Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Blogs


There once was an old school marm
Who said, with edge-ucational charm,
“Think I’ll try a blog -
A pedagogical log-
For teachers. What could be the harm?”

If that limerick doesn’t pack the Understatement Punch of the Year, technologically speaking, then it’s a “contendah” for sure. The “harms” of blogging – beyond their addictive nature and their potential to eat up hours reading them – pale in comparison to their benefits. Blogging in education is one of the greatest things – for school marms and masters alike – since sliced bread. It really is a force that can sharpen the cutting edge in education – something we should all be invested in. This anonymous student post, taken from the Digital Chalkie blog speaks to the power of advancing technological frontiers in education:

“Let’s have a little competition at school and get ready for the future. I will use a laptop
and you will use paper and a pencil. Are you ready…?
I will access up-to-date information – you will have a textbook that is 5 years old.
I will immediately know when I misspell a word – you will have to wait until it’s graded.
I will learn how to care for and harness technology by using it - you will read about it.
I can see science concepts in 3D – you will do the odd problems.
I will create artwork and poetry and share it with the world - you will share yours with the class.
I will have 24/7 access – you have the entire class period.
I will access the most dynamic information – yours will be printed and photocopied.
I will communicate with leaders and experts using email – you will wait for Friday’s speaker.
I will select my learning style – you will use the teacher’s favorite learning style.
I will collaborate with my peers from around the world – you will collaborate with peers in your classroom.
I will take my learning as far as I want – you must wait for the rest of the class.

Score big points for the positives of blogging as a professional development candidate: this blog site – and others – can provide educators with a powerful catalyst for using technology in classrooms. The ability to successfully navigate technological waters should be a fundamental for teachers – blogs can help provide an impetus for them to do so.

Some of the blogs I explored were:
Brian’s Education Blog: Mr. Micklethwait describes his blog as being “libertarian-inclined”. One posting really captured my interest, as I thought it could provoke good discussion. The part of the posting that I’m referring to is “If you educate a man, you educate a person, but if you educate a woman, you educate a family.” Hmmm.
Top 100 Education Blogs: The name says it all! This was the site that directed my to Digital Chalkie.
Stephen’s Lighthouse: This blog was highly recommended by one of the Jasper librarians – it has had some very interesting, cool postings.
Escrapbooking: This was a great site with LOTS of links listed.
The Connected Classroom: This site touts itself as intending to creating a constructivist learning experiences” – there are some great posts here.
Rikard’s Weblog: This is a weblog for a third grade classroom, of special interest to me, since that’s my current grade.
Diane’s Discoveries: This had general education news and ideas.
Elementary School Blog: This was a blog for elementary teachers and librarians.
Simply Science: This blog had ideas for teaching science in elementary/primary schools.
LibrarianinBlack: I had added this to my deli.cio.us account some time ago…it’s got lots of tech information and is described as providing “resources and discussions for the ‘tech-librarians-by-default’ among us”.
Will Richardson’s Blog: This site needs no explanation, nor does the next:
Joyce Valenza’s Never Ending Search
Heyjude: Judy O’Connell is an Aussie library/tech info goddess – lots of good ideas here.
Mr. Wright’s 3rd Grade Class (www.mrwrightsclass.com) This is a class blog from a school in Missouri and has lots of cross-curricular teaching ideas. I’ve used some of the weblinks selections in the class blog I set up for my own class (www.lmorgansclass.blogspot.com) My class blog is still evolving, but is currently used for communicating things like homework notices, school news, thank-yous and congratulations, and links for math sites.


In addition, I subscribe to the Rick Mercer Blog, which is certainly not without educational relevance. Its witty analyses and examinations of current affairs can ignite discussion and debate on many levels.

Some blogs I’ve earmarked for an later look include:

EduBlog News, which includes links to lots of student blogs.
Educational Blogger’s Network, which is a blog for educators using blogs in the classroom.
Educator Bloglines, which is a site for educational weblogs.

So how can blogging and blogs help with PD? In addition to providing sparks for implementing and integrating tech in teaching (I’m referring to my opening point), blogging can:

Provide a forum to access and share best practices, as well as fresh practices. It can also rejuvenate “mothballed” practices – those great ideas that you used to use and forgot all about until someone reminded you of them.
Build opportunities to brainstorm teaching/evaluation strategies.
Allow teachers to discuss school, student, or other issues.
Provide a platform for teachers to coordinate fiscal housekeeping: grant writing, fund raising, etc. and special events ideas.
Promote critical/analytical/creative/collaborative thinking opportunities.
Allow teachers to connect with subject-area experts on a wide variety of activities and projects.
Encourage, especially through the “comments” options, self-reflection. Readers/comment writers can motivate others to question or express concerns, compliments, confusions, complaints, and challenges.
Provide opportunities for mentoring, a la Glazer and Paige, intended and structured or serendipitous and transitory.
Build collegial relationships – around the world!
Provide a template for communication between educators and the communities they serve.
Link, link, link, link, link……creating pathways and blazing educational trails that might never be noticed otherwise.
Archive and publish professional and other portfolios, articles, etc.
Support research endeavors.

I think that blogging has such potential and such power because of two main reasons:

1. Its audience – or potential audience – draw, for both blog writers and blog readers. To me, blogging is a wonderful contagion – once introduced to its allure, it’s easy to spread the good word.
2. Its ease of use – blogs are easy to set up and foodle around with.

I’m all out of limerick inspiration, but that’s probably just as well, because blogging, and its powerful potential to impact professional development for educators, probably deserves poetry more on the level of sonnets or odes… I’ll leave that to more talented pens.

7 comments:

Val said...

Linda I love the anonymous student blog. It kind of lays it on the table doesn't it? Funny but insightful stuff.
Cheers
Val

heyjude said...

Linda, it's the last day of my school term here, so when I ready this blog post I thought it was karma! I love your thoughts on your professional learning environment, the humourous element that you brought to the consideration of the changing learning landscape of our students, and ..... "the info-tech goddess" - me? Gosh you made me laugh! Thanks so much for mentioning my blog and for being a regular reader. Thanks for being part of the blogosphere and for sharing your ideas with us all.

Katie said...

Great list of blogs Linda! I am going to subscribe to a number of them. I also like Rick Mercer's blog- educational yes, but also very entertaining!

Linda Morgan said...

Oh my God in Heaven. I can't believe that heyjude posted on my comment page. My life (technically speaking) is now complete!

Ronda said...

Linda,

I always look forward to reading your witty and clever intros to our blogging topics! You don't disappoint! (loved the limerick)

I added a few of your suggested links to my del.icio.us! Thanks!

Ronda

Kristin Hokanson said...

Linda...
It has been a while since I have been into my own google reader SIGH...thanks for pointing to my blog as a resource. You have some other goodies on this list that I hadn't heard of in the past so I am glad I tracked you down. You have an interesting voice...will be interested in watching you as continue to share your ideas with the "blogosphere"

johnplayer said...

its suc a nice artical.i like it.well,videos are so educational.thanx 4 sharing.