‘Primary Teaching Bloggers Ireland’ – A Blog Hop

Primary Teaching Bloggers Ireland Blog Hop

I am coming a little late to the ‘Primary Teaching Bloggers Blog Hop’ as I was holidaying in an internet free zone.

Some Irish primary teachers who blog have come together to support one another. Emer the teacher whose blog is called ‘A Crucial Week’ has devised this Blog Hop  for Irish teachers who blog. If you follow this link to Emer’s blog, you will find links to all the Irish bloggers taking part in the ‘Blog Hop’. I found a couple of great ones I was unfamiliar with. In turn the recommendations they made to blogs they have found useful greatly added to my list of useful blogs. If you are an Irish teacher who blogs, why not follow the links and add your blog to the list.

If Only the Best Birds ...

As part of the ‘Blog Hop’ there are some questions to answer as follows:

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your teaching experience:
I’m Mary aka Merry Beau. I have been teaching in Wicklow for over thirty years. In that time I have taught the full range of classes and enjoyed them all. I am working in Learning Support at the moment and love how well you can get to know a student in these smaller working groups.

What class level are your ideas aimed at?
I think most ideas here can be adapted for use for any group from First to Sixth. When I started blogging I used try to write clever titles for my posts, but now in fairness to busy teachers I always try to give a clear indication in the title of a post, what age group the contents is suitable for.

What made you want to start blogging?
I started this blog in 2011. My students loved the activities we did on the Interactive Whiteboard and would often ask me for the links so they could try them at home. Rather than send these home on paper where they were mislaid, it was so much easier to put up the links online. I had also accumulated a lot of slideshows of art work the students had done but no platform on which to put them so as to share them with parents.

Would you advise other Irish teachers to start a blog?
Yes definitely. I love to get ideas for class from reading other teachers’ blogs. One’s own blog stores ideas from year to year and helps with planning. Writing up an activity afterwards helps one to reflect. Seeing exemplars of work that was done other years is motivating for the students and gives them a starting point. So too is knowing that their work is being done for a ‘real audience’. Students learn internet safety as they go along and learn digital citizenship. Parents appreciate seeing the work that is done in school and the additional communication a blog creates. There is a helpful, generous and welcoming international community of teachers who blog. I enjoy this feeling of a global staffroom.

However starting out, blogging can feel like a rather solitary existence. Click here to read about how new Irish teacher blogs can start to connect effectively with an audience.



#stubc15: Great opportunity for class & student bloggers: Student Blogging Challenge begins early March 2015. #edchatie



Participating in the the biannual

Student Blogging Challenge

is an excellent opportunity

for individual students and classes who blog,

to learn new blogging skills,

to develop their blog

and make contact with students and schools

all over the globe.


It is conducted over ten weeks

in September and March of each year.

The next challenge is in early March.

Here are the Frequently Asked Questions

about the challenge.


We can’t recommend it highly enough.

Our own experience was

that as a result of participating

in the Student Blogging Challenge

we made contact with many schools

from all over USA, Canada, UK, Australia and New Zealand

and we learnt many new blogging skills.


Here is a flipboard of the work that was posted globally

during the challenge this time last year.











We found it was a wonderful opportunity

and we really ‘took off’ as a result of participating

in the ‘Student Blogging Challenge’.

Why not try it?

You have everything to gain

and nothing to lose !

Here are the details of how to register.

Back to School

Dionne Quintuplets - School Days / Quintuplées Dionne - Journées à l'école
Photo Credit: BiblioArchives / LibraryArchives via Compfight

Tomorrow is our first day back in school.

Here in Ireland, it will be the first  day

of the new school year. Students will be in

new classes and may have new teachers.


In some other parts of the world

students move up to their new classes

early in the new year. This is true of

Australia and New Zealand for example.


Schools are busy places, no matter where you

are in the world.


Have a look at this video to see how busy

it got in Mr. Spice’s class in Aurora School

in New Zealand, on their first day back

in school in early February. They are a Year 5/6.

In Ireland that would be a 3rd and 4th class.

We love this video.

#eddies13: Nominations for the Edublogs Awards 2013

Birthday Candles
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Cade Buchanan via Compfight

Happy Birthday to the Edublogs Awards.

This year they are ten years old.


These awards  reflect the value

of online educational websites and blogs.


The awards create a showcase

of the best very resources

as educators nominate their favourites.


The awards process is in three stages:

the nomination, voting, and the awards ceremony. 

You can read more about the Edublogs Awards 2013 here


I have given a lot of thought to my nominations.

There are so many excellent educational blogs and websites,

choosing wasn’t east and even as I post,

I worry I have forgotten someone wonderful.

Best Individual Blog: Sub Stories

We are in recession here in Ireland and a significant number of newly qualified teachers (NQTs) are waiting by the telephone each morning, awaiting a call to substitute for a teacher who is unwell. Sub Stories  chronicles an enthusiasm for teaching, occasional feelings of rejection, and also generously shares links to resources that are useful for teachers who are subbing. She also has a lively complementary Facebook page in tandem with her blog.

Best Group Blog:  EdBlogsIE

This is an aggregate blog devised by primary teacher, Nigel Lane which creates a ‘one-stop shop for Irish educational blogs’,

Best New Blog: St. Peter’s Primary Bray Blog

This lively and entertaining blog was born on 13th February 2013.  It was quickly on its feet and going from strength to strength, using sound and vision showcasing the excellent work that is going on in this school. I particularly like its use of podcasts that give the students a voice. The way in which this blog reaches out to parents, other schools and the local and wider community is also commendable.

Best Class Blog: Room 5 @ Melville Intermediate School

This blog has many positive attributes of which I will list just three:

1. The teacher Myles Webb and  his students communicate and collaborate globally and encourage those new to blogging to do so too.

2. The students’ involvement in all aspects of the making of this blog is apparent and they visit, comment and engage with other class blogs. This often takes the form of inquiries about the culture and traditions in other lands.

3. This blog also teaches about New Zealand’s wonderful culture in an engaging and interactive way. 

Best Student Blog:

The uniquely named !ROAR! is written by Mackenzie. It is well written and well illustrated and refects her interests and personality. Mackenzie shares my love of widgets as tools that entertain one’s visitors. Mackenzie also understands the importance of interacting with the visitors to one’s blog and always replies to comments 🙂

Best Ed Tech / Resource Sharing Blog:  Seomra Ranga

What can I say! In every classroom I visit I see the resources from this blog; resources of excellent quality and wonderful variety. Seomra Ranga makes a significant contribution to the development of educational resources and the concept of sharing them.

Best Teacher Blog; MargD Teaching Posters

This is a blog I recently discovered; an Aladdin’s Cave for the Primary Teacher. Comprehensive, colourful and creative, this blogger, shares a wealth of teaching ideas, resources and methodologies. There are imaginative ideas for teacher planning and classroom set up. Motivating and inspiring, there is great attention given to helping children listen, think and learn. 

Most Influential Blog Post of the Year: Rejection Hurts.

Ok so in theory we do understand that substitute teachers do an important job that requires them to be available, flexible, inventive and patient and that it is not the first choice for a teacher who would love to have their ‘own’ students.  This poignant post hits home, giving the reader a better understanding and hopefully empathy for substitute teachers who are searching for a more permanent position. This post is rendered all the more powerful as it contrasts with her posts about her love of and enthusiasm for teaching. 

Best Individual Tweeter: Myles Webb @NZWaikato.    

The online teaching community on Twitter reflect their calling and are professional, encouraging and affirming. They are generous with their praise and their time. They share their expertise and experience, their links and resources. Chief among these educators on Twitter is Myles Webb @NZWaikato. He does all this and his commitment in terms of time must be significant. For example in the earlier part of this year, he visited very many of the student and class blogs using the #comments4kids hashtag, leaving encouraging and affirming comments.

Twitter Print Screen

The value of commenting on student blogs cannot be underestimated and their effect on student self esteem and motivation is hugely significant. Global connections like these is what makes the world go round. Which brings me neatly to:

Best Twitter Hashtag; #comments4kids

William Chamberlain’s ingenious concept which invites tweeters to comment on student blogs.

Best Free Web ToolTwitter

Best educational use of audio / video / visual / podcast.  The Literacy Shed is an answer to a teacher’s prayer. The quality and breadth of the videos that Rob Smith has compiled enriches and inspires our teaching and in turn our students’ learning and development.

Best Educational Use of a Social Network; How I Learn
Once upon a time there was a newly qualified teacher, who was subbing. She wrote about her adventures on her blog and Twitter. She wrote a post about ‘How I Learn’ and invited guest bloggers through her blog and on Twitter to do the same. In this way she used Twitter (a social network) to compile a fascinating account of the variety of ways in which people learn.

The key I feel to her success is the interesting selection of contributors she had including Mary and her son Daniel, an exceptional young man with Down’s Syndrome who is a visual learner and Fintan, a History and English Teacher who is an avid reader. 

Through sponsorship and crowd sourcing on Twitter, the intrepid compiler Helen Bullock then secured the finance she needed to publish a book of these accounts (with proceeds going to Barnardo’s Children’s Charity)

and they all lived happily ever after. 

Lifetime achievement; Sue Wyatt. The Student Blogging Challenge has been run over a number of years biannually. It is co-ordinated by Sue Wyatt, a very busy and dedicated former teacher from Hobart, Tasmania. It gives the opportunity to individual students and classes who blog, to learn new blogging skills and to develop their blog in a systematic way. Through the well designed weekly challenges they make contact with students and schools all over the globe.  Sue also coaches small groups of students with spectacular results (see Let’s Blog! Communicating with the World.) My nomination for Best Student Blog is one of Sue’s students. And so I ‘rest my case’ 😉







Irish School Blogs – How to improve your blog

Day 29. Street Photography (1 of 7)
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Clifton Johnston via Compfight

This week I wrote about how Irish teachers

can find an audience for their class blogs.

You can read Part One here 

and Part Two here.


Entering a competition like the Irish 

Junior Spider Awards is a very valuable exercise

and one I would recommend.

Reviewing your class blog with the criteria 

from the Junior Spider Awards in mind

is an excellent self improvement exercise.


In the same way the bi annual 

Edublogs Student Blogging Challenge

can help you develop your blog

and put you in touch with schools

all over the globe.


It is conducted over ten weeks.

Here are the Frequently Asked Questions

about the Edublogs Student Blogging Challenge.


The next blogging Challenge is in September

and you can sign up now.


Last March there was only one Irish participant

and to date no one from Ireland has signed up this time.


Our experience was that as a result of participating

last March, we made contact with many schools from

all over USA, Canada, UK, Australia and New Zealand.


In The Beginning
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Bill Gracey via Compfight


Asking someone to do a simple ‘audit’ your blog.

is a simple but effective way of

discovering ways to improve your blog.

Ask your ‘auditor’, their  first impressions, 

what they found interesting

and what they found distracting?

You might observe them as they navigate your blog

and ask them how you might better it.

In this way you may get more insights as to how improvements might be made.

Irish Class Blogs – How to connect to a real audience – Part Two

Yesterday I blogged about how Irish Class Blogs

can connect with a real audience

through the aggregrate blogs EdBlogsIE and Seas Suas

or by being listed on The Class Blogs Shed on The Literacy Shed.

Otherwise blogging can feel like a solitary experience.

You can read yesterday’s post here.

Are these seats taken ???
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Methos04 via Compfight

Twitter is invaluable for making connections.

When you sign up to the aggregate blogs mentioned above,

each time you post, a tweet detailing this

appears on their twitter feed.


You might considered taking part  in

Seomra Ranga’s Signs of Autumn 

and Signs of Spring twitter projects.


Click here to read about Digital Art Week

devised by teachers Simon Lewis (Anseo.net),

Damien Quinn (Seomra Ranga) and Fred Boss (PDST),

which also gives class bloggers a great opportunity

to connect with other Irish class blogs.


You can contact Scoilnet, the Department of Education’s

‘portal for Irish Education’

and have your blog added to a substantial list of

Irish Schools That Blog.

Each week during the school term Scoilnet features

Scoilnet Star Site

Click on this link to Scoilnet,

if you wish to submit your site for consideration

There is a final follow up article on this topic here.


Irish Class Blogs – How to connect with a real audience. Part One.

With a school or class blog making connections is important.

That way your students have an authentic audience.

This is motivating and rewarding for them.

They will do their best work

when they know that they have a real audience.

Knowing one has an audience is motivating for the teacher too.


There are a number of excellent enterprises

which have been developed to promote

Irish educational or school blogs.

Sign up with them

and each time you post

your post will appear on their websites.


You could join EdBlogIE

an aggregate blog devised by Nigel Lane

‘Your one-stop shop for Irish educational blogs’,

you can sign up for EdBlogIE  here. 


Nigel Lane and Simon Lewis set up Seas Suas 

specifically for  Irish Primary Schools.

You can add your blog to Seas Suas here.


Both these sites do an excellent job of

showcasing the blogs of Irish educators

and provide a very valuable service.


Further afield Rob Smith from

the inspiring Literacy Shed invites

teachers to submit a link to their blog

to add to a list of on Class Blogs Shed.


As of today there are only six Irish blogs on this list.

Add yours and fly the flag for Ireland.

St. Patrick's Day
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: jacquelinetinney via Compfight

Part Two of this article is here.