I think it is difficult to assign a grade for your personal learning network itself.  However, your PLN is what is going to provide  you with a wealth of information to draw upon to aid you in class discussions, projects, homework, and writing your blog.  If you participate in your PLN and take full advantage of its resources it will be very apparent in the other work you do.  As the year progresses we will have projects that incorporate the tools in your PLN.  Your grades for you PLN will come from these projects.  Grading your blog is a little more straight forward.  See the rubric below:

Student Blog Rubric



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