Now that I’ve checked out some library blogs from around the world, I’m excited to see how they compare to blogs written by classroom teachers!
As I was browsing Edublog’s list of best blogs by teachers, I spotted Paul Bogush’s blog. Bogush is an eighth grade teacher from Connecticut. One of the reasons I decided to explore his blog was because of its layout. It is organized into geometric squares, and each post has its own square. This sets it off visually from many other blogs that are arranged in order with the newest posts at the top of the page. As I continued reading, I discovered one of the purposes of this blog is to share the author’s research and opinions about the Common Core Standards. Bogush has spent a lot of time reading into the background of the CCS, and he challenges his readers to take a good look at the Standards and their history. His posts address all kinds of things related to the standards – from how the Standards affect the youngest kindergartners to questioning the wisdom in trying to standardize all learners. In addition to addressing information about the Common Core, Bogush also discusses topics like Twitter, and he shares information he sent home to parents about their students’ progress so far this school year (I LOVE the video embedded with this post!)
Overall, this is a blog that celebrates education and also celebrates kids being who they are. I think this teacher is very brave to share his somewhat controversial opinions about the Common Core Standards so publicly, but he does make it very clear in his disclaimer that these opinions are his own – not those of his employer. As we are thinking about our digital footprints this week, I think this blog is a good example of something being attached to your name that may reflect your own individual opinions but not necessarily those of your employers. I think it’s a risk to include something like this in your digital footprint – and it is traceable since the teacher lists his real name, picture, and school – but it’s also a good example of standing up and expressing your opinions about something you believe in and are passionate about.
One teacher blog that caught my attention this week was Classroom Chronicles, a blog written by a sixth grade teacher in Sydney. In her introduction, she explains that she uses her blog to explore, learn, and reflect on her teaching. Additionally, she also uses it as a place to learn more about educational technology – Web 2.0 in particular – and as a place to think about how to use these tools in her classroom. As I read more and more educational blogs, it seems like this idea – using a blog as a place to keep track of your own learning – is a good one. A blog is an orderly place for you to track your own thoughts while also easily linking to ideas and resources you like and find beneficial.
The types of posts in this blog vary depending on what the author is doing in her classroom. She share successes with different tools she is using like Edmoto, explaining how students are currently excited about an assignment because she has added in three new students to the discussion group. By adding three characters from the book The City of Ember and allowing students to sign up to blog as these characters, she creates renewed excitement for the assignment. She also shares how tools like Twitter help her bring authentic content and real-world expertise into her classroom – while also allowing her to collaborate with scientists and other educators around the world. The author also uses this blog to reflect on topics that she is struggling with – like how much homework is appropriate to assign to her students and how to make the assignments she gives meaningful. By opening questions like these up to her readers, she is inviting collaboration. Instead of just being an author, she is also positioning herself as someone who is interested in learning about other peoples’ best practices too.
I really enjoyed reading the posts in this blog because there is a nice balance of authority and reflection. The entries seem to be written by someone who views herself as both a teacher and a student. She is obviously very knowledgeable about her content, her students, and a lot of technology, but she is also open to learning from others and adapting their ideas to fit her students’ needs. I was also impressed that this author has been publishing to her blog consistently for more than 5 years. At the top of the blog, she has archived her posts by month, starting with 2010. This serves as an excellent resource for her to reflect on her own educational journey, but it’s also a great resource for her readers who may have only recently discovered her writing.
The third teacher blog I viewed was Blogging Through the Fourth Dimension, created by a fifth grade teacher from Wisconsin. Again, one of the things that attracted me to this blog is that the author has been posting to it since 2010, so I think it’s a great example of how a blog can really act as an archive of your online activities, reflections, and discoveries. The author uses her blog to share activities she is doing in her classroom, but she also uses it to share ideas and topics about which she is passionate. One of those topics is reading. She has an entire section of her blog devoted to reading resources. She’s written and reflected on how to talk about a book with a student even if you haven’t read it yourself, how to revamp your classroom library, how to get your students excited about summer reading, and more. She also has a section of her blog devoted to Forms and Things to Help where she includes links to documents such as a permission to videotape letter, a parent volunteer questionnaire, and a book review rubric. These are the kinds of resources that take a long time to create from scratch, so sharing them with other educators can be very valuable.
One interesting thing I’ve noticed as I continue to review both teacher and librarian blogs – a lot of the authors reference each other! They seem to follow each others’ blogs and often link to one another. For example, when the author of this blog, Pernille Ripp, was posting about summer reading, she referenced a post by Shannon McClintock Miller (whose blog I reviewed with my library post). The blogging world seems to be pretty tightly connected, and a lot of the dedicated bloggers appear to be aware of each other. This is exciting to me because it seems like by just tuning in and following a few good blogs, you can get a whole network of great advice from educational professionals all over the world.
When I looked at the blog Upside Down Education, I again noticed that the author made a point to say that the ideas expressed in her blog are uniquely hers – not the opinions held by her school district. This again got me thinking about digital footprints and the balance between sharing opinions online and putting your employment at risk. Even though many blog authors make it clear they are expressing their own personal views, I’m just not so sure I am willing to share my opinions so freely online – especially if I know they wouldn’t be popular with my administrators. I think educators today have to be more careful than ever. I know we have a right to share our opinions, but I’m just not sure I would personally ever choose to do so in such a public way.
In her blog, this sixth grade teacher reflects on experiences in her classroom – the day-to-day, real-life stuff that is happening. She shares her experiences teaching technology class to sixth graders and her struggle to balance the Common Core Standards with Project-Based Learning. I liked this blog because it is very relate-able – the author doesn’t try to gloss over what she is struggling with or the concerns she has. This is a relatively new blog compared to many of the others I’ve reviewed. It doesn’t seem like the author posts as consistently as some other bloggers, but when she does post, her entries are typically quite lengthy. I guess this shows there are many different approaches and styles to blogging – from the quick, frequent updates to the more spread-out but in-depth writings.
One of my favorite quotes from this week’s reading was from “The Brain of the Blogger.” Doctors Fernette and Brock Eide noted, “Blogging combines the best of solitary reflection and social interaction.” I thought this was such a good point because that is exactly what I’ve experienced over this Module as I began writing in my own blog. I like being able to reflect by posting my thoughts in writing. Writing them out helps clarify what I’m thinking about and digesting. But, I also like that I am able to share and receive feedback from people online as well. So far, I’ve gotten comments in my blog not only from people in this course but also from other bloggers whose pages I’ve checked out. The Eides note that this is the appeal for many bloggers: “Bloggers have solitary time to plan their posts, but they can also receive rapid feedback on their ideas.”
I see this as being beneficial in the classroom because students who may be shy or hesitant to share their ideas in front of the whole group can use blogging as a way to participate in discussions. Blogging gives them extra time to gather and edit their thoughts before sharing them publicly. Sharing comments in blogs also gives students an authentic way to practice digital etiquette.
After viewing some of these teacher blogs, I’m wondering how many teachers in my school district blog. I’m not currently aware of any, but I’m sure there are some. One way to share great blogs with teachers and encourage them to consider starting their own might be to offer professional development sessions about blogging. These sessions could include tips on how to create your own blog, suggestions of education blogs to follow, and ideas for incorporating blogging into your classroom. My district offers a variety of professional development sessions over the summer that teachers can sign up for, and offering one about blogging might be well-received. Since the ISTE standards note that “All teachers should meet the standards and performance indicators,” blogging might be a fun, easily-accessible way to get some teachers started introducing more technology.
Eide , Fernette, and Brock Eide . “Eide Neurolearning Blog.” . N.p., 5 03 2005. Web. 28 Mar 2014. <http://eideneurolearningblog.blogspot.com/2005/03/brain-of-blogger.html>.
“ISTE Standards Teachers.” ISTE Standards. International Society for Technology in Education, 2012. Web. 29 Mar. 2014. <http://www.iste.org/standards/standards-for-teachers>.