Blog Banner Building

The banner for this blog was created via Pixlr Editor and Pixlr Express. Take a look at the Pixlr official site for all sorts of cool, free tools and effects for images.

Choosing the right image

The original image shown below was discovered using Google Images search tools. Specifically the Usage Rights tool that searched for images “labeled for reuse with modification” The original image can be found on Pixabay.com.

Before I explain my banner creation process, I should explain, for the record, that I have a bit of a thing for dolphins. Love ’em -always have. So that fact that one ended up in a blog about blogging is no surprise to me.

Now, this is really my first full-out blog. I thought long and hard about what to name it and what image to use in order to welcome the readers . I decided on the ocean picture for 3 reasons:

  1. I felt like I jumped into the deep end of the pool- head first.To blog appropriately, a lot of information has to be ingested, quickly. Sink or Swim.
  2. I am also a self-professed beach bum.I do live in Jersey….
  3. The Internet seems as vast and deep as the ocean – and I have only explored about 1%.

So the aquatic theme seemed to fit.

Image of a single dolphin swimming in the deep ocean with the part of the body and dorsal fin above water.

“Free Stock Photo: Dolphin, Ocean Sea” by FitMum from Pixabay licensed by CC 0

Editing the Image

After I opened the chosen image in the Pixlr Editor, I cropped it to the correct size for the blog theme.  Saved it again

I opened the newly sized image in Pixlr Express and applied the following tools:

  • Effects >>> Subtle >>> Ingrid: Changed the coloring and intensity of the image
  • Border>>>Rounded Corner>>> Brave:Lowered the visibility of the effect to about 40%
  • Type>>>Added and positioned 2 text boxes for the title and taglines

The Creative Process

I most likely spent a whole lot more time on the creation of this banner than I should have. It was fun but also a lot more complicated than I expected. Having to find the perfect image within the constraints of the usage rights puts serious limits on creativity. There were very few appropriate images that were also legal to modify. However, this process also ensures that the image owners get full credit over their pictures.

Using blogs in my classroom

Why Blog?

Well, I am a Special Education teacher for students with significant multiple disabilities, ages 18-21.

And the first thing you really need to know is that creating engaging, age-appropriate and functional lessons for my students involves adaptation.

Lots and lots of adaptation.

No textbook or off-the-shelf curriculum works in a classroom like mine. Creativity and flexibility are requirements, not suggestions.

What do I do to ensure that I have a constant flow of fresh ideas to keep both teacher and students motivated, especially after teaching for over 18 years?

Research.

Lots and lots of research.

That’s where blogging can come into play.

Hopefully, diving into the world of blogging will help me to discover new ideas, network with others who are seeking similar resources and maybe allow me to share some of my own trials and tribulations.  I have to admit, the thought of collaborating with others while being able to develop my own ideas more fully is quite exciting.

How do I blog?

Excellent question.

However, after doing a little reading, it seems that writing a decent blog is going to take more than a laptop and an interesting topic.

My usual writing style tends to lean towards more traditional methods:

  • Proper grammar and punctuation
  • Full sentences
  • Complete paragraphs
  • Introduction, body, conclusion

Unfortunately, this style does not an engaging blog make.

So, in order to hold reader attention for more than 30 seconds and make the experience somewhat enjoyable as well as informative, I am going to try a different approach to writing for the web. For starters:

  • Use lists and bullet points (check)
  • Write in short, concise plain ole English
  • Keep paragraphs short
  • Use meaningful, working hyperlinks
  • Choose topics that will motivate, engage and challenge both reader and writer

Can I handle the audience response?

Now, I have not always been the most eager participant when it comes to other people reading and reacting to my writing. I am also not a fan of criticizing others. But, criticism is part of the learning process.  As Winston Churchill said ‘criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary”. He was a smart man, so I’ll give it a try.

What do I blog about?

I have found myself drawn to the idea of figuring out how to incorporate Gaming into my classroom curriculum. Anything is possible. I just have to find out how.

Wii U, Xbox 360, online role play games, computer games

All of these are virtually inaccessible to students with multiple disabilities without intensive supports as well as another person. Independently playing Mario Cart is just not an option for my students at this point.

Besides, who wants to play a video game with your teacher? I can’t even make it past the first few levels on Pac-man before getting eaten.

The blogs listed below seem to be a good place for me to start my exploration and learn how to make the world of gaming accessible to my students.

http://atclassroom.blogspot.com

http://theinnovativeeducator.blogspot.com

http://teachinglearnerswithmultipleneeds.blogspot.com